As they watched the sacrifice take place, the crowd of students chanted in Latin. "Volvere aestus volvere!" they said. Or, in English, "Roll, Tide, roll!"
The football season is about to begin, and Classics 222 is busy ensuring a victory for the Crimson Tide against Hawaii.
Before them is their leader and teacher: "Kirkules." The sacrifice for this weekend is a symbol of their enemies: a pineapple.
"The pineapple was the most appropriate gift for the gods before the Hawaii game," said Kirk Summers, an associate professor of classics and leader of the sacrifice. "We believe that out team can't win unless we make the sacrifice and do it properly."
Summers has activities such as this to keep his Greek and Roman mythology class both interesting and informative.
"I don't do anything in my myth class that is gratuitous or merely for entertainment," Summers said. "There is an educational purpose behind everything I do."
Much like Alabama, Summers said, the Greeks put a heavy emphasis on sports. The Olympics, the ultimate sporting event of the time, was even held in honor of the gods.
His teaching style is unique when compared to other classes.
"It's straight lecture," said Zac Simon, a sophomore majoring in political science and history. "But the term 'lecture' is misleading. It's like story time."
That style has students flocking to his class, which is always full to its 267-student capacity and usually has a waitlist.
"It's pretty much the most 'ballinest' class ever," said Alonso Heudebert, a sophomore majoring in philosophy.
The class does not have an attendance policy, but Caroline Chick, a sophomore majoring in English, said the class is packed every day.
"I laugh throughout the entire class," Chick said. "It's one of those classes that make you want to go to class."
He also teaches a Roman religion course, an honors class on Alexander the Great and an upper-level Latin class.
Summers' teaching style was influenced greatly by a mythology professor at the University of Illinois, he said, where he earned his Ph.D. in classical philology.
"He was theatrical and varied and surprising, and students did not want to miss one of his performances," Summers said.
Summers went on to say that he did not want to be strictly a storyteller. He wants to discuss the archetypes of human thinking with his students, so they must be familiar with the material before they get to class.
"Myths tell us something about how the human psyche works, regardless of time or space," Summers said.
Summers' interest in Greek intellectual history stemmed from the influence of one particular teacher.
"When I arrived at college, I was having a difficult time finding any subject that caught my interest," Summers said. "I took a Greek class from professor Mark Clark at USM [Southern Mississippi] and found his enthusiasm infectious."
Later on, as a graduate student at the University of Nebraska, he found his niche in teaching mythology after a shortage of professors resulted in him teaching the large class.
"I was lost and petrified for the first two weeks," Summers said. "Suddenly, I calmed myself, sat down on the edge of the stage, and just began to have fun with the class."
Originally from Gulfport, Miss., Summers graduated from USM with a bachelor's degree in classics and history. He followed that up with master's degrees in biblical studies and Latin before getting his Ph.D. in classical philology.
He taught at Loyola University at Chicago as a visiting assistant professor for two years before coming to the University.
His wife, Tatiana Tsakiropoulou-Summers, is also an assistant professor in the department of modern languages and classics.
Together, they work with the Academy Club, which focuses on the ancient world. Summers said they typically have activities such as visiting the Pompeii exhibit that's coming to Birmingham in a month.
The club also sponsors the annual Latin Day, which brings in high school students from Alabama for competitions and other activities.
But it's his Greek and Roman mythology class that has won him so many fans amongst the student population.
"If I could, I would fail the class just so I could take it again," Heudebert said.
... we assume the pineapple went willingly ...