DIDASKALIA

FEATURES: BEYOND SPOKEN DRAMA

MODERN-DAY RHAPSODES

Reported by Stanley Lombardo
Department of Classics
2083 Wescoe
The University of Kansas
Lawrence
Kansas 66045-2139
U.S.A.


After an encouraging start at the 1993 meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, we decided to go ahead with a second installment of Open Mike for Rhapsodes at the 1994 meeting in Atlanta. About forty people attended the session (scheduled in the last time slot of the meeting), with ten participants reading/performing selections up to fifteen minutes in length of Greek, Latin, or original translation. Pamela Gordon presided, setting a friendly, informal tone and encouraging everyone to help themselves to the wine and cheese provided.

Authors represented included Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Mimnermus, Terence, Catullus, Vergil, Ovid, and Lucan. Four new translations were featured: Jane Joyce's Pharsalia (part of the Erictho scene, horrifically read in English and Latin by Pamela Gordon); Deena Berg's Adelphi (the first scene between the two fathers, played by David Armstrong and Gareth Morgan); Betty Rose Nagle's Fasti (three limpid catasterisms, read by the translator): and Stanley Lombardo's Theogony (the opening and castration of Ouranos, recited by the translator in straw hat and staff).

There were two musical performances: Bert Steiner sang two original Modern Greek songs, and Paula Reiner sang Sappho in English and Greek with guitar accompaniment. Dan Levine read three Mimnermus poems in Greek. Pauline Nugent did a Dido speech from the Aeneid in Latin, and joined Gareth Morgan in a Greek rendition of the Hector and Andromache scene from Iliad 6. David Fredrick performed Catullus 63, the Atthis poem, with a fine sense of the ithyphallic rhythm and a nice falsetto in the middle.

The climax was Gareth Morgan reading the end of the Iliad in Greek. As Dan Levine remarked afterwards, when Gareth reads something, it stays read. This is now the forty-somethingth consecutive semester Gareth has been reading Latin and Greek out loud during every noon hour with his students and colleagues at Texas. It shows.

The Open Mike was a huge success in promoting the dramatic reading of mostly non-dramatic classical literature: epic, elegiac, and lyric as it turned out. We would like to hear some prose as well next time, an epideictic speech maybe (we keep inviting sophists in our announcement, but they must be going elsewhere), a passage of Apuleius, some Plato or Cicero, whatever. We are hoping that CAMWS will make Open Mike for Rhapsodes a regular event at the annual meeting. Next year in Omaha.

Stanley Lombardo

Stanley Lombardo, professor and chair of Classics at the University of Kansas, translates and performs Greek epic.

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