This week’s #tbt is brought to you by the Columbia Spectator Archives and Britt Fossum, who kind of wishes she went to Barnard. Have anything you’d like to see featured? Send it to tips or use our anonymous form.
Bacchanal is a fairly recent development in Columbia’s history, starting only in the 2000s. But long before Bacchus was honored yearly with Keystone Light and lame outdoor concerts, the University still paid homage to the Greek Gods. Barnard College was once host to the greatest feats of strength and tests of skill since ancient Athens: the Barnard
Hunger Greek Games. They ran continually through 1968 and now are honored only by a curious statue on campus and intermittent attempts at revival. Maybe the students found chariot races and elaborate opening rituals too silly to continue? Maybe the Freshmen were tired of losing to Sophomores over 60 times? Maybe it was because the student musical performers for the 1968 games were kidnapped by another student group?
Highlights from Spectator Archives (and one NY Times!) covering the much-anticipated event include:
- “Greek Games is an attempt to authentically reproduce an ancient Greek Bacchanal.” 27 April 1965.
- “DIGNITY TO PREVAIL IN BARNARD GAMES…Instead of trying to learn to walk in the Greek fashion, the students have practiced marching in an orderly and dignified procession.” 11 April 1917.
- “But although they dedicated themselves to Aphrodite, it was the Goddess Fortuna who gave the class of ’61 the laurel wreath when two members of the ’62 hoop race relay team lost their hoops. 13 April 1959.
- In 1958 Columbia students or “invading Barbarians” disturbed the games and required that “the Barnard gym was disguised as an Athenian Temple.” 21 April 1958.
- “BARNARD SOPHS WIN THE HELLENIC CONTEST; They Had Zeus with Them at the Start, and Couldn’t Lose. STILL IT WAS PRETTY CLOSE Closer Than the Score, 36 to 25, Might Indicate — There Were Feats Both Mental and Physical.” 24 March 1906.
- This entire 1944 article though: “Barnard Sacrifice Men for Greeks–Temporarily!” “Turn the Barnard Gym into a small-size Coliseum with hordes of blood-hungry spectators,” “athletic orgies,” and “Prometheus, the Athenian version of Thomas Edison.” 14 April 1944.