CASA Essay Competition


The CASA Essay competition is held under the auspices of Akroterion: Journal of the Classics in South Africa, housed in the Department of Ancient Studies, University of Stellenbosch.

The intention of the competition is to encourage promising undergraduate and Honours students in Africa to pursue their interest in Classics. Essays on any aspect of Greek or Latin language or literature, or classical history or civilization may be submitted. The idea is that students should submit work done as part of their courses, but they may of course write specifically for the competition if they choose. Lecturers are kindly requested to bear this competition in mind when they consider that their students have submitted essays of suitable quality and encourage these students to submit their work for consideration.

The essays are judged by a panel consisting of three South African scholars. The final editing and preparation of the essay for publication are done by the student under supervision of the lecturer under whose aegis the essay was written and the members of the Akroterion Editorial Committee.

The competition is open to undergraduates every year and to Honours students in even-numbered years only. In 2023 the competition is therefore open only to undergraduates. Where possible the institution should submit students’ essays. No more than two essays per institution will normally be accepted. Only one essay per candidate may be submitted per year; a prize winner may not compete in subsequent years of the competition.

Students from any university in Africa may submit entries. Essays may be in English or Afrikaans, and should not exceed 3 500 words in length (exceptions will only be made if space is available and if the quality of the work warrants this).

Essays submitted for the competition need not conform to the guidelines set out in the ‘Notes for Contributors’ in Akroterion, but the author of the winning essay should be prepared to edit it, if so requested. Work must be typed and submitted electronically. The winning entry will be published in Akroterion. In addition, the winner will receive a cash prize. The prize and the cost of publishing the essay are both sponsored by THE CLASSICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA.

All entries should be e-mailed not later than 20 November 2023 to Dr Sjarlene Thom, e-mail address: Please direct queries to Dr Sjarlene Thom at the Department of Ancient Studies, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa. Telephone:  +27 (021) 808-3203; e-mail:



2022: Dylan Potter  “‘My African Dream’: Augustus and African Democracy”

2021: Thomas Stranex:  “Is it correct to say that Reason triumphs in Sophocles’ Ajax?”

2020: Nikola Bruni: “The Professional Greek Mercenary in Saite Egypt”

2019: Adam Butler: “Mimesis as Poetic Tool and Metapoetic Comment in Ovid

 2018: Deborah Stein: “The heart of the poet at the heart of his poem: The Manner and Purpose of Catullus’ identification with Ariadne in Poem 64”

2017: Nina-Mari Grobler: “Diagnosing Virgil’s Dido: a psychological perspective”

2016: Helen Lenahan: ‘“Mighty Hunters of Mankind”: The Influence and Subversion of the Classical Hero Archetype in Milton’s Satan.’

2015: Emily van der Merwe: ‘Horace: the misunderstood lover? Views on Horace’s approach to lyric love poetry.’

2014: Christiaan Bronkhorst: ‘Self-Satire in the Cena Trimalchionis’

2013: Ursula Westwood: ‘Domitian’s attitude to the Jews and Judaism’

2012: Claude F Heyman: ‘Scilicet horrores putares’ Opposition to same-sex marriage in the early Empire.’

2011: Christian Straeuli: ‘Why did the Thebans defeat the normally militarily superior Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra (371 BC)?’

2010: Natasja van der Westhuizen:Hoi Neoteroi: Everyman’s Verse or supercilious Snobbery?’

2009: Sonja Gammage: ‘Herodotus and Language’

2008: D. du Plessis: ‘A Comparative Study of the Dido-Aeneas Episode in Virgil’s Aeneid and Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queene of Carthage

2007: H. Williams: ‘Cicero Pro Caelio: What was it that Most Undermined Clodia’s Case — Her Character, the Prejudices of Roman Men, the Skills of Cicero, or . . . ‘

2006: M. Graf: ‘Euripides se Medea

2005: I. Scheepers: ‘Fate and Divine Working in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex

2004: K. S. Pendlebury: ‘The Refinements on the Parthenon’

2003: B. S. Green: ‘IsiXhoza Nostra: A Comparison of the Roman and the Xhosa Law of Marriage’

2002: Annemarie de Kock: ‘Die Herder en die Wolf: ‘n Vergelyking tussen die Karakters van Aeneas en Turnus’