Luis Sanchez: Developing Language Skills to Better Study Classical Civilizations

My name is Luis, a Classics major here at Florida State University coming from Plantation, Florida in Broward County. I study the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, with a primary concentration on their languages and literatures. My research thus far has focused on ancient medicine, and how it was used by various authors as a metaphorical tool with which to approach contemporary social norms and delineate philosophical theories. The former has manifested most recently in my paper “Sophocles’ Antigone and the Biological Imperative to Marry,” winner of the Presidential Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student Paper at the 2021 meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS). The latter is taking shape in the form of my honors thesis, titled “The Political Medicine of Asclepius in Plato’s Republic,” for the completion of which my thesis director, Dr. Slaveva-Griffin, and I have won the CAMWS Faculty-Undergraduate Collaborative Research Project Grant and the David B. Ford Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award from the Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement here at FSU.

“The Political Medicine of Asclepius in Plato’s Republic” aims to analyze the intersection of medicine and politics in the Republic, so that a greater understanding may be achieved of Plato’s theory that the body, city, and soul could all be “healthy” and “diseased” under similar circumstances. Plato invokes Hippocratic treatises such as On the Nature of Man and On Regimen, translating the theory of constituent harmony and the principal of opposition from discourse on the four bodily humors to that on the four professions within his ideal city of Callipolis and, ultimately, the four virtues of the soul. Just as the doctor uses medicine and drugs (pharmaka) to restore balance to the physical body, the stateman must use legislation and laws to restore balance to the political body, and he must do so as expertly. According to Plato, the “healthy” city is a “just” one and striking a similar harmony within the soul makes it “just” as well, a state in which the rational constituent rules over the spirited and appetitive ones. The more nuanced examination of Plato’s politicization of medicine and converse medicalization of legislation my honors thesis will provide will grant a clearer understanding of Plato’s medical metaphor and how he uses it to delineate his political theory and theory of justice.

With the aid of the David B. Ford Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award, I am able to build the bibliography necessary for the completion of my honors thesis. Additionally, I am able to virtually attend the German for Students of Classical Studies summer program hosted by the University of Cologne. The program will not only allow me to improve my German, which is my minor here at FSU, but will also introduce me to the language in the context of Classics, being one of the most important research languages in all the humanities. I will have the chance to read German scholarly articles from various areas relevant to Classics, attend lectures delivered in German, and speak with professors within the department of Classics, or rather, the Institut für Altertumskunde.

A better grasp of the German language and a glimpse from the German perspective into Classics, as the international field of study that it is, will drastically improve my ability to conduct research and grant an even greater appreciation for the subject. Academic research is conducted around the world and learning its languages allows you to enter the global stage, breaking you out of the narrow scope of research written in a single language. The preparation I have received at FSU will prepare me to study Classics at the graduate level, hopefully at one of the many quality programs offered in the United States and around the world.

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