Department of Classics hosts first in-person Homerathon in several years

2023 marks the return of a beloved University of Iowa tradition, the Department of Classics 12-hour reading of Homer.
Friday, May 19, 2023

By Charlotte Brookins 

A CLAS tradition returned to the T. Anne Cleary Walkway in April—Homerathon, the 12-hour reading of all 24 books of Homer’s Iliad, one of the author’s two great epics written in dactylic hexameter. 

The Department of Classics, housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has held this tradition year after year, but took a break during the COVID-19 pandemic. In late April, it hosted its first in-person reading after a hiatus. The event lasted from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., consisting of five-minute intervals of reading from many volunteers.  

The event was held by the classics department, national undergraduate honors society for ancient studies Eta Sigma Phi, and the Classics Honors Society. 

Gillian Marbury, a fifth-year student studying ancient civilizations and classical languages, is on the executive board for Eta Sigma Phi and helped organize the event. 

“I was a first-year student the last time we did this event,” she says. “Though I wasn’t a classics major then.” 

Homerathon encouraged passersby to join in the event and read a section of the story in order to keep a constant flow of reading over the 12-hour period. To promote the event, some professors offered extra credit for students willing to take time out of their day to read. 

Homerathon 2023

“My favorite part of classical mythology is how all the stories connect to each other,” Caden Haupt, a first-year student studying secondary education and math, says.  

Haupt was encouraged by her classical mythology professor to read at the event.  

“It’s all significant to one another—the different characters and stories all mean things in other stories,” she added.  

This year’s Homerathon garnered many volunteers, allowing the UI community to properly celebrate it for the first time in several years. 

To learn more about the Department of Classics, visit  

Homerathon 2023

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.