A Rousing and Memorable Exelauno Day

On March 3, Roxbury Latin students and teachers gathered in Rousmaniere Hall to celebrate a tradition that is distinctly RL: Exelauno Day dates back more than 130 years, when Classics master Clarence Willard Gleason inaugurated a celebration of the Classics, in which Greek students would be exempted from homework. Today, the event allows for the singular annual pleasure of hearing from boys of every age and level of exposure to Latin and Greek. (It is worth noting that the day continues to be one in which Greek and Latin students are exempted from homework!) Gleason chose March 4th as a punny reference to Xenophon’s Anabasis and its use of the verb “exelauno,” meaning “to march forth.”

During the morning’s special Hall, boys in Class VI through Class I competed in this year’s David Taggart Clark Competition in Greek and Latin Declamation—reciting the stirring words of Ovid and Caesar, performing the story of Noah’s Ark from Genesis, and bringing to life the tales of Vergil himself. The declamations culminated in a surprise duo performance, in which Owen Butler (I) rose from the audience in reaction to the words recited by James McCurley (I) and then joined him onstage—to the audience’s delight—as they reenacted Thersites (James) questioning the motives of Agamemnon, before Odysseus (Owen) intervenes, from Homer’s Iliad. The duo’s unsanctioned performance was met with a standing ovation from students and with a good-natured disqualification from Classics Department Chair and Exelauno Hall emcee, Mrs. Morris-Kliment. (Duo performances are not allowed as part of the competition.) This year’s winners were Nick Glaeser of Class IV (Lower School Latin), Akhilsai Damera of Class II (Upper School Latin), and Caleb Ganthier of Class III (Greek).

RL extends its heartfelt gratitude to this year’s Exelauno Day judges, Michael Howard, teacher of Classics at Boston Latin School; Rachel Philbrick, lecturer on Classics at Harvard; and Walter Young, teacher of Latin at Buckingham Browne & Nichols.

View a video of the morning’s Hall in its entirety, and even enjoy a brief highlight reel of Mr. Brennan and Mr. Reid being used as props by the morning’s participants!

You can also view a complete gallery of photos from the morning, taken by Mr. Pojman. Congratulations to all of the day’s declaimers for impressive performances across the board.