Matthew Panciera


Associate Professor in Classics

How I got into Classics

I had taken Latin in high school, but really fell in love with Classics when I went to university. In addition to Latin I began taking courses in all things ancient—art, history, philosophy, literature. I loved the variety of Classics and how everything seemed to connect—the appreciation of a great ancient poem like Vergil's Aeneid requires knowledge first of Latin, but then other works of Greek and Roman literature, ancient religion, philosophy, even art. And no matter how many times I read, for example, the beginning of the Aeneid, new things suddenly struck me. It was also fascinating to see how the Greeks and Romans who had lived so long ago could seem so strange sometimes, but at other times so relevant to the modern world.

Finally one day I ran into my favorite professor, Emmett Robbins, on the street and he said, "You know, Matt, you really need to experience the joy of learning Greek." I didn't take his advice until my junior year, but I declared a Classics major soon after starting Greek. The other thing that drew me into Classics was the small, welcoming, intellectually vibrant and challenging atmosphere of the department. The University of Toronto is a huge institution, but my Classics classes usually had fewer than 20 people and they were full of interesting discussion that was generated as much by the students as the professors.

How I got into teaching

I went to the University of North Carolina for my MA and PhD. In order to receive funding we needed to teach very early on in our graduate careers and from the very beginning I knew that it was for me. We were given superb training by Cecil Wooten who has thought as much about teaching as any Classics professor I have known. I loved the experience of leading students through a truly remarkable transformation—they went from not knowing Latin at all to being able to translate and understand the basic mechanics of one of the world's oldest, most beautiful, and most difficult languages. I was always in awe what my students could do and how far they had come in such a short time.

In my time at UNC I saw that good teaching is certainly a complex mixture: it starts with a teacher's knowledge of the material, then there is the mastery of techniques to transfer that knowledge to the students, and it always requires an understanding of human psychology to create an atmosphere where each student wants to learn the material. It is also part performance, the pure joy of being in command in front of an audience, holding them in the palm of your hand, creating a moment that they will never forget. Early on in graduate school I was part of a production of a Roman comedy (in Latin in front of an audience!) and it changed me forever—I saw how much fun and important it was to remember that good teaching is part entertainment (in the best sense of the word).

Before coming to Gustavus I had extensive experience, teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Greensboro, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, the College of Charleston, and Hamilton College.

My research

Some of the most exciting moments I have ever experienced have come in the quiet of a library as I was huddled over an old book deeply in thought on some question that had puzzled me for months. Then, either as a slow dawning or in a flash an answer starts to appear. It is a feeling of pure pleasure. This is the real reason I do research—I have questions and love trying to answer them. My areas of research tend to be on the Roman side, but I have not lost my fondness for the variety of Classics. I have published articles on Livy, Plautus, Latin pedagogy, and Pompeian graffiti, and I am working on questions concerning Horace, Martial, Plautus, and more Pompeian graffiti.

Articles and Books (in progress and published)

"Tacenda." (forthcoming in Mnemosyne)

"Hamillus/Sullimah: Sex, Fiction, and the Significance of Ananyms in Pompeii." Classical Philology (2011), 106.1: 53-59.

"Alicaria in Plautus, Festus, and Pompeii." Classical Quarterly (2007), 57: 303-306.

"Playing Games in Beginning Latin," Erato (newsletter of the ACM and GLCA), December 2004

"Livy, conubium, and Plebeians' Access to the Consulship", in Augusto Augurio: rerum humanarum et divinarum commentationes in honorem Jerzy Lindersky, p.89-99. Verlag, 2004.

Latin Laughs: A Production of Plautus' Poenulus. Bolchazy-Carducci, 1997 (co-authored with John H. Starks, Jr., et al.)


(w/ Eric Dugdale) "Activities for Beginning Language Teaching: Haiku, PowerPoint Sentences, Games," ACL Institute, Minneapolis, June 27, 2011

“Pompeian Graffiti in the Introductory Latin Classroom”, at “Teaching Pompeii in a Liberal Arts Setting,” Wabash College, February 4-6, 2010

"The Sexual Graffiti in the Brothel of Pompeii." CIEGL 2007

"Plautonic Amabo: When Men Say 'Please' in Plautus." APA, January 2007

"Cleopatra's Socratic Suicide in Horace Odes 1.37." Faculty Forum, Gustavus Adolphus College, April 2006

"Sexual Graffiti in the Brothel at Pompeii." CAMWS, March 2005

"Playing Games in Beginning Latin." CAMWS—SS, November 2004

"Hamillus/Sullimah in Martial, Juvenal, and Pompeii." CAAS, October 2001

"Cunnilingus in an Ostian Bath." APA, December 1999

"(h)alicaria: 'Prostitute' in Plautus and Pompeii." Duke-UNC Colloquium, March 1999

"Roman Marriage Ceremony and Aeneid IV." North Carolina Classical Association, April 1997

"The Aeneas Panel of the Ara Pacis." UNC-Asheville Classics Club Lecture, March 1997

"Of an Arm and an Old Man I Sing: Anchises on the Ara Pacis." CAC, May 1996

"Atque odium meum: Playing with Plautus in the Classroom." CAMWS—SS, October 1994

My experience at Gustavus

I feel lucky to have been hired at Gustavus. First, and most important to me, the students here are the best I have ever had. They combine a very good work ethic with a serious interest in learning, but also a sense of humor that makes it easy to come to work every day. Second, my colleagues, both those college-wide, but especially within my department, are superb. They are talented scholars who help me in so many ways, from sharing ideas about teaching to reading drafts of my research. Finally, Gustavus as a small liberal arts institution suits my talents and interests quite well. I get to teach a wide variety of courses at all levels and several aspects of particular importance in a liberal arts education—skills such as speaking, writing, and critical thinking; the development of the whole person, mind, body, and soul; the constant emphasis on the interconnected nature of all knowledge—are a perfect fit for a classicist.


B.A. in Latin at the University of Toronto (1989) - M.A. in Latin at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1993) - Ph.D. in Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2001)


Courses Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
CUR-100Historical Perspective I152013/FA, 2011/FA, 2010/FA, 2009/FA, 2007/FA, 2005/FA, 2004/FA, and 2003/FA
CLA-398Honors Thesis82013/FA, 2013/SP, 2012/FA, 2012/SP, 2011/FA, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, and 2006/SP
LAT-102Beg. Latin II42015/SP and 2008/SP
LAT-101Beg. Latin I42014/FA and 2010/FA
LAT-201Reading Latin Literature42014/FA, 2012/FA, 2006/FA, and 2005/FA
CLA-399Classics Capstone42013/FA, 2007/SP, 2005/SP, and 2004/SP
LAT-375Latin Prose Composition42012/FA, 2007/FA, 2005/SP, and 2004/SP
LAT-112Latin II42004/SP and 2003/SP
LAT-111Latin I32003/FA and 2002/FA
LAT-202Vergil's Aeneid22015/SP and 2008/SP
GRE-100Immersion Greek I22014/JN and 2013/JN
LAT-303Cicero and Sallust: The Fall of the Roman Republic22013/FA and 2007/FA
GRE-201Plato and the Intellectual Revolution22012/FA and 2005/FA
CLA-212Art and Archeology of Rome22011/SP and 2007/SP
CLA-202Roman History and Culture22010/FA and 2006/FA
LAT-304Roman Drama22010/SP and 2006/SP
LAT-110Intensive Beginning Latin22008/JN and 2005/JN
CLA-133Art and Archeology of Rome22005/SP and 2003/SP
CLA-136Roman History and Culture22004/FA and 2002/FA
GRE-301Greek Historians12014/SP
FTS-100FTS:Ancient Greeks12013/FA
CUR-250Literary Experience12013/SP
GRE-101Greek I12012/FA
CUR-230Visual Exp-Italy&London12012/JN
GRE-304Greek Oratory12007/SP
LAT-301Livy: Foundation of the Roman Republic12006/FA
CLA-268Career Exploration12006/JN
LAT-372Horace and the Roman Poets12005/SP
LAT-104Medical Terminology12004/SP
CLA-104Ancient Theatre and Masks12004/JN