Department or Program

Classical Studies

Additional Department or Program (if any)

Classical Studies

Title of Approved Individual Major


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Kate Gilhuly


This thesis focuses on the use of representations of literary symposia by Classical Greek authors. During the late fifth and early fourth centuries, the sympotic setting was inherently linked to the social conditions of that contentious period, at which point the symposium becomes a useful space for the articulation of larger tensions that pervaded the Athenian polis. The literary symposium proved to be a useful mode for presenting conflicting opinions about class, politics, and education—specifically during the early years of the Peloponnesian War. I examine Aristophanes’ Wasps, the Symposium of Xenophon, and Plato’s dialogue of the same name. These texts demonstrate the ways in which the sympotic setting was particularly well suited to discussions about education, while they also present a figuration of young elite men as heirs to inherited sets of principles and behaviors. Thus, the role of the symposium in education and the transmission of knowledge from father to son or from student to teacher become central themes in my research.