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Honors College, Theatre showcase Classics at MSU

October 7, 2012


The life and times of the ancient Romans and Greeks will be ushered into the 21st century this week as the Mississippi State University Honors College presents Classical Week Oct. 8-12.

Dean of the Shackouls Honors College and professor of history Christopher Snyder said he is excited about partnering with national scholars and the MSU Theater Department to bring the Greco-Roman discussions to campus.

"Donna (Clevinger) had the fall production and suggested picking a classical play and I said, 'Why don't we make a week of it,'" he said. "This allowed us to do honors programs throughout the week."

Snyder said he believes understanding and celebrating the teachings and philosophies of the Greeks and Romans is an essential part of education.

"The whole idea of liberal arts is a classical concept that the Greeks and Romans invented, and these notions were the foundations of education," he said. "Also, we are part of a community in a democracy that we believe all citizens should be more knowledgable of government and be more involved in that process."

Snyder said the first speaker during Classical Week will be Thomas Burns, Professor Emeritus of History at Emory University with a discussion titled "Ancient Rome and Early America."

"America is a representative democracy that comes from principles found in Rome," he said. "Burns will link our interest in American history to ancient history and how our founding fathers were reading and interpreting these works."

Theater professor Donna Clevinger said she is excited about how the department's production of "Antigone" relates to the overall themes and goals of the week.

"The story of Antigone weaves beautifully into Classical Week and the play we're presenting," she said. "I love this collaboration and it has been wonderful to sit and bounce ideas off of these scholars."

Clevinger said speakers will follow each performance during the show's Oct. 10-12 run and audiences will be able to gain insight into the ancient world begin portrayed through scholarly observations and actor feedback.

"The actors will be woven into their discussions," she said. "We want them to be a part of those discussions to show the onstage reality of what the scholars will be talking about."

Snyder said he has been a part of rehearsals and consulting with the actors about certain themes and ideas.

"It's been a lot fun talking about historical backgrounds and character motivations," he said. "Those are very important themes in the play."

Snyder said he will be discussing the importance of Greek history after the final performance of "Antigone" on Friday.

"I'm going to talk about how the Greeks understood their history and why they presented the stories they did," he said. "Like in 'Antigone,' obligations to family and obligations to state are themes that all Americans can understand and appreciate."

Classical Week begins Monday and the Theater MSU production of "Antigone" starts Wednesday.

For more information, visit or call 662-325-3320.

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