Senior Gregory Kerr Defends Thesis


On April 26, 2018, Classics and Philosophy major Gregory Kerr successfully defended his honors thesis on the Modern Greek poet C. P. Cavafy.  Mr. Kerr’s thesis, entitled “Greekness in Peril: Cavafy and the Essence of Hellenism,” argued that the poet presents an idealized form of “Hellenism” through his picture of Sparta and Spartans, especially in his portrait of Cleomenes III, contrasting this with the decadent portrayal of the Hellenic monarchs of Egypt (the Ptolemies). Mr. Kerr demonstrated that Cavafy often utilized moments of apparent (or real) defeat to depict the essence of Greek excellence (αρετή), a technique he foreshadows in his early poem “Thermopylai.” Mr. Kerr began his study of Cavafy, arguably the greatest of all Modern Greek poets, in the “Cavafy and History” course taught by Professors Polychroniou and Samons that he took in the spring of 2017. Both Polychroniou and Samons praised his thesis as one of the finest undergraduate theses they had read.