|Eta Sigma Phi is an honorary
collegiate society for students of Latin and/or Greek.
Members are elected by local chapters which have been
chartered by the society.|
HISTORY: Eta Sigma Phi had its
beginning in 1914 when a group of students in the Department of
Greek at the University of Chicago organized an undergraduate
classical club to which honor students in Greek and Latin were
elected to membership. This organization later
united with a similar organization at Northwestern University and
became Eta Sigma Phi. In 1924 the society became
national, and chapters were organized at leading colleges and
universities. The society was incorporated in
1927 under the laws of the State of Illinois.
PURPOSE: The Constitution of Eta
Sigma Phi states that the purposes of the society are “to develop
and promote interest in classical study among the students of
colleges and universities; to promote closer fraternal relationship
among students who are interested in classical study, including
inter-campus relationship; to engage generally in an effort to
stimulate interest in classical study, and in the history, art, and
literature of ancient Greece and Rome.”
ELIGIBILITY: Local chapters are
chartered at liberal arts colleges and universities which are on the
accredited list of the Association of American Universities or the
recognized regional accrediting agency. Normally
the institution will offer a major in Classics.
MEMBERSHIP: There are three
categories of membership:
(1) Active membership is limited to
undergraduates who are enrolled in classes in Latin and/or Greek in
the original languages. A student must meet the
basic qualification of an attained grade of not less than “B” in
courses in Latin and Greek, with completion of at least one semester
or two quarters. The chapters are permitted
considerable autonomy in any additional requirements for membership;
however, the grade standard stated above must be observed, and it is
expected that chapters will maintain even higher standards.
(2) Associate membership is open to
graduate students who were undergraduate members of Eta Sigma Phi
and graduate students in Classics elected under the requirements of
(3) Honorary membership is
conferred upon persons or their interest in
the Classics and contributions to the understanding and appreciation
of classical languages, history, and culture.
These individuals should not be students.
Chapters are invited to nominate individuals for honorary membership
by sending a supporting citation to the executive secretary.
If the nomination is approved, the national office pays the cost of
a membership certificate for an honorary member.
ORGANIZATION: Eta Sigma Phi is an
undergraduate society, and its officers are active (undergraduate)
members who are elected to office for a period of one year by the
annual national convention. The finances of the
society are managed by a Board of Trustees, composed of five faculty
members from active chapters who are elected for a period of three
years. This Board also administers the contests
and scholarship program. The Executive Secretary is a faculty member
of an active chapter who is responsible for carrying out the
policies of the society and is required to perform the duties
usually assigned to this position.
WHAT ETA SIGMA PHI
The value of Eta Sigma Phi is revealed particularly in the
work of local chapters and the effect of the society upon individual
members and upon the academic community. Although
Eta Sigma Phi is “honorary” in nature, chapters usually must utilize
programs or activities to carry out the purposes of the
society. Groups of chapters use regional
conferences as a means of stimulating interest and exchanging
At the national level, Eta Sigma Phi sponsors these
(1) The Scholarships:
Each year the society awards two scholarships for study
abroad during the summer, one to the American School of Classical
Studies at Athens and the other to the American
Academy in Rome, to
members who have recently graduated. A third
scholarship, to a session of the Vergilian Society at Cumae, is also
offered, with preference going to rising juniors and seniors.
The H.R. Butts Scholarship in Classical
Archaeology is open to members interested in participating in summer
excavations at classical archaeological sites. The Bernice L. Fox
Latin Teacher Training Scholarship provides support for teacher
certification or continuing education for K-12 Latin teachers.
(2) The Contests:
Each year the society sponsors contests among college and
university students to encourage the study of Latin and Greek on the
college level. Participation in the contests is
limited to colleges and universities in which there are Eta Sigma
Phi chapters. The contests are in Greek translation, Latin
translation, and Latin prose composition.
(3) The Medals:
The society makes available to high school teachers
inexpensive medals to award to outstanding students.
Many Eta Sigma Phi chapters also award the medals in local
high schools. These medals are intended to
encourage the study of Latin in high school.
Newsletter: NUNTIUS is the
official publication of Eta Sigma Phi, published two times each
year. It contains information concerning the
society, original articles by members, announcements, and accounts
of the activities of the chapters.
(5) The National
Convention: The Constitution provides for a
national convention each year, late in March or in
April. At this time, delegates conduct the
business of the society, including the election of national
officers, and workshops are held. Local chapters
bid to host the convention, and an effort is made to move the site
from region to region to accommodate chapters in different parts of
National: There is a charter fee
paid to the national office to establish a new
chapter. The only charge for active
(undergraduate) membership imposed by the national office is a
one-time initiation fee.
For this fee an active member receives a membership card, a
membership certificate, and a subscription to NUNTIUS during
the remainder of his or her undergraduate years.
Graduate students can join as associate members at a reduced fee, and honorary members pay
no fees. Note, honorary memberships are intended to represent
special recognition of individuals who have made outstanding
contributions to the chapter, to national Eta Sigma Phi, or to the
classics profession. There are additional charges for
NUNTIUS subscriptions and membership certificates for
associate and honorary members. There are no
annual dues to the national organization.
subscription to the Nuntius is also available to members who
wish to continue receiving the newsletter after graduation. The cost
of this lifetime subscription is a single payment of $50.
(2) Local: Local
chapters may impose an additional initiation charge and/or dues, as
well as conduct fund-raising activities, to support their
The procedure involved in organizing a chapter is:
(1) A petition, executed by a group of
qualified undergraduate students and with the endorsement of a
faculty member of the appropriate department, is addressed to and
filed with the Executive Secretary.
(2) The petition is submitted to the Grand
Executive Council, composed of the national officers, for
(3) If the petition is approved by the
Grand Executive Council, it is submitted to the national convention
for final action.
(4) If the petition is approved by
delegates to the national convention, installation of the new
chapter may take place upon payment of the charter fee and
initiation fee for each person to be initiated.
The Executive Secretary designates a person or group to
officiate at the installation of the new chapter.
(5) A petition should reach the Executive
Secretary by February 15 of any year to be considered at the next
national convention. The form for petitioning for chapters is
(6) It is suggested that the local
Classical Club be used as a nucleus for forming a chapter of Eta
Sigma Phi. If there is not such an organization
on your campus, it is suggested further that such a club be formed
prior to petitioning for a charter.
(7) Upon approval of its petition, the new chapter will be
expected to pay a one-time charter fee of $75.00.
The Executive Secretary of Eta Sigma Phi will be pleased to
answer any questions concerning the society or the formation of new