December 1, 2011
Ok, so the title of this post is a stretch, but the word “postmortem” sounds just so…well…morbid…that I thought I would spice things up.
The Homerathon….ah yes, The Homerathon…well, it all started one seemingly innocuous Wednesday several months ago when two students from UC’s Classical Entertainment Society sat in on our weekly marketing meeting and asked us if we would like to team up with them to put on a 24 hour reading of Homer’s Iliad. I believe my initial reaction was something along the lines of “Wait…what? This is a thing? People do this? Wait…are you serious?” As it turns out…they were serious.
Fast forward past literally hundreds of emails (I counted), five weekly meetings in Einstein Bros Bagels, and one trip to the craft store to Tuesday, November 20th.
In 24 hours, 75 readers including 8 professors from the University of Chicago managed to read all 24 books using 5 English translations (Fagles, Lattimore, Fitzgerald, Pope, Chapman) as well as six foreign translations (ancient Greek, modern Greek, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, Turkish.). Some passages even benefited from the bolstering effects of puppetry, clowning, and singing. There were Trojan Horses made out of graham crackers and there were shields made out of paper plates. There were children too young to read and there were best-selling authors (that’s right, UC alum Sara Paretsky stopped by and even signed our banner). There was Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief...twice.
Basically, it was awesome. Not only did we mobilize and engage the Humanities division at UChicago, we also seemingly captured the imagination of the Chicago community at large with what was an almost unbelievable amount of press coverage:
Professor David Wray gets the party started with Book 1:
A Trojan Horse is born…
Two of the students who made it happen
Note the ear muffs.
Round about midnight—
I missed the puppet show, but I did get to see this:
And here’s Sara Paretsky!
A sincere thank you to everyone who made this event possible. Erin Kelsey, Evan Garrett, Ryan Mease, Drew Dir, Brea Hayes—you are all awesome. In the words of Drew Dir, “Shine on you crazy diamonds.”