Such was the success of our public reading of Homer’s Iliad at Queen’s University Belfast, that on Saturday 17 June, a little over six months after our first outing, The Classical Association in Northern Ireland were invited by the Ulster Museum to host a second public reading, this time of Homer’s other epic poem, The Odyssey.
Once again, the people of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England and Australia were extremely generous with their donations to MacMillan Cancer Research, the chosen charity this time around, and with their time, making sure that a considerable portion of the schedule was filled up even before we set out our stall in the foyer of the Ulster Museum.
Again, as with our previous outing, innumerable people, heading into the museum to take in its many fascinating exhibits, paused to donate and listen to the latest misadventures of Odysseus and his ever-dwindling crew, proving again that a great story is impossible to ignore.
Facts, Figures and Highlights (and Highlighters…)
A little after 10am, #OdysseyLiveBelfast began with Dr John Curran (QUB) introducing the event and our first speaker, local actor Jimmy Kearney, who drew on all his acting talent to project the open 95 lines of Book I.
That introduction initiated six hours of non-stop reading of Richmond Lattimore’s translation of Homer’s Odyssean epic, with our most distant reader once again Heather Parsons, taking up the mantle of the opening of Book V from the sunny Antipodean shores of Tasmania.
With that, #OdysseyLiveBelfast was in full flow…
Our second talking head projected onto the wall was that of Laura Jenkinson, who contributed lines 1-151 of Book IX.
The eagle-eyed of you will notice that this is not Laura’s first appearance on the pages of the CANI website. Her fantastic contributions to the spreading of the Classics through @GreekMythComix have been blogged by CANI in the past – Playing Cards and Paper Dolls: The Trojan War As You Have Never Seen It
And not only did Laura donate her vocal skills to #OdysseyLiveBelfast, she also provided a tremendous amount of material both for advertising the event and for children of all ages to partake in some colouring-in on the day (and I must admit, on several evenings since).
The stages of the Odyssey, vases, cutting-out, felt-tip pens and Greek alphabet ‘lessons’ attracted people of all ages and abilities, providing a wonderfully creative and colourful aside to #OdysseyLiveBelfast. CANI cannot thank Laura enough for her generosity.
And whilst this colouring-in session took place, Odysseus continued on his arduous decade-long journey home to Ithaca from Troy.
By the time Dr Curran brought proceedings to the close at 16:10 (a little ahead of schedule rather surprisingly!), Odysseus was home in his own bed with his wife Penelope; the anger of Poseidon, Helios and Zeus had been endured; the Cyclops blinded; Aeolus’ wind squandered; cannibals avoided; sailors turned into swine; Circe and Calypso abandoned; Sirens’ song survived; Scylla and Charybdis bisected; and suitors slain.
In total, there were 36 reading slots taken up by 34 different readers of all ages, geographical locations and academic backgrounds.
|10.05-10.10||Introduction and welcome||John Curran|
|10.10-10.20||Book 1||Jimmy Kearney|
|10.20-10.30||Book 5||Heather Parsons|
|11.30-11.40||Book 9||Laura Jenkinson, Greek Myth Comix|
|12.10-12.20||Book 10||Janice Holmes|
|13.00-13.10||Book 11||Peter Crawford|
|13.40-13.50||Book 12||Raoul McLaughlin|
|14.30-14.40||Book 19||Helen McVeigh|
|15.00-15.10||Book 21||Stephen Strickland|
|15.30-15.40||Book 22||Selga Medenieks|
|15.50-16.00||Katerina Kolotourou II|
|16.00-16.10||Book 23||John Curran II|
The Classical Association in Northern Ireland would like to thank all of those who helped organise and promote the event, those who took part (first-timers or returnees), who donated to such a worthy cause, or just took time to listen in as they passed by. We promise that there will be sweets again next time!
However, there are a few ladies who need to be singled out for special thanks…
Firstly, to Clare Ablett and the Ulster Museum for being such enthusiastic and accommodating hosts. Here’s to a blossoming relationship between CANI and the UM heading on into the future.
Secondly, again, to Laura Jenkinson not only for her video appearance on the walls of the Ulster Museum but also for providing so many excellent activities for kids of all ages through her tremendous @GreekMythComix.
However, for all the gratitude due to members of CANI, friends and family, the Ulster Museum, Greek Myth Comix, and the numerous readers, there was one individual who deserves to be singled out for special consideration, praise and thanks: for again printing fliers, sending emails, organising the set-up, bringing together the rota, reading and devoting an entire day to overseeing the event (ably aided by Erin Halliday, Katerina Kolotourou and Naomi), Helen McVeigh again went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that the #OdysseyLiveBelfast was as big a success as its Iliad predecessor.
Thank you all.
For those of you wondering what might be in store for our next public reading, the idea to come to mind immediately was to finish the trilogy of works pertaining to the Trojan War and follow the survivors of Troy to their new home in Italy through Virgil’s Aeneid. That might be the safe option, but CANI are willing to take risks and another idea is floating around with regards to reading some of the plays of Aeschylus and Ariostphanes…
Keep an eye out for the publication of our 2017/2018 Programme of Events in the next few weeks to find out how brave we are and what other sure-to-be-fantastic events we have planned!
For more videos and photos of a great Classical day in Belfast, check out our #OdysseyLiveBelfast Gallery, with links to our Facebook albums and Youtube Channel, where you can see pictures and videos of not just our latest public reading but also our growing annual programme of events.