Greek Tragedy Day with performance of Hippolytus

I pass on this email just as it came to me.

Dear Colleague,

I would like to invite you and a group of 6th form students to a “Greek Tragedy Day” to be held at Stockport Grammar School on Thursday, 12th February 2009. The day will comprise a series of lectures and a matinee performance of our school’s production of Euripides’ “Hippolytus”.

We have put on a tragedy in each of the last three years: Medea in 2006, Agamemnon in 2007 and Oedipus in 2008. Our pupils have found the plays very useful in visualising the nature and content of tragedy. As our productions of the plays fulfil a crucial academic role, we have never strayed too far from the text and spirit of the original plays. However, we have always tried, via the use of music and video, to make the plays accessible and enjoyable to a modern audience.

I am pleased that, this year, representatives from the Universities of Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester have agreed to give lectures about some of the most important aspects of “Hippolytus” and Greek tragedy in general. I will also talk to the pupils about Greek tragedy in performance. We are thus able to offer a “Greek Tragedy Day” which I hope the pupils will find both enjoyable and useful. There may also be an opportunity for the pupils to speak to the visiting lecturers about studying Classics at degree level. The day will begin at 9:30am and last until 3:45pm. There will be no charge for the day and you and your pupils will be welcome to choose from a selection of hot and cold meals in our dining hall at lunch time. I will send the full timings of the day, along with the titles of the lectures, at the start of next term.

If you would like to come along then please could you send me an email with the name and address of your school together with the number of places you will require (including accompanying staff). In the event that the day is oversubscribed, places will be allocated in the order in which I receive replies. Applications should reach me by the end of January at the latest.

Yours sincerely,

Alastair Thorley
Head of Classics
Stockport Grammar School

New (?) OUP paperback translations

Among translations published last month are the Oresteia (Christopher Collard) Medea and other plays (James Morwood), The Trojan Women and other plays (James Morwood)Birds and other plays (Stephen Halliwell).

For the pantomime season – Alcestis?

When you come to think of it, Euripides’ Alcestis could be the basis for a very good pantomime. Simple and affecting story; lots of music; contrast between comic and ‘straight’ characters; the ultimate Villain – Death.

Not sure about the Principal Boy, though, or the Dame. Admetus is no hero, so he couldn’t be Principal Boy. Heracles is the closest we get to the Dame, big, good-hearted ….

When we were putting on a shortened school production a learned Classicist pointed out to me that Alcestis dies twice, once in spoken dialogue and once in song.

These thoughts arise from news of a new book from OUP called ‘New Directions in Ancient Pantomime’ edited by Edith Hall and Rosie Wyles. OK, it’s a £75 hardback on a topic unlikely to come up in schools, so most of us won’t be asking for a copy in our Christmas stocking, but apparently it contains the translation of a possible Roman pantomime script known as the Barcelona Alcestis. Google isn’t terribly helpful about this, but there is a clue that it’s a text that has recently come to light. A paper hidden away from non-subscribers in JSTOR mentions that

new poetic discoveries are few: the Barcelona Alcestis, the new Gallus, the Epigrammata Bobiensia

Has anyone staged it?

Another US school gets Latin into their local paper

Franklin Park Herald-Journal

Fr. Dwight Campbell stands in the front of the second-floor classroom wearing black cassock and white collar.

“Medicus,” he says to two-dozen students in school uniforms. “What do you think that means?”

This year, Campbell began teaching Latin to seventh and eighth-grade students at St. John Vianney School in Northlake. While Latin remains the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, the school is more interested in how knowing Latin will assist its students in their understanding of other languages.

“It will help them study one of the popular languages such as French, Italian or Spanish,” Campbell said. “It’s good for the English language as well. Many of our words are derived from the Latin language.”

Stephanie Ondrla, an eighth-grader, agrees.

“Some words, they come from Latin,” Ondrlad said. “The gift is dona or donate. Rosa is rose.”

Latin developed near the River Tiber around the eighth or ninth century BC. As the Romans conquered much of the world, they brought their language with them through Europe and the Mediterranean.

While the Roman Empire began to crumble around 250 to 550 AD, Latin remained a language for the educated in the west. It was also adopted as the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. Today Latin is still used in philosophy, medicine and law.

It’s a bit challenging to learn.

“It’s a more technical language,” Campbell said. “In Latin, the nouns change from male, female and neuter. In Latin, the verb comes at the end of a sentence.”

As a dead language, it’s tough to use Latin to express contemporary concepts like basketball or hip hop lyrics, though Campbell says its possible.

“There are modern lexicons in Latin,” Campbell said. “It requires the creation of words.”

Ondrla likes learning Latin partially because it makes her unique.

“Not many people get a chance to learn Latin and we do,” Ondrla said. “It’s kind of fun to learn something else.”

Roman paw-marks pose a maths problem in Bath

How do you make Maths exciting? Link it to Classics of course!

This is Bath

For many students, maths can be thought of as a subject with no tangible use in the real world.

But one teacher at a Bath school is trying to change all that.

Head of maths at Kingswood School Garrod Musto is so passionate about his subject that he decided to turn his pupils into history detectives.

He challenged a group of Year 8 students to use maths to find out the size of a dog which had left its pawprints on a tile at the Roman Baths.

Mr Musto said: “I have been encouraging former pupils who use maths in the workplace to come back and speak to the students about it.”

One of these was archaeologist Leslie Cram, who told Mr Musto about a similar project he had done elsewhere.

The curator at the Roman Baths loaned the school a floor tile with paw prints on so the children could work out the size and weight of the dog which left the impression almost 2,000 years ago.

Pupils collected data from different breeds of modern dogs, to work out the relationship between paw size and animal size, and also researched the species of dogs which would have lived in Britain during Roman times.

Mr Musto even visited Bath Cats and Dogs Home to collect paw prints of some of the dogs on wet clay slabs.

The students’ findings revealed that the dog who left paw prints in the Roman Baths was approximately 70cm – just over 2ft tall – and weighed around 31kg.

But the real aim of the project was for the pupils to understand how maths could be exciting and fun and have use in the world of work.

Mr Musto said: “The project was really about opening their eyes to how important maths is in everyday life. I had some good feedback from the pupils, who said it was really interesting and productive.”