12 January 2024 • Alums Society of Classical Studies Honors Smith ’96 By Andrew Wickenden '09

Steven D. Smith '96, professor of Classics and comparative literature at Hofstra University, is the recipient of the Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit for his book Greek Epigram and Byzantine Culture: Gender, Desire, and Denial in the Age of Justinian.

In Greek Epigram and Byzantine Culture: Gender, Desire, and Denial in the Age of Justinian, Steven D. Smith '96 explores how Greek epigrams conveyed the fantasies of the Byzantine empire during the fifth and sixth century C.E.

Smith’s in-depth study of the genre was recognized with the Goodwin Award of Merit, awarded annually by the Society of Classical Studies for outstanding publications in the field of classical studies. The Goodwin Awards are the society’s only honors for scholarly achievement.

Smith’s third book, Greek Epigram and Byzantine Culture (Cambridge University Press) presents a compelling interpretation of Greek poetry that bridges classical and early Byzantine culture.

“Sexy, scintillating, and sometimes scandalous, Greek epigrams from the age of the Emperor Justinian commemorate the survival of the sensual in a world transformed by Christianity,” the publisher explains. “Around 567 C.E., the poet and historian Agathias of Myrina published his Cycle, an anthology of epigrams by contemporary poets who wrote about what mattered to elite men in sixth-century Constantinople: harlots and dancing girls, chariot races in the hippodrome, and the luxuries of the Roman bath. But amid this banquet of worldly delights, ascetic Christianity — pervasive in early Byzantine thought — made sensual pleasure both more complicated and more compelling. In this book…Smith explores how this miniature classical genre gave expression to lurid fantasies of domination and submission, constraint and release, and the relationship between masculine and feminine. The volume will appeal to literary scholars and historians interested in Greek poetry, Late Antiquity, Byzantine studies, Early Christianity, gender, and sexuality.”

Smith’s previous books are Man and Animal in Severan Rome: The Literary Imagination of Claudius Aelianus (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Greek Identity and the Athenian Past in Chariton: The Romance of Empire (Barkhuis & Groningen University Library, 2007). His research interests include Greek literature of the Roman Imperial period, especially the ancient novel (first through fourth centuries C.E.); animals in the Greco-Roman imagination; sex and gender in antiquity; and early Byzantine culture. At Hofstra, he teaches Greek and Latin at all levels and ancient literature in English translation.

After graduating with a B.A. in English and Greek from HWS, Smith earned a Ph.D. in classical studies from Boston University.