LATIN has been studied in British schools for centuries,but has not featured as a staple of the national curriculum for more than 40 years.
Nowadays,the study of Latin often splits opinion – some say it is key to understanding the modern English language,yet others believe it to be useless and obsolete.
This year,my school, St Aidan’s,has introduced Latin for the first time.
The school has never taught the subject as part of the curriculum in the past. Although not compulsory,several students across different year groups have been given the opportunity to study the subject as an extra-curricular lesson.
I am one such pupil, and have been learning the ancient language for nearly a year now, following a Cambridge University-devised course.
To some the subject might appear boring and antiquated – or the preserve of private school students.
Obviously the language is no use in ordering a meal or asking for directions in modern-day Italy, but what many people fail to understand is the potential benefits it can have when coupled with the study of English.
For example,words such as ‘canis’, the Latin for dog, is obviously where our word canine originates from. Latin is also an advantageous language for students studying the sciences.In Biology,animal and plant names have Latin equivalents,and in Chemistry some elements have Latin
Nationally, the Cambridge Online Latin Project, the course that I have
been following, was unveiled in September after being tested by 2,000
“We’re looking to make Latin available to everyone who wants to study
it,” said director of the Cambridge School Classics Project, Will Griffiths.
“It shouldn’t be for certain types of pupils in certain types of schools.
We would like other children to have access to this education which private
schools have long recognised is important.”
So far, I have found the course both interesting and useful. Delivered in
the form of a textbook and DVD, the course is split into several different
sections concerning the Roman home,market, and theatre, for example.
The DVD follows the textbook, but includes a variety of video clips and
activities to accompany the text.
In addition, the majority of the Latin students will be going on a school
trip to Rome next February.
Mrs Sue Marland, an English teacher at St Aidan’s,was responsible for bringing in Latin for extra-curricular study.
She explained: “I wanted to offer a subject that is really challenging and
that has had a huge impact on languages, especially English.
“I loved learning Latin and find the historical aspect fascinating.
“I think the course is excellent. It offers a balance of social and historical content along with the learning of the language.”
Students at St Aidan’s are generally enthusiastic about the course and are
enjoying their first experience of Latin.
Year nine student Megan Kelsall commented: “I enjoy Latin. It really
gives you an insight into Roman history and where many English words originate from.”
Fellow year nine student Lynette Parkinson added: “I didn’t expect Latin to be so interesting.
It’s amazing how it makes up part of so many modern languages. It really
helps me to understand other languages.”
“I think Latin is a superb extra-curricular activity.The course is really interesting and I thoroughly enjoy it. I think it’s great introducing it as an extra-curricular activity as it helps me tremendously with other languages” commented Alison Brough, another Year 9 student, adding: “It is also a good way to challenge more able students.”
The introduction of Latin as an extra-curricular subject for those students who desire to study it, was an excellent idea.
In my opinion, the way it is taught in an informal, laid-back way after-
school is one of the main factors as to why it has been so well received at St Aidan’s,and I’m looking forward to the rest of the course… and of course
the school trip to Rome next year!
LATIN has been studied in British schools for centuries,but has not featured as a staple of the national curriculum for more than 40 years.
CHILDREN laid siege to a historic villa when they travelled back in time and came face-to-face with a Roman soldier.
The fun-day at Crofton Roman Villa in Crofton Road, Orpington, put
on activities including mosaic designing, brass rubbings and replicas
of Roman dice games to entertain visitors.
There was also a chance for younger children to dig around in a sand pit for Roman artefacts at the event on July 20.
The Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit help to maintain the villa and
secretary Edna Mynott said: “The children seemed impressed when our
Roman soldier put on a display to talk about his armour and weapons.
“It is the only Roman villa in Greater London that is open to the
public and I think it is important because it means a lot to the
children. They get to learn a lot about the past and have fun too.”
From the Oxford Mail
History-lovers mingled with Roman soldiers when they took a step
back in time to view unearthed treasures in an Oxfordshire field.
Hundreds of people flocked to excavations near Frilford for a glimpse of Roman Britain at the site open day on Sunday.
The event was part of National Archaeology Day, organised by the
National Trust and English Heritage, in collaboration with the
archaeologists, to show the public what had been discovered.
The site, behind the former Noah’s Ark pub on the A338 Oxford to
Wantage road, is used as a training ground for archaeology students at
Oxford University, who dig at the site each summer.
Excavations since the 1930s have revealed a large Roman temple
complex, amphitheatre and other public buildings, dating back to
between the early second century and late fourth century.
Underneath the Roman buildings, archaeologists have also discovered an Iron Age settlement.
Gary Lock, Professor of Archaeology at Oxford University, said: “It was a great day.
“We had Roman soldiers marching around, kids digging up Roman
pottery, an archery demonstration and a display of Roman artefacts.
“Children liked digging things up and seeing the Roman soldiers,
while the adults enjoyed seeing the site and having someone explain the
archaeology to them.
“There were lots of questions and people were really interested.
“It was very satisfying for us.
“Archaeology is very popular at the moment because there is so much
of it on the television. People are very interested in their past -
they want to know where they’ve come from.
“This site is pretty much the only one of its type in Britain.
“We have got a temple and an amphitheatre together. Most other
amphitheatres are found in towns or on the site of Roman forts. But
this one is with a temple which means it was used for religious
services and plays.”
He added: “We are interested in the way the Roman settlement links
back to the Iron Age settlement – and the way the Romans were inspired
by the past.
“You can get a real insight into religious practices and beliefs.”
Donations went towards funding the dig.
From the Chester Chronicle
Green light for plans to preserve Chester’s Roman walls
Jul 21 2008
by David Norbury, Chester Chronicle
CITY councillors are to be asked to give their formal approval to a long awaited conservation plan for the city walls.
Executive member for development Cllr Stuart Parker (Con, Christleton) told a meeting of the Town Hall Executive a three month public consultation had a led to nine responses, none of which were negative.
“The general feeling is that this is a good document which should be used to guide future actions affecting the city walls,” said Cllr Parker.
THE TRIENNIAL MEETING
To be held in
under the auspices of the Faculty of Classics,
University of Oxford
Monday, 28 July to Friday, 1 August 2008
Update 25/06/08: Bookings are still being taken and will continue to be taken until the conference commences.
From Littlehampton Gazette. – thanks to Rogue Classicism for link.
A 2,000-year-old body has been uncovered in North Bersted.
The rare find has excited archaeologists who have labelled the discovery as being of international importance.
The skeleton is believed to have been a warrior who died around the time of the Roman invasion of England in AD43. He is likely to have been a prince or rich person of some status because of the quantity and quality of goods found with his remains.
Dr Steve Ford, a director of Thames Valley Archaeological Services, said the site had yielded isecrets beyond compare anywhere in this country.
Of particular interest were two highly decorated bronze latticework sheets. These were probably used to cover a shield.
“There is no comparision for this metalwork that we know of,” said Dr Fox. “It might well be unique. It’s a very intricate piece of work for its time.
“Professor Barry Cunliffe, the professor of European archaelogy at Oxford University, visited the site when he was in Chichester and said he knew of nothing like this metalwork.
“The provisional date of the burial from the associated pottery indicates that it took place either at the end of the Late Iron Age or just into the Roman period, perhaps around 40-60AD.
“The Iron Age people of this age were in essence pro-Roman and the Emperor Claudius launched an invasion, initially, to restore the local king Verica to his throne. The deceased may have been one of the local ruling caste, proud to be buried with his Roman goods.”
The grave of the oldest body ever found around the Bognor Regis area was unearthed by archaeologists who have been given time to explore what lies underneath the surface of farmland before it is covered by housing.
The Art Newspaper
Roman emperors are exceedingly good value. After two millennia, they are still with us, still capable of surprising and entertaining, of impressing and appalling,
of defining their own era while still seeming topical, familiar and ultra modern. Augustus, cool control-freak and slick propagandist, had a heyday in the 1980s (exhibitions at the British Museum and in Berlin as well as the publication of Paul Zanker’s immensely influential The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus), but he had previously been portrayed as a bluff soldier (by Brian Blessed in “I Claudius”, BBC, 1976) and has since featured as the child and youth Octavian (Etonians Max Pirkis and Simon Woods) in the ridiculous but hugely popular TV epic “Rome” (HBO/BBC 2005, 2007). The anniversary of Constantine the Great, the first “Christian” emperor, more modestly hit the headlines in 2005 to 2007 with exhibitions in Rimini, York and Trier.
Midway between those two lies Hadrian (reg. AD117-138), whose architectural exploits were the subjects of exhibitions in Rome, Paris and his villa at Tivoli in 1998-2000 and is now celebrated in a very different show devised by Thorsten Opper at the British Museum (24 July-26 October; see p61), of which this is the book.
Hadrian: Empire and Conflict is an ambitious and refreshingly hard-headed take on the modern myth created by Marguerite Yourcenar’s Mémoires d’Hadrien (1951). He is not her philhellene pacifist, nor a practising architect, nor quite the hero more recently claimed by the gay community; he is a politically savvy, calculating, hard-working, vicious, tough, lion-hunting, married homosexual army general in the best Roman tradition. Born into the circle of fabulously wealthy Spanish olive-oil magnates who rose to power in Rome under their compatriot, the emperor Trajan, he was one of Trajan’s protégés and was eventually adopted by him as son and successor at the last minute as the latter lay dying in Cilicia, returning to Rome after a disastrous campaign against Parthia (modern Iraq). With the empire in turmoil and revolts stirring everywhere, Hadrian had no option but to reverse Trajan’s expansionism; he dissolved the new province of Mesopotamia and renounced other recently acquired but untenable possessions; he travelled from one end of the empire to the other, quelling internal unrest, stabilising vulnerable frontiers, setting the army to building Hadrian’s Wall in Britain and another in Algeria. His legions suppressed the Jewish uprising under Simon bar Kokhba with horrific violence, ending in the abolition of Judaea itself and the creation of Syria-Palestina. He wooed the eastern Greek aristocracies (Athenians in particular) into loyal and enthusiastic allies, giving them a new sense of their own identity through a Panhellenic league but also encouraged them to enter the senate at Rome, finally completing the great Temple of Zeus in Athens (after 700 years), building a great temple in Rome in the Classical Greek style (but for local deities Venus and Roma), drawing the Roman senatorial class into the process by his own appropriation of élite Greek culture.
We are introduced to Hadrian’s family, his jealous cousin, his wet nurse Germana, the distinctive crease in his ear lobes (diagnostic of coronary artery disease these days and also a way of telling his real portraits from fakes), the amphorae in which the olive oil from his grandfather’s Spanish estates would have travelled to Rome and the bricks made on his female relatives’ estates in the Tiber Valley. We are told something of the design, construction and decoration of the Pantheon and other projects in Rome, followed by an effusive tour of Hadrian’s villa near Tivoli, its layout and constituent parts, its staffing and functions, the mosaics, paintings, coloured marbles and statuary which accompanied the endless bathing and dinner-parties. Then there’s his lifelong passion for hunting, and for sex with boys, and his shorter-lived love for one of his huntsmen, the beautiful Bithynian youth Antinous who later drowned in the Nile on a tour of Egypt. Hadrian instantly declared him a god and his cult spread rapidly around the Mediterranean, especially among the aristocracy. A grand Antineion was built beside the entrance to the villa at Tivoli, recently excavated, and probable source of the Pincian obelisk and many Egyptian and egyptianising sculptures recovered in the past. On his own death, Hadrian was buried with his wife Sabina, who died the year before, in the huge dynastic mausoleum which he had constructed on the banks of the Tiber at Rome (now Castel San Angelo). Deification by the Senate and a temple in Rome, by now de rigueur for the smooth transfer of imperial power, were enforced by his chosen successor (the comparatively boring Antoninus Pius). Immortality, Roman style, was assured.
Richly illustrated in colour throughout are almost all the 164 objects in the British Museum exhibition (not catalogued as such but given as a checklist at the end), as well as specially drawn maps, plans and diagrams. There is something new for everyone: the latest find of a colossal marble Hadrian from Sagalassos in Turkey; bits from the newly discovered Antineion at Tivoli; bronze peacocks from the perimeter wall of the Mausoleum in Rome and some massive chunks of its marble ornament; the museum’s famous statue of Hadrian in Greek dress from Cyrene, which has turned out to be a 19th-century pastiche; the Young Hadrian from the Prado; the bronze Hadrian from Beth Shean; finds from the Cave of Letters and other relics of the Bar Kokhba revolt; luxury mess tins, distance markers, tools and other equipment from Hadrian’s Wall; a silver dish with an image of Antinous from a tomb at Armaziskhevi (Republic of Georgia). Footnotes, bibliography, glossary and index round off an already attractive and enjoyable monograph in exemplary fashion.
The writer is based at Royal Holloway, University of London
Thorston Opper, Hadrian: Empire and Conflict (British Museum Publications), 224pp, £25
Independent on Sunday
A few words of scene-setting might be handy, especially for those who spent the periods devoted to post-Augustan Rome staring out of the classroom window. The Emperor Hadrian – more formally, Publius Aelius Hadrianus (born AD76; ruled from 117 until his death in AD138) – has had a pretty good press across the centuries, except from historians of the Jews, who remember his savage crushing of a Jewish revolt much as Irish historians think of Cromwell’s policies in Ireland. Machiavelli defined him as one of the “five good Emperors” – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius – whose successive periods of rule added up to a happy interval of moderation, reason and the rule of law amid the general nightmare of history.
Gibbon went still further, and said that under this sage quintet, “the Roman Empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of wisdom and virtue”. Cynics might want to question just how wise and virtuous one had to be to qualify as a “good” emperor, when the competition includes mass-murdering headcases such as Caligula and Nero. Nonetheless, Hadrian has had many more admirers than detractors, especially since Marguerite Yourcenar’s beautiful novel Memoirs of Hadrian (1951) helped extend his fan base well beyond the world of classicists. Privately, he seems to have been of a scholarly, philosophical cast; he wrote poetry and an autobiography (lost); he had strong visual tastes, and commissioned many works of art and architecture, some of them enduringly great.
But is it possible to detect those virtues in the man’s carved face? Maybe. The very first object that strikes the eye as you enter the British Museum’s Hadrian: Empire and Conflict is also its major coup – a yard-high bust of Hadrian, all but perfect save for some damage around the nose, unearthed in 2007, in Turkey. It’s a powerful face – and would retain that power whether it were the image of a butcher or a police officer – and an intelligent one. This is the man in his prime, around his early forties: just a touch of fleshiness, which hints at the pleasures of the table; neatly coiffed hair, curling in on itself like cream on a gateau, and a trim beard (the expression of his passionate admiration for all things Greek. Earlier emperors, such as Augustus, were clean-shaven).
This elegant, thoughtfully staged show is rich in portraits of the man, and, put together, they amount to a biography in stone and metal. With his dashing sideburns and luxuriant curls, the young Hadrian looks eerily similar to portraits of Pushkin. In later years, rather more bulked up, he can seem either an affable man of the world – a Peter Ustinov type, mirthful anecdotes rising to the lip – or a raptor-eyed general: a chilly friend, a terrifying enemy. What is most striking about all these portraits is how seldom they read as mere state propaganda: the best of them are all psychologically plausible, and include a strange and haunting detail – a mark on Hadrian’s earlobe which, medical science can now tell us, may be a symptom of a chronic heart condition.
If there is anything to be faulted in an exhibition which otherwise treads an admirably judicious path between offending its audience with too much basic information and starving it with too little, it is precisely this strong concentration on the personal dimension. By the time you have meandered through its dozen or so sections, you will have learned or been reminded of many things about Hadrian’s personal life: his homosexual love for Antinous; his cool, dutiful marriage to the wife chosen for him by Trajan; three phases of his passion for building – the Pantheon, the extraordinary villa at Tivoli, and his Mausoleum, complete with a brace of splendid bronze peacocks. The wittiest stroke comes in a series of photographs illustrating the long-term influence of the Pantheon’s design on Brunelleschi, on Albert Speer … and on the dome of the British Museum. If you seek his monument, bend your neck.
What is less abundantly documented is the part of Hadrian’s story which usually engages historians: the “Empire and Conflict” aspect. This theme is tucked away in a couple of early sections, one devoted to the series of revolts he inherited from Trajan, and another to the edifice for which he is best known in Britannia, the large coast-to-coast wall across northern England. Fine in their way, though likely to be appreciated in direct proportion to the amount of prior learning the visitor brings.
But this is a negligible flaw in a handsome show which allows the strange privilege of confronting a mind (and a face) that remains compelling after 2,000 years. It ends with Hadrian’s deathbed poem – Animula vagula blandula – about the “little soul” taking leave of its bodily home. If it does not move you, your heart is stonier than Hadrian’s bust.
To 26 Oct (020-7323 8181)
Also in the Independent on SUnday, a first night review
Roman board game set out 1,700 years on
Kent: A rare, complete set of 30 glass counters for a Roman board game has been set out again, more than 50 years since they were excavated and almost 1,700 years since they went into the tomb with their 20-something owner.
His skeleton is still in its scallop shell-decorated lead coffin. It is now surrounded again by the refreshment provided for his journey to the next world — flagons, bottles, spoons and bowls, and the 30 counters, probably for the gambling game duodecim scripta, laid atop his coffin.
The ruins of Lullingstone Roman villa here, have been on display since the 1960s. But the leaking structure used to cover it was not safe for the more fragile objects, which remained in storage. A £1.8-million English Heritage display, that was set to open on Thursday, seeks to show off the ruins with an elaborate light show. It is for the first time that the villa and its contents are being reunited.
The death of the gambler is still a mystery. He and a woman of a similar age were the only burials found in a mausoleum built behind the opulent villa around A.D. 320. Robbers found and destroyed her coffin centuries ago. But his skeleton and fragments of hers survive to show they were in their 20s. They were of above average height: he was 1.75 m, she 1.67 m. There was no obvious cause of death.
The counters were found with carved bone pieces, including a Medusa head.
The villa is famous for fourth-century wall paintings — reconstructed from thousands of plaster fragments and now in the British Museum in London — which are proof of some of the earliest Christian worship in Britain.
The villa was discovered in 1939 when a tree blew down, revealing scattered mosaic fragments. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008