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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Tuesday Time Tables – Modern Monsters and their Roman Myths

And so we came to our last Tuesday Time Table event of the summer and I chose to take the evening in a very different direction.

As an English graduate, I am passionate about writing in any form; you name it, I’ll have read it! So, stories, myths and fables were the clear themes for me to explore. But how to link it to the Romans? And how to create an interesting handling session with this theme?

Perseus and Medusa
The Roman period is rich in myth and legends, often referring to the creation of the great city of Rome. These Roman narratives often focus on the trials and tribulations of humans, who possess a divinely ordered destiny and often this comes with occasional intervention from the gods. Frequently, these stories are equipped with ferocious beasts that must be vanquished by the stoic hero. There are hundreds of stories, with masses of mythical characters, creatures and moral endings. So, finding stories to use for the handling table was effortless; the real difficulty came in whittling down which stories to pick! I chose the following:

- Romulus and Remus, raised by a she-wolf

- Medusa and Perseus

- Hercules and the snakes

- Salus and the snakes

But finding the objects? In the vast museum collection, which objects could combine with these stories? After trawling through the collections database I came across a selection of coins (depicting Romulus and Remus suckled by a wolf and Salus feeding a snake respectively), a medal (showing Medusa fleeing from an unknown figure) and the remains of a wolf’s tooth. Despite countless searches, no object could be found relating to the story of Hercules. In place of an object, I brought in gummy snakes instead that visitors could freely sample. So even if the visitor didn’t enjoy the handling table, they could walk away with a sweet taste in mouth!

On the evening of the event, I was nervous; would the evening be a complete failure? But as the visitors came to the table, all demonstrated a keen interest in both the stories and objects. Though many recalled the stories, some visitors had never heard them and were enthusiastic to listen to the tales. Children, in particular, enjoyed the table, loving the monsters and the sweets that accompanied them. Over the course of two hours, 92 visitors came to the event; it was a great success but it unfortunately this meant there were no celebratory sweets left over for me to nibble on!

Fiona Davies

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