Meet the Classics Faculty

Erin Duffy

Ms. Duffy started taking Latin during her 9th grade year at boarding school because she wanted to be a doctor when she was younger, and knew that the root words would be important for medicine. She remembers learning from the Ecce Romani texts, following Marcus, Sextus, and Lucretia in high school, as well as reading excerpts from Book IV of The Aeneid. Ms. Duffy majored in Classics at UC Santa Barbara (after the dream of medical school went by the wayside during Chemistry class 10th grade year), and loved how small her Latin classes were compared to some of her other classes. Ms. Duffy really liked getting to know her professors at UCSB, actually worked in the Classics office during her junior and senior years, and was awarded the Excellence in Undergraduate Classics at graduation. Her favorite class in college was on the art and architecture of Pompeii, and she made it a goal to visit there to see the town (she has visited twice in the last ten years). Ms. Duffy also received a master’s in Latin from the University of Florida, where she read Horace, Ovid, and Catullus at an advanced level.

Ms. Duffy started her teaching career in 2003 at a boarding school in her hometown of Pebble Beach, California, and fell in love with teaching the nuances of the grammar of the Latin language. She loves incorporating historical and cultural events whenever she can. At Taft, Ms. Duffy loves how engaged her students are on a daily basis, and she is so glad that she can share her excitement with her students every day. She considers herself to be a teacher who likes to get to know her students on a personal level (birthdays are a reason to bring in donuts!). She has also had numerous students go on to study Classics at the university level, and is very pleased to be able to pass her love of Classics on to future generations.

If you could have dinner with one person from Classical antiquity, who would it be and why?

I would have dinner with Virgil because I would want to ask him if he really had finished writing The Aeneid. I’d also want to know what Augustus was really like, and I think Virgil would give me an honest answer.

Who is your favorite ancient author and why?

I love Horace, even though I really haven’t read as much of his work as I have of other authors. His Ode 2.10 is by far my favorite ancient poem, and I love the line: non si male nunc et olim sic erit (if it is bad now, thus one day it will not be). This quote reminds me that you can have a bad day but there is always another chance for things to pick up and be positive again. I loved it so much I got it tattooed on my left arm!

Where is your favorite place to travel to and why?

Obviously I could spend days and days in Pompeii, because there is something so magical about walking on the same streets that ancient Romans did. And you can look up and see Mt. Vesuvius with it’s top halfway blown off and think about what a scary day that must have been for the people of Pompeii back in 73 CE. But I think I could also spend an entire lifetime on the Almafi coast in Italy and never get tired of the breathtaking views.