Can you help this mother?

This request came in during the ARLT Summer School, and I found it on my return. If you have suggestions for books to read to prepare for the Greek Religion and Sparta topics in GCSE Greek, please let me know, so that I can pass them on.
If it's easier, email me directly at david(AT) Thanks.

Topic | Greek
Query | My son is the only one in his year (just finished year 10) taking Greek. It's taught as an out of school activity and he has to deal with the Greek Life paper by himself. He's preparing two topics: Greek Religion and Sparta and the Spartan System. I'd like to be able to find him a reading list for the summer holidays. Can you offer any advice? Many thanks

Welcome to the new ARLT President

At the ARLT AGM during the Summer School we said a hearty thank you to Dr Alison Henshaw for her three years leading the Association as President, and welcomed Linda Soames as our new President. She is no stranger to the running of ARLT, having served as Secretary. We wish her well in her new responsibilities.

Linda appears at the end of this short film clip taken during a break in last week's Summer School.

ARLT 2006 Summer School group photos

Here is a group photo Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting and another Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

More photos from the Summer School should appear on line before long.

Only four days of Oxford University Press' summer sale left

See this page for the Classics books on offer until August 4th. They include The Ancient Olympics by Nicholas Spivey reduced from £16.95 to £8.50. Austin's edition of Aeneid II is down from £26 to £13. Our own David West's edition and translation of Horace Odes Book II is now £13.25 for the hardback – the paperback costs over £25 and the hardback's normal price is £53, so this is a bargain.

Elizabeth Teague' funeral

The ARLT Summer School heard with sadness of the death of Elizabeth Teague, who had been Summer School Secretary in the past with her husband Mike.

Friends may like to know that her funeral is tomorrow, Tuesday 1st August 2006, at 12.30 in St Bartholomew's Parish Church, Crewkerne, Somerset. The funeral director is Easton's of Yeovil. I hope to be there to represent the Association.

A book on Latin poetry written by Scots.

Teachers who use Ecce Romani will know about the Scottish poet of Latin, Buchanan. (I can't give you chapter and verse, but when I used the course I met Buchanan for the first time.) These teachers, and others, will probably be interested in this book, reviewed in The Scotsman.

Awakening Scotland's Latin spirit

Apollos of the North

George Buchanan, Arthur Johnston – Robert Crawford (ed./tr.)

Polygon, £14.99

ONE might not expect a pair of Scottish poets writing in the wake of the Reformation to choose Latin as the medium for their expression. But, in those days, Latin was still a living language. Nowadays, of course, things are different, but Robert Crawford has rolled up his sleeves and provided a spirited facing translation to assist the uninitiated with these selected poems of George Buchanan and Arthur Johnston.

Buchanan was born in 1506 in Stirlingshire, fought in the French army at the age of 17, studied at St Andrews and Paris, was imprisoned by the Inquisition in Portugal, escaped with his life and ended up back in Scotland as tutor to James VI. He died in Edinburgh in 1582. Johnston was born in 1579 near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, studied in Aberdeen and Heidelberg, became Professor of Physic at Sedan, but eventually returned to Scotland. He became Rector of Aberdeen University in 1637 and died in 1641.

Unsurprisingly, the man who suffered at the hands of the Inquisition writes very differently from the man who began and ended his life in rural Aberdeenshire. When reading Buchanan, one sometimes has the impression of reading the invectives of Catullus or Horace. His 'Franciscanus' contains an excoriating piece about Fr William Lang conducting a fantastical exorcism on a barren heath. Crawford's renderings are lively, if not always particularly close to the original. Thus Lang is a “Franciscan spindoctor to James the Fifth… hocuspocussing like mad”; Diogio de Murça, Rector of Coimbra, is “Master Beleago MBA (Monster of Bestial Accumulation”, who has “wholly Mastered Being Ahead”, a “no-brain, blackballed Baal of the Unbelles Lettres /Of Marketing, our Mall-mad Manager”.

This is not what Buchanan wrote, but it might strike a chord with anyone who has worked in a modern university. The wedding hymn for Francis of Valois and Mary Queen of Scots is a long and turgid piece of toadying in which Mary is advised to acknowledge her womanly place and learn to bear the yoke of marriage. The extracts from 'De Sphaera' show Buchanan attempting a grand scientific poem in the manner of Lucretius.

Buchanan writes in a variety of styles. He was clearly profoundly learned in the finer points of metre, prosody, and rhetoric. But his verses struck me as ultimately rather frigid. I often felt that he was showing off his manipulation of metre and vocabulary like a precocious undergraduate, with results that could be jarring and did little for the underlying thought.

Johnston, on the other hand, writes in a mellow and fluid manner that reminded me strongly of Ovid. Some might tire of the succession of short pieces in praise of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, St Andrews, Dundee, Montrose, Brechin, Aberdeen and Elgin. But they are beautifully deft vignettes, full of evocative and charming imagery – far more satisfying, for example, than Buchanan's rather ponderous piece in praise of Paris.

Johnston's poem about the atrocity at Frendrocht on October 8, 1630, where John Gordon, Viscount of Melgum and John Gordon of Rothiemay were burned alive in a tower, shows Johnston combining his talent for arresting visual descriptions with an eloquent rhetoric of moral indignation. Although the fashion has been to exalt Buchanan over Johnston, one feels that Buchanan could never have written like this.

Elizabeth Teague RIP

It is with great sadness that ARLT heard of the death of a faithful member and former Summer School Secretary, Liz Teague.

The news came through on Monday, as we were gathering for the 2006 Summer School in Durham, and this morning's Holy Communion remembered her among the saints, along with her beloved husband Mike, who died a few years ago. Our thoughts and prayers are with their daughter Hilary and son David.

Liz was a Reader in the Church of England, and combined her Classical and Biblical interests by leading a Greek New Testament reading group at several Summer Schools. She was a careful scholar and keen to share her enthusiasms.

She had been in hospital since May. When I visited her she had returned at her own insistence from Yeovil General Hospital to the cottage hospital near her home, where she enjoyed the more intimate atmosphere, but was deprived of the high-tech medical support that the larger hospital could give. She was talking about the Summer School, and hoping that a New Testament Greek group could still run.

Arbeia – room with table and cupboards

A bedroom in Arbeia

Some photos in and around Arbeia Roman fort