For a number of years, our local Eta Sigma Phi chapter has been organizing public readings of the sorts of things classicists cut their teeth on – or at least feel like we do: Homer’s epics, Vergil, Ovid. These have always been a wonderful experience for our department – everyone involved loves the opportunity to read and hear these works as they were meant. We decided that this year we wanted to reach a different and larger audience than before, inspired by the outreach of, among others, Bob Cargill and the University of Nebraska's Homerathon tradition (which the SCS Blog covered last year).
With the thermometer outside registering a frigid 29 degrees Fahrenheit at 7am on Thursday, April 19, 2018, a cohort of undergraduate Classics students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) launched their Homerathon: a marathon reading of Stanley Lombardo’s translation of Homer’s Iliad, which ran non-stop until 3am the next morning. The event taught students and listeners a lot about the difficulties and benefits of the ancient tradition of oral poetry—but brought Classics back out into the public sphere and made an argument for its relevance today.