Essay Competition

The CASA Essay competition (formerly the B.X. de Wet Essay) 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.


Applications for 2021 will open in August.

The competition is open to undergraduates every year and to Honours students in even-numbered years only. In 2021 the competition is therefore open to undergraduates only. Where possible, the institution should submit essays to the panel on their students’ behalf. Not 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.

Previous winners

2019: Adam Butler (Rhodes University), ‘Mimesis as poetic tool and metapoetic comment in Ovid.’

2018: Deborah Stein (University of Stellenbosch), ‘The heart of the poet in the heart of his poem (Catullus & Ariadne)’

2017: Nina-Mari Grobler (University of Pretoria), ‘Diagnosing Vergil’s Dido: a psychological perspective.’

2016: Helen Lenahan (Rhodes University), “Mighty hunters of mankind”: The influence and subversion of the Classical hero in Milton’s Satan.’

2015: Emily van der Merwe (University of Stellenbosch), ‘Horace: The misunderstood lover?’

2014: Christian Bronkhorst (University of Cape Town), ‘Self-satire in the Cena Trimalchionis.’

2013: Ursula Westwood (University of Cape Town), ‘Domitian’s attitude to Jews and Judaism.’

2012: Claude F Heyman (University of South Africa), ‘Opposition to same-sex marriage in the early Empire.’

2011: Christian Straeulie (University of Pretoria), ‘Why did the Thebans defeat the normally militarily superior Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra?’

2010: Natasje van der Westhuizen (University of Stellenbosch), ‘Hoi neoteroi: Everyman’s verse or supercilious snobbery.’

2009: Sonja Gammage (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban), ‘Herodotus and language.’

2008: Donatella du Plessis (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban), ‘A comparative study of the Dido-Aeneas episode in Virgil’s Aeneid and Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queene of Carthage.

2007: Hamish Williams (University of Cape Town), ‘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 (University of Stellenbosch), ‘Euripides se Medea.’

2005: I Scheepers (University of South Africa), ‘Fate and divine working in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.’

2004: K S Pendlebury (Rhodes University), ‘The refinements on the Parthenon.’

2003: B S Green (University of Stellenbosch), ‘IsiXhoza nostra: A comparison of the Roman and the Xhosa law of marriage.’

2002: A de Kock (University of Stellenbosch), ‘Die herder en die wolf: ‘n vergelyking tussen die karakters van Aeneas en Turnus.’