The Dionysian Rites, Their God, and Pentheus in Euripides’ The Bacchae

Literature, philosophy, and the classics have always been an interest of mine. After reading The Bacchae one summer, I wrote this paper for my Classics 2022H course the autumn semester in my first year.

I was honored to receive an award for it, the Undergraduate Award for Excellence – Best Undergraduate Paper in Classics.


For context,

In The Bacchae, the last play written by Euripides before his death, Dionysius seeks to punish the tyrant of Thebes, Pentheus, for not welcoming the god’s rites into the city and for denying his divine nature. Pentheus is eventually torn apart by his own mother and the other women of the city who had been driven crazy by the god, a cruelty which culminates in his mother’s slow coming to senses, and her horror at the realization of what had happened as she holds the severed head of her son on her thyrsus.


My argument,

With several themes arising throughout the play, a wide range of interpretations surround the conflict between the tyrant and the god, in which the antagonists often serve as ideological counterparts, and their confrontation as a symbol of the clash between consistent rationalized philosophies or ways of life. It is the focus of this essay to analyze Euripides’ portrayal of Dionysius and his rites and the mortal reaction to them, of which the two antagonists are symbolic, and of which two views generally form in scholars’ interpretations of the play: either that Dionysius and the rites are depicted as destructive and cruel forces on the mortal sufferers, or liberating in their punishment of human pride and of those who question the gods. I will argue that in truth Pentheus and Dionysius are presented as complex, internally ambivalent characters who come to resemble each other in many aspects, revealing the internal dichotomies of each: the human duality of Pentheus in his faults and merits, and the duality of Dionysius and his rites as both liberating and destructive, which are consistent with what the characters symbolize.


The whole paper,

Luca Long Paper V3-22vp3kr



MilliQan – June 2018

The summer was a great opportunity to dedicate more time to the research group I had joined. The undergraduates and I presented twice to online meetings of the collaboration, and attended many of the weekly meetings that during the year are harder to follow due to conflicts with courses.

One thing I worked on was a closure test in single-channel trigger runs. Measuring the event rate for single coincidence events (one hit in the demonstrator, a hit is the detection of a particle), one can calculate the expected double coincidence rate (two hits in the demonstrator, so a particle hitting two of sensors or two particles hitting two sensors), and then measure it to check discrepancies between calculation and observed. This included developing a lot of ‘vetos’, which means selecting what we consider to be useful data and sorting it out from all the noise. The demonstrator is very sensitive, and though it is shielded, cosmic particles and thermal background noise are constantly showing up, and we learned to measure and remove them as much as we can. I also used geometry and timing, since we were calculating events from muons coming from CMS (where they are generated), I can exclude a lot of particles by tracing their paths and seeing that they are not in a straight line pointing towards CMS, or that the timing between straight line paths is not consistent with what we expect the speed of muons to be.

Some of the graphs from the study. In the first is a comparison between calculated double coincidence rates and observed (blue) after the vetoes had been implemented. In the second two is an example of a veto on two runs (run is defined a certain time in which we were collecting data, each run’s graph is normalized to total run duration), showing the removal of afterpulses between the first picture (pre-veto) with the afterpulses and the second (post-veto) without that peak at the left that were the afterpulses.


Linear Algebra — Final Project Ideas

My Linear Algebra course this year had the unique feature that aside a final exam, we are responsible for a final project, which will involve studying in depth an application or topic in linear algebra that was not studied for the course.

There were several topics that had peaked my interest throughout the class, here are some that are candidates for my project:

  • Fourier Series: turns out an orthogonal inner product basis for L2(R) is {sin nx} U {cos mx} (n = 1, 2, 3…, m = 0, 1, 2 …), which allows us to write functions as series of sinusoidal functions. A lot of signal detection can be done with this as waves can be well approximated with this series, things like voice recognition, music encoding, etc. and then all we need to do is save the coefficients of all the sines and cosines and we can reproduce/identify sounds.
  • Vandermonde Matrices: an easier way to approach statistics problems, we can use these matrices to find the best fitting curve through a data set by finding the minimization of the least square solution. Would be interesting to write a quick program that does this!
  • Lagandre Polynomials: being orthogonal is useful for calculation, and these give us an orthonormal basis for the span of {1, t, t^2, …}. We can also use these for curve fitting, simply by projecting the polynomial onto their span, which is computationally easier it’s an orthonormal set. They are also pretty useful in multiple expansions for 1/r potentials, which are very common in physics.

First Year in Physics — Helen Cowan Book Award for Physics Undergraduates

Pretty nice surprise to have received this award at the end of my first year of university!
I had greatly enjoyed studying various fields in physics in the introductory sequence courses, with topics ranging from quantum mechanics and thermodynamics to the more traditional first-year-level classical mechanics. The variety of topics really inspired my curiosity and interest in studying the natural world and showed me the beautiful realizations of the physics we use to model it. This confirmed and encouraged my decision of studying physics which, like for most first-year students picking their majors with only high school level experience in a certain field, wasn’t too certain at the beginning of the year. In the end, the fascination that most physics majors have towards it is enough to convince them to stay in the field. For all of this I can only thank my professors, Dr. Mathur and Dr. Connolly, who were fantastic guides to the beginning of my physics experience in university. Receiving this award at the end of the year was greatly rewarding, and gave me confidence heading off to the courses and experiences that lay ahead.


Global Awareness: Students cultivate and develop their appreciation for diversity and each individual’s unique differences. For example, consider course work, study abroad, involvement in cultural organizations or activities, etc .
Original Inquiry: Honors & Scholars students understand the research process by engaging in experiences ranging from in-class scholarly endeavors to creative inquiry projects to independent experiences with top researchers across campus and in the global community. For example, consider research, creative productions or performances, advanced course work, etc.
Academic Enrichment: Honors & Scholars students pursue academic excellence through rigorous curricular experiences beyond the university norm both in and out of the classroom.
Leadership Development: Honors & Scholars students develop leadership skills that can be demonstrated in the classroom, in the community, in their co-curricular activities, and in their future roles in society.
Service Engagement: Honors & Scholars students commit to service to the community.

About Me


I am a first-year student at The Ohio State University, pursuing a Physics major in the Honors program.

I do research as part of the MilliQan collaboration at OSU, which has built a detector at CERN’s CMS that we use to look for milli-charged particles. My work is centered around data analysis, mostly programming in C++, Python, and Root to understand the data.

I consider myself a curious person, about daily things and facts, but also about larger, unsolved mysteries. Studying physics allows me to study on exactly that frontier of curiosity. I enjoy completing tasks, assignments, projects, I flatter myself for being a very organized person in managing my time and responsibilities. I also enjoy being challenged academically and intellectually, the classes that make me struggle to master their content are also the ones that teach me the most, and the same can be said for books, people, or events.

I lived in Milan, Italy until 7th grade, when I moved to Indian Hill, Cincinnati, OH. In high school, I have participated in soccer teams as well as coaching and reffing the same sport, I volunteered at the Cincinnati Observatory, and I was part of a Mock Trial team with which I won the State title and competed at the Empire Internationals in San Francisco.

Here I have put some of my experiences, projects, interests, and the work that has stemmed from my research and academic careers, I hope you enjoy your reading.