BLOOMINGTON — According to ancient Greek mythology, looking at Medusa would turn you to stone.
According to modern American mythology, exposing Peeps to air will turn them to stone.
One taste of mythology met the other Thursday at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Ames Library, where World Poetry Day was celebrated with dioramas created with popular Easter candy to display scenes from Greek or Roman myth and poetry.
Junior Lauren Czaja said, “It’s a new way to revisit old myths.”
“In a new, marshmallowy way,” added senior Melissa Huang.
The Peep Into Poetry contest was sponsored by the IWU Classics Club and Eta Sigma Phi, the honor society for classical studies at the university.
Junior Leslie Cooley, who is co-president of Eta Sigma Phi with Czaja, said, “It’s a good way to interact with kids — and college students.”
The grand prize winner was senior Olivia Dunham, who depicted Perseus rescuing Andromeda while astride the winged horse Pegasus and carrying the head of Medusa, whom he had slain earlier.
Medusa was the head of a yellow chick Peep; her “hair” of snakes was made from curved green pipe cleaners.
Each entry was accompanied by an explanation of the myth being represented in not-quite-edible form.
“It reminded me of a lot of mythology that I’d forgotten,” said university librarian Karen Schmidt, who judged the entries along with Meg Miner, university archivist.
The story of the Trojan horse was the inspiration for several entries, including one titled, “Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts and Historians with Paintbrushes.” That diorama — by Amy Coles, visiting assistant professor of history — noted that, according to myth, “as punishment the gods sent huge serpents out of the sea to devour Laocoon” for not adequately warning the Trojans. In this case, huge Gummi worms devoured a chick Peep Laocoon.
Another entry, not officially entered, was created by the staff of the library’s service desk. It used a salt box as the main body of its Trojan horse and featured a battle between blue and yellow bunny Peeps. The entry also used old toilet paper rolls as decorative columns and parts of a notebook for shields, earning honorable mention for “outstanding use of recycled materials” with the judges noting the importance of “sustainability” on campus.
While the contest was not an academic exercise, English professor Kathleen O’Gorman, noted, “The students had to really know the mythology in order to have fun with it.”
It also helps to know your popular movies, as “Ghostbusters” met Odysseus in “Nobody vs. the Cyclops,” the second place individual winner by Logan Garthe.
“Cyclops” bore a distinct resemblance to the Stay Puft marshmallow man in the movie, except he had one eye in the center of his marshmallow head and the remains of yellow Peeps on his face and hands.
In fact, there was quite a bit of violence shown in most of the entries.
Huang used red nail polish for blood in “The Death of Priam,” third-place individual winner. She noted that violence is present in many stories in many forms.
“It holds true with the Bible, too. The best stories are the bloodiest,” she said.
The Peeps will be on display in Ames Library for about one week. How long the Peeps themselves will last is anyone’s guess.