|Odysseus and the Sirens (Eponymous vase of the Siren Painter, ca. 480-470 BC, British Museum)|
In honor of World Poetry Day, Wednesday, March 21, 2012, the IWU Program in Greek & Roman Studies has organized the first marathon reading of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey!
Readers of all ages and backgrounds are invited to participate in this unique opportunity to bring alive this thrilling myth of the Trojan War and to enjoy the experience of reading poetry aloud.
The event is FREE. Anyone may participate, and no special training is required.
The reading begins at 2 p.m. in The Ames Library, on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan, and continues non-stop until about 6 a.m., when breakfast will be served. Refreshments, craft projects, and more will also be provided during the reading.
On The Ames Library main floor:
Storytime 4-6 p.m. Small children can enjoy hearing a kid-friendly version of Homer's Odyssey.
Craft Table, 6-8 p.m. Kids of all ages can make a Trojan Horse or a toilet-paper cyclops, paint a Greek vase, and more!
Readers must sign up in advance for a 15 minute time slot to read roughly 250 lines. (Multiple slots are available for those with more stamina!) You may sign up in person using our Google calendar feature. You must have a Google account to access this calendar:
|Cast from Vatican Odysseus|
You can also email your requested time(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. (If you send an email request, be sure to give several choices. You will be informed of your slot(s) within 24 hours). Send any queries firstname.lastname@example.org
We will provide plenty of copies of the epic in English and in several other languages. Students of ancient Greek will read in the original.
About the Odyssey
This epic poem of over twelve thousand lines chronicles the ten year wanderings and eventual homecoming of the Greek hero Odysseus after the fall of Troy. The first five lines of the poem tell it all:
Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven
far journeys, after he had sacked Troy's sacred citadel.
Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of,
many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea,
struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.
|Odysseus and his men blinding Polyphemus, Laconian black-figure cup, 565—560 BC.|
After besieging Troy for ten years, it takes another ten years for Odysseus to arrive back to his island of Ithaca. On the sea, he encounters countless perils, and loses all his men and ships.
Yet, with the help of friends and the gods, he survives. He is reunited with his wife Penelope, his son Telemachus, and his old father Laertes. But, to reestablish himself as king, he must kill the men who have ravaged his house in his absence—his wife's suitors—who had hoped to rule in his stead.
Homer, the Greek bard credited with composing the Trojan War poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, is said to have lived in the 8th century BC. Bards like him are featured in the poems themselves, singing heroic epics to entertain during feasts in the great kingdoms of Bronze Age princes.
Whether Homer actually lived or not, we can't be sure. Nor can we be certain of that the Trojan War happened the way he describes. No matter. The glory of the words is everlasting.