Marathon Ovid Reading

Tip o’ the pileus to Christopher Brunelle for sharing this item from the St Olaf College News:

In the final week of Interim, students in Classics 129, The Neverending Myth, worked until the wee hours of the morning studying 15 different translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. They were not cramming for a final exam, but instead participating in the “Metamorphomarathon,” a 15-hour marathon reading of the epic poem January 25.

After spending the day reading aloud in Buntrock Commons, the group finished the 15-hour Ovid reading just before midnight in Tomson Hall. Photo by Kyle Obermann ’14.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Christopher Brunelle organized the event to share Ovid’s work — a classic that he says is often overlooked. “When thinking about the most influential works from the ancient world, most people think of Homer or the Iliad. But it was Ovid’s Metamorphoses that had the greatest effect on Western art and literature,” Brunelle says.

Brunelle coordinated the public performance of the 12,000-line text to honor the Roman poet. “Not only did we read the work aloud, as Ovid intended, but we used 15 different translations to better appreciate the different sense each brings to the work,” Brunelle says. (The group even performed the rap seen in the video below.)

The event began at 9 a.m. in Buntrock Commons. Performing in the central Crossroads Lounge, the group was watched and joined by a constant flow of community members. At 4 p.m. they transferred to Tomson Hall, where they pressed on and finished the last book at 11:48 p.m.

Brunelle says that the college’s 2011–12 “Transformations” academic theme and the unique teaching style of Interim courses (when students spend the month of January concentrating on one class) inspired the event. “I realized that the theme fit perfectly with Metamorphoses, which translates to transformation,” he explains. “During Interim, it is rewarding for students to focus on one topic, like Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It allows them find Ovid’s morals in the text and create or transform them into their own meaning.”

The Metamorphomarathon, supported by a Caristia grant for public sharing of classic works through the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, is not St. Olaf’s first marathon reading of a classic. In 2008 the late Professor of English Richard DuRocher organized a 12-hour “Milton Marathon” reading of Paradise Lost.

You’ll want to check out the original to see Dr Brunelle and crew performing an Ovid rap …

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