Epics, Illustrated: Drawing the Aeneid

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Sophie Park ‘19 is what you may call a classics aficionado. Known to many around campus as “Spark,” Sophie has attended two Groton trips to Greece and Rome, and has taken as many classics courses as she can get her hands on.


Although studying subjects such as Latin, Greek, and archeology is no easy task – any third former could tell you as much –  Sophie has immersed herself in Latin. Alongside art teacher Melissa De Jesus, she will dive this term into Virgil’s epic poem that tells of Aeneas, eventual founder of the Roman people, and his quest to settle in Italy. While most of us will be playing sports in the afternoon, Sophie will be take up the work of illustrating the Aeneid.


In the past four years, art has not played a big role in Sophie’s day-to-day academic schedule and extracurriculars. According to her, she has been “jumping all around” in her artistic interests: dipping her toes in photography, trying playwriting and directing in the One-Act Festival, and even taking a stab at woodworking.

Sophie’s Latin career has been clearer. She started in second form and “immediately fell in love with it,” she says. From then on, Sophie has extended her classical reach, adding Greek to her course load as well. This term however, she has chosen to incorporate those academics into her afternoon with this intensive faculty sponsored activity.

Latin classes start the Aeneid in Latin 3 and continue reading it through Latin 5. This epic is one of Sophie’s favorites, a myth littered with beautiful descriptions that Sophie deemed worthy of illustrating. This opportunity also gave her a chance to “learn how to storytell through art.”

Sophie’s knowledge of the subject matter primarily led her to this FSA, but there is another benefit: review for the upcoming Advanced Placement exam in Latin. “Seeing images will help me remember [the text] for the AP,” she says. Additionally, incorporating art into her regular Latin schedule gives her more reason to study the text carefully.       

Working with Ms. De Jesus to bring it to life, Sophie has already illustrated the shipwreck scene using charcoal. She has also begun exploring the medium of ceramic and hopes to eventually use more color through paint. In the near future, Sophie plans to illustrate Dido’s death, a fight between Aeneas and Dido, and Aeneas’ encounter with Venus.


At the end of the term, she hopes to bring together her artwork in some form of presentation to be offered to the community. Additionally, each piece will be accompanied with its corresponding text in Latin and an English translation for those who chose not to study Latin. So if you are an avid classics student, an amateur translator, or simply a fan of classical antiquity, stop by Sophie’s exhibition later this spring to check out some truly epic art.