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APSU classics students “sacrifice” golden eagle during Homecoming ceremony

Austin Peay State University (APSU)

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Dr. Tim Winters, Austin Peay State University (APSU) Latin professor, raised his face to the warm, bright sky and said, “It’s a good day to sacrifice an eagle.”

Nearby, a golden eagle (or maybe just a turkey-shaped piñata, painted gold) was placed on an altar in the center of campus for the annual Homecoming sacrifice.

APSU Latin professor Dr. Stephen Kershner sacrifices a golden eagle during homecoming.
APSU Latin professor Dr. Stephen Kershner sacrifices a golden eagle during homecoming.

For years, Austin Peay’s classics program has used the event to support homecoming festivities while also teaching the public about ancient Greek and Roman traditions.

Student members of the University’s Eta Sigma Phi Classics Honor Society wore makeshift togas and made noise to wake the gods during Monday’s event.

“We’ve been doing this several years now, and in the beginning it was really hard because we had to say, ‘May they just score a touchdown,’ but now our football team is much better,” Dr. Stephen Kershner, assistant professor of classics, said. “And it’s a learning event. I talk about what actually occurred at a sacrifice so the students know what they’re seeing.”

During the ceremony, Kershner explained how the ancient Romans followed a religion that focused on deeds, so a sacrifice was a way “the ancients would have gained the favor of their deities.”

Moments after Kershner called, in Latin, for the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles to be unable to catch a pass, he drove a knife into the piñata. The fake bird’s carcass was later placed in the fire at Austin Peay’s annual bonfire. 

For information on Austin Peay’s classics program, visit https://www.apsu.edu/classics/.

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