Matt PancieraFaculty

Associate Professor in Classical Studies

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

LAT-101 (Beg. Latin I) and LAT-201 (Augustus/Poets/Empire)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
CUR-100 Transformation/Identity 20 2020/FA, 2018/FA, 2017/FA, 2013/FA, 2011/FA, 2010/FA, 2009/FA, 2007/FA, 2005/FA, 2004/FA, and 2003/FA
CLA-398 Honors Thesis 10 2022/FA, 2021/SP, 2013/FA, 2013/SP, 2012/FA, 2012/SP, 2011/FA, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, and 2006/SP
LAT-101 Beg. Latin I 10 2022/FA, 2018/FA, 2017/FA, 2014/FA, and 2010/FA
LAT-102 Beg. Latin II 8 2023/SP, 2017/SP, 2015/SP, and 2008/SP
CLA-399 Classics Capstone 7 2023/SP, 2020/SP, 2018/SP, 2013/FA, 2007/SP, 2005/SP, and 2004/SP
LAT-201 Augustus/Poets/Empire 6 2020/FA, 2019/FA, 2014/FA, 2012/FA, 2006/FA, and 2005/FA
LAT-375 Latin Prose Composition 5 2019/FA, 2012/FA, 2007/FA, 2005/SP, and 2004/SP
LAT-112 Latin II 4 2004/SP and 2003/SP
CLA-202 Roman Daily Life 3 2022/FA, 2010/FA, and 2006/FA
LAT-202 Ovid: Myth & Power 3 2020/SP, 2015/SP, and 2008/SP
CLA-212 Art and Archeology of Rome 3 2017/SP, 2011/SP, and 2007/SP
LAT-111 Latin I 3 2003/FA and 2002/FA
LAT-301 Petronius & Pompeii 2 2019/FA and 2006/FA
GRE-301 Greek Historians 2 2018/FA and 2014/SP
CLA-101 Myth and Meaning 2 2018/SP
GRE-100 Immersion Greek I 2 2014/JN and 2013/JN
LAT-303 Cicero and Sallust: The Fall of the Roman Republic 2 2013/FA and 2007/FA
GRE-201 Plato and the Intellectual Revolution 2 2012/FA and 2005/FA
LAT-304 Roman Drama 2 2010/SP and 2006/SP
LAT-110 Intensive Beginning Latin 2 2008/JN and 2005/JN
CLA-133 Art and Archeology of Rome 2 2005/SP and 2003/SP
CLA-136 Roman History and Culture 2 2004/FA and 2002/FA
CLA-100 World of Wordcraft 1 2023/SP
CUR-399 Senior Seminar 1 2021/SP
FTS-100 FTS:Ancient Greeks 1 2013/FA
CUR-250 Literary Experience 1 2013/SP
GRE-101 Greek I 1 2012/FA
CUR-230 Visual Exp-Italy&London 1 2012/JN
GRE-304 Greek Oratory 1 2007/SP
CLA-268 Career Exploration 1 2006/JN
LAT-372 Horace and the Roman Poets 1 2005/SP
LAT-104 Medical Terminology 1 2004/SP
CLA-104 Ancient Theatre and Masks 1 2004/JN