By Shelley Widhalm Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
Posted: 03/26/2013 10:58:39 PM MDT
Sixteen freshmen will be undertaking an odyssey in oratory Friday night as they read Homer’s “The Iliad” cover to cover.
The Loveland Classical School students will read aloud the entire poem from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. during the second annual Homer-athon.
Their teacher, Aaron Dukette, came up with the idea for the marathon event to bring back “the lost tradition of storytelling and reading aloud,” he said.
“It’s quite an academic effort,” said Dukette, upper school literature teacher and curriculum liaison. “It’s not a watered-down retelling of it. It’s the original translation.”
Last year, 15 students from the freshmen classical literature class — which reads texts of the Greco-Roman world, including Homer’s poems, selections from Plato’s dialogues, Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” and the Greek tragedies — stayed up all night reading “The Odyssey.”
“I thought it would be very interesting to read the book front to back and not in little bits at a time,” said Marissa Menking, a 10th-grader who participated in last year’s Homer-athon. “You get to understand the whole story better, and it just had better flow to it.”
This year, the freshmen students are reading “The Iliad,” the 600-page grim tale of the final year of the Trojan War. They alternate between the two texts each year.
To prepare for the reading, Dukette assigned the students sections to practice in class and at home. He had his students work on diction, or clear annunciation, pacing and voice.
“I’m training them so they bring the story alive for the audience,” Dukette said. “Reading aloud is a way of interpreting a text. The way they say the lines suggests a way of understanding.”
The freshmen invited last year’s freshmen to attend the first hour of the reading, which both classes will do together. The 10th-graders will head home after school, take a quick nap, then return to school at 6 p.m. for a Greek dinner and a brief performance by a group of the freshmen of Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound.”
At 7 p.m., they will start the marathon oratory event in the multi-purpose room.
“We wanted to have an event that pulls the class together,” Dukette said. “They get an opportunity to get down in the trenches together. It’s a very difficult text to read.”
Marathon oratory events have become a trend among university classics and humanities departments across the county, but is not common at the high school level, Dukette said.
“I’m very impressed with how our kids are taking apart and building a culture around academics,” he said.
Members of the Loveland Classical Schools community are invited to attend the event from 6 to 8 p.m. for dinner and the first hour of oration.