I was honored to be invited back to be the keynote speaker at the West Virginia Junior Classical League (JCL) convention last week. My talk? “Why We are All Ancient Romans in Drag.”
Despite the above headline, my talk was totally PG, and it seemed to go over really well. I talked about some of the not so obvious ways that Roman thinking still resonates in our world today (and that’s all I’ll say for now in an obvious and shameless attempt at eliciting more JCL speaking engagements!).
One young man came up to me afterward to tell me he found my talk “really fascinating.” He conveyed this as if bestowing a blessing on me and then walked away. Given that Latin students who attend JCL conferences tend to be very bright and well-read, I considered this a supreme compliment.
I always love the ancient-dress fashion parade at JCL conventions. My individual favorite was “Gangsta Goddess” who strutted in with attitude to spare (sadly, I couldn’t get a good shot of her highness).
My “team” favorite were the “priests” carrying a shrouded Vestal Virgin to her death chamber. They had caught her, they announced, outside in the hallway with her boyfriend. Ha!
I also loved the Funeral Procession re-enactment, complete with dead body/creepy wrapped mannequin (that’s the spot on the floor–sorry the photo is so dark!). I’d secretly hoped some of the kids would let it rip as professional mourners–Romans paid to wail and screech and pull out their hair in honor of the dead. But they left that out, likely afraid that the hotel staff might call 911 on ’em.
The procession–including “family members” wearing death masks of ancestors–was a serious and solemn affair. The ancient Romans would’ve been proud.
Although I love doing school/author visits and giving students tours of the Greek/Roman galleries at the Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University, I think I love working with the folks from the JCL the most.