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Griffin Smith-Nichols S

- Research Program Mentor

Industry expert at Cornell University


Ancient Greek and Latin classics, medieval literature and languages, history of religion, German


Hello there! I'm Griffin, and I call Reno, Nevada home. I'm a graduate of the Class of 2019 from Cornell University, where I was a double major in Classics and the College Scholar program; the latter is a course of study at Cornell for students to design their own major. I focused specifically on studying the history of religious conversion in Late Antiquity and through the Early Middle Ages, and wrote my thesis on the 9th century Heliand, a relatively unknown poetic retelling of the life of Christ, but in the vernacular of Germanic heroic poetry. My interests include the history of Greek and Latin literature, the early histories of Judaism and Christianity, and medieval Icelandic and Old English literature. These interests have led me to study modern Icelandic at the University of Iceland and to learn Biblical Hebrew in Jerusalem, and it should go without saying that I am just as passionate for history and language-learning of all stripes. I spend as much of my spare time reading and studying ancient and medieval languages as I can, but beyond that, I am happiest when hiking or boating in the outdoors. I care for a very needy pair of cats, and spend most evenings trying out new vegetarian recipes or practicing harmonica. A passion for learning runs through every part of my life, and I can't wait to share it with you!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Translating the Classics

Latin and Ancient Greek have not been spoken as languages of daily life for many, many centuries. How, then, can we capture their complexity, their subtlety, and even their beauty in English? That said, understanding Latin and Greek as the ancient world did is not so inaccessible as you might think. Through careful study of the languages and of translation methods, the student will improve both their comprehension of these languages and the sophistication and skill with which they write in English, too! Whether we are translating prose or verse, history or literature, our exploration will deepen your understanding of the ancient world and broaden the horizons of your writing.

Academic and Creative Writing on Topics in the Ancient World

Is there something about the Greco-Roman world that you have always wanted to research in-depth? In this project, we can work together to study a piece of ancient literature or a topic in the history of the ancient world. With the latest insights in modern scholarship and academic theory, the student will learn to hone their own critical instincts and elevate their thinking. The end result can be anything from a polished academic research paper to a piece of creative writing set in Antiquity. The choice is yours!

The World of Sagas: Studying Medieval Icelandic Literature

Outlaws and family feuds? Stormy seas and raiding parties? Say no more! In this project, the student will dive into the world of medieval Icelandic literature, studying the artistry of its style from some of its most important works. Together, we will design a program aimed at comprehensively studying these and producing an original project from what we learn. Whether this means research writing, a multimedia project, or even trying your hand at writing your own saga, the student will learn the talents of sophisticated literary analysis, critical thinking, and open-minded scholarship.

Languages I know

French, Italian, German, Latin, Ancient Greek, Icelandic, Biblical Hebrew, Old English, Old Norse, Old Saxon

Teaching experience

After graduating in 2019, I applied to and was accepted to the Rome Fellowship with the Paideia Institute. As a Rome Fellow living in Italy, it was my job to lead students through Rome to places of historical, cultural, or literary import. As part of each trip, I led readings of ancient texts in Latin and helped students learn more about the language and ancient history as we traveled: the city was our classroom! Since returning from Italy, I have been hard at work publishing a textbook, a reader of Homer's Iliad in Ancient Greek, as well as designing a novella and an online course for beginner Latin learners. In addition, I am also virtually tutoring students in Ancient Greek, Latin, and German.


Work experience

Paideia Institute (2019 - Current)
Rome Fellow and Curriculum Design Assistant
Classical Tutoring
Student Tutor


Cornell University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2019)
Classics/Independent Major

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