Boudica falls on the field of battle – Key Stage 2

Hertfordshire Mercury

By Amy Roberts

ANCIENT battle cries filled the air in Buntingford as children at Millfield First and Middle School in Buntingford took part in a mock Celt and Roman tussle.

Pupils in Key Stage 2 from the Monks Walk School dressed as the two groups of warriors with shields which they had made alongside their parents at home.

Headteacher Kathy Willet said: “The children are currently working on an invaders and settlers topic and we held this mock battle as a practical way for them to really have fun in their learning.

“They learnt about how the different groups fought. The Romans made the tortoise formation while they were marching and the Celts were led by Boudicca who acted a mock death on the field!”

Vowels with macrons

Mention of macrons in vocab lists sent me to Open Office to find how easy they are to insert. They are easy enough, but a little time-consuming.

ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū

Using Open Office : Insert : special character : Latin extended A

There is an add-on for Open Office that makes it quicker, but I haven’t tried it. It’s at

AS Latin vocabulary list

After some teachers have had correspondence with OCR, the news is that they are hoping to have the AS vocab. list file in Microsoft Excel format by October half-term.

I am a little disappointed that they are going to use a proprietary format, but the good news is that the free and open source Open Office is perfectly able to open Excel documents.

Whether OCR manage to include macrons, as some teachers have asked, remains to be seen.

Mary Beard’s encomium to Kennedy’s Latin Primer

I, too, was brought up on Kennedy – the buff-coloured Shorter Latin Primer first, and then the green one. The result is that to me, now, the way the conjugations are laid out in Kennedy, in logically arranged boxes, is the one way that makes perfect sense. The best-intentioned modern grammars, if they lack boxes to display each tense of the indicative or subjunctive, are second-best. (The fact, mentioned by Mary Beard, that this layout was the brainchild of the Kennedy daughters, makes me eternally grateful to them.)

I also appreciated the fact that the whole range of verb parts was presented to me at once, so that I could see my progress towards mastering the lot. I see the reasoning behind the modern courses that give you only what you need for Book 1, but Kennedy’s visual brilliance in my view overrides this. You can also see at a glance the patterns that underlie the various forms of the moods and tenses.

The only page that misled me was the Deponent Verb page. By giving the one example, utor, Kennedy made me believe that all deponents were of the third conjugation.

But enough of my thoughts. You want to read Mary Beard:

The Independent

It has lived in my desk, thumbed, defaced, treasured and from time to time mistreated, for more than 40 years, since I was 12. Benjamin Hall Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer is the Rolls-Royce of text-books and surely the longest lived: 120 years after its publication it is still the best-selling book in the Classics section of my local university bookshop. At school, in our second year of learning Latin, we were each given our own copies – and told that when we knew what was included within, we would then “know Latin”.

Kennedy’s Primer has not had a good press among the young. It consists mostly of hundreds of tables of verbs and nouns, declensions and conjugations, rules and their exceptions. As such, it has come to stand for everything that is deadening about learning ancient languages: the “grammar grind” – “amo, amas, amat” – and so on, and on. In desperation (and with a degree of wishful thinking), generations of children took up their fountain pens and changed the title of the abridged, junior version of Kennedy’s Revised Primer. It took only a few extra letters and lines to turn the Shorter Latin Primer into the Shortbread Eating Primer. If only, they thought.

But for me, the Primer was a wondrous possession. I was entranced by the idea that someone could control a language, that you could reduce a complicated and difficult tongue to tables and rules, that it was possible to “know Latin” in this way. I’ve read enough about linguistics since to be rather more suspicious about how accurate those rules can ever be. But the Primer remains my first point of access to Latin and its mysterious complexities.

I also felt a soft spot for Kennedy himself. Before becoming Professor of Greek in Cambridge, he had been headmaster and legendary Classics teacher at Shrewsbury School. Being at school in Shrewsbury myself, down the road from where he had ruled the roost, I got the chance to visit his old classroom and even sit in his venerable desk. At Cambridge, I discovered that Kennedy had been a staunch advocate of women’s education.

But there was to be a funny twist in the tale. A few years ago, some enterprising work in the archives by Christopher Stray unearthed the true story of the Primer. Kennedy had had less to do with it that we had all imagined. He had been responsible for a dreadful and unsuccessful first version, the Public School Latin Primer. The Revised, as its title hints, was his second go. Why did it do so much better?

Cherchez les femmes. The answer is that old Professor Kennedy took a back seat while the organisation, layout and details were taken over by his daughters, Marion and Julia. It was their enterprise and talents that managed to arrange the rules of Latin in a comprehensible way. For me, that made the book even easier to love.

The Oxford Greek Play

From the University of Oxford Classics Outreach Officer:

Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 October
The University of Oxford Classical Drama Society presents
The Oxford Greek Play
By Aeschylus

A story of sacrifice, treachery and adultery, Aeschylus’ play is as
powerful and as relevant today as it was at its premiere in 458 BC.

The play will be performed in Greek with English surtitles and the
performance features specially-commissioned masks echoing the
traditions of Greek Tragedy. Join us for an inspiring and very exciting

This is a triennial event, held at the Oxford Playhouse.
Tickets for schools (including for teachers) are priced at £8.50 each.

Education events for schools and other groups accompany this production,
please see the ‘What’s On’ page of the Oxford Classics Outreach website
for details:

Also available is an education pack featuring articles and summaries which
can be used to help guide students through the most important aspects of
 Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and the genre of Greek Tragedy in general.
Visit the Oxford Greek Play website to download the education pack
and find out more about the cast and crew involved in this production:

Tickets for the Oxford Greek Play and the educational events which
accompany the production can either be bought via the Schools Liaison
Officer Henry Cullen (please email
or via the Oxford Playhouse ( 01865 305305)


It’s a particularly exciting week for Greek Tragedy enthusiasts!
Explore the world of Sophocles with this groundbreaking opera of
The Antigone:

Sunday 19 October at 7.30pm
A new opera after Sophocles’ Antigone
Words by Seamus Heaney, music by Dominique Le Gendre

This world premiere production brings together some of the world’s
most revered musicians, theatre makers and poets, spanning
generations and continents.

Tickets: £15, 25, 30
To book please visit the Oxford Playhouse website:
Or telephone the Playhouse Box Office: 01865 305305