A summer spent studying the political influence of a Roman philosopher and politician has led to an invitation to speak at a national gathering of scholars and be published in a leading academic journal.
Garrett Lysford ’15, Oslo, Minn., will present his paper, “Cicero and Adams: Architects of the Founding,” in Washington, D.C., in December at the undergraduate research symposium of the Center for Hellenic Studies.
His paper will subsequently be published in the center’s online undergraduate research journal.
Lysford wrote of the effect Cicero’s thinking had on John Adams and the Founding Fathers of the U.S. Constitution.
“Cicero was profoundly influential upon the moral and political thought of the founders, especially Adams,” says Lysford. “Cicero spoke about why a republic is the most desirable form of government and how an ideal republic should be structured.”
A political science, classical studies and accounting major, Lysford wrote the paper to fulfill a Credo social science credit. His faculty mentors were Dr. Michael Bath, political science department chair, and Dr. Heather Waddell Gruber, assistant professor of classical studies.
Lysford says that Adams, like many of the founders, was classically educated and well versed in the political and intellectual thinking of the ancient Romans and Greeks.
“I found many references to Cicero in the speeches and writing of Adams,” he says. “Cicero was a highly regarded orator and his language is found in many of our political documents.”
Lysford is humbled by the honor and says he began reading stories from classical mythology as a child and was fascinated by them.
Gruber and Lysford collaborated on their research last summer.
“Garrett’s final product was not only beautifully written but also quite original,” says Gruber, who suggested he submit his paper for the CHS symposium, although it meant stiff competition with students from across the country.
The Center for Hellenic Studies is affiliated with Harvard and is the cutting-edge research institution in the field of classical studies.
“His acceptance is a great honor,” says Gruber. “Garrett will be presenting to the top postdoctoral scholars in the field. It’s a great opportunity for him to join a larger intellectual community.”