Barry McNamara  |  Published September 17, 2021

Classics Day V

Award-winning event to fuse with theatre for even more immersive experience on Oct. 2.

PLAYING THE PART: Daniel Hintzke '18 was part of the immersive experience at a pa... PLAYING THE PART: Daniel Hintzke '18 was part of the "immersive experience" at a past Classics Day on the Monmouth College campus.MONMOUTH, Ill.
– In ancient Rome, V plus VIII added up to XIII.

On Oct. 2 on the Monmouth College campus, Classics Day V plus FusionFest VIII will equal an entertaining day for the campus and local community.

“Instead of the theatre department having a separate FusionFest, it will be merged with Classics Day,” said classics professor Bob Simmons, who started the award-winning event at Monmouth in 2015. “The theme this year for them will be classical plays – Greek tragedies or comedies, Roman tragedies or comedies – in 10-minute segments in which everything gets put together in the 24 hours before the event.”

That will be a new angle for the theatre event, and Simmons said it’s not the only new element of the fifth installment of Classics Day at Monmouth, which will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Dunlap Terrace, just outside of the Stockdale Student Center. The rain site for the event, which is free and open to the public, is the Huff Athletic Center.

“We’ll have a really brilliant singer-songwriter, Joe Goodkin, who has dedicated part of his career to composing songs that tell the tale of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey,” said Simmons. “He’s written these beautifully breathtaking songs.”

Reaching the ancient with modern-day technology

Modern-day technology will also help attendees get a better idea of the ancient world. Mathematics professor Mike Sostarecz will use Reflectance Transformation Imaging, also known as RTI, “to help people understand how certain materials in the ancient world were used and how they were constructed,” said Simmons.

The College’s virtual reality equipment will also be employed, taking participants right to famous sites from the worlds of ancient Rome and Greece.

“The thing about the classical world is that one cannot travel there. So when we put on this event, it’s an opportunity for people to have that sort of immersive experience that is not possible generally.” Bob Simmons

While those sites can be visited as they are today, Simmons and Monmouth’s classics students do their best to simulate what might have been happening there 2,000 years ago or more.

“The thing about the classical world is that one cannot travel there,” said Simmons. “So when we put on this event, it’s an opportunity for people to have that sort of immersive experience that is not possible generally.”

Throw a javelin, watch soldiers battle, learn a language

Through the recreation of ancient Olympic events, reenactments of warfare and the drama staged by the theatre department, Simmons hopes “people will have a greater sense of immersion into the classical world than they get anyplace else.”

“Classics Day is a very high-impact learning experience for our students. … People learn far, far better when they have to help other people to learn what they have learned also.” Bob Simmons

“We’ll have some of the standard things we’ve had for years, such as different booths with sporting events from the ancient world,” said Simmons. “People will get to throw javelins with leather wrappings round them. They’ll get to long jump with weights and things along those lines. We’ll have a starting block made out of granite. We’ll have soldiers from one of the Greek city-states of the classical period and from Macedonia after the time of the Alexander the Great. We’ll have a demonstration of some of the things that these soldiers did like strategies and techniques and some of the technology that went into that.”

Booths featuring language trees from African dialects, as well as Arabic, and the Indo-European languages that led to Greek and Latin and then to a number of modern languages, will also be part of the event.

“Classics Day is a very high-impact learning experience for our students,” said Simmons. “People are putting their learning into action. They’re not only teaching people how to do things, but they’re teaching them in a very physical, hands-on way. They are processing the things they’ve learned in a way that compels them to make it interesting for others. People learn far, far better when they have to help other people to learn what they have learned also.”

Listen Up …

Bob Simmons previews Classics Day V on the 1853 Podcast.

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