Hecuba at USC Village


In Hecuba, the university community gains a female counterpart to its beloved Tommy Trojan. Hecuba symbolizes gender equality at USC and captures the diversity of our Trojan Family. As the majestic Queen of Troy, she serves as a new mythical icon for USC defined by passionate conviction.

For President C. L. Max Nikias and the rest of Trojan Family, she epitomizes the strength, courage, and wisdom of the women of Troy, while strongly affirming USC’s extraordinary cultural diversity.

First Lady Niki C. Nikias also recognizes a special kinship that connects the ancient Queen of Troy and the modern Trojan woman. She observes that “in the decades that Max and I have been at USC, we have seen the loyal spirit of Hecuba alive here within the Trojan Family”—a spirit guiding USC into a new, glorious era.



At the base of Hecuba, rendered in relief, six female figures salute the rich ethnic diversity of the USC community. These women represent the Trojan Family’s global heritage: they are African, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Native American.

The figures also symbolize the intellectual diversity of USC, as each embodies an academic discipline:  the humanities and the sciences, medicine and technology, the arts and the social sciences.

A ribbon flows through the entire scene, poetically joining the six women in the common bonds of humanity that unite all Trojans.  In this, we recognize a powerful commitment to the women of Troy, and a reflection of our Trojan Family’s diversity. This defines the University of Southern California in the 21st century.



The larger-than-life works of sculptor Christopher Slatoff testify to his passion for engaging people through immersive artistic experiences. His public art installations appear on three continents, including numerous pieces across California that pay tribute to the heritage and culture of the Golden State. At USC, he is known for creating the statue of the university’s visionary founder, Judge Robert Maclay Widney, that stands near the entrance of Widney Alumni House. Unveiled in 2014, the Judge Widney monument quickly became a campus landmark.

The son of a painter and art professor, Slatoff studied in France and the United States before launching his career in Los Angeles.  He currently serves on the faculty of the Art Center College of Design, in addition to his roles as a lecturer at the Getty Center, as the sculpture chairman of the California Art Club, and as an artist in residence at Fuller Theological Semi-nary. He has earned acclaim for his dedicated outreach efforts, including the establishment of art education programs for underserved communities and special needs children.



The statue of Hecuba epitomizes the compassionate spirit of the USC community, while reflecting the university’s faith in knowledge and progress. The design of her face represents a blending of features seen across humanity. Its inspirations included ancient Greek vases, as well as Katherine Hepburn’s portrayal of Hecuba in the 1971 film The Trojan Women.

After an extensive modeling and sculpting process, the statue was cast in bronze at the renowned Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, California. The following weeks brought meticulous alterations until the work was ready for its debut at the USC Village.



In fall 2017, President Nikias formally unveiled the statue of Hecuba at the USC Village’s grand opening celebration. With a dramatic flourish, the sculpture was revealed in the central piazza, cap- ping a full day of festivities. Just hours earlier, USC had hosted its newest undergraduates and their families at its annual New Student Convocation.

Thousands of USC’s students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees attended the ceremony, as well as supporters, community partners, and special guests. Hecuba’s introduction to the Trojan Family marked a major milestone in the university’s history—a moment steeped in optimism for the future, and in the enduring power of the Trojan spirit.



The creation of the USC Village presented an opportunity to connect the university’s vibrant future with a storied past. With Hecuba, the Village has a striking centerpiece, a figure rooted in antiquity that reminds us of our timeless Trojan values.

With her right arm outstretched in a welcoming gesture, Hecuba invites Village residents and visitors into the diverse Trojan Family. As students return to their residential halls from a lecture, a study group, or a meeting with friends, she reminds them of the warm, hospitable feeling of their home away from home. Later, as generations of USC alumni return to campus, she will spark cherished memories of the most formative years of their lives.

It is only fitting that the woman at the center of the Trojan Empire stands as the focal point of USC’s new academic, cultural, and social crossroads. In addition to her function as a gathering place and a beacon for our community, her stately presence echoes the ancient ideals that continue to guide the university’s young scholars.

No matter where USC’s students eventually find themselves in the world, they all hold something in common: the love and support of their Trojan Family. And as the Queen of Troy instills them with strength, loyalty, and pride, she ensures that they will always carry their alma mater in their hearts.



For those who look closely, the statue is rich in detail—and symbolism:

  • Hecuba herself stands 12 feet tall, rising atop a pedestal that measures 9 feet tall. The entire silica bronze sculpture weighs nearly 2 tons.
  • Six female figures appear in relief around the statue’s base, each representing a different academic discipline: science, humanities, technology, medicine, social sciences, and the arts. They are all joined together by a “ribbon of thought,” which signifies the interconnectedness of ideas and the continuous pursuit of learning.
  • Hecuba extends her right arm in a heartfelt appeal to the USC community, an embodiment of the steadfast Trojan Family.
  • A quotation from Hamlet appears as an inscription on the pedestal, alongside a pair of lines from Euripides’ Hecuba. The two excerpts from Euripides appear in Greek.

From Hamlet:

“And all for nothing, for Hecuba!  What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he should weep for her?” 

From Hecuba:

“Those who have power ought not exercise it wrongfully, nor when they are fortunate should they imagine that they will be so forever.”

“Human words ought never to have more force than their doings.” 


To e or not to e? 

There is something especially unique about one inscription on Hecuba’s base: the spelling of Shakespeare. In omitting the final “e,” the artist embraced a spelling that emerged in the 18th century. The choice generated much attention, but a Renaissance scholar in the United Kingdom affirmed the reasoning behind USC’s decision. Indeed, Shakespeare’s surname has been spelled 20 different ways over the ages. As the university’s statement explained, “USC chose an older spelling because of the ancient feel of the statue, even though it is not the most common form.”