The Classics department teaches pupils about the language, literature, history and culture of the Greeks and Romans. This means looking at what went on not only in ancient Greece and Italy, but in the whole vast area dominated at one time or another by the Greeks or Romans, an area comprising most of Europe, the whole of North Africa from Morocco to Egypt, and a large chunk of Asia from Turkey to the borders of India.
The breadth and diversity of this area and of the topics relating to it which we study can be seen by looking at some of the material covered at different levels in our teaching. In Forms 3 and 4 Classical Studies we study life in Roman Britain, including the following topics: why the Romans never stayed long in Scotland, the oldest letter written by a woman in a European language, health care in Roman Britain and why diseases such as leprosy entered Britain during the Roman period. In Form 5 Latin we read a Roman comedy, written in Latin but based on a Greek original, which deals with issues such as religion, kidnapping, slavery, and the morality of prostitution. The fact that this comedy is set in Cyrene in what is now Libya provides an interesting way into a discussion of the differences between the Greco-Roman civilisation which once flourished in North Africa and the Arab-Islamic civilisation by which it was replaced.
Similarly fruitful in terms of comparing the ancient with the modern and looking at issues of contemporary importance is our reading in Form 6 of the Greek historian Herodotus’s account of the war between the Greeks and the people of Iran.
Throughout our courses we attempt to show our pupils how the Greeks and Roman have influenced our world. This involves showing the close links between Latin and Greek and modern European languages and the ways in which our institutions such as the law and education and also our attitudes to a whole range of phenomena have been shaped by Greek and Roman influence. Over the years expeditions to Greece and Italy and to interesting locations nearer home such as Hadrian’sWall have played an important part in this process.
For further information, see the curriculum pages