Classics in South West Wales – an update

by Evelien Bracke

On the 26th November, WalesOnline featured the headline ‘Could Latin be set for a comeback in Welsh classrooms?’  In spite of the question mark, that the media picked up on all the Classics-related events that are going on is great news.

Since the re-launch of the South West Wales branch of the Classical Association in October 2011, we have worked ceaselessly – together with Swansea University and local schools – to broaden access to Classics in an area where it has been in steep decline since the 1980s.  Nationally, only 11% of Welsh secondaries and 0.8% of primaries offer Latin – compare that with 25% and 2% respectively in England.  Of Welsh secondaries, 64% of those offering Latin are independent schools, compared with 48% in England.  The majority of secondaries only offer Latin as an extra-curricular subject, usually for More Able and Talented pupils, and few schools encourage students to work towards an exam.  Engagement with and access to Latin in Wales is thus restricted to say the least.  I have no official figures for the provision of Classical cultures in Wales, but they are similar to those for Latin.

In South Wales, we are starting to reach people, though figures are still limited: since 2011, we have reached approximately 2,500 people directly through all our outreach activities (but as comments below demonstrate, more indirectly).  Feedback is always great and people keep coming back, which suggests we’re successful in what we offer.  We do have a traditional events programme like other CA branches, but since access to Classics is so limited, our focus lies mainly on more practical community engagement.

Reaching Schools

Together with Swansea University, we run annual projects in schools whereby university students teach Latin, Greek, or the Romans in Year 3/4. Through pupils’ attainment, entire families are engaging with the ancient world and languages, and barriers to Classics are thus broken at a wider level than merely for pupils.

 I talk about Latin to my friends/family.  I speak it and love it!  I will never ever forget you and your Latin sessions.  They mean everything to me.

I found it exciting to learn about how life used to be back then.  I also liked making stuff out of clay like the Romans.

I tell my mum, brother, cousins and dad what I’ve learnt.  I tell them that we make lovely things and do songs, go to past Roman times and play games.  (Thank you for the best time ever)!  Now my mum wants to learn Latin!

Last year, we organised the first ever Classics schools’ competition on the theme of ‘Crafting the Ancient World’, as well as a Latin and Greek translation competition.  Response was quite surprising, and we had more than 150 entries.  You can read about the winners on our website.  Thanks to CA support, we are now hosting the second competition on the theme of ‘Heroes in the Ancient World’.  The deadline is 1 July, but we have already had our first entries.

At school level, local engagement is thus clearly increasing.  In order to widen access for adults as well, we organised the first Swansea Summer School in Ancient Languages in 2015, which offered Latin, Greek, and Hieroglyphs.  It was lovely to meet new people and catch up with familiar faces (you can read a report here) and online registration for the second Summer School is already open.

Coming up ….

Our outreach programme is still developing.  We were delighted to receive a British Academy Schools’ Language Award, which has enabled us to offer free Latin classes at three South West Wales secondary schools from January 2016, for two school years (registration is still open).

We are also starting a large Year 3/4 programme with local libraries and museums in September 2016, linking ancient Greek and Welsh heritage, for all Swansea pupils.  The Romans are easier to promote because of their physical links with Wales – Greek heritage is less visible, which is why we want to target that more, particularly since young children love Greek myth and invariably become enchanted with the Greek alphabet when introduced to it.

Classics in Wales

Now that our outreach programme has become more established at a local level, we have also started collaborating with others on a national level.  In order to promote and support engagement with Classics in all of Wales, we set up the Cymru Wales Classics Hub (CWCH).  Cwch is Welsh for ‘boat’ and it refers to the transfer of knowledge, the start of a journey, and of course hints at the Argo as mythological prototype of a ship.   CWCH brings teachers together, and just from talking to each other, schools have already set up joint school trips and secondaries are now starting to offer Latin to local primaries, taught by their sixth-form students.  Our work is mainly confined to South and Mid Wales, however, and we have a long journey ahead to reach all of Wales.  Our first annual conference takes place on the 6th February 2016, and everyone is welcome to attend (registration is open online).

In Short….

Classics outreach in Wales is not straightforward, since – alongside the typical prejudices concerning elitism and uselessness – the political emphasis on Welsh further complicates matters.  Persuading schools that Welsh and Classics are not mutually exclusive is a tough task, and engagement with schools and museums often depends on passion for the subject by one individual.  The educational climate in Wales is changing, however, and with a new languages policy for Wales (Global Futures), access to ancient languages might improve along with that to modern foreign languages.  More news on that, hopefully, in the new year!

So … a ‘comeback’ for Classics in Wales?  I doubt we will ever again reach the point where, as in the past, Latin was compulsory at secondary school level, but that’s not the point – nor do we even have to reach tipping point.  What matters is that Classics becomes accessible to Welsh communities, so that people can experience how it adds value and meaning to their lives in a relevant way, namely by connecting with their own specific social, cultural, and political contexts.

Dr Evelien Bracke is a Lecturer in Classics and also Employability and School Liaison Officer in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Swansea.  She is also Chair of the South West Wales branch of the Classical Association and Co-ordinator for Wales of the Iris Project’s Literacy through Latin project. 




Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Forty Years of the Guildford Classical Association

by Jeremy Antrich

My wife Ann and I, both Classics teachers, arrived in Surrey from Bristol in 1974. We had previously enjoyed meetings of BACT and the Bristol CA, but there was no local Classical organisation.  So we teamed up with some local teachers and in February 1975 the Guildford Branch of the Classical Association and the Guildford Region Association of Classical Teachers (GRACT) were created.  At our inaugural meeting Mark Hassall was our speaker.

Our first official event was a Wine Party – following the custom of the London Branch. Our second meeting was a film show about David Raeburn’s recent production of Euripides’ Bacchae at Bradfield College.  A committee was formally elected and our first President was John Henry, Chief Education Officer for Surrey County Council, and himself a Classicist.  He was followed by David Raeburn, then Norma Miller, and our current President is Edith Hall.

For forty years the Guildford Classical Association (as we became known) has presented lectures for the general public, talks, conferences and quizzes for schools, and in-service events for teachers, with the financial and practical support of Surrey County Council and the Classical Association.  Our speakers have been generally excellent, with some very high profile, such as Mary Beard, Natalie Haynes, Caroline Lawrence and Michael Scott. Throughout this period we have experienced considerable pressure upon minority subjects like Classics, especially in state schools.  Nevertheless, endlessly shifting educational requirements have effectively been met, and changing trends in the interests of the general public admirably catered for.

Occasional special events have included outings to Roman sites, and a drama event held in 1986, when students and teachers performed in scenes from Plautus and Molière under the direction of Theo Zinn, then teaching part-time at Charterhouse.

Theo Zinn in rehearsal for the Guildford CA drama event in 1986 (photo by J. Antrich)

Perhaps our most ambitious event took place in September 1984 – a Roman Day, held at the Guildford Royal Grammar School. There was a whole day of activities including cookery demonstrations, poster and model competitions, drama, gladiator fights, and presentations by the Ermine Street Guard. The event was publicised in the press and on TV, and attracted over 1,700 visitors.

It has become our custom to end each decade with a celebratory dinner. Our guest speakers have been Peter Jones, Brian Sparkes and Chris Carey – and, this September, myself, as a Vice-President and founder member. I took the opportunity to pay tribute to all those – not least the Committee members – who have enabled us to flourish over the last forty years.  I was pleased to report that membership had held up and that attendance at events was good.  The Guildford Classical Association is now looking forward to its next 40 years.

 GCA 40th Anniversary Dinner, September 2015 (photo by J. Antrich)

Jeremy Antrich is Honorary Vice-President of the Guildford Classical Association

Sheila Conway, Honorary Secretary of the Guildford branch, adds:  The Guildford Classical Association is fortunate in having a number of young, enthusiastic and imaginative committee members, who are keeping us up-to-date with current trends and examination requirements. We are replacing our annual Staff Development Days with termly twilight sessions, which we hope staff will find easier to attend.  Another innovation is our Certamen, an inter-school team quiz on the lines of University Challenge, which is light-hearted and fun and has proved extremely popular.

We are determined to live up to the high standards set by our founding members, with top quality and innovative events appealing to classicists of all ages.

The Classical Association has a number of affiliated organisations or ‘branches’ to whom it awards grants to support Classics in local areas. These are often (but not always) run out of university Classics departments and events include lectures, play readings and excursions.  Many branches are also active in organising outreach events involving local schools, including reading competitions and quizzes.  See the CA website for contact details for individual branches and our online calendar for information about forthcoming events.


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Another First for Cambridge: A CA Study Day for Teachers

by Max Kramer

On a Saturday in late June we were delighted to welcome around 20 teachers and trainees to Cambridge for our first ever GCSE Classical Civilisation Teachers’ Study Day. The programme was designed to provide academic enrichment from scholars working at Cambridge, an opportunity to develop innovative teaching methods, and included a forum for discussion on teaching Clas Civ. We ended the day with a feedback session, which allowed participants to suggest the shape for future teachers’ days and to give us guidance on how we develop our outreach and schools’ work as a whole.

The day began with two keynote lectures. The first, from Tim Whitmarsh, our new Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, focussed on the performance practices that lie behind the Homeric poems and the way in which they relate to the pre-existing poetic tradition. Dr Ingo Gildenhard, our Schools Liaison Officer, then spoke on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, beginning with the set text and showing how it could be related to the historical and cultural issues that are so central to the Clas Civ course, and its broader influence on the development of Western Culture.

After the lectures, the participants had the choice of two workshops: one, led by Stephen Harrison, the video maker behind much of our new website, looked at how film-making could effectively convey the excitement of the Classical world. Meanwhile, Jennie Thornber, our Museum Education & Outreach Co-ordinator, led a session in our famous cast gallery on how material culture could be used in the teaching of Clas Civ.

After the workshops we gathered together again for a general discussion chaired by Dr John Taylor, former head of Classics at Tonbridge School. Three of our participants took the lead and gave mini-presentations on using Kahoot quizzes, introducing “Clas Civ for literacy” into a school, and using Ben Hur as a way of revising the GCSE topic “A day at the races”. Then we had a broader discussion about techniques for teaching and issues in examining and promoting the subject. The final feedback session showed not only the teachers’ appreciation for the day but also the range of people present. Much to our surprise and delight a good number of those attending were not yet teaching Clas Civ but wanted to introduce it to their schools in the near future. So we promised that next year’s teachers’ day would include a special workshop on introducing Clas Civ for the first time, led by someone who had gone through the process themselves. The teachers present also provided vital guidance for us in shaping our first GCSE Clas Civ & Ancient History students’ study day, which took place in September. Many thanks to the CA’s generosity in funding what we hope will become a regular feature in our Cambridge calendar!  See here to find out what one of the participants thought.

Max Kramer is the Undergraduate Administrator in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge

The second CA INSET day on ‘The History of Ancient Greece and its Teaching’ will take place at Leeds on 21 November – see here for details.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Creating ‘Early Myths’ for Children

by Simon Spence

In 2013 I started to tell some of the Greek myths to my daughter, who was 3 and a half years old.  At the time I looked for versions of the tales for a young audience and felt that many of the books were either aimed at an older age group or didn’t quite bring the myths to life in a colourful and inspiring manner. Having published my PhD a few years ago, I had some experience in self-publishing and so I decided to embark on creating my own series of books for children.

My first decision had to be format; print versus electronic. I quickly realised that electronic eBooks offered far more flexibility, especially given the subject matter. I wanted to keep the Greek names in the story but in printed form this would present a challenge to the kids and moreover, their parents at bedtime! So I decided to embrace the world of the iPad and look at producing an electronic book which would take advantage of images, audio and video, including sound buttons for the names.

The second aspect was which myth, or more particularly, which version of a myth to focus on. For my doctorate I wrote about the early versions of the myth of Jason and was always interested in sources up to the fifth-century B.C. I also specialised in visual art, scenes in vase painting and sculpture, and so decided to take this into the world of children’s books. The “Early Myths” collection was born, aiming to take the earliest versions of a myth and bring it to a young audience through colourful images and sounds.

I found a talented artist who shared my interest in looking at pots and we began to create a fun and colourful version of the tale of Perseus, attempting to remain faithful to the early sources along the way. The book was launched in late 2013 and won a bronze prize at the Moonbeam Children’s Awards 2014. Since then I have published Jason and the Golden Fleece and our latest book, Odysseus. The next in the collection will be Atalanta, due to be released at this November.

The books are picture books, aimed at 4 to 8 year olds with about fifteen images in each. When possible, I have tried to take vase-painting scenes or sculptures as inspiration for our images and each book has a “Notes for Grown Ups” section which explains how I selected parts of the tale and some details about the sources used.

The reaction to the books has been wonderful. Hearing tales back of kids reading about Perseus, Odysseus and Jason (instead of Disney’s Frozen!) has been both rewarding and completes a circle back to my own early childhood. I also plan to continue on to book number five in 2016.

From a publishing point of view it has also been very rewarding. Creating a series of books is open to everyone these days as tools like the Apple iBooks Store and Amazon Kindle means that authors can reach their audience no matter how niche that may seem and you do not have to go through the traditional publishing-house route. I would argue that many PhD students should look at publishing their findings for free on the iBooks Store, to present their work so that it is accessible to a wide research audience.

If you are interested in learning more about Early Myths, the books are available in the iBooks Store for the iPad, Mac or iPhone and versions are also available from the Kindle Store. Further information can be found on the website:

Classicist turned children’s book writer and IT specialist Dr Simon Spence studied at the University of Nottingham, taking the early visual evidence of some of the best known Greek myths as the subject of his own PhD studies.  


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Autumn Books 2015

by Philip Hooker

The Bookseller’s Buyers’ Guide to Autumn 2015 is now out – and these are the books on classical themes which publishers think will be of interest to the general public.

The big one – and a highlight – is SPQR from Mary Beard (“Britain’s favourite classicist”) due 6 October, just before “Super Thursday” when over 500 best-sellers are released – including Dictator from Robert Harris, the third part of his Cicero trilogy.  It will be preceded, on 8 September, by Dynasty from Tom Holland, the sequel to Rubicon, about “the rise and fall of the House of Caesar”.  If all three are energetically publicised, we will be hearing a lot about Roman history.  There was talk of a television series from BBC2 but, if her blog is any guide, this is not something which Mary Beard has had time to do.  She will, however, be at the Cambridge Literary Festival and, on 19 November, will be debating with Boris Johnson in Central Hall, Westminster (he will argue for the Greeks, she the Romans); this Classics for All fundraiser has long been sold out.

Other scholars will also be entering the fray.  Nigel Spivey has just published Classical Civilisation, a history of the Greeks and Romans in 10 Chapters.  Jerry Toner has a succinct The Ancient World in the Ideas in Profile series, with animation by Cognitive, available from iTunes.  Richard Alston with Rome’s Revolution, Thomas Mitchell with Democracy’s Beginning and Peter Thoenemann with The Hellenistic World – using coins as sources – have produced what look like textbooks for students.

We also have more quirky miscellanea about the ancient world.  Jane C Hood tells How to Win a Roman Chariot Race, Paul Chrystal offers In Bed with the Romans and Iain Ferris The Mirror of Venus: Women in Roman Art.  And Peter Jones’ Eureka, all about Ancient Greece, is now out in paperback (and, we suspect, has proved to be a much better seller than the Edith Hall).

There is a new OUP text of Herodotus, edited by N G Wilson and a new translation/commentary on Plato’s Theatetus and Sophist from Christopher Rowe.  Peter Rhodes has added a volume on Thucydides to the Ancients in Action series, Richard Stoneman’s biography of Xerxes has been out for a while, Robin Lane Fox’s Augustine: Conversions and Confessions is due in November.  Eleanor Dickey is offering both An Introduction to the Composition of Greek Prose and Learning Latin the Ancient Way: Latin Textbooks from the Ancient World, decidedly pedagogical.

And, reflecting the current enthusiasm for ancient drama, Oberon is publishing The Fall of the House of Atreus (the Oresteia plus Iphigenia at Aulis) in iambic pentameters from Andy Hinds (assisted by Martine Cuypers), not the version used by the Almeida, and a Medea by Rachel Cusk (which they are using).  Bryan Doerries offers The Theatre of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, based on his work with traumatised veterans and others.  Ken McMullen and Martin McQuillan have combined to produce Oki – an original screenplay inspired by Antigone concerning the current Greek predicament.

Philip Hooker is the Hon. Treasurer of the Classical Association.  Look out for more of his posts covering Classics in the media!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Fasti Online in 2015

by Elizabeth Fentress

Thanks in part to the valuable support of the Classical Association the Fasti Online project ( has flourished over the past three years.  We have added over a thousand sites, and there are now almost 3,500 excavations in the database – mainly from Italy and Bulgaria, but with a smattering coming in from Macedonia, Albania, Morocco and Ukraine, and Romania promising to return soon.   All of these are translated into English as well as being published in the local language, making the site an international resource.  Since 2012 we have added plans and photographs, making the site far more informative.  The accompanying journal, Fasti Online Documents & Research (FOLD&R Italia) has just published its 336th report (on William Van Andringa’s excavations in Pompeii), confirming its role as one of the most important resources for Italian archaeology today.  Thanks to the project manager, Helga di Giuseppe, and a wide network of archaeologists working in Italy, FOLD&R is peer-reviewed, and has just made it into Italy’s top grade of academic journals (in spite of our continuing policy that no excavation is too boring to publish, as long as it is correctly presented).

The very volume of this information finally woke us up to the issue of sustainability, as our dedicated server, housed in London by our (wonderful) programmers, L-P archaeology, was hardly an institutional server.  A solution has been found in a new partnership with the Center for the Study of Ancient Italy at the University of Texas at Austin: Fasti Online and FOLD&R are now housed on the University Computers, joining the websites of Metapontum and Chersonesus that run the same software.  Adam Rabinowitz and Michael Thomas are now on Fasti’s board, to represent UT and the CSAI.

A hugely important partnership has been with ARIADNE (, a European Union project that is developing a portal and cross-platform searching tools for archaeological datasets.  Fasti’s own site now has a complete set of metadata, and is expanding through partnerships with other, similar, sites, such as Archéologie de la France Info’s (, which now boasts a similar number of sites. We hope to be able to cross-search their site by the end of the year.

Finally, we are branching out in a new direction.  At the suggestion of Stefano De Caro, AIAC is joining ICCROM, the International Centre for the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, to launch a twin site with the same URL, Fasti Online Conservation, and a new review, FOLD&R Archaeological Conservation, to report on new projects in Heritage conservation.  The new review is edited by De Caro and myself, and the first issue, on the Domus of the Valerii in Rome, with 3D reconstructions of the spectacular wall paintings, should be published within days, when the new site is unveiled.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the Classical Association (and indeed of the Roman Society and Oxford University) – especially because the Italian Ministry of Culture, which requires non-governmental excavators to submit reports to us, has failed to grant funding in the last two years. We are getting by, just, but the usual depressing fact remains: it’s far easier to fund new projects than it is to maintain old ones, no matter how valuable.

Elizabeth Fentress is the Scientific Director of the Fasti Online Project

The Classical Association is a major giver of grants to classical projects, mainly but not exclusively in the UK.  Much of its grant money is invested in a small number of major projects, including the Fasti Online Project, which have been considered to be of fundamental benefit to the discipline. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

More Theatre 2015

by Philip Hooker

Never have there been so many professional productions of ancient drama in UK theatres – including, now, three major productions of the Oresteia.      This follows the success of the Helen McCrory Medea  (seen in cinemas as part of NTLive), the Kristin Scott-Thomas Electra (later on Radio 3) and the Juliette Binoche Antigone (subsequently on BBC4, next in Edinburgh and Washington).

The big one is a whole season at the trendy Almeida Theatre in London.  This has started with an Oresteia adapted and directed by Robert Icke, which stars Lia Williams as Clytemnestra and has had universally favourable reviews.  It is a free adaptation, with a modern setting, with murders onstage, with no chorus, which starts with the story of Iphigenia (from Euripides), running until 18 July.  It will almost certainly upstage the Oresteia at Shakespeare’s Globe, in a new version by Rory Mullarkey, from 29 August.   We suspect that the Manchester Home production, in a version by Ted Hughes, with a chorus of Manchester folk, directed by classics graduate Blanche McIntyre, from 23 October, will be closest to the original.

Next at the Almeida is the Bakkhai with Ben Whishaw and Bertie Carvel in a version by Anne Carson from 23 July (all advance tickets sold), to be followed by Medea with Kate Fleetwood from 25 September – accompanied by semi-staged readings of Frogs, Wasps and Lysistrata, a recital of the entire Iliad, talks, debates and more.

At the Scoop, the free theatre alongside London’s City Hall, August will see Captain Show-Off, Phil Wilmott’s version of Plautus in the early evening, followed by Women of Troy.    At the Swan Theatre, Stratford, the RSC will present Marina Carr’s version of Hecuba from 17 September.  At the Gate Theatre, from 2 November, there will be the Sydney Belvoir Theatre version of Medea by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks, presented from the perspective of the young children.  We also have some dramatisations of Homer – Simon Armitage’s version of the Odyssey : Missing Presumed Dead all about a modern MP who disappears on a mission to Istanbul, opens in Liverpool in September before coming to Shakespeare’s Globe in November (preceded by Derek Walcott’s Omeros).  National Theatre Wales has a multi-media version of the Iliad in Llanelli, by Mike Pearson and Mike Brookes, derived from Christopher Logue’s War Music, in four parts, in September, with two marathon performances, one overnight.  Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum offers a shorter version from Chris Hannan in April 2016.

Edith Hall, in the inaugural issue of the Hellenic Society’s new magazine Argo, reviews some of the above and notes that these are the most familiar plays and asks when there will be a production of, say, Iphigenia in Tauris.    (She is promoting a new version by Tony Harrison set in Crimea).   The answer is 16 June to 4 July at the Rose Theatre, London; it is a new translation of the Goethe version (previously seen at Bath in 2011 and the Gate Theatre in 2003) and it follows a production of the Gluck opera at St Andrews earlier this month.   These may be free versions of the original, but the same might be said of many of the above.

For something more unusual, we turn to the North American theatre scene.   New York Classic Stage has its own rather classy Greek Festival commencing August with an Iphigenia in Aulis, three evenings derived from fragments, a Helene Foley seminar and a deconstructed version of Oresteia, Chicago Court theatre has an Agamemnon from Nicholas Rudell, Philadelphia has an Antigone and a Metamorphoses, Stratford Ontario an Oedipus Rex, but our prizes for originality go to Washington Alliance Theatre for Matthew Buckley-Smith’s version of Seneca’s Trojan Women in June and to Chicago Hypocrites theatre for Sean Graney’s All Our Tragic, a conflation of all 32 extant Greek tragedies in a 12 hour marathon, revived from June.

Philip Hooker is the Hon. Treasurer of the Classical Association.  Look out for more of his posts covering Classics in the media!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

A Million Hits on YouTube…Animation and Teaching Roman History

By Ray Laurence

What happens when the son of a Professor of Roman History brings home his Key Stage 2 project on the Romans?  First thing, wife of Professor reveals to school Zak’s dad is slipping in and out of the school without mentioning the fact he may know a little about the Romans.   Next step, school arranges for him to face down Year 3 for one lesson and for him to wonder: what on earth to say – luckily son on hand to give forthright advice.  After much thought, it is set-up – explain what it is like to be a Roman child aged 7.  Of course, this is the first age at which girls could be betrothed to boys some 10 years older than them – visualised by the concept of the large teenagers the kids see going to the secondary school.  Third thing – do the lesson – a real blast of questions, interruptions, and so on.  Everybody is happy.  Roman project gets done too via going to British Museum  (A-Z of Roman Objects).   Job done, but then I met the animators.

Andrew Park set up an animation company in Folkestone a few years ago called Cognitive.  His story of how he ended up doing this is set out in this TED Talk.  He has kids in primary school too and we talked about my research and explaining Roman childhood.  This became an idea that was pitched to TED.Ed, who marry together ‘educators’ and ‘animators’ to produce short films with big ideas.  Luckily they said yes and I wrote the script, recorded the script with the help of Cognitive and the drawing began.  Every so often, I would get a phone call or email from Andrew with a question: ‘What would be in the side-street?’  Answer: ‘boxing’ – we know Augustus liked to watch it; and another question:  ‘Is it ok to put a polar bear in the bath-house?’   Maps were sent to Cognitive, images of reconstructions and so on and at the end of October 2012 the film was released.

Job done – you would think, especially with a second film released in 2013.  But, oh no – 3 years later we realised there were over 1000 comments on YouTube discussing all sorts of stuff:  the position of the Subura, whether Roman statues were painted, a dose of misogyny, a touch of racial stereo-typing to racism, a little dislike of my voice, and the final comment that caused me to do something: ‘Islam invented arranged marriages’.  I’m working on setting up the means to link the film to resources that explain key themes that are embedded in the film.  Thus, if teachers are using the film for homework, pupils can have access to key texts, short passages, a quiz and discussions.    However, to take this all a bit further – why not have homework based on the writing of an animation script?  A kind teacher piloted this for me and next year I hope to run a script-writing competition. University of Kent has stumped up some prize money and over the summer I will have to get my act together to roll this out.   Please get in touch by email, if you are a teacher who uses this animation for teaching – I’d like to hear your views and what you would like to have in terms of resources built around these films.

Ray Laurence is Professor of Roman History and Archaeology at the University of Kent

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Sam Hood translation prize 2015

Readers are invited to submit entries for the 2015 Sam Hood translation prize.

The judges are keen to encourage elegant and stylish translations from Greek and Latin prose and verse.  Try your hand at translating any one of the following passages (verse passages may be translated into either verse or prose, as you consider most appropriate):

Horace Epode 3
Virgil Eclogue 1.1-17
Petronius Cena Trimalchionis 62 from ‘Sed, quod coeperam dicere’ to ‘non si me occidisses’.
Iliad 8 66-77
Sophocles Antigone 781-801
Thucydides 7.29.3-5

Texts of these passages can be found here, but you may use any text that is available to you, provided that you include a copy of the text you have translated with your translation.

The judges will be looking for accuracy but also, and especially, for creativity when making their decisions.  The competition is open to anyone under 19, still in full-time pre-university education.  Entries should contain a statement from a teacher confirming that this is the case.  The prizewinner will receive not only a cheque for £75 but also a book of classical poetry.

Entries should be sent to:

Dr Katherine Clarke
St. Hilda’s College
OX4 1DY 

by 9th July 2015.

The 2014 competition had a bumper entry.  The winner was Tatiana Sherwood of Haileybury School, with the translation of Juvenal Satires 3. 190-202 that appears below.  The runner-up with the judges’ commendation was Jack Keen, of St Paul’s School, with a translation of a passage of Xenophon’s Hellenica into clear rhythmical prose.

Congratulations to them both! 

Juvenal Satires 3. 190-202
translated by Tatiana Sherwood

Who fears or has ever feared
Their house tumbling down,
In cool Whitby,
Or amongst the shady hills at Brockenhurst,
Or in straightforward Darlington,
Or on the sloping plain of the Peaks?

But we live in a city, mainly bolstered up by
Flute-thin props.
For this is how the landlord stops the house from
Tottering over,
Papering over the old crack’s yawn,
Telling us to sleep untroubled
In a block on the verge of
Tumbling down.

We must live where there are no fires,
No fear each night.
Your neighbour is already shouting
‘Fire!’; already moving his odds and ends;
Your third-floor flat is already full of smoke
And you have no idea.
For if the alarm starts from the ground floor,
The last to burn will be protected
By just one tile from the rain,
Where the soft doves lay their eggs.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon Project

By Professor Richard Hunter FBA

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon Project will make available, both in print and online, an entirely new Greek-English lexicon, aimed at everyone who wants to read, learn or teach Greek, based on a re-reading of the ancient sources and organised on modern semantic principles.

The Project in its earliest form was the brainchild of John Chadwick, who originally envisaged a revision of the old Intermediate Greek Lexicon of Liddell and Scott, but it soon became clear to Dr Chadwick and to Dr Anne Thompson, who has worked for Project since 1998, that a quite new methodology was needed, and one which abandoned the traditional practice of patchwork revision of inherited material. Since the early days, the scope and ambition of the Project have increased out of all recognition. The Project is now housed in two offices within the Faculty of Classics at Cambridge, where a very dedicated team of researchers are nearing the end of their labours. As well as Dr Thompson, the team currently consists of James Diggle, who has been working full-time on the Project since his retirement and who leads the Project team, Robert Crellin, whose research was on the Greek tense system, Bruce Fraser, who carries primary responsibility for the electronic and technological side, Patrick James, whose research field is diachronic change in Greek morphology, Oliver Simkin, an expert in historical philology and etymology, and Simon Westripp, a recent graduate from the Faculty.

From the first, it was envisaged that the Lexicon would be published in digital as well as in print form, and early on an agreement to link the Lexicon to the Perseus Digital Library was signed. In addition to the use of the Perseus database, Bruce Fraser designed an innovative, highly granular XML editing system which is used in writing each entry and which translates the guiding lexicographic principles into XML coding to produce a dedicated structure for every type of lexicon entry, specific to each part of speech. This helps the writers to maintain consistency as they compose and will result in a layout which will be clear and accessible for users at every level of Greek knowledge. The Lexicon will be published in hard copy by Cambridge University Press and discussions about further digital platforms are currently on-going. The team will deliver the final files to CUP in the summer of 2016.

Throughout its existence the Project has been funded by both the Faculty of Classics and a host of donors, both major societies and foundations (such as The Mellon Foundation) and very generous individual supporters. The confidence and support offered by The Classical Association has always been a tremendous boost to the Project team, and we are very grateful indeed. If you would like to learn more please consult the Project website at

or contact Professor Richard Hunter (

Richard Hunter is Regius Professor of Greek in the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge, and Chair of the Committee of Management of the Cambridge Greek Lexicon Project.

The Classical Association is a major giver of grants to classical projects, mainly but not exclusively in the UK.  Much of its grant money is invested in a small number of major projects, including the Cambridge Greek Lexicon Project, which have been considered to be of fundamental benefit to the discipline. 


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off