The Aeneid Comes to Life

Tory Glerum

In the early morning hours of Saturday November 4, when most of Colgate’s campus was in bed, a small group of students and faculty were gathered in the Ho lecture room finishing the marathon reading of Virgil’s Aenied that had begun 12 hours earlier. Fueled by an interest in the classics and the desire to hear such a work read out-loud, in addition to the coffee and cookies provided by the Barge Canal Coffee Company, those that participated in the event succeeded in completing the trilogy of Virgil’s epics in the event known as the Aeniedathon.

Sophomore Shannon Young, who organized last semester’s readings of both The Odyssey and The Iliad, was also the brains behind the Aeniedathon. Due to the epic’s relevance to Colgate’s curriculum, she contacted the Western Traditions Professors and Classics departments and found interest among both faculty and students, especially Classics concentrators. As a major event in the story was Aenias founding Rome, Oliveri’s was the chosen food provider for the event. In addition, attendees were able to sign up to receive tee-shirts reading, “Aeniedthon – and you thought Troy lost.”

The event was set up so that the Classics Department read the first few books in Latin, and then Classics students were able to read by switching from Latin to English translations of the texts. Visiting Fellow in the Classics Eugenia Lao said that, by listening to the Latin, people could really hear the rhythm of the epic.

Professor Lao had very positive things to say about the intimacy and affects of the event. “It was an incredibly comfortable situation where you could feel the power,” she said. “You were able to experience the poem at a slower pace and have more time to feel the story.”

In comparing the Aeniedthon to the Odysseothon and the Iliathon, Young felt that it was more intense. “The event was planned for 12 hours and we actually read for most of the time,” she said. “It felt more like a marathon.”

Young said that her planning of the Aeniedathon, in addition to the two previous readings, stemmed from a strong appreciation of the works and support for the act of reading out-loud. “We focus so hard on getting good grades that we miss out on enjoying what we are actually learning,” she said. “You gain a lot from a story by reading it out-loud.”

Senior Sarah Miller, a Classics concentrator, attended the event and participated in the reading of one of the 12 books along with several of her classmates. She said that she thought the Aeniadathon was a great idea. “There were good people, good food, and good reading,” she said.

Sophomore Susan Anderson, also a reader, arrived at 1:30 a.m. and picked up her translation to read at around 3 a.m. “We got behind schedule because the books were so long,” she said. Anderson, who also attended the Odysseothon and Iliathon, expressed her feelings in completing the trilogy. “It’s sad that the Aenied was the last of the classical epics and we have to move on,” she said.

Professor Lao was very supportive of the event’s correlation to both the Classics Department and Colgate’s curriculum as a whole. “We were excited by the fact that Shannon decided to bring the classics to a wide audience,” she said. “She was not only supporting the Classics but a core value of the university -to read great books.”