MUCLASS in 2021

Melbourne University Classics and Archaeology Students Society (MUCLASS) is a club for anyone interested in ancient history, mythology, archaeology or the Classics. They run a broad range of social and academic events, including trivia nights, museum visits, board game sessions, and film screenings. In this profile, we look at their achievements in 2021 and plans for 2022, as well as introducing their new committee.

At MUCLASS we were excited to be starting 2021 with the opportunity to hold in-person events, to provide both academic support and social activities for club members. Over the summer we ran Latin and Ancient Greek reading groups for advanced students, and short primer courses for beginners. During the first semester we held a range of events including:

  • Ancient Trivia night
  • Hellenic Museum visit
  • Latin-speaking event
  • film screening
  • weekly study sessions

In second semester we held our AGM and elected an almost entirely new committee! Abigail Banister-Jones and Hannah Lewis were elected as Co-Consuls (Presidents), with Bridget Bracken elected Praetor (Secretary), Andrew Lim elected Aedile (Education Officer) and Meg Challis elected Quaestor (Treasurer). Our general committee included Daniel Sevo, and Daisy Norfolk and Gilbert Newport from the previous committee to bring some wisdom to the group!

Initially, we were very excited to run events, yet quickly had to adapt to the circumstances of lockdown and were limited to operating online only. By far our best decision was to introduce the Septathlon, a seven-week series of competitive team events ranging from a symposium debate night to a costume competition, from ancient-themed trivia to charades. The Septathlon culminated in a black-tie prize ceremony over Zoom, where we celebrated the podium finishers and awarded individual prizes for those who showed enthusiasm and team spirit, or had a particularly memorable quote one week!

We were delighted to receive feedback that the Septathlon helped keep club members connected during lockdown, and it was a highlight of the week for many of us – becoming immortalised in many, many Unimelb Love Letters! When restrictions eased, we hosted a Septathlon Reunion Picnic at the Botanic Gardens – meeting our teammates in person for the first time!

In addition to the Septathlon, we hosted:

  • regular book club meetings
  • film screening
  • subject review event
  • weekly study sessions

Looking toward 2022, we aim to continue the transition and primer courses for Latin and Ancient Greek students over the summer, as well as increase educational outreach and support to students studying Classics and Ancient World studies on campus. Additionally, we plan to bring back the Septathlon in Semester One, among other social activities.

MUCLASS Committee

Abigail Banister Jones – Consul (President)

Abigail Banister-Jones (she/her) is a writer, performer, and musician from the VCA’s BFA in theatre making. She moved from Perth to Melbourne for university in 2019 and joined MUCLASS after completing the subject Classical Mythology (ANCW20015), which she took as a breadth subject to fill in her knowledge as she endeavours to create theatre and writing that riffs off and reinterprets Greco-Roman mythology for the modern audience. She thinks a historical figure everyone should know of is Thespis, the very first ‘actor’. This is where the term for theatre lovers, ‘thespian’, comes from.


Hannah Lewis – Consul (President)

I’m Hannah, I joined the MUCLASS committee this year as Consul. I’m a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Classics and Ancient World Studies and doing a Diploma of Languages in Ancient Greek. My areas of interest mainly concern Ancient Greece, particularly the social history, art, and literature. I also enjoy studying classical reception and learning about the Classical world’s influence on modern art, architecture, and literature.

I’ve found it an incredibly rewarding (though, at times, difficult) experience studying both Latin and Ancient Greek at a University level and I love that everyone else who studies Classics is equally passionate! I joined the MUCLASS committee this year because I benefited so much from the previous committee’s study sessions in my first year, and found the social events a great way to meet people with similar interests so I wanted to help out and continue fostering the MUCLASS community.

A historical figure I love is Pliny the Elder who wrote the Naturalis Historia (which became the model for later encyclopaedias), among many, many other works and I really admire his absolute dedication to recording history, geography, and natural phenomena.

Bridget Bracken – Praetor (Secretary)

Hi! I’m Bridget and I joined the MUCLASS committee for the first time this year as the Praetor/Secretary. I’m a second-year Arts student majoring in Ancient World Studies. I became involved with MUCLASS to meet other people with a passion for history and to help make the study of ancient cultures and their people more accessible and inviting!

My specialisation is ancient Egypt. I’ve studied ancient Egyptian for two years now and, when I’m not busy puzzling over the meaning of hieroglyphs, I love researching and writing about the lives of underrepresented people in history. One historical figure I think everyone should know about is the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, because she was an incredibly powerful woman who was forgotten by history for so many years!

Meg Challis – Quaestor (Treasurer)

Salve! I’m Meg, the new Quaestor. My first introduction to Classics, like so many others, was when I first read the Percy Jackson books when I was around 11. I devoured all the books in the original series over the summer holidays and never looked back since. Now, I’m about to finish my Bachelor of Arts majoring in Ancient Greek and Latin and am a Latin teaching assistant at Haileybury.

Joining MUCLASS seemed like a natural next step in my plans to revive the imperium sine fine through reinvigorating Classical studies for the modern age. My particular area of interest is translation, specifically translating old classics in a way that is accessible to a new generation of students.

A historical figure I think people should look into is Agrippina the Younger, the infamous mother of Nero. Her reputation has been torn to rags by writers like Tacitus but, during Nero’s reign, she published her own autobiography, which would have been a fascinating source, if some less-than-feminist monks had decided it was worth preserving!

Andrew Lim – Aedile (Education Officer)

I’m Andrew – a first-year Physics student and the aedile (Education Officer) at MUCLASS. I know … it’s not a typical combination. But I joined MUCLASS because of that, not in spite of it – because I believe now more than ever that we need to reach out and speak to students beyond those strictly studying the Classics and Archaeology fields.

Let’s not forget: these areas were interdisciplinary before it was fashionable – the ancients were scientists and lawyers as much as historians and generals!  Be it in Chinese shipbuilding, Mayan stargazing, or Roman lawmaking, I believe the ancient world offers us lessons and stories tailor made for our circumstances, if we only know where to look.

Take, say, algebra – something as far removed from the classics as you might imagine. It was popularised in a treatise by a Persian polymath named Al-Khwarizmi, who first developed al-jabr, a method of balancing equations common to today’s elementary algebra. But less well known among his great works is a dramatically revised version of Ptolemy’s Geography, six centuries after the original, pushing the cutting edge of navigation by reaching back into its past. Even mathematically, for me at least, it’s a comforting thought that we stand but on the shoulders of giants.

And perhaps even more deeply, especially in a world that today seems messy, complicated and unparalleled, isn’t there something so deeply poignant in the thought that our hopes and our dreams are no different to the aspirations and desires of those who lived, loved and lost in civilisations long since turned to dust?

I think there is – and that’s what I love about Classics. That’s what I think people should know about it. That’s why I got into MUCLASS.

Daisy Norfolk – Senator (General Committee)

Hi! I’m Daisy, a Senator (General Committee) in the Classics & Archaeology Society. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts in Ancient World Studies and work as a casual field archaeologist in Victoria. My favourite areas of interest are ancient Egyptian culture and language, portrayals of gender and women’s experiences in the ancient world, and classical reception studies—particularly repatriation debates! A historical figure I think everyone should know about is Ea-Nasir, because being immortalised for your poor-quality copper ingots is some big energy.

Daniel Ševo – Senator (General Committee)

Joining the MUCLASS committee is the most classically classical decision I’ve made. I wanted to meet people as interested in classics as myself and I figured the most classical way to do so was to join the Classics club, where Classics is (usually) the main point of conversation. This club is a classic example of classics getting together and discussing classics, and I’ve never been prouder to be a part of a club before!

Having done Ancient History and Latin in VCE, a classical figure who interests me greatly is Julius Caesar. His life is such a classic example of why one should interest themselves in the classics. His Commentarii de Bello Gallico is such a classical work to translate and is great to read into how egocentric Caesar was … what a classic Caesar moment!

For those who have not yet dabbled in the classics, I hope you find your way eventually.

Gilbert Newport – Senator (General Committee)

G’day, I’m Gilbert. I joined MUCLASS two years ago to meet interesting people and promote the study of classics and archaeology. Studying ancient languages is no easy feat and, for the past two years, it’s been a small passion of mine to help and support students in their studies. As a club, we’ve started up peer mentor programs and extra study sessions, reading groups and primer courses—all of which I’m proud to have been a part of. I myself have spent several years studying languages, but pretty soon I’ll be undertaking a science degree. I guess it makes sense then that I admire Aristotle, but whatever I go on to study or do, I’ll be a devotee of Homer till the end.