Reading Homer’s Iliad Together at Haverford

Students and faculty gathered on October 29 for an all-day collaborative reading of Homer’s Iliad, organized by the Department of Classics.

Reading the Iliad during the Classics Marathon.

Nearly 3000 years old, Homer’s Iliad, a widely celebrated Greek epic poem spanning 24 books and 15,693 lines, is about the religion, history and legends of Ancient Greece. It tells the story of Achilles, the greatest warrior in Greece, King Agamemnon, and Prince Hector of Troy during the last year of the decade-long Trojan War. The poem is attributed to Homer, although nothing is known about him, including when he lived.  This week the Iliad got a public reading at Haverford thanks to the 9th Annual Classics Marathon.

Reading the Iliad during the Classics Marathon.

The public readings, staged every alternate year, are organized by the Chair of the Department and Associate Professor of Classics Bret Mulligan. The first such marathon was held in conjunction with a conference on translating Homer in 2006. The texts for the event are chosen by the classics faculty and are linked to at least one ongoing class during the semester.

Appropriately named a marathon, the first reading in 2006 of Homer’s Odyssey took more than 12 hours to complete! Since then a variety of texts have been read including Plato’s Symposium in 2007, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in 2011, and Seneca’s Medea last year. This year’s all-day participatory marathon went on from 8 am until 8 pm for which students, faculty and staff could sign up in advance or join in spontaneously at the event. The marathon brought together a range of students and faculty, including President Dan Weiss.

Reading the Iliad during the Classics Marathon.

— By Hina Fathima ’15

Photos by Brad Larrison