Year 9s visit Fishbourne Roman Palace
This year in Latin the Year 9s are studying Roman Britain, looking at the life of King Cogidubnus of Fishbourne through the Cambridge Latin Course. This makes field trips much more feasible (Pompeii was less manageable!) and we travelled down to see his palace near Portsmouth. There were workshops on building a Roman palace in Britain and opportunities to sketch the beautiful mosaics and research Roman food. The girls were wonderful and showed interest in every aspect of the trip. We look forward to seeing their resulting projects!
The Y8s travel to Hadrian’s Wall
It has been another fantastic year for our residential Year 8 trip to Hadrian’s Wall. Even the torrential downpours did nothing to dampen our spirits! Here are some pictures of our experiences.
Y8 Latin trip to Corinium
The Year 8s have been looking at life in Pompeii throughout this year. Sadly, a day trip to Pompeii is unrealistic; instead, we took them to the Roman town of Corinium (a.k.a. Cirencester). The girls were able to learn about what the Romans ate, wore and were interested in by exploring the museum and attending a session led by the museum’s education specialist. We had a fantastic day and look forward to seeing their project work!
Y10 Classics Trip to the British Museum
On the first day back after half term the Classics Department took nearly fifty Year 10s for a day of discovering what ancient artefacts the British Museum had to offer. Their brief: to be set-designers finishing the film set for the scenario they had been assigned. By means of drawings, descriptions, photos they had to establish the collection of artefacts and ideas they had put together from their visit.
The girls enjoyed having a different sort of work challenge and produced beautiful displays.
Classics trip to Sicily
During half-term Miss Derrick, Miss Stewart and Mr & Mrs Bennett accompanied thirty girls on a wonderful tour of the Greek sites of Sicily. Our days were very busy – our courier Mario could not believe how much we planned to do, and did!
Our itinerary, from Friday to Thursday, was: Catania and Acireale (very Sicilian and baroque); Etna (it erupted obligingly, just a little); Taormina (the theatre); Syracuse, including Epipolae (Thucydides and Archimedes) as well as Ortygia (Arethusa, gelato!) and the archaeological park (stone quarries, theatre); Morgantina (ruined Greek town, amazing); Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina (bikini girls); Agrigento (temple upon temple, the excellent museum and the Hellenistic town); Eraclea Minoa (new but it was raining); Selinunte (massive Greek site but massive rain storm spoiled it); Segesta (weather now improving for the extra-ordinary temple); then on to Erice (up and up the mountain through the clouds and onto the cobbled streets!); and finally Monreale, the cathedral of Palermo (beautiful and golden, full of mosaics).
It was a fantastic week, a cultural feast. The evenings were filled with activity too: a walk into Acireale centre in the dark, a quiz (very competitive!), a show with sketches and songs from the girls, plenty of chatting and eating.
Next year – the south of Italy and the area around Naples and Vesuvius.
Year 8 Pompeian Plays
Welcome to Pompeii! Girls in Year 8 have been rehearsing plays from the Cambridge Latin Course. We have had an angry barber, a talented painter and a dishonest Greek merchant – all speaking with beautiful Latin accents. Sheets added the final ‘authentic’ touch as they performed in the beautiful new drama studio.
Year 9 trip to Fishbourne and Portchester
The Year 9s are studying Roman Britain this term in Latin and so we travelled down to the south coast to visit the palace of our very own King Cogidubnus. Fishbourne palace is a valuable site as many mosaics remain and part of the garden has been replanted in the way that archaeologists thought it would have been. Girls sketched the mosaics, archaeological finds and the herbs in the garden to use as illustrations for their mini projects. We also visited Portchester castle – originally a Roman fort, then a medieval castle and finally a prison – to see how it differed to forts up at Hadrian’s Wall. The girls were wonderful and remained focused and enthusiastic throughout the day.
Xenophon talk at MCS
This year the Year 12 Greek students are studying Xenophon’s Anabasis, an account of the Ten Thousand Greek mercenary soldiers and their travels and battles into and then out of Persia. Westerners invading Iraq? How could a classical text be more relevant! In Oxford we are lucky enough to have one of the authorities on the subject – Tim Rood of St Hugh’s College – and we travelled to MCS to hear him speak about the author and his work.
Visit to Greece
Thirty-one girls set off for Athens straight after Open Evening under the watchful eye of Mrs Bennett, Miss Beslika and Mrs Hook. We were going to visit the ‘golden greats’ of Classical Greece: Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, Epidauros and Corinth. Our hotels were great, especially the one in Tolon near Nauplion: the food was top class, a genuine Greek menu with endless second helpings!
While in Athens we walked a lot and used the Metro too, examining the little ‘in station’ museums at Akropoli and Syntagma in transit. As well as the Acropolis and Agora we visited the Pnyx and the Kerameikos, we found the Trieres at its mooring and we drove out to Sounion. The classic national Archaeological Museum is still unbeaten for the sheer glory of its collection – Mycenaean gold, Cycladic statues – but the brand new Akropolis Museum is a wonder of translucent glass, juxtaposing the actual Parthenon visually with the sculptured remains (except of course those in the British Museum).
In Delphi alas more than half the upper site was closed because of rock falls (more expected) but the improvised oracular consultations were intriguing and the lower site had its own amusement, with races run in the stadium and songs sung around an ancient olive tree.
On to Olympia, with a guide to help us appreciate the complex and large site. Lunch overlooking the vast original Olympic Stadium – and more races – ended an excellent visit.
The long drive across Greece to Tolon showed us why Greece is termed the most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland: perilous road-side drops and switch-back turns took us up and down mountains through the centre of Greece. Our first evening in Tolon was lovely – at last, three days to relax, with sea and sight-seeing – and also, as it turned out, sunshine (after day one).
At Mycenae it rained but even that could not spoil it. The bravest climbed down the hundred-plus steps to the ancient water cisterns, and we started to get the feel of ancient Mycenaean citadel life. On that day we also visited Tiryns, a smaller citadel with extraordinarily fat walls containing tiny rooms and corridors. The most out of the way visit we made was to the Sanctuary of Hera at Argos – the Heraion. It is enormous and empty of other tourists, giving a chance to feel the atmosphere and clamber about uninterrupted. In Argos itself we paid a short visit to the museum to see the geometric pot with Odysseus and the Cyclops on its neck.
Epidauros, with its wide fanned theatre, took everyone’s breath away. We arrived early enough for several girls to try out the acoustics with poetry or song, and those on the top row could hear beautifully. In Nauplion we did some classy shopping (Tolon had a few shops, all much the same) and drove up to the top of the Palamedi Fortress for the view.
On the final morning we visited the Roman city of Corinth. There were computer terminals around the site for guiding but they were so well disguised that we did not find them until the end. Our Guide Books, however, took us safely round with detailed help at every turn. With time to spare before going to the airport, our coach driver suggested we drive up to Akrocorinth. This was extremely exciting and dizzy in its height. We all walked up a little from the coach park, then some elected to stop and lunch and sunbathe. About half continued the climb up. And achieved the top of the rocky site at the near end from where the view rewarded them. That was probably the most exciting and unpredictably enjoyable day, despite being the last day of the visit.
Discoveries of the visit:
-Every OHS girl has a soppy side where baby animals are concerned: tortoises (Athens Kerameikos), kittens (Delphi), and puppies (Corinth).
-Whatever they say, food matters a lot!
Visit to South Italy
Forty-five girls went to Pompeii, spending seven whole days exploring the area around Napoli. The weather was beautiful and the sites as wonderful as ever; the only regrets were the endless (mad) traffic and the hotel food, which was adequate rather than inspired.
You can find highlights in the pictures below:
- The Villa Oplontis with extraordinary perspective paintings;
- Herculaneum, seventy foot down and full of houses with mosaics and carbonised furniture;
- the Museo Nazionale, full of the art works from Pompeii and Herculaneum;
- the vast amphitheatre at Capua, the sub-terranean parts a ready made adventure playground;
- the church of Sant’Angelo in Formis with the 12th century frescoes by the painters of Monte Cassino;
- Il Vesuvio, smoking gently in the afternoon light (and quite a long climb up..);
- Capri – a magic day spent in the sun, climbing up to Tiberius’ villa and paddling on the beach with an octopus;
- Pompeii itself – five hours spent exploring the town in groups, finding mosaics and good-luck signs and their favourite water features, and gazing at the plaster casts;
- the Greek city of Velia – rather a long way but a great tower to climb, and Paestum – a wonderful vista of temples and the marvellous painted tombs.
- Finally, Cumae and the cave of the Sibyl, followed by the Piscina Mirabilis (this is celebrated in the opening of Robert Harris’s novel ‘Pompeii’ as the first place the eruption was noticed).
Mrs Deborah Bennett – loves everything to do with Greek and Latin, especially Homer and Virgil; organises lots of trips in the UK and abroad.
Head of Department MA Oxon (Lit Hum) PGCE King’s College London
Mr Richard Lonsdale - has just arrived at OHS and will be a brilliant addition to the department.
MA Oxon PGCE Cambridge
Mrs Emily Bowden – loves everything Classical, especially Greek tragedy, Catullus & Ovid. She also runs the a cappella group The Musettes.
BA Durham University in Classics PGCE Cambridge
Dr Claudia Strobel – loves literature, knows her languages and is very thorough.
We have three well-equipped rooms, including one specifically for Greek and sixth-form teaching. We have a computer with an advanced Greek font in one of the classrooms and we regularly take girls to the ICT rooms.
Latin and Ancient Greek are not in the least dead at OHS: the department offers a colourful and vigorous introduction to the Classical world encompassing both language and culture, reinforcing both with lectures, visits and performances.
Every girl in the school learns Latin for two years (Years 8 & 9) and has the opportunity to make innumerable discoveries: the logic of Latin grammar, the truth about the last day of Pompeii, the story of Achilles and Troy and the Wooden Horse (timeo Danaos et dona ferentes), the upbringing and inspiration of the poets Horace and Vergil, why the Romans loved to imitate the Greeks, how the Roman army machine conquered the known world (including Britain) and of course how Latin feeds into the English and romance languages. By the end of Year 9 girls will have come across all of these and more, thinking about the foundation which the classical world has given to Western thought and science. Latin GCSE is an option chosen by many girls since they perceive it as both interesting in itself and also excellent as foundation backing for numerous courses of study.
If girls want to discover about the language and culture of Homer, Plato, Sophocles and Herodotus they may choose to study Ancient Greek in Year 9, choosing again after one year if they wish to study the subject for GCSE. To study Greek is to become part of a group of enthusiasts: the number is small but the rewards of this fascinating subject are great.
In the Sixth Form we offer full Latin and Greek AS and A2 and we find that a small but well-motivated cohort continue to A level, and that several of them will study Classical subjects at university.
We regularly host and attend Classical lectures at GCSE and A level. In addition we have an active Classical Society organised by girls in Year 12 and 13. Year Seven have their own Classics Club run by Mr Lonsdale. We meet on a weekly basis and enjoy such pursuits as making up our own plays of the Greek myths, singing Latin carols and designing Greek vases!
The department is keen to give pupils experience of sites and museums in England. Currently there are visits in place for Year 8 (Hadrian’s Wall), Year 9 (Fishbourne Roman Villa) and Year 10 (the British Museum).
We also organise theatre visits for Classical productions both in the original languages and in English.
LATIN: Years 8 and 9
The study of Latin Language begins in Year 8 with the Cambridge Latin Course I. This exciting course follows the life of Pompeian citizens in the months before the great eruption of Mount Vesuvius which destroyed their city. It uses archaeological evidence discovered at Pompeii to give pupils a fascinating insight into the Roman world. In Year 9 we move on to book 2 of the course where the story moves to Roman Britain and Alexandria. In both books there is an abundance of reading material, cultural topics and grammar. We also add a more traditional approach to grammar learning and some sentence writing. You can visit the CLC website (see Website Resources) if you want to find out more about the course.
GREEK: Year 9
Every year at least 10 girls choose to learn Greek for Year 9. This year we have 23 girls! We use the Athenaze course which follows the life of the farmer Dikaeopolis and his family. The course also looks at the rise of Persia and Athens as powerful forces. Girls really enjoy working in a new alphabet: it is very useful when wanting to communicate in secret!
LATIN and GREEK: Years 10–11 (GCSE)
Latin and Greek are the only subjects apart from English where girls can read and study LITERATURE before the sixth form. This is very exciting!
There are TWO sets of Latin at GCSE and generally about 40 girls take it. Language work continues and we follow the OCR syllabus (web address in the Website Resources) which shares the emphasis between language and literature. Girls do not have course work. There is a Defined Vocabulary list which is both very hard work but also re-assuring.
Literature study begins in February of Year 10 with the verse set book: starting at this point enables girls to revise for a proper literature exam in the summer; this gives them confidence. We complete the second set book by the end of the spring term of Year 11.
Latin GCSE is an excellent preparation for many sixth form courses: the language work is detailed, requiring accuracy and firm application, and the nature of the subject is recognised. Its relevance to the humanities is obvious but it is also a good support subject for the aspiring scientist.
We organise Classics trips abroad to Italy and Greece for girls in Year 10 and above. The next one is due to take place in October 2013.
LATIN and GREEK: Years 12–13 (AS/A2)
The transition from GCSE to working at AS and A2 level contains no nasty surprises but plenty of new opportunities. The continued study of language does not change direction but becomes ever more sophisticated and the intricacies and verbal usage often give an insight into prevailing cultural attitudes. If “otium” means “leisure” and “negotium” means “business” which did a Roman think was the natural condition? Why does Latin use “in matrimonium ducere” for a man marrying but “nubere”+ dative for a woman?
The years of reading synthetic Latin and Greek are now past and in years 12&13 you will read selections from many of the major authors: Caesar, Livy, Tacitus, Horace, Ovid and Virgil in Latin and Homer, Euripides, Plato, Xenophon, Herodotus and Thucydides in Greek. Some of these you will study in depth as set texts for examinations, some you will read in preparation for unseen translation examinations and some for pure enjoyment but all will raise as many questions about life in these ancient societies as they will answer. Often the remaining evidence is tantalisingly fragmented but to attempt to reconstruct how these peoples lived, what they thought, what moral values they had, what their intellectual interests were, what questions they asked about the physical world and what their answers were, what caused their wars is a wonderful exercise of the imagination based on historical evidence.
You will have 7 lessons in both languages in year 12 & 13; there will be one language task every week and preparation before each lesson in which you read Latin or Greek. The AS examination consists of two papers each one and a half hours in length: in paper one you will translate unseen text and in paper two you will answer questions on your two set texts. At A2 there are also two papers: a Verse paper and a Prose paper that test your understanding of the unseen language as well as your set texts (for details see the OCR syllabus).
Most people find the experience of being taught in a small group hugely enjoyable and it certainly offers plenty of opportunities for interesting digressions of every kind imaginable!