MERCERSBURG, Pa., Sept. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- If the gods and goddesses of ancient Olympus were walking among us today, who would they be? That was the question put to Latin students at Mercersburg Academy, an independent college preparatory school in south-central Pennsylvania. Mercersburg has a robust Latin program with more than 70 students enrolled across five levels of coursework. The students considered the attributes of the classical gods and goddesses, and then scanned the contemporary world, looking for figures in the public eye who best embody those characteristics.
The resulting list is the first Mercersburg Pantheon Project, a collection of famous, and infamous, people who reflect the personalities and accomplishments of the ancient gods, according to this group of American teenagers.
There were a few ground rules for the Project: modern-day gods had to be real living people; and they had to embody godly characteristics themselves, not through characters they might portray. As the list was compiled by Latin students, the gods and goddesses are listed below in their Roman forms – a complete pantheon of 12 gods, plus one demi-god that fit the bill too well to be missed.
The Mercersburg Pantheon Project 2015
Neil deGrasse Tyson
King of the gods, Jupiter was also the ruler of the celestial sphere, and intimately aware of all of the movements and intricacies of the starry realm. As one of the world's leading astrophysicists, Tyson can lay claim to a rare and far-reaching understanding of the interstellar world, an understanding he bestows on mere mortals through projects such as his recent television project, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
Queen of the gods, Juno was a powerful and influential figure, a competitive champion of women and women's well-being who was devoted to service, and not afraid to pull strings when necessary. She also took the promiscuity of her husband -- whose dalliances were legendary -- in stride, and remained loyal to their union. From her scope of influence to her personal life, Hillary Clinton reflects Juno's characteristics to a noteworthy degree.
Goddess of Love, Venus is known for her beauty and sensuality and for her competitive nature, particularly with regard to other goddesses. Rihanna, known as a sex symbol as well as an artist, has commented that female singers are dominant on the pop music scene because of their competitive natures. Students also noted that both Venus and Rihanna are island-born, and while Venus grants the gift of love to mortal beings, Rihanna bestows a different kind of love to children with social, medical, and educational needs, through the aid of her "Believe Foundation."
Mars is the god of war, aggression, and masculinity. Vladimir Putin's pursuit of Russian dominance in the annexation of Crimea, and his tendency to portray himself as a strongman who values military might, led students to elect Putin the modern-day God of War.
Apollo is the god of music, dance, and theater, and the god of medicine, prophecy and the sun. Students felt that Kanye West, an accomplished, multi-talented performer, fit the bill well because he also sees himself as a god, is the center of his own universe, and has declared his music to be medicine.
Diana is goddess of the hunt and a cool beauty who is protector of animals and nature. Mercersburg students saw these qualities reflected in Natalie Portman, a vegan who is known for her dedication to animal and environmental rights. Portman -- who never wears fur, leather or feathers -- designed a line of vegan shoes that benefited the Nature Conservancy; fought publicly with other alumni to pressure Harvard to stop investing in fossil fuels; traveled to Rwanda to film Gorillas on the Brink, an animal conservation film; and is routinely highlighted as a top "green celebrity."
Neptune is king of the seas, a title students bestowed on Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation, the world's largest cruise operator. The CEO of Carnival for 34 years, Arison is clearly at home on the ocean – he lives on a yacht in Miami, when he isn't exploring the world by ship and documenting his travels on Twitter and Instagram.
Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, poetry, industry, and commerce. With an undergraduate degree from Stanford University, a doctorate in politics from Oxford University, and a Rhodes scholarship under her belt, students felt Maddow had wisdom covered. As a political analyst, Maddow keeps that wisdom sharp by staying on top of a wide range of issues, with her eye especially trained on the country's shifting financial and social economics. Students also noted that Maddow's boyish style is a contemporary match for Minerva's typically more masculine qualities of beauty.
Mercury is the messenger god and god of communication, merchants, trickery, and thieves. Students tapped Zuckerberg as the modern-day version due to his leadership of the vast communications network and economic engine that Facebook has become. Add this to lingering questions about who came up with the Facebook concept, and that concerns over personal data security on Facebook are routine, and Zuckerberg captures the Mercurial spirit particularly well.
Angelina Jolie Pitt
Ceres is the goddess of fertility, motherly relationships, and agriculture. As the birth and adoptive mother of six children, and a worldwide advocate for displaced families and children in need of human, legal, and political aid, Jolie-Pitt personifies the nurturing mother goddess around the globe.
Vesta is the goddess of hearth and home, embodied today by Martha Stewart, founder and once again chairman of a cooking, entertaining, and home decorating empire that has made her the final arbiter on all these "good things" for several decades. Just as the Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome kept the fire in Vesta's temple burning at all times, so did Stewart's legion of fans keep her standards alive during her incarceration and probation for insider trading, allowing her to expand her media presence upon her return and to launch a wide range of new branded products, from cookware to floor coverings to homes.
Pluto is the extraordinarily wealthy god of the underworld, often depicted as cold, unforgiving, and hungry for broader power but consigned to the underworld by the other gods. Students saw parallels not only in Trump's status as a billionaire, and in his televised persona, but also in his as yet unfulfilled quest for political power at the highest level.
Janus is depicted as a demigod with two faces, and is known as the god of gateways -- the god of transitions and new beginnings. Although Janus is most often represented in a male form and Jenner is female, students felt that Jenner, launching her new life as a woman in the public eye, is an ideal modern embodiment of the idea of transition, and a celebration of new beginnings that must be included in the Mercersburg Pantheon.
The Mercersburg Pantheon Project is just one aspect of a creative and vibrant Latin program that also incorporates the use of customized, interactive e-books created by Mercersburg instructors. As Tom Thorne, senior Latin teacher and Language Department Head explains, "The goal of ideas such as the Mercersburg Pantheon Project, and the activities and videos embedded in our e-textbooks, is to make Latin and the ancient world come to life for our students. We want them to see how relevant the past is, to understand the commonality in human behavior across centuries, and to learn how literature, history, and art reflect human experience in a timeless way."
To explore the Mercersburg Pantheon Project further, please visit www.mercersburg.edu/pantheon.
About Mercersburg Academy
Founded in 1893 in the heart of south central Pennsylvania, Mercersburg Academy is an independent, coed college-preparatory school offering a rigorous academic program to 435 boarding and day students who represent 30 American states and 40 nations. The school prepares young men and women in grades 9–12 and post-graduate from diverse backgrounds for college and life in a global community. Mercersburg alumni include Rhodes scholars, Olympians, Oscar winners, and a Nobel laureate. For more information, please visit www.mercersburg.edu.
SOURCE Mercersburg Academy