COLUMBIA — The audience at Ellis Library gasped as Columbia Police Officer Gamal Castile jabbed his spear into the air, accidentally flinging off the red stingray leather cover.
"It's a good thing no one was there," Castile said, cracking a smile. The audience laughed.
Castile's demonstration of ancient Greek armor and weaponry — including spears, bows, swords and shields — was part of an event celebrating ancient Mediterranean life hosted by MU's Department of Classical Studies on Monday in Ellis Library.
David Schenker, chair of the department, said the event was a grand opening of sorts halfway through a two-month exhibit of ancient Mediterranean artifacts in Ellis Library. The library display, called "Life and Letters in the Ancient Mediterranean," runs through September and October and exhibits ancient Greek artifacts like a 3,000-year-old papyrus fragment of "The Book of the Dead," an ancient funerary text.
Matt Harder, a graduate student in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, was in the crowd watching Castile's demonstration.
"It's very interesting," Harder said. "It's nice to see someone in the community able to do that."
In addition to Castile's demonstration, Benton Kidd, curator of ancient art at the Museum of Art and Archaeology, spoke about items from everyday life, like wine cups, perfume bottles and lamps.
Schenker said this event required collaboration of faculty and staff across campus as well as community members who all pitched in to celebrate the ancient Mediterranean world.
Other MU-affiliated groups who helped with the event included the Department of Art History and Archaeology, the Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection and MU Special Collections and Rare Books.
"We're somewhat spread out across campus ... and we're all coming together in a similar interest," Schenker said.
Castile called his hobby of re-enacting ancient Greek fighting techniques "a side profession." He said he has been interested in Greek mythology and life since childhood, when his parents gave him a book about ancient Greece.
Castile said he thinks the old Greek concept of the "hoplite," or the "citizen soldier," inspired him to become a police officer.
"It fascinated me and resonated with me my whole life," Castile said.
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