If you're searching for an epic event on campus, look no further than "The Virgil Vigil." According to Donald Lateiner, professor of humanities-classics, "The Virgil Vigil" promises to be an evening of epic love, epic death, epic defeat, and well, epic glory.
"The Virgil Vigil" begins this Friday at 9 p.m. in Sturges 009. It is the third installment in a series of marathon readings of great poetic texts from the ancient world sponsored by the Department of Humanities-Classics. The series began in 2004 with Homer's Odyssey and continued last year with Ovid's Metamorphoses. This year's reading will be of Virgil's Aeneid.
The marathon reading will continue long into Saturday morning. Readers will be fueled by epic amounts of food and drink. "There will be opportunities for guest drop-ins to participate in the reading of the many omniscient narrator portions of the poem, and to enjoy our majors' and minors' performances as they (at times theatrically) act out classic passages from the epic," says Lateiner.
Lateiner thinks those who attend the vigil will get a fresh perspective. "Reading start to finish gives the audience a different perspective on a long work," he says. "With an oral epic, such as Homer's Odyssey or Beowulf, you get to hear and see as well as move eyes across the page. With literary epic such as Virgil's or Ovid's, you recreate the experience that the ancients had of hearing a performance. Solitary, silent reading is a relatively recent development."
Lateiner, who plans to wear his toga and bring a Roman pillow to the vigil, says approximately 50 people have attended the last two readings. For those who might not understand the draw of staying awake all night to read and listen to an ancient text, Lateiner offers a simple explanation—nourishment of the soul.
"Why eat?" he asks. "To nourish the body. Why listen to, read, and recite Virgil's poetry? To nourish the soul. Virgil digs deeper than most poets. It is a chance to hear and read aloud one of the world's most moving stories—one of homeless wanderers, energetic nation-builders, tragic losses, and moments of satisfaction."
... there's a nice photo of a togatus DL accompanying the original ...