Review lustrum 2022

Ten years of Sophia Aeterna
In 2022, Sophia Aeterna celebrated her second lustrum, with the theme Homo Universalis. On this page we look back on this anniversary: the theme, the activities we organized and the anniversary trip to Sicily!

Our association was founded on March 21, 2012. Compared to the long tradition of classical languages in Leiden, Sophia still seems very young with her tenth anniversary. Still, it is nice to see that Sophia and her activities are firmly anchored within our program after ten years. So we see that a lot can happen in ten years. Sophia has done and learned a lot in her life, had drinks and barbecued.

On the Program page you can find more about how we celebrated the anniversary, both on the day itself and the rest of the month. Would you like to know more about the founding of our study association? Then quickly go to Association > History!

Theme: Homo Universalis
The theme was revealed on November 10 through a spectacular video and an interesting lecture! You can watch this epic video again below.


Lustrum activities
A lustrum should be celebrated festively, and that is what we did! The entire month of March was packed with all kinds of anniversary activities. Below you can read more about these activities.

March 1st: Lustru breakfast
March 4th: Guided tour of the Rijksmuseum
March 9th: Laser gaming
March 14th: Sophia Pub Quiz
March 18th: Lustrumymposium
March 21st: Dies Natalis
March 25th: Lustrum dinner + party

Lustrum breakfast (March 1)
We kicked off the lustrum month well with a breakfast on March 1. Sophia Aeterna had put together a delicious breakfast bag, with which we had a delicious and pleasant breakfast to start the anniversary well!

Rijksmuseum tour (March 4)
On Friday afternoon, March 4, we visited the Rijksmuseum, where we received a tour of Renaissance art.

Sophia Pubquiz (March 14)
Experienced former board members tested our knowledge of Sophia's history with a pub quiz on March 14! Because why was Sophia actually founded? What do you know about all 10 boards? How do we actually get the beadle's staff? And who has served on the most committees?

Sophia Pubquiz (March 14)
Experienced former board members tested our knowledge of Sophia's history with a pub quiz on March 14! Because why was Sophia actually founded? What do you know about all 10 boards? How do we actually get the beadle's staff? And who has served on the most committees?

Lustrum symposium (March 18)
On March 18, at the Lustrum Syposium, we Leiden classicists immersed ourselves in disciplines with which we may not have a natural affinity. The aim of this symposium was to reveal ourselves as true homines universals by pushing the boundaries of our field: Robert Vinkesteijn, Bob van Velthoven and Theo Krispijn have taught us more learned about medicine, economics and music in ancient times.

Dies Natalis (March 21)
On March 21, Sophia Aeterna celebrates her dies natalis. A birthday naturally requires cake and that is why we ate cake together to celebrate Sophia's dies. In the evening we also had drinks at De Keyzer.

Lustrum dinner and party (March 25)
On Friday evening, March 25, we concluded the anniversary month in a festive manner with a joint dinner at Burgerzaken followed by the anniversary party! The theme of this party was 'Gay in the broadest sense of the word'. So its interpretation is up to you! The party took place in De Eeuwige Student, Wassenaarseweg 1.

Anniversary trip
In the context of Sophia Aeterna's second lustrum, an extra special trip was made from August 31 to September 5, 2022, namely to lustrum-worthy Sicily! Here, about thirty delegates from Sophia Aeterna have emerged as true homo universales. Below is a brief report of what we did on this trip.

Wednesday, August 31
In order to stay in Sicily for as long as possible and to undertake as many cultural activities as possible, we left the Netherlands early. We gathered at Rotterdam The Hague Airport at 5:00. Here we handed out the program booklets to all the sleepy participants. After a 2.5 hour flight we arrived at the airport in Palermo at 9:30. From there we took the bus to the hotel to check in. In the meantime it was time for lunch, but after a short break it was soon time to start the program again. We started with a joint walk through the city and first went to the Cattedrale di Palermo, where one of the committee members, Benjamin, told the group something about the special cathedral and in general about the history of Palermo. We took an extensive look at the cathedral from the outside and also took a tour of the cathedral, only to conclude that the outside was secretly a bit more beautiful than the inside. After the visit to the cathedral, we went as a group to the next program point, the impressive Palazzo dei Normanni where art could be enjoyed on several floors. The absolute highlight of the museum complex was undoubtedly the Capella Palatina, the personal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily in their city palace. Every square meter of this not-so-small twelfth-century chapel was elegantly packed with countless pieces of Byzantine mosaic in all colors. In countless images and figures, the history of salvation was depicted on a background of sparkling gold. The palazzo also housed a large parliament hall, stately medieval and early modern royal apartments, two modern art exhibitions and a tropical royal garden. After the museum visit we returned to the hotel. At the end of the afternoon, the entire group took an evening walk through the city center of Palermo, where committee member Benjamin showed us around again and delighted us with all kinds of fun facts. After this, everyone could go their own way to find a place to dine in groups on their own.

Thursday, September 1
After a tiring first day, breakfast was served in two hotel rooms from 9:00, provided by the committee. At 9:45 the program started again with a visit to the Baroque Church of San Domenico where the Sicilian Revolution of Independence began in 1848. After this we went to the beautiful Museo Archeologico Regionale Antonio Salinas, where the finds from various excavations in Sicily (including Selinunte) were on display around a special courtyard. After lunch it was the turn of the next church: Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (St. Mary of the Admiral, the admiral in question is Georgios of Antioch). Unfortunately, this church unexpectedly turned out not to be open at the time of our visit - although the website indicated otherwise - but fortunately this was not a problem due to some improvisation. Most were happy with a short moment of rest after having already had a fairly busy program and some visited the adjacent domed church, San Cataldo, which turned out to be open. Participants paid for admission themselves, but we refunded this afterwards. After this unexpected break, however, we were able to continue with the rest of the program a little earlier and (after a walk through a somewhat lesser area of Palermo) we visited the Castello della Zisa, a castle that was used as a summer residence by King William I of Sicily in 1165. was built and was originally part of a large park with a luxurious water garden. A number of boys of about eight years old were kind enough to show us tourists the way to this castle and then very cleverly asked for money for it, which we also gave. Once in the castle, we could take an audio tour (which unfortunately was not available to everyone because they did not have thirty devices) to admire the Islamic art on display there. Everyone could look around here for themselves and then there was some free time in the city before we gathered again to have dinner together in Il Siciliano restaurant. This was very good for the group dynamics, so everyone did not always hang out with the same people, but everyone mixed together.

Friday, September 2
Everyone got up quite early as the bus would be at the hotel at a quarter to nine. The bus driver did not live up to his Italian reputation and even arrived a little earlier than the agreed time. We went well on our way to the first destination: the Temple Valley in Agrigento. On the bus we received an introduction to ancient Agrigento via the microphone from PhD student Bob van Velthoven. Once on location we received a tour from our other PhD student Henric Janssen. This means that everyone knows, among other things, that the ancient name of Agrigento is Akragas and that the temple valley is not actually a valley at all. We stopped in several places to listen to Henric and were sometimes challenged to rack our brains ourselves. After walking around there for just over two hours, it was time to take the bus to the next destination, to the Villa Romana del Casale. This was a beautifully set up museum where we had the opportunity to admire 3500 m2 of beautiful mosaics. Each mosaic had a sign with English information, so everyone could see everything for themselves in just under two hours. Many of us were fascinated by the strange animals that could be admired in the mosaics (including pigeons pulling a chariot like yoked horses) and the so-called bikini girls also attracted attention. To the regret of many, however, we had to get back to the bus at 17:00 to continue our journey to Catania. The bus driver then brought us safely to the hostel. After checking in here, everyone could set off to explore Catania and have a nice bite to eat on their own.

Saturday, September 3
On our first full day in Catania, a tour awaited us at 10:00 in and around the Museo Civico, located in the Castello Ursino. Our guide Vanessa was waiting for us in front of the museum, because she wanted to first tell us something about the exterior and history of the castle. It has withstood the test of time very well: earthquakes and volcanic eruptions did not hit the castle. It was clearly visible how the lava flow from 1693 had flowed close to the castle, adding about 2.5 kilometers of land on the coastal side. The guide also told about the many different rulers that have ruled the island over time and had settled in the castle, including the Arabs, Normans and the Spanish. Nowadays the castle contains a lot of art: there are many inscriptions (including from the Terme Achilliane that we would visit on the last day) and it contains a beautiful collection of paintings and statues. The tour was an incredibly nice addition because it gave us more insight into the history of Catania (where we were for the first time that day), and the most important parts of the castle.

Then at 12:00 we headed to the Roman theater of Catania from the second century. It was uniquely enclosed between several other buildings, so it was not visible from the street. Here, one of our PhD students told us about the more classical history of Catania, through the many different names the city has borne over the centuries.

After this visit it was time for the free afternoon. We had made a number of suggestions for this in the program booklet, such as a visit to the botanical gardens or the Palazzo Biscari, or to the beach or other natural beauty. Various plans have been implemented: a small group visited the beach, others explored the city on their own. This way everyone could see the beauty of Catania at their own pace.

Sunday, September 4
On this sunny day we took the bus from Catania to Syracuse at 7:30. The bus drove quickly, so we arrived before opening time at our first activity of the day: Paolo Orsi archaeological museum. After a real Italian coffee we were allowed into the museum. It was a large museum with many small archaeological finds from the early period as well as large(er) statues from the Roman period. This variety was very nice to have, because there was a lot to see. After the museum we walked five minutes to the almost adjacent archaeological park. It was very busy there, because it was a beautiful Sunday and the tickets were free. Nevertheless, we had a nice tour, first to the large theater, where PhD students Henric Janssen and Bob van Velthoven told us something about the site and its history. Afterwards, everyone was allowed to tour the park at their own discretion to see with their own eyes what ancient writers had already described to us.

Lunch, eating cannoli or going for a swim were all possible during the break, because we didn't meet again until 16:00 at the next museum. Temperatures had risen to 36℃, so the sea was a popular choice. In the museum of Archimedes and Leonardo da Vinci we split the group, half could view Leonardo da Vinci's models and even use some of them, the other half went to the large square with the Duomo. After 45 minutes the groups switched. The cathedral was first a temple of Athena, with Doric columns, later converted into a cathedral and also a mosque for about 150 years. Due to an earthquake it was once rebuilt and this time with Corinthian columns. All these influences can still be seen in the building and its eventful history showed.

 Wandering through the cute alleys of white Syracuse, we had dinner, took a last look at the harbors and the old temples and as darkness fell we boarded the bus to Catania.

Monday, September 5
We started our last day at 10:00 with a visit to the Museo Diocesano. This museum is located next to Catania Cathedral and exhibits a large collection of religious art. We were able to see relics of countless saints, many gold and silver church utensils, and a beautiful pinacotheque. After the trip up through eight different rooms, we ended up on the panoramic roof terrace of the museum: from here we had a beautiful view of the cathedral and the central square of Catania.

Between the museum and the cathedral was the Terme Achilliane: the remains of a Roman bathhouse from the 4th century. We also got access to this with a combination ticket that we had purchased for the museum, the thermal baths and the monastery, where we would go later that day. The thermal baths were very special: water still flowed through them, and although not everything was left (about three rooms were still recognizable), you could certainly still see traces of Roman times: on the walls were remains of wall paintings can still be seen, and the structure gave a good impression of what it must have been like about 1,500 years ago.

After a short lunch break, a tour of the Monastero dei Benedettini San'Nicolò l'Arena awaited us at 13:00. Our guide Giovanni took us through the monastery, which had gone through a lot over time. Since the monastery is currently a university building, access to a large part of the monastery is normally not open to visitors, but with a guide we were able to see some special places of the monastery: original mosaic floors, the original foundations, the cellars , and much more. The tour was a very valuable addition: Giovanni told us a lot about what we saw, and especially about the history of the monastery: Sicily has suffered a significant number of natural disasters over the years, such as a volcanic eruption in 1669, and an earthquake in 1693. It was very special that the monastery survived the lava flow: the lava flowed slowly down, which gave time to build a kind of wall around the monastery so that it would be preserved. This was also visible: next to the monastery there is a large “wall” of lava stone, and the part of the city is also significantly higher than the rest of the city. Unfortunately it turned out to be in vain when 25 years later a major earthquake destroyed the original monastery.

At 14:30 Benjamin, as a member of the travel committee, guided us past a number of churches for Sant'Agatha: unfortunately these could not be visited from the inside, but they did give us a good idea of the history of the churches for Sant'Agatha in Catania and the story around this saint.

From 16:00 there was still time to get some last souvenirs and ensure a full stomach, before we took the bus to Catania airport at 19:00. With a little delay, but fortunately safe and sound, we arrived back in Leiden around 3:30.


Thanks again to the Leiden University Fund (LUF) and the Faculty of Humanities for making this trip possible!

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