Canadian Joshua Benjamins is a Hillsdale College alumnus now studying at the University of Notre Dame. A fellow classicist, Josh is presenting a paper this week at the annual convention of the Society for Classical Studies. He and I are presenting on the same panel, along with three other students.
Degree from Hillsdale: I earned my B.A. (Honors) in Latin and History from Hillsdale in 2015 (s.c.l.).
Why I loved Hillsdale: The single thing I appreciated most about Hillsdale was the opportunity to work very closely with my professors and to be mentored by them. This has been invaluable for me in both my academic and personal development. I feel fortunate that many of these relationships have continued after Hillsdale.
Current studies and activities: I am currently completing an M.A. in Early Christian Studies at the University of Notre Dame, focusing on late antique intellectual culture. Aside from my regular classes I am involved in Mensa Latina (a spoken Latin group), a Septuagint reading group, and a Byzantine Greek reading group, and participate in the Workshop on Ancient Philosophy. I am also working independently as one of the translators of the Peter Martyr Vermigli library (Truman State University Press).
Career aspirations: After my M.A. I plan to complete a Ph.D. in Classics and to pursue a career in teaching and research.
Presentation topic at the SCS convention this week: My paper takes its starting-point from Athena’s repeated affirmation in the Odyssey that Telemachus will gain kleos in the course of his voyage to Pylos and Sparta. I propose an interpretation of Athena’s statement which takes into account the lineal roots and social dimensions of kleos in the Homeric world. I argue that Telemachus’ indecision and self-doubt at the beginning of the Odyssey stem from the fact that he lacks a proper self-definition in relation to his long-absent father, Odysseus. In the course of his journey across the Peloponnese, Telemachus gains a proper self-definition as he is educated in the meaning of kleos through the models of Odysseus and Orestes, mediated by Mentor/Athena, Menelaus, and others. In this process, Telemachus discovers his own social identity as closely bound up with Odysseus’, and begins to adopt his father’s character as a man of both words and deeds.