How to guide your own school party on the Acropolis?

You may have had the experience I've had on the Acropolis of talking to your group of students, on their wavelength, only to be interrupted by an official guide who tells you it's illegal to do your own guiding. You, having studied the buildings with your students, will make a much more effective guide for them, but you can't do it.

Perhaps the answer is the mp3 player.

This Guardian piece tells you how to download auido guides to various walks in the UK, to listen to on your mp3 player.

As far as I know, there are no audio guides to the Acropolis on line yet, but you could make your own, just recording what you would say at each spot if you were allowed to. If students don't have a player, they might borrow one for the trip. You wouldn't have to include instructions about where to go next, because no one will stop you shepherding your party from the caryatid porch to Athena's olive tree.

If you make such an audio guide and would be prepared to share it, then I'd be glad to set it up as a podcast for others to download.

Coins show fate of Roman Empire

NumisMaster has an article on the Romans' involvement with Dacia and what happened after the fragmentation of the Empire.

Good article on a Latin teaching success story from the USA


Jamie Keller started teaching Latin at Lenox Memorial High School 20 years ago. It was a very part-time job: one class, eight students. She has since built the program to 60 students, with a biennial trip to Rome and visits from Italian student groups on alternate years.

The story is
here. It has much good to say about the Cambridge Latin Course.

Learn Latin in the park

Lorna has sent me this nice piece from the Oxford Times

Learn Latin in the park
By Fran Bardsley, Oxford Times
A TEACHER is on a mission to get people in the city learning Latin – and is taking to the parks to spread the message.

After setting up a number of successful projects to teach children in state schools, Dr Lorna Robinson, of Franklin Road, has decided to bring the language to adults as well.

She said: “A couple of years ago I set up a charity, The Iris Project, to promote classics in state schools.

“Since then, a lot of people have been contacting me asking if I run anything for adults and saying they would love to study Latin.”

Dr Robinson wants to start the ball rolling in April, with two groups, one based in South Park, and one in Bury Knowle Park, of up to 20 people.

She is keen to shatter the image of Latin as a language only accessible to people from wealthy, privileged backgrounds.

Each 45-minute class, to be held at lunchtimes, will cost £1 to cover material costs.

She said: “I was walking through the park recently and it struck me it might be a really nice idea for people in their lunchtimes over spring and summer to bring their sandwiches to the park to learn some Latin and Roman culture.

“I want it to be affordable and in a really nice context and hopefully it will be really fun.”

Dr Robinson has been running classes at Cheney School, East Oxford Primary School and St Joseph's Primary School and said it had been very popular – with pupils now taking GCSEs and A-Levels in the subject.

She said: “I think Latin is really useful. I've seen how much it helps children with literacy because our language is based on Latin and it helps with really basic things.

“People have said they want to learn Latin because they don't have very strong English and I think it also helps with understanding aspects of our culture today.”

As well as learning the language itself, people will find out about the culture of Ancient Rome and how it has influenced modern society.

She said: “Latin has become something only people who are very educated get a chance to do or people who went to posh schools. I want to show that anyone can pick it up.”

Anyone interested in learning Latin can contact Dr Robinson by logging on to

Corinium Museum mosaic day

Does this reporter really mean 'ancestry'?

MEMBERS of Stow Youth Centre had a unique insight into their Roman ancestry when they took part in a mosaic workshop at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester recently.

The Stow youngsters were joined by members of Cirencester Young Carers for the event, which was organised by Gloucestershire County Council youth service and archives department in conjunction with the museum and Cotswold District Council.

The workshop came about after young people in the area were asked what type of historical events they would be interested in.

Read the rest and see photo.

Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley

I'm just catching up with what has happened in the 3 days I've been away.

Stop press: Peter Jones' review is here.

The Daily Telegraph has a review of Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley.

If the Emperor Augustus had been able to see into the future, and had a flick through The Daily Telegraph on February 15, 2007, he'd have been delighted to read an article headlined: “Long-lost coin reveals Cleopatra was no beauty”.

After defeating the last queen of Egypt, Julius Caesar's adopted son was determined to destroy her reputation. He smashed the images made to glorify her and ensured his pocket historians cast her as a greedy, incestuous, adulterous whore who used her foreign, feminine wiles to emasculate the Roman Empire.

The Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley picks through the Augustan propaganda to assess the woman “as an Egyptian politician rather than a Roman mistress”. She is honest about the many gaps in her story: we don't know much about Cleopatra's upbringing but we do know she was raised in the ultimate dysfunctional family.

Read the rest.

Funny Telegraph attack on the QCA

The Daily Telegraph has a mock oral for an applicant for membership of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. It was occasioned by the decision to abolish oral exams in modern languages, and is headed 'Never say Latin in the quango tango'.


“Never mind, I think the way I posed the question made you writhe. Why don't you sit over there in the nice armchair?”

“Yes, often I like to sit in a nice armchair. I have wondered often if I would wish to be a member of the Furniture Safety Standards Committee.”

“Do you believe that exams have become too easy?”

“No, I do not believe this. I myself believe, er, that I'm going to be sick. Sorry, it is when people say that word 'exams' I have these feelings of nausea and also a rash occurs. You see there are many blotches on my arms and face.”

“Don't distress yourself. Have a glass of water and I'll change the subject. What do you think about Latin?”

“I can't breathe! Help, it's a panic attack. Permit me to put a paper bag over my head. In my childhood, you see, I had a traumatic experience with an ablative absolute.”

“Finally, do you think pupils should study the works of Shakespeare? Mr Truscott, please stop screaming like that and come back in off that window ledge. Everything's going to be all right. You've got the job. Welcome to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and congratulations.”

The House of Julia Felix – a reinterpretation

There's an interesting-looking scholarly paper on Julia Felix and her Pompeii property here.

It's part of a big site on Meals in the Greco-Roman World, containing papers from a seminar of the Society for Biblical Literature.

Another paper that teachers may find useful is on the Graeco-Roman banquet as a social institution.

Scribendum est nobis

Thanks to Wilf O'Neill for this link. He writes: Not sure who sent this, but at first glance it looks promising …


A Latin obituary of an eminent Latinist

This obituary of 'Pater Caelestis Eichenseer' has been commended to me, and I am happy to publish it here.

It has been described as:

an example of
present-day literary writing and reminds us of a guiding light of modern

See Caelestis speaking on YouTube here.