Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation combines enthralling history, world-changing literature and subversive philosophical and political ideas. It demands and instils a high degree of intellectual rigour and cultural sensitivity towards our social, literary and historical origins.
The study of Latin and Greek involves logical thinking, precise analysis and lucid expression. Pupils invariably develop an enhanced vocabulary and an ability to write with greater fluency, not to mention a heightened awareness of linguistic processes and cultural heritage.
The study of Classical Civilisation combines literature with art history, archaeology, philosophy, geography, history, sociology and anthropology. Pupils study the languages, history, culture, religion, technology and society of earlier periods and in so doing, they gradually unearth the very foundations of modern life.
All pupils study Latin in Lower 4 and Upper 4, following the Cambridge Latin Course. They read about the lives of Caecilius, Metella, Quintus and Clemens in Pompeii before the narrative shifts to Roman Britain.
Latin grammar and vocabulary are rigorously taught in parallel with various other aspects of Classics.
In Lower 4, pupils study the Greek gods, the Greek alphabet and the labours of Herakles in art and literature before exploring two aspects of the Roman world: Leisure Activities of the Romans, and The Destruction of Pompeii.
In Upper 4 we commence a study of cultural and historical aspects of the Roman Invasion of Britain, before revising the Greek alphabet and learning about the literature and archaeology of the Trojan War.
The year concludes with a study of Greek festivals.
Latin and Greek:
Lower 5 pupils who continue with Latin spend the first part of the year consolidating their grammar while they learn about the history of Rome, from its foundation by Romulus to the reigns of the early emperors.
Language work is shaped by GCSE-style questions; vocabulary learning is based around GCSE requirements. At the end of the year, every pupil should feel comfortable and confident enough to pursue either subject (or indeed both) at GCSE. The GCSE course involves the study of each ancient language with its literature. Pupils read mythological tales and historical accounts, the better to appreciate grammatical rules.
Some Lower 5 pupils pursue a Classical Civilisation course, which does not require knowledge of ancient languages. The first part of the year concerns Ancient Greece while, after Christmas, the emphasis shifts to the Roman world. As they become familiar with the style of GCSE questioning, pupils feel ready to begin their GCSE studies.
They prepare for two papers. The first invites a comparison between aspects of Greek and Roman cultures. The second concerns specific aspects of the literature and culture of either Greece or Rome. Both papers combine literary sources (in English translation) with archaeological evidence and visual material.
Latin and Greek:
Latin and Greek demand and instil a high degree of intellectual rigour and cultural sensitivity towards our social, literary and historical origins. They involve logical thinking, precise analysis and lucid expression. Pupils invariably develop an enhanced vocabulary and an ability to write with greater fluency, not to mention a heightened awareness of linguistic processes and cultural heritage.
We follow the OCR A level courses in Latin and Greek. Both subjects comprise four papers, all of which are taken at the end of the two-year course. Two papers focus on translation and comprehension skills; two papers concern prose and verse texts. In both Latin and Greek A level, texts are read in the original languages, alongside a wider selection of reading in translation, allowing for a greater and broader understanding of the historical and literary context in which such important texts were composed.
For examination in 2021, the Latin texts may include part of Cicero’s Philippics, a series of vehement speeches written and delivered against Mark Anthony, whose ambitions, according to Cicero, exceeded those of Rome’s greatest political villains. There may also be a historical text, by Tacitus, chronicling the turbulence of AD69, the Year of Four Emperors. Some poetry will sit alongside this rhetoric and history, most likely Virgil’s Aeneid, Book XI, including the account of the funeral of Pallas and Camilla’s aristeia.
In Greek, the prescribed texts include Herodotus’ account of the Persians’ preparations for the invasion of Greece, or Xenophon’s chronicling of his journey inland with 10,000 men, through rugged, foreign and hostile territory. In preparation for the verse literature paper, texts may include Achilles’ response to Patroclus’ death as related in Homer’s Iliad, Book XV, and a mother’s hideous vengeance against her lover with the murder of their children, as seen in Euripides’ Medea.
The study of Classical Civilisation combines literature with art history, archaeology, philosophy, geography, history, sociology and anthropology. Pupils study the culture, religion, technology and society of earlier periods and, in so doing, they gradually unearth the very foundations of modern life. Those preparing for examination in 2021 will address three areas of the Classical World:
The World of the Hero concerns the works of Homer and Virgil, epic poets of the Greek and Roman world. The Iliad stands at the beginning of the Western literary canon, the greatest telling of the tragic and bloody climax to the ten-year siege of Troy. Virgil’s Aeneid, a patriotic epic, written to honour the emperor Augustus, considers Aeneas’ journey to Carthage, his relationship with Dido, his descent to the underworld and finally his arrival in Italy, and the future foundation of Rome.
Culture and the Arts sees a study of the visual and material culture of the ancient world as evidenced by its many physical remains. In particular, this paper concerns the art and architecture of the Greeks in 6th–4th centuries BC, including freestanding sculpture, vase-painting, and the architectural sculpture of the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, and the Syphnian Treasury at Delphi.
Beliefs and Ideas involves the consideration of the ancient world’s ideas and ideals as represented in classical texts and thought. This includes the study of the Late Roman Republic, a period of considerable political upheaval, which subsequently saw the downfall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the emperors. An exploration of three very different political figures from this period, Cato, Julius Caesar and Cicero, unveils aspects of this tumultuous, and significant, half century of Roman history and politics.
All three A level papers encourage in-depth study of the Classical world, alongside some modern scholarship and more current academic publications.
Link to relevant external exam boards
Owing to extensive reform over the next two years, there is a large number of relevant links. Information is arranged by year of examination: