Department of Classics

Northwestern Students in Pompeii
Northwestern Students in Pompeii

Eta Sigma Phi

Eta Sigma Phi is now accepting applications for the 2014-15 school year! Applicants must be classics majors or minors or have a demonstrated interest in the classics. Download the application here , and please contact Brian Earl or Maria Kovalchuk with any questions.


Eta Sigma Phi is the national undergraduate honor society for students of ancient Greek and Latin. Here at Northwestern, Eta Sigma Phi is an active student group that sponsors intellectual and social events, trips to Chicago theaters and museums, free film screenings on campus, and an annual celebration and prize award ceremony.

Nationally, the purposes of Eta Sigma Phi are "to develop and promote interest in classical study among the students of colleges and universities; to promote closer fraternal relationship among students who are interested in classical study, including inter-campus relationship; to engage generally in an effort to stimulate interest in classical study, and in the history, art, and literature of ancient Greece and Rome."

The national organization awards scholarships and translation prizes each year, and sponsors a convention in late March. The Beta chapter here at Northwestern offers weekly language tutoring workshops and provides a forum in which students with an interest in Classics can interact with both their professors and their peers outside of class, forming closer, more informal relationships. Students interested in study abroad in Greece or Italy are advised to become active in Eta Sigma Phi. Applicants for membership must have earned at least the grade of 'B' in at least two quarters of Latin and/or ancient Greek.

For more information about the national organization, visit their website at:

For more information about Eta Sigma Phi at Northwestern, please contact either of the co-presidents for 2013-14, Maria Kovalchuk or Brian Earl. Other officers for 2013-14 are Sam Howes (vice president), Arpan Patel (secretary/treasurer), and Michael Lamble (herald).  ESP's faculty advisor is John Schafer.

Update on Eta Sigma Phi activities, 2013-14
Michael Lamble, reporting

As often as we can, the Northwestern University chapter of Eta Sigma Phi tries to attend the Tuesday night trivia at one of the local pubs.  The excursions are largely social occasions, and we spend just as much time chatting with one another as we do trying to answer questions.  Our department being made up of a vibrant and diverse group of individuals means that at least one of our members is likely to have the answer to any given question.  In addition, we find that our studies of ancient Greece and Rome have given us an edge.  With Greek and Latin, we have an advantage on questions of etymology, and classical literature and history inform many of the questions that we answer correctly.  Recently, our team was invited to a trivia championship, which draws high-performing trivia teams from all around Chicagoland, and we are proud of this recognition!  We take our success as a testament to the many benefits of an education in Classics!



Update on Eta Sigma Phi activities, 2012-13
Brian Earl, reporting


Eta Sigma Phi, a vibrant community of classics majors and minors, had a very successful year, hosting many events in addition to weekly meetings. Students and professors alike laughed and chatted through informal evenings for students and faculty to interact outside of the classroom.

We held multiple “Classics Pictionary” parties, one themed on Lupercalia (the Roman equivalent of Valentine’s Day). We had movie screenings, including the hilarious Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and the more recent epic 300

In April, students competed against each other pitilessly in a trivia match, learning all sorts of interesting facts in the process (including the tidbit that a scorpion will sting itself to death if you pour alcohol on its back).


We’ve had more intellectual activities, too. On Halloween, professors shared their favorite ancient ghost stories. We attended a lecture on Late Roman and Byzantine art at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pictured below, our most successful event was held in February, when Emeritus Professor Daniel Garrison shared his groundbreaking research on classical medicine and the medieval anatomist Vesalius with an audience of over twenty students and faculty members. 

Eta Sigma Phi is looking forward to more exciting events next year.