Twitter and the tech world have been abuzz recently about ChatGPT, an artificial-intelligence conversation bot that will respond to your questions and prompts, often with surprisingly cogent language. It’s made by the same outfit that created DALL•E, the image-generation AI — look to your right for an example of DALL•E’s handiwork.
I took it for a spin through some of Classics’ greatest hits, and then got weird with it. Below are the best results, starting with a normcore but, again, surprisingly cogent bit of prep for comprehensive exams, and then progressing into glimpses of what the AI thinks about ancient Greek and Roman history, literature, and philosophy. The text in bold is what I fed to ChatGPT as prompts, and everything else are its responses, unedited.
Three prompts for essays about Greek comedy
- “The role of satire in Ancient Greek comedy: How did playwrights use humor and mockery to critique society and political figures?”
- “The evolution of Greek comedy: How did the genre change and develop over time, and what were the key influences and innovations?”
- “Comparing and contrasting the works of Aristophanes and Menander: How did these two playwrights approach comedy, and what were the similarities and differences in their styles and themes?”
A Homeric Hymn to Beyoncé
Cicero, Caesar, and Catullus go to a pizzeria. Who picks the toppings on their pizza, and what are the toppings?
with credit to my buddy from grad school, Derek Keyser, who liked asking versions of this question of visiting prospectives
It is difficult to say for certain who would pick the toppings on the pizza, as there is not enough information about the personalities and preferences of Cicero, Caesar, and Catullus. However, it is possible to speculate based on what we know about these historical figures.
Cicero was a Roman statesman and philosopher who was known for his eloquence and rhetorical skills. He was also a famous gourmet, and was known to enjoy good food and drink. Given his love of good food, it is likely that Cicero would have a strong opinion on the toppings for the pizza, and would likely choose something exotic and flavorful.
Caesar was a Roman general and statesman who was known for his military prowess and political ambition. He was also a well-known lover of luxury, and was known to indulge in rich food and drink. Given his taste for luxury, it is likely that Caesar would choose toppings that are expensive and high-quality, such as truffles or caviar.
Catullus was a Roman poet who was known for his passionate and emotional poetry. He was also known to enjoy good food and drink, and was known to be a bit of a hedonist. Given his love of pleasure, it is likely that Catullus would choose toppings that are rich and indulgent, such as cheese, bacon, and mushrooms.
Overall, it is difficult to say exactly what toppings Cicero, Caesar, and Catullus would choose for their pizza, as this would depend on their individual preferences and personalities. However, based on what we know about these historical figures, it is likely that their choices would reflect their love of good food and their enjoyment of luxury.
Who would have been a better drag queen, Plato or Aristotle?
A dialogue in which Socrates asks Gorgias increasingly irritating questions about Seinfeld
A story in the style of Herodotus about Solon’s experiences with speed-dating
Solon, the wise and noble Athenian lawgiver, was known for his wisdom and fair-mindedness. But even he had not yet encountered the strange and wondrous ritual known as speed-dating.
One day, a group of his friends convinced him to give it a try. He reluctantly agreed, and soon found himself seated at a small table with a group of other singletons. A bell rang, and the first potential partner approached him.
“Hello, I’m Daphne,” she said with a smile. “What do you do for a living?”
Solon was taken aback. “I am a lawgiver,” he replied, unsure of how to proceed.
“Oh, that’s interesting,” Daphne replied, before quickly moving on to the next person.
The bell rang again, and another potential partner approached Solon. This time it was a young man named Hector.
“Hi, I’m Hector,” he said, shaking Solon’s hand. “What do you enjoy doing in your free time?”
Solon was stumped. He had never been asked such a question before. “I enjoy contemplating the nature of justice and the laws that govern society,” he replied, trying to make conversation.
Hector looked confused, but before he could respond, the bell rang again, signaling the end of their time together. Solon watched as Hector moved on to the next person, feeling a sense of relief.
The rest of the speed-dating session passed in a blur of introductions and small talk, with Solon feeling increasingly out of his depth. By the end, he was grateful to return to his familiar world of philosophical contemplation and lawmaking.
As he left the speed-dating event, Solon shook his head in amazement. He had never before encountered such a strange and frenzied way of meeting potential partners. It was not for him, but he could not deny the ingenuity of those who had devised it.
T. H. M. Gellar-Goad is Associate Professor of Classics at Wake Forest University. He is author of Laughing Atoms, Laughing Matter: Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura and Satire, Plautus: Curculio, and two more books under contract, and was recently co-organizer of Feminism & Classics 2022. Send him stories (but not pictures) at firstname.lastname@example.org.