Classical Civilisations is a fascinating, multi-disciplinary subject that not only provides an insight into ancient societies, but forces us to question the values and customs of our own society.
Why study Classical Civilisations?
Quite frankly, there’s no other subject like it! You could be analysing the portrayal of Persians in a Greek vase, considering whether the tragic playwright Euripides is a feminist, or questioning why Homer and Virgil depict their heroes differently.
What do we study?
In the lower sixth, we begin our classical journey by exploring the World of the Hero.
The focus is on Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid. This allows us to understand how the ancient Greeks and Romans defined heroism, and its development over time. We delve into the key themes, literary techniques and characterisation of these two incredible epics, as well as considering the social and cultural context in which they were composed.
Moving forward, we explore how the Greek concept of the 'barbarian' developed in light of the Persian Wars, and evaluate to what extent the Greeks were united during this conflict. This involves an in-depth look at how the Greeks perceived barbarians, through close reading of Euripides' Medea, Aeschylus’ Persians and Herodotus' Histories, as well as the examination of visual sources.
When it came to Love and Relationships, Shakespeare knew where to look for inspiration.
Comparing the role and status of men and women in ancient Greece and Rome, and gaining an insight into how love, desire, marriage and relationships were perceived in those societies is fascinating. The love poetry of Sappho and Ovid and the philosophical writings of Plato and Seneca have stood the time through the ages.
Beyond the Classroom
The British Museum is the centre of the Classicists universe and we are lucky to literally have it on our doorstop. Over many visits we get to view prescribed visual sources first-hand.
Our analysis of Euripides’ Medea and Aeschylus’ Persians is brought to life through an interactive Greek theatre workshop, in which we practise synchronised choral dancing and perform key scenes from the tragic plays.
London presents us with many opportunities to attend theatrical productions and adaptations of classical works, lectures and exhibitions.
Where it Might Lead
Many universities offer degree courses in Classics, with or without the study of Latin and ancient Greek. Classics graduates possess a wide range of transferrable skills, which makes them well-equipped to pursue careers in almost any field. Graduate opportunities are extensive and include law, politics, the media, teaching, archaeology, advertising, consultancy and the city.