Classics Week


All things Greek and Roman (and Egyptian, and Babylonian…) were celebrated last week during HBS’ annual Classics Week. In form time tutor groups watched a selection of clips on the ancient world, including retellings of myths, an explanation of Zeno’s paradox, and an introduction to the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, and were given an introduction to different Greek schools of philosophy such as Stoicism and Epicureanism by the Year 12 Classics Prefects. Activities took place every lunchtime in the Library, starting with a very high profile academic visitor, and a familiar face on the BBC… As Beth Roberts (Year 11) writes: Daily life in the ancient world was far from the civilised serenity depicted in our beloved Cambridge Latin Course, as we found out on Monday when we were incredibly lucky to have Dr Michael Scott from the University of Warwick come in to give a talk for us about the gritty realities of Ancient Greece. From the unexpected complexity of the kylikes (Greek wine cups common at symposia) to the counter-intuitive dedication of the Olympic Games to Pelops (a hero who won a chariot race by cheating) all aspects of ancient life were discussed in an eye-opening, humorous and accessible way. On Tuesday we were joined by Claire Weir from SOAS who led an interactive session on cuneiform, the script used to write ancient Middle Eastern languages such as Babylonian. Equipped with clay for writing tablets and chopsticks in place of a stilus, we attempted to become Babylonian scribes and produce the characteristic wedge-shapes of this ancient writing system.

After finishing her second term at Cambridge, HBS alumna Lylaah Bhalerao returned to school to give a talk on Wednesday. Niru Ramkumar (Year 11) writes: Lylaah spoke about what it is like to study Classics at Cambridge, and particularly at Murray Edwards College, as well as discussing how all the different aspects of Classics linked together in her study of Augustan Rome. The talk provided an insight into just how varied Classics is as a field of study and provided us with thought-provoking information on the Augustan era and the ways in which the first emperor of Rome asserted his power and authority through different media such as art, literature and architecture.' On Thursday, classicists of all year groups were challenged to solve a series of mythological and historical trails, made up of clues in Latin and Greek, to reveal three figures: Penelope, Hermes, and the emperor Nero. Well done to the Year 10 teams who completed all three! To conclude the week, on Friday Year 11 students of Classical Civilisation hosted an ‘Ovid Experience’, transforming visitors into figures from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, such as Actaeon, Narcissus and Echo, while the queue of visitors was kept entertained by stories of Ovid’s life (and fed by honey cake). We also published the third edition of the HBS Classics Magazine QUERCUS (Latin for ‘oak tree’), which contains articles, puzzles, artwork and more, all on the theme of the classical world. A huge thank you to everyone who took part in or co-ordinated the activities – gratias vobis agimus!

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