Held on Thursday, April 13, the Inaugural UM Vergilfest attracted local High School students and students of the UM.
Designed as an outreach event for UM students who were currently enrolled in a Classics- or Classical Language-course, the program aimed at making Classical Studies attractive by placing Vergil's Aeneid in a cross-disciplinary context.
The half-day event (9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.) began with a session entitled "Native American Storytelling and Vergil's Aeneid," in which Aaron Brien (Salish Kootenai College), a member of the Crow gave a presentation on his tribe's foundation legend and Barbara Weinlich (University of Montana) compared his tribe's 'story' with Rome's foundation myth as it is told by Vergil.
The next session offered both UM student and High School students the opportunity to sit in on a regular class meeting of Prof. Weinlich's course on Women in Antiquity experience how Classics is taught and studied in an upper-level undergraduate course at the UM. The topic of the class was the Representation of Women in Vergil's Aeneid.
The third and last session featured a talk by Prof. Alden Smith (Baylor University)on Vergil's Eighth Aeneid. In his talk, Alden Smith introduced his audience to a number of artistic devices used in Book 8 of Vergil's Aeneid and then discussed how and why the epic story of the Trojan Aeneas and the foundation of Rome lives on in modern America's social-political discourse and values.
The inaugural UM Vergilfest turned out to be not only well received but also a great complementary event to the UM Classics Day held in the fall -- especially, since each outreach event attracted different student populations. While the UM Classics Day had been designed for High School students of Latin from the wider region (Montana, Idaho, Washington), the Vergilfest was geared more toward attracting on- and off-campus communities in Missoula.