Rutgers Classics has done it again. In the midst of a hugely successful second edition of “Rutgers Day,” drawing crowds from all over the Garden State — no fewer than 75,000 people this year —the Classics department at Rutgers followed in the footsteps of the big splash made by last spring’s Greek and Roman Fashion Show.
On April 24, under clear blue skies and a blazing sun, students (and even some faculty!) from Rutgers’ Classics department took central stage on College Avenue’s Brower Commons, offering the crowds a fully-costumed, classically-themed show.
Up and down the signature red carpet, students dressed in ancient attire — including original designs by New York designer Jessica Deschamps — enacted scenes of love and strife from Greek and Roman myth, written by an outstanding team of undergraduate and graduate students from Classics and other departments (including English — and even Computer Science).
Spectators laughed as they watched the hairy cyclops Polyphemus woo Galatea with cheese, and mythical couples squabble in an ancient version of the dating game that pitted Dido and Aeneas against the likes of Oedipus and Jocasta. Go to youtube to see it all.
They gasped as a cohort of traitors, guided by Brutus, stabbed Julius Caesar within the Roman Senate – and spouted red ribbon with his last breath.
But that’s not all. On a mat just a few steps below, a full-on pankration was re-enacted in a no-holds-barred fight, followed by an intensely emotional performance of Medea’s painful deliberations regarding her children.
Of course, the spectacular fighters of the Ludus Magnus Gladiatores, the world’s #1 most authentic gladiatorial reenactment team, were back in full gear, and performed throughout the day, flanked by the equally eye-catching Legio XXIV of Philadelphia, who added to the day’s authentically classical cachet.
Capping the program of the day’s classical festivities was a one-man recitation performance of selections from Sophocles’ Antigone — in meter, if you please, and yes, in the original — intriguing passersby (mostly not versed in ancient Greek) and drawing them to the stage by the sheer rhythm and strangely familiar musicality of the language.
Thanks especially to the RU Classics assistant professors Emily Allen-Hornblower (Galatea), Andrea De Giorgi (MC), and Timothy Power (ironic Cyclops), and to our department’s administrator, Kathryn Neal; to graduate student Lisa Whitlatch for the home-made drinking cup (something between a kylix and a kantharos) and to fellow graduate student Misty Kammerman, who provided essential props and costumes for the day; to John J. Ebel Esq. and every one of the other men and women of LVDVS MAGNVS GLADIATORES (particularly the one who broke his father’s nose for verisimilitude’s sake), and George Metz (Legion XXIV).
Representing Rutgers (directly or indirectly) on the runway:
Alan Akao (’11); Kevin Apodaca’11; Kendall Blake (computer science graduate program); Shayna Faraday’11; ; Margaret Green; Malik Khalifa ’10; Anthony Lodato; Chris Mercurio ’11; Yash Patel; Shane Press; Tom Radtke; Amelia Scruggs ’11; Etel Sverdlov’10; Farrah Zaidi ’10; Chris Marchetti (PhD RU Classics ’10).