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An inspiring day of Classics lectures

Published on 22/02/18

Our Year 11 and L6 students travelled to London for an engrossing day of talks and lectures designed to enrich their Classics learning experience. Read the thoughts of two of our students below.

On Thursday 8th February, a dozen Year 11 Classics students, accompanied by Mr Lord and Ms Cheetham, attended the GCSE Classics Conference at Westminster School for a series of talks related to our set texts in Latin and Greek.

After an early start, we travelled to the school by train, tube and foot, arriving at about 9:30 in the vast lecture hall in time for the first talk, concerning Homer’s Odyssey and the interaction between the two sexes throughout. Focusing mainly on books 7 and 23, speaker Dr. Bruno Currie discussed the themes of silent communication and miscommunication, likening the interactions between Odysseus and Penelope upon reuniting to Harry and Cho Chang’s disastrous date in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This talk was my personal favourite!

Following that, (a very enthusiastic) Dr Peter Thonemann took us through the tricky process of distinguishing between myth and historical fact when reading Herodotus' The Histories - an intriguing insight into the life and processes of the first ever historian. The Latin talks came next, with Dr Ellen O’Gorman plunging us into the world of the Druids in the ‘exotic north’ and their Roman interpretation by Caesar and Tacitus, and finishing with a discussion of tragic themes in Virgil’s Dido with Dr Fiachra Mac Góráin.

Feeling thoroughly exhausted, we piled onto a significantly less busy train, and returned to school in time for the last period. I would recommend this trip to any Year 10 taking an ancient language, especially if they would like to take part in the Classical Association Essay Prize next year! Most of all, the trip was both an enjoyable and inspiring experience, and a great opportunity to hear the thoughts of well-known scholars from around the country.

Ash, Year 11


On the 6th of February, a group of L6th students travelled to London to attend a conference for 6th form students on the Roman author Virgil. The conference consisted of lectures from classicists about topics including 'Aeneas and Religion', 'Aeneas and the History of Rome', 'Aeneas and Augustus' and finally 'The effectiveness of Virgilian description'.

The day began with a quick train ride to King's Cross before a dash across London. We arrived at a formidable church at about 11 ready for the opening lecture.

The first talk was on 'Aeneas and Religion'. The lecturer explored the central theme of pietas (duty, loyalty) and how although it is Aeneas’ epithet, it disappears when he does not typify pietas in his behaviour. While pietas is indeed loyalty to the gods it is also loyalty to one's fatherland and ancestors. The first lecture finished on a theme of the fallibility of pietas.

The next lecture was on 'Aeneas and the History of Rome'. This lecture brought to the fore why Virgil chose Aeneas, not Romulus as the hero of his epic and ended on the poetic themes prevalent in the Aeneid, nostos (homecoming) and ktisis (creation/ foundation).

After lunch, we returned for a lecture on 'Aeneas and Augustus'. This was given by Dr T. E. Franklinos who focused on the shield of Aeneas, on which the fate of Rome was emblazoned. The day finished with Richard Jenkins giving a lecture on Virgilian description. The lecture was centered on the lack of description provided by Virgil.

When the lectures drew to a close, we rushed off to get the train back. The day was full of thoughtful academic lectures which were very interesting.

Phillip, L6th


Want to hear more from our students? Read more school blog posts here.