The Latin Underworld is upon us again, bringing a day of mythology to the CHS auditorium. Latin students prepare monologues for significant figures in the Underworld and deliver them as classes walk through the auditorium, as if they had become part of the Underworld.
Jane McGee, CHS Latin teacher explained what the Underworld is for those who don’t know.
“The Underworld is a reenactment, a visual presentation of the Ancient Roman and Greek concept of what happened after life,” she said.
It’s an opportunity for students to learn more about mythology, a topic that is heavily alluded to in popular culture and literature, such as many of Shakespeare’s works or more current works, such as the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series. It also makes appearances in other social studies classes, such as world history.
“When you’re studying world history, you read about the Ancient Romans and the Greeks, and understanding that ancient people had this idea that life didn’t end just because you died. It coexists with modern philosophies and ideologies as well,” said McGee, talking about the importance of mythology in modern education.
Audrey Carson and Zoe Morris are two of the seniors that are helping to plan this year’s Underworld, and they went into more specific details about the event.
“We’re going off, I think, the Aeneid now, where basically Aeneas entered the Underworld–someone gave him a golden bough and that allowed him to enter and leave as a mortal, and so we’re kind of playing on that with the classes now,” said Carson.
The Underworld takes place on Wednesday November 7, between 1st and 4th periods. Last year, teachers had to bring coins to get into the Underworld, but this year, they’re bringing golden boughs, or golden branches, as seen in the Aeneid, a myth about the Trojan hero who traveled to Italy and was the ancestor of the Romans.
Even though students read the Aeneid and other works involving figures in the Underworld, mythology isn’t a part of the curriculum for high school Latin classes, so this is an opportunity for the Latin students to learn more about these characters they’ve mentioned in class, and dive deeper into their myths.
Some major figures and myths that will be represented are Hades and Persephone–or, as the Romans would say, Pluto and Proserpina–Cerberus, the three headed dog, Dido, Aeneas, Tantalus and many more.
While the real Underworld is divided into three main sections, the CHS Underworld isn’t as accurate, but makes more sense.
“So we have the outside area of people who would’ve been the threshold to the Underworld, and then we have an area that’s kind of the land of heroes, so that would be like the Elysian fields, and then there’s also an area [where] it’s still the heroes but it’s not quite the paradise image,” said Morris, “And then we have Tartarus for the tortured souls, and then we have Hades’ palace and then like a few people who are stationed at the gates in between two places.”
Along with expanding students’ knowledge of mythological characters, the Underworld gives Latin students a platform for their language.
“It just seemed important to give the Latin students, who have very little opportunity to broadcast their language–it’s not the spoken language of Spanish or French, to give them presence within the school,” explained McGee.
Morris agrees, adding on that it gives the Latin class a bit of character, and allows the rest of the school to see what the Latin students are about.