Journal History

Akroterion had its humble beginning in April 1956 under the name Newsletter. It was a product of the initiative of Prof. Frans Smuts and was primarily planned as a means of contact between the Department of Latin of the University of Stellenbosch and its old students, but very soon it elicited wider interest and was adopted by the Classical Association of South Africa as its official news medium. Today it is still received by members of the Classical Association as part of their membership privileges.

The name Newsletter was replaced with Akroterion in 1970. The following is an excerpt from the editorial page of vol.15, March 1970 :


Now at last, as readers will have noticed, the editorial committee has decided on a new name to replace the rather colourless and no longer suitable "Newsletter". It was chosen for the following reasons: Firstly Akroterion is published in and serves the southerly part of the African continent and we wanted to bring out this geographical connection in a classical name. The quest for a suitable and as yet "unemployed" nymph or muse proved fruitless. We then thought of the first name by which the southmost part of Africa was known to Western Europe in the fifteenth century - Cape of Good Hope, which soon became just The Cape. The Latin name Caput (or Promunturium) Spei Bonae did not sound as if it could supply anything and besides Spes Bona was rather hackneyed. Then we had recourse to the Greek word for Cape - Akroterion which was actually suggested by some wit of the nineteenth century - I think it was a minister of religion - who in its Dutch form used the word Agathelpidacroterian to denote someone from the Cape of Good Hope.

Akroterion, and now we mean this journal, wishes to denote by its name that it comes from the southern part of Africa and that it has to do with the Classics in this land, which in a wider sense than a mere cape juts out between the two old oceans already known to the ancients - the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

But Akroterion in Greek also means a height, a pinnacle, and this was a further consideration in deciding on this name for this journal, which would like to be the point of vantage from which everything that happens in the Classics in South Africa and even further afield may be viewed.

For more details about the beginnings of Akroterion, see the article by Mrs S F de Vries titled "Akroterion alias Newsletter: The early days" (Akroterion 28 [1983] 63-66).

Prof Frans Smuts was followed as editor of the journal by Prof P J Conradie. The present editor, Prof J C Thom, assumed this responsibility in 1996. During the period 2001-2008 Dr J C Zietsman functioned as editor.