Skip To Main Content
Students Perform Marathon Overnight Reading of The Iliad

To celebrate a new translation of The Iliad, Germantown Friends School students shared the ancient classic as it was originally intended in ancient Greece, through the spoken word at a public reading at Friends Free Library.  

“It feels modern. It feels alive. The words aren't pretentious,” said senior Gavi Gilbert-Trachtman. “It doesn't have the same feel as a dead textbook that's been gathering mothballs in the attic.” 

Taking 20-minute turns, students started the reading the Tuesday before winter break at 5 p.m and finished Wednesday morning just before 9 a.m. It was a continuation of a tradition started last year with an overnight reading of The Odyssey. 

The event, which was organized by students in the Classics Club and the Poetry Club, was open to all high school students, who also had the opportunity to stay overnight, and families until 10 p.m.

Organizers wanted to share their love of this epic poem attributed to Homer, circa the 8th century BCE. They also wanted to create an opportunity for students to get together, and have fun doing something different. 

“How do you get students interested in something that isn't the typical thing that teenagers are assigned to caring about?” said junior Maisie Quinn. “A lot of times we don't think of people from history as people. We think of them as one-dimensional figures. But they all had the same kind of ambitions and dreams and hope as us. It's just really cool that we can connect not only with each other over this, but with people who we know nothing about and who lived thousands of years ago.”

Classics teacher Greta Ham says the most wonderful thing about this event is that it rose out of students’ interest. No teacher suggested it. “Anytime students take initiative and show curiosity like this, we give them the space and support they need to explore,” she said.