Where R they now? Chatting with Thomas J. Biggs’08 about Yale Classics, and beyond


Now here’s a blast from the (not so distant) past: over the weekend we had a chance to catch up with Thomas J. Biggs ’08, now on the verge of receiving his PhD degree from Yale University’s graduate program in Classics.

It’s been a full five years now that Tom graduated from Rutgers College summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with Departmental honors, double majoring in English and Classics. As a Rutgers senior, Tom also received funding from the Aresty Research Center for Undergraduates to complete a memorable thesis, “Eunuchs and Castration Ritual in the Cult of the Great Mother.” Sarolta A. Takács, Professor of History at Rutgers, directed the work. Here’s an excerpt from our chat…

Rutgers Classics Blog (RCB): Here at the RU Classics Blog we last had an update on you in 2008, when you had finished up at Rutgers College, and were just about to set off for New Haven. But I’m sure a lot has happened since then!

Thomas J. Biggs (TJB):  “Well, right now I’m in the busy days of my sixth year at Yale Classics, putting the finishing touches on my dissertation, writing papers for several exciting conferences this year at Stanford, University of Virginia, and the American Philological Association, and fine-tuning my third article to send out. Although my interests have ranged widely since my undergraduate days at Rutgers, my current work on Latin literature and Roman culture certainly has its roots in the classes I took in Ruth Adams.”


Tom Biggs’08 in Rome’s Capitoline Museum, talking about the inscription of C. Duilius (consul 260 BCE)  from the base of his rostral column

RCB: And precisely what’s the subject of that dissertation?

TJB: “My dissertation itself—and I will give you the short version of the topic!—is an exploration of the literary and cultural memory of the First Punic War, from the moment of initial reception at the end of the 3rd century BCE to the curious and understudied Augustan revival of the war and the cultural output of its time by poets, historians, and Princeps.”

RCB: What else? Any travel?

TJB: “I’m fresh off of a great year of dissertation fellowship during which I spent some time in Rome and a month at the Fondation Hardt near Geneva, where I made some great breakthroughs with my research and met lots of wonderful people.”

RCB: And what does this final year at Yale promise for you?

TJB: “At present, I’m extremely happy to be teaching again and am really enjoying my intermediate Latin students and their reactions to our current reading, Apuleius’ Metamorphoses. As the season changes to Fall and I prepare to lick some stamps and mail out my first round of job applications, I have been looking back on my years as a student quite often and could not be happier with the training I received and good times I had at Rutgers and Yale. Wish me luck on the market this year, and hopefully I will be updating you again this time next year from a new place with new stories to tell! ”

RCB: Luck is duly wished! Thanks so much Tom!


Tom Biggs’08 at work on the Tabula Iliaca in the Capitoline Museums in Rome

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