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Pantheon Returns, Fully Clad

By Chris Lydgate ’90 on September 03, 2014 10:05 AM

Olympian applauds as incoming student pours libation on steps of Vollum moments before the first Hum lecture of the year. Kevin Myers

As dawn’s rosy fingers hid behind the morning clouds, droves of freshlings on their way to their first Hum lecture encountered a spectacle wondrous to behold—a fully clad Pantheon of Olympian gods and goddesses greeting them on the steps of Vollum.

“Welcome!” cried the immortals. “You’re a Reedie now!”

The Pantheon is a light-hearted student tradition that celebrates Humanities 110, Reed’s signature multidisciplinary course which starts with the Epic of Gilgamesh and wends its way through the Code of Hammurabi, the Book of the Dead, Genesis, Exodus, the Book of Job, the Oresteia, the Iliad, Sappho, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Euripides (and that’s just the first semester!) The Gods welcome new students to the course and ask them to pour libations on the ground, re-enacting a Homeric custom.

The tradition drew controversy last year, however, after some of the performers removed their garments and demanded libations in a loud and aggressive manner, creating an intimidating atmosphere and triggering a Title IX complaint. After much discussion and soul-searching, student leaders agreed to make sure future Pantheons operated with a spirit of welcoming camaraderie.

The vibe at this year’s performance was cheerful, friendly—and clothed. The seven performers were clad in demure togas from chest to knee as they hailed the mortals, beseeching them to pour libations and applauding whenever the incoming students spilled a few drops of water, coffee, or even orange juice on the concrete.

“The freshmen seem eager to participate,” said performer and anthro major Mikaela Lieb ’17, who wore a white toga over a black leotard and who had fond memories of the Pantheon from her own freshman year. “It’s nice to see the Pantheon so cheery and welcoming.”

The first lecture was delivered by Prof. Nathalia King [English 1987–] on the Epic of Gilgamesh. Once it began, and the last stragglers had scurried up the steps, the Pantheon rolled up their heavenly garments, stuffed them in their backpacks, straightened up their street clothes, and set off for their own classes.

Here's a brief silent video of the performance.