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
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.
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.”
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.
are three categories of membership:
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.
membership is open to graduate students who were undergraduate members of
Eta Sigma Phi and graduate students in Classics elected under the requirements
membership is conferred upon persons selected by the chapter for their
interest in the Classics and contributions to the understanding and appreciation
of classical languages, history, and culture.
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
WHAT ETA SIGMA PHI DOES: 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 ideas.
At the national level, Eta Sigma Phi sponsors these activities:
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
AmericanAcademy 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.
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.
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.
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 the
There is a charter fee (currently $35) paid to the national office to
establish a new chapter. The only charge for active (undergraduate) membership imposed
by the national office is an initiation fee (currently $20 per active member).
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.
Associate members pay a fee of $5, and honorary members pay no fees.
There are additional charges for NUNTIUS
subscriptions and membership certificates for associate and honorary
members. There are no annual dues to the national organization.
Local chapters may impose an additional initiation charge and/or dues, as
well as conduct fund-raising activities, to support their operations.
PETITIONS FOR CHARTERS: 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
(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 enclosed.
(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.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Executive Secretary of Eta Sigma Phi will be pleased to
answer any questions concerning the society or the formation of new chapters.