Thursday, 6 June 2019

GCSE Essay Prize 2019 (Westminster School GCSE Classics Conference)

by Andrew Mylne

The essays submitted for the GCSE Essay Prize 2019 (funded by the Classical Association) were written in response to three of the four titles set by the speakers at the annual GCSE Classics Conference held at Westminster School. It is clear that what the speakers had said at the conference had resonated with the pupils’ own studies of the texts concerned and had prompted them to conduct further research on these texts. The three titles that prompted submissions were: “‘More theology than history.’ Is this a fair criticism of Herodotus account of Croesus?”, “Do Caesar and Tacitus in portraying druids care more about making an impact on their readers than about historical reality?”, and ‘“The great female characters of the Aeneid… refuse, in various ways, their traditional roles of passivity, domesticity, and subordination” (Nugent, 1999). How far is this true of Virgil’s Dido?’. As previously, the essays were assessed anonymously by a panel of judges who put them in a ranking order: the essay which was thereby awarded the most points was adjudged the winner.

There is little opportunity in years 10 & 11 – the target audience of the conference – to undertake any piece of writing more ambitious than practice for the ‘10-mark’ mini-essay questions offered by the GCSE set-text papers. The judges were interested therefore in work that had taken the bold step away from this familiar ground – to embrace wider reading, both of the text itself and of secondary material, and to develop a nuanced argument. The essays titles were set by the academics from universities across the UK who gave the lectures, and, quite properly, they reflect, in sophistication and challenge, the style of essay that a university dept would itself require its students to respond to.

The submissions revealed yet again just how well intelligent, engaged pupils from the pre-6th Form years can and will rise to this sort of challenge. The writing was uniformly mature and articulate, and it was clear that each of the entrants was well aware of how to structure and compose a formal essay. Our congratulations go to all of them for this.

However, the winner was adjudged to be the submission of Katharina Stott, a year 10 pupil from St James Senior Girls’ School. Her essay on the Dido title – ‘“The great female characters of the Aeneid… refuse, in various ways, their traditional roles of passivity, domesticity, and subordination” (Nugent, 1999). How far is this true of Virgil’s Dido?’ was a first-class piece of writing. Katharina really engaged intellectually with the title and wrote with verve and intelligence as she moved clearly and articulately through her argument. We were particularly impressed with the selection of references that she made in support of her points: both their range (she had taken the trouble to investigate Book 1, as well as parts of Book 4 outside of the prescribed lines) and the mature way she marshalled them (for example switching appositely to Latin where the point she wanted to make arose from the Latin word ‘culpa’). It was an essay that reflected well both her intellectual and emotional response to what she had read, and we thought was a remarkable piece for someone in Year 10. It is worth adding that the extracts from Bks 4 & 6 that were this year’s prescribed text will not actually be Katharina’s set-text when she comes to do her GCSE in 2020!  It was good to see that the Conference had done precisely what it is hoped that it would – inspired Katharina to think, research and read more widely around the interest that had been sparked by her contact with the primary text at School.

Many thanks, as ever, to the pupils who submitted their work, and also to their teachers for encouraging them to do so. Thanks also of course to the Classical Association for their generosity in supplying the prize of £100 in book tokens which will be awarded to this year’s winner, Katharina Stott.

Andrew Mylne is Head of Classics at Westminster School

Friday, 5 April 2019

The CA Guildford Branch

by Marian Wernham

The GCA was set up over 40 years ago with the aim of fostering interest in the Classics in our community. We are an active branch, offering a range of activities throughout the academic year for students, teachers and those with a general interest in Classics.  We have about 90 members, many of whom are current or retired teachers as well as students and interested members of the public.

Our annual programme begins with an Opening Lecture, which is free to anyone and always well attended. A notable speaker (often the author of a recently-published book) is invited to talk about his/her subject. We have been privileged in the past to welcome such famous names as Mary Beard, Michael Scott, Natalie Haynes and Tom Holland, amongst others, and this year our President, Professor Edith Hall, spoke to us about how Aristotle’s ‘Ethics’ can guide us through 21st Century life. A second public lecture is arranged for the summer term.

Professor Edith Hall addressing the GCA at the
Opening Lecture © Ian Peel

In October Dr Mary Harlow from Leicester spoke engagingly to pupils in Years 6-9 on ‘Unravelling the Roman toga’, and in November sixth-formers were fascinated to hear Professor Tim Whitmarsh from Cambridge explaining the evidence he had found for the ways Homer might have been performed in antiquity.

In January we organise a half-day conference for about 100 GCSE students, providing them and their teachers with the opportunity to learn from academics covering the wider context of two of their literature set texts. This year we welcomed Professor Matthew Leigh of St. Anne’s College, Oxford (a long-standing friend of GCA), who gave us his insights into the Virgil text, and Dr Dunstan Lowe from Kent who talked about Boudicca and The Druids.

A major event each year is our popular Classical Reading Competition, at which about 100 students ranging from Years 6 - 13 from local schools battle it out in playlets, dialogues and solo recitations in Latin or Greek, according to their age group.  Four experienced judges have the unenviable task of awarding prizes and certificates based on accuracy and expression.

We are indebted to the CA for the generous grant that they provide for this event, which enables us to give worthwhile prizes and a welcome tea to all attending, and similarly for another competition which we have inaugurated in recent years - a Classical knowledge ‘Certamen’ run on the lines of those in the USA. This, too, is proving increasingly popular with students.

Occasional self-help Teach Meets enable teaching staff to share ideas and issues about developments in the syllabus and good teaching practice.

We were delighted this year to support the Surbiton High School Parthenon Casts project, and soon we hope to offer a bursary to a deserving student wishing to attend one of the summer schools.

More details of our activities can be found at Do come and join us – you’d be very welcome!

Marian Wernham
Membership Secretary, GCA

For information about your nearest branch, see the CA website:

Monday, 18 February 2019

Spring Books 2019

by Philip Hooker

Once again, we have studied The Bookseller’s Buyers’ Guide and picked out some of the new books on classical themes which publishers believe will be of interest to the general reader.   We have called in a few more from elsewhere.

The one highlighted work is Daisy Dunn’s Pliny: Life, Letters and Natural History in the Shadows of Vesuvius, a literary biography based on the letters of the younger and the natural history of the elder.   Armand D’Angour’s Socrates in Love: The Making of a Philosopher may be more notable; it focuses on his little-known early life as a heroic warrior, an athletic wrestler and dancer, and a passionate lover – and it identifies ‘Diotima’ in the Symposium as Aspasia of Miletus, the consort of Pericles.

Among works of fiction, Natalie Haynes is back with A Thousand Ships, an all-female retelling of the Trojan War, the latest in a long line of recent feminist fiction - “This is the Women’s War”.  In contrast, Harry Sidebottom’s The Lost Ten is very much a boy’s book. “A Crack Squad.  An Impenetrable Fortress.  A Desperate Mission” behind enemy lines in Mesopotamia, with a traitor in the group.  “Bravo Two Zero in Ancient Rome” the publisher shouts. There are also numerous additional volumes of historical fiction set in classical times by other established authors, too many to mention.

A new one, which promises to be entertaining, is J M Alvey with Shadows of Athens, about a comic playwright who finds a murdered man outside his front door.   “A new detective in the Agora – move over Falco”.  Lindsey Davis, meanwhile, has A Capitol Death, the seventh tale featuring Falco’s adopted daughter in the time of Domitian.   More intriguing is David Barbaree, a Toronto lawyer, with his second work, The Exiled.   It is AD79, ten years after the fall of Nero, there is trouble in Parthia with someone claiming to be Nero, Pliny the admiral is sent out – and then Vesuvius erupts.

Among books for children, we note Andy Stanton’s The Paninis of Pompeii, the first in a new series by the author of Mr Gum, and Gary Northfield’s Grapple with the Greeks! (which follows Rumble with the Romans!) – both for the 7-9s.  For the 9-12s, we have Maz Evans with Against All Gods, number four in the Who Let the Gods Out series, and Nicholas Bowling with In the Shadow of Heroes, about a 14-year old slave who travels the Roman world at the time of Nero in search of the Golden Fleece.

Jonathan Bate has a major work: How the Classics Made Shakespeare, which shows how steeped Shakespeare was in the classics, notwithstanding Ben Jonson’s gibe that he had “small Latin and less Greek”. Violet Moller’s The Map of Knowledge describes how the works of Euclid, Ptolemy and Galen survived, focusing on seven cities in the Mediterranean, centres of scholarship in the post-Roman world.  Simon Critchley, moderator of the New York Times philosophy blog, has Tragedy, the Greeks and Us, arguing that ancient Greek tragedy holds a mirror up to us.   David B Small’s Ancient Greece: Social Structure and Evolution applies social scientific theories from Minoan and Mycenean times all the way to the middle years of the Roman Empire.  Vassiliki Panoussi has Brides, Mourners, Bacchae: Women’s Rituals in Roman Literature, and Soultana Marie Valamoti presents Cooking with Plants in Prehistoric Greece: An Archaeobotanical Exploration of Ancient Cuisine, complete with recipes.

Chris Carey has written Thermopylae for an OUP series on Great Battles, Barbara Graziosi has provided Homer: A Very Short Introduction, and Catherine Wilson tells us How to be an Epicurean.  Books for a classicist’s next Christmas stocking include Alexander Tulloch’s It’s All Greek: Borrowed Words and Their Histories, Peter Parker’s A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners and Philip Matyszak’s 24 Hours in Ancient Athens, describing the life of 24 ordinary Athenians over the course of one day, which follows a previous work on Ancient Rome.

Among more substantial works, we note The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greece by Evert van Emde Boas and others, The Cambridge Companion to Roman Comedy, edited by Martin T Dinter, Army of the Roman Emperors by Thomas Fischer and M C Bishop (lavishly illustrated), and two from the Metropolitan Museum, New York: Art of the Hellenistic Kingdoms from Pergamon to Rome, edited by Sean Hemingway and Kiki Karoglou, comprising 20 essays following its 2016 exhibition, and The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East by Blair Fowlkes-Childs and Michael Seymour.

There are also several new translations and texts.  How to Think About War: An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy is a selection from Thucydides translated by Johanna Hanink.   How to Keep Your Cool: An Ancient Guide to Anger Management is a selection from Seneca translated by James Romm.    The War for Gaul is a new translation of Caesar by James O’Donnell.   Ancient Peoples in Their Own Words is a highly-illustrated guide by Michael Kerrigan, based on ancient writing from tomb hieroglyphics to Roman graffiti.  Ancient Philosophy: A Companion to the Core Readings by Andrew Stumpf is a complementary undergraduate guide to the texts.  There are three new Cambridge Green and Yellows:  Plato/Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates, edited by Nicholas Denyer, Lucan’s Civil War Book 7 edited by Paul Roche, and Seneca’s Selected Letters edited by Catharine Edwards.   Aris & Phillips have Minor Greek Tragedians, Volume 1: The Fifth Century, a collection of fragments edited by Martin J Cropp.   The latest Loebs are Fragmentary Republican Latin Oratory (three volumes) edited by Gesine Manuwald and Menander Rhetor. Dionysus of Halicarnassus, Ars Rhetorica edited by William H Race.

Philip Hooker is the Hon. Treasurer of the Classical Association, and writes regularly for the CA Blog on Classics in the Media.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

News from the CA's Southampton branch

by Jacqui Meredith

Here in Southampton we have a busy programme of events and social occasions throughout the year, including a Saturnalia in January and a Prandium in July, both hosted by members. We also run an annual Latin and Greek Reading Competition for schools, including a Minimus category. Our membership spans beyond Southampton itself, incorporating Winchester, Portsmouth and even eastern Dorset, as well as much of surrounding Hampshire.

We have six lectures over the year and have been lucky to entertain a variety of excellent speakers, including Professor Michael Scott, Charlotte Higgins and the late James Morwood. This last year our programme began with Dr Eoghan Moloney of the University of Winchester, who delivered an engaging argument on the ways in which Classical Greek authors and modern scholars have interpreted the Macedonians and their leaders.  We also welcomed Harry Sidebottom, author and academic, who led us with great gusto through ‘The Third Century Crisis of Rome’, which provides the background to his Warrior of Rome and Throne of the Caesars novels.  Dr Will Wootton of King’s College London then gave a highly informative and very different lecture on ‘Making Ancient Mosaics, from Hellenistic to Roman’, taking us on a visual trek around the Roman world. There followed ‘Stesichorus and the Reshaping of Homeric Myth’ given by Professor Patrick Finglass of the University of Bristol, which presented an attractive picture of the poet in his time and place. The year was rounded-off with an erudite and thought-provoking look at ‘The Many and the One: Oedipus, Dionysus, Democracy and Tragedy’ by Professor Barbara Goff from the University of Reading.

We have an exciting programme lined up for 2018-19, including lectures by Professor Armand d’Angour, Daisy Dunn and Dr Emma Aston. In November we are organising a Classics Conference for Schools. This will include a day of lectures for older pupils, to be given by Professor Edith Hall, Dr John Pearce and Professor Paul Cartledge, and a morning of workshops on the Romans and Greeks for younger students, including a literacy workshop with the author Maz Evans. We are delighted to have the University of Southampton on board to help with workshops and stalls.

Anyone is welcome to come along to our meetings and details can be found on our programme at Events are also posted on the calendar on the CA website.

Jacqui Meredith
Honorary Secretary of the Southampton branch of the Classical Association

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Actors of Dionysus: 'Exploring the Classics' Project

by Megan Rogers

Actors of Dionysus (aod) was founded in 1993 to put flesh on the bones of ancient Greek drama and to provide innovative and accessible versions of this rich canon of work. Since then, we have toured over 50 radical and highly visual productions of classic Greek plays and new writing inspired by myth, performing to over 750,000 people nationally and internationally and becoming the UK’s leading interpreters in this field.
We have toured extensively throughout the UK and Eire, performing regularly at venues including York Theatre Royal, The Lowry, Theatre Royal Winchester, Brighton Dome, Greenwich Theatre and The Other Palace. We also perform at international festivals including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and High Fest, Armenia, as well as in ancient theatres in Greece, Turkey, Croatia and Albania.
aod is divided into three strands:
aodProductions tours new theatrical adaptations of ancient Greek drama and new writing inspired by classical mythology;
aodEducation tours high-quality productions and produces a rich and varied outreach programme including workshops, books, DVDs, audio-CDs, pre- and post-show lectures and discussions for schools, colleges, young people and students in higher education;
aodEvents produces ambitious and high-end one-off performances in distinctive venues with some of the UK’s leading performers.
© aod
We have been working on a campaign of free workshops for schools and colleges this year, running Classics and drama workshops in state schools and colleges in London, and targeting groups that would not usually have access to external facilities and material to support their learning.  Our fantastic Education Officers have visited a wide range of schools and colleges in the London area with our bespoke workshops, working with students on Antigone and Lysistrata and looking at the Greek chorus, conventions of Greek staging and the tragic hero. The campaign has had an amazing response, highlighting not only the demand for external practical educational support, but also the relevance of the Classics today. We strive to keep the Classics alive in education, working practically with students to re-stage them in modern, exciting ways, and this campaign has highlighted the fun that students have when working in this way:
‘We loved the new approaches to the text - this has worked really well in subsequent sessions, and students are still using them.’
Rowenna Mortimer, Working Men’s College

‘The whole workshop was wonderful! My students enjoyed it immensely and were inspired by Mark’s enthusiasm for Greek theatre. We are rarely able to have workshops because of the expense so thank you so much for giving us this opportunity.’
Izzy Forrester, Archbishop Tenison’s School

© aod 
In April, the Classical Association kindly awarded us £2,000 towards our ‘Exploring the Classics’ Workshops and Education Pack Project. This funding will allow us to roll out our free workshop project across the country next year, as well as enabling us to create a new Medea education pack which will be offered as a free learning and teaching resource. We will be able to further expand access to the study of classical Greek drama and literature, and it will enable us to reach thousands of additional students across the country with educational resources that will support, promote and advance the study of Greek theatre for years to come. We are very grateful to the Classical Association for helping to support projects which make a real difference to students who may not otherwise have access to these kinds of resources.

To enquire about booking a drama or Classics workshop for your school, college or university, contact

Megan Rogers
General Manager, Actors of Dionysus

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Autumn Books 2018

by Philip Hooker

Once again, we have studied the latest Bookseller Buyer’s Guides and picked out the books on classical themes which publishers believe will be of interest to the general reader (and added a few more).

The major highlight is Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, the Trojan War as seen by Briseis – another feminised fictional version of the ancient world to add to those covered in previous notes.  We also have Country by Michael Hughes, the Iliad transposed to Northern Ireland in 1996, which has had strong reviews, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, “a weird and wonderful revisioning of Oedipus Rex”, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and Metamorphica by Zachary Mason, a re-imagining of Ovid.    In more popular vein, there are the latest works from Robert Fabbri, Margaret George, Conn Iggulden, Douglas Jackson, Anthony Riches and Simon Scarrow.

Among childrens’ books, we note Lucy Coats with Beasts of Olympus, Stella Tarakson with Hopeless Heroes (Greek mythology) and Tim Collins with The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Gladiator (all for the 7-9s) and, for older children, Know-It-All: Greek Mythology in the National Geographic ‘Weird but True’ series, Russell Punter’s “action-packed graphic novel adaptation” of The Odyssey and Isabel and Imogen Greenberg’s Athena: The Story of a Goddess.  There are also Nick Pierce’s “Starters” books on Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, with bite-sized text, timelines, quizzes and “can you find?”

The non-fiction highlight is Guy de la Bedoyere’s Domina: The Women Who Made Imperial Rome (of the Julio-Claudian dynasty).  We also have Tony Spawforth’s The Story of Greece and Rome, David Stuttard’s Nemesis : Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens, Robin Waterfield’s Olympia: the Story of the Ancient Olympic Games, Peter Jones with Memento Mori : What the Romans Can Tell Us About Old Age and Death, Fred Naiden with Soldier, Priest and God: A Life of Alexander the Great (which explores his personal religion), Jeremiah McColl with Clan Fabius, Defenders of Rome (the history of the Fabii Maximi) and Richard Hingley with Londinium: A Biography: Roman London from its Origins to the Fifth Century.

In the category of “reception”, we note Charlotte Higgins’ Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths, which starts with the classical poets and then explores widely among later gardens, writers and artists. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones has Designs on the Past, how Hollywood Created the Ancient World from 1916-1966, lavishly illustrated. Adrienne Mayor offers Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology and James M Russell has Plato’s Alarm Clock and Other Amazing Ancient Inventions.  Donna Zuckerberg’s Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age exposes the way in which the American “Alt-Right” cites classical texts to support their claims.

Among books for students we note Oliver Taplin’s new translation of the Oresteia, with a clutch of critical essays, Simon Pulleyn’s new edition of Homer’s Odyssey Book 1, and a set of Bloomsbury Ancient Comedy Companions - Aristophanes: Peace edited by Ian C Storey, Plautus: Casina by David Christenson, and Terence: Andria by Sander M Goldberg.   The latest Cambridge Green and Yellows include Homer: Iliad Book XVIII from Richard Rutherford and Xenophon: Anabasis Book III from Luuk Huitink and Tim Rood.  The latest Loebs include Quintus Smyrnaeus’ Posthomerica, edited by Neil Hopkinson, the final volume of their Hippocrates, edited by Paul Potter, and Vol XI of their Livy, edited by John Yardley.   There are new translations of Cicero’s De Amicitia from Philip Freeman and Epictetus’ Enchiridion (and other works) from Anthony Long. Andrew Stumpf offers Ancient Philosophy: A Companion to the Core Readings, Michael Moore has Classical Philosophy in a Nutshell and there is also the first English translation of Martin Heidegger’s 1943/4 lectures on Heraclitus.

Philip Hooker is the Hon. Treasurer of the Classical Association, and writes regularly for the CA Blog on Classics in the Media.            

Friday, 10 August 2018

Classics in Primary Schools? It's All Relevant!

The following blogpost by Amber Taylor was first published on the Classical Association in Northern Ireland Blog in July 2018, and is reproduced here by kind permission of the CANI.

When I left high school a few years ago, having studied Latin and Classical Civilisation to A level and progressed to study Primary Education at University, I made a promise to myself that I would teach Classics to children in whatever way I could. But more importantly, I would try to stoke the same passion and excitement for the subject in the children I would teach as my own teachers had in me. On my second block placement with Stranmillis University College at Whitehouse Primary School, Principal Frazer Bailie (whom I would like to thank immeasurably for allowing me into his school and having the chance to bring Classics with me) kindly gave me permission to host a Classics club for Key Stage 2 children every Tuesday afternoon for five weeks. Suffice to say the classicist in me was elated.

I should explain that I am a student primary school teacher, and so the idea of running an entire club from start to finish was a bit intimidating, even with previous experience of working with children in extra-curricular activities. So as I sat down to plan my five-week scheme of work I thought “how do I make this relevant?” Because that’s the key in teaching, isn’t it? Make it relevant, make it fun and the learning will follow. At the time, I realised that the chances were that the children I would be teaching would never have had any formal experience in learning Classics, and so it was up to me to make sure they formed a love for it.
In my training at Stranmillis we are told to make topics as cross-curricular as possible, meaning you can teach Music through Literacy or Numeracy through World Around Us (History, Geography and Science and Technology) topics. I am of the opinion that Classics is the perfect cross-curricular topic and so that is how I set out in planning my Club – not only was it going to be fun, it was going to be as enriching as possible.
Five weeks, five lessons and a whole lot of Classics to cram into my short time-slot, but I was determined to make the most out of my time at Whitehouse. Week One started with a brief introduction to Classics. An exploration, if you will, of the topic as well as the beginnings of Latin. Over twenty Key Stage 2 children involved in the Club seemed enthralled that their first taste of Latin was casting Harry Potter spells – certainly a deviation from the routine Numeracy and Literacy! This not only captured their attention straight away, it meant that from the very start of their Classical education they were expanding their vocabulary (a statutory requirement in the Northern Ireland National Curriculum). “Expecto Patronum!” shouted eagerly throughout the halls of Whitehouse Primary School quickly turned into a discussion of what a patron was and how the word ‘expect’ comes from the Latin verb expecto.

Moving on to the first few pages of the Cambridge Latin Course (Book I), the children got a taste of some of the first stages in learning Latin when they reach post-primary. With some background to Pompeii and an interesting family, the children were able once again to explore the Latin language. They especially enjoyed the flash card pop quiz at the end, with the all-important Haribo on offer should they get a new vocabulary word correct.

The Classics Club was off to a roaring start, with some new children joining the following week, having heard of the fun already had in the early stages. Week Two proved a challenge to plan. Do I follow the Cambridge Latin course for the next four weeks or do I vary what parts of Classics the children should experience? I decided, for the time being, to continue with more of the Cambridge Latin course so that the children could begin to formulate simple sentences in Latin. So we moved on to Roman houses. Some background and context started us off, generating a comparison of Ancient Roman houses and houses today and so another way in which Classics can be used as a stimulus for the Northern Ireland National Curriculum. The young classicists then moved on to learning the Latin names for Roman rooms using flash cards (and an exaggerated Italian accent!). Using an A1 poster of a cross-section of a Pompeian Villa and some laminated character and word cards, the children solidified their knowledge of Latin words and phrases. If I said “Caecilius est in horto” they would have to place Caecilius on the correct place on the board. A competition began, sweets were given out and the next generation of classicists began to see that Classics really was worth learning (hopefully because of more than just the promise of sweets!).

For Week Three, the Classics Club took a flight from Ancient Rome to Ancient Greece, and rolled up their sleeves ready for what I had in store. So far, I had managed to link Classics to Literacy, Drama and World Around Us in the Northern Ireland Primary Curriculum, but now it was time for some Music. And what better way to do this than to learn to rap the Ancient Greek alphabet? Through the YouTube video above, the children were soon able to rap the alphabet on their own, knew where our current alphabet came from and even managed to write out all the Greek letters. Out of all the sessions we had together, this was the most fun for children and teacher alike. It allowed us to let go of our inhibitions and learn a song we could impress our friends with later. I’ll forever cherish the memory of walking twenty children out to the front gates to meet their parents whilst singing the Ancient Greek alphabet!

Week Four continued in Ancient Greece with Drama and Theatre.  Incorporating both Art & Design and Drama into one lesson was no small task, but the children delighted in the great variety Classics was providing, decorating Greek tragedy masks and trying on togas and stolas. It was certainly quite different from their normal school-day activities!
Week Five finished the Classics Club with a return to Ancient Rome, specifically its dining-table. If time and culinary skill were on my side, I might have served a banquet of dormice, flamingo tongues and garum but alas, there was just a selection of peach juice and iced buns on offer. I sat down and discussed with them the food served at the dramatic parties hosted by Caligula (a P.C. version!) and took the opportunity to answer questions on Classics at post-primary level, with many students taking a keen interest in the possibility of continuing the subject. Perhaps this was an indication of the success of the Classics Club.

All in all, my wonderful experience at Whitehouse Primary School showed that Classics can not only be brought into the minds and hearts of primary school children in a meaningful way, it can also be linked to the Northern Ireland Primary Curriculum through a variety of class subjects.  However, the most important thing was the joy that Classics brought to the children I taught. Their engagement and excitement at each new topic gave me hope that there is a future for Classical education in Northern Ireland, and reminded me of just how important it is that this versatile subject is considered to be relevant to the children of today.
Amber Taylor