Learning Classics is a bit like putting on a magic pair of 3-D glasses. Once you start delving into the language and the culture, you'll start to see it all around you. This blog is a record of the club's journey through the worlds and language of ancient Rome and Greece... and through modern times, too, searching for the influence of classics all around us. You'll also be able to find vocab, home tasks, links and generally enlightening info here, too.

26 October 2014

Lesson 6 - language focus

Choosing the right endings...
In this last session before the half-term holiday, we collected together all the language learning we've accumulated since the beginning of Classics Club - (1) word ending, not word order, (2) singular and plural verbs in the present tense, (3) masculine, feminine and neuter nouns, (4) adjectives that agree with their noun's gender, and (5) the nominative (subject) and accusative (object) endings. Not bad for six hours' work! As explained in our lesson, all the grammar we've learned so far can be seen here (don't stress about the stuff in grey - we'll be tackling that in due course). Plus, on the vocabulary front, we've officially covered 10% of all the GCSE higher-tier words.

Nope, we won't be swimming!
But probably the highlight of the lesson was finding out that the trip we're planning is to Bath (formerly known as Aquae Sulis) to see the fantastic Roman baths and underground thermal spring next half term. Have a great week off (but don't forget to memorise those nominative and accusative endings!).

19 October 2014

Nasty, very nasty

We talked very briefly about the Titan Kronos in our last lesson and a few of you commented on the nastiness of his backstory. So, in the spirit of Classics Club giving you the warts-and-all perspective on all things ancient, here, point-by-point, is why Kronos really is a nasty piece of work:

1. Kronos came to power by cutting off certain parts of his dad, Ouranos, that would ensure Ouranos would not be having any more children. Nice.

2. Winning Bad Father of the Year award, he wanted to get rid of his children in case they stole his power.

3. Ensuring he kept the title, he decided the best way to get rid of his kids was to eat them. Which seems a little extreme.

Fortunately, Rhea, wife of Kronos and mother of the child-flavoured snacks took a stand and fed Kronos a rock when he went to munch on Zeus. Zeus then grew up to lead a revolt against Kronos, and banished him to Tartarus.

The particularly gruesome picture of Kronos here is by Francisco Goya. Although it looks like it could have come out of a modern horror movie, it was painted nearly 200 years ago. Some more of Goya's grisly 'black paintings' can be seen here.

18 October 2014

Lesson 5 - Birthdays, babies and the accusative

Sit tibi dies natalis felix, Lai'Larni. Cue a discussion about how Romans didn't celebrate the day of a baby's birth, but the 'dies lustricus' ('day of purification') eight days later. And why? The sad fact was that a lot of babies (25-40%) didn't make it that far. So if you got past the first week, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, gave you a name and celebrated. Romans may have had an advanced civilisation, but the lack of medicinal technology (including penicillin, pointed out by Benedict) meant that the mortality rate (from 'mors', Latin for 'death') was a lot higher than today.

Anna's accusatives
In language work, we met the accusative for nouns: an accusative ending on a noun shows that it is the object of a verb, i.e. it's having something done to it, it's not the doer (subject/nominative). Jumping in at the deep end, we translated English sentences into Latin, making sure that we changed the ending of all the nouns to show which were the subject (nominative) and which were the object (accusative). Don't forget, all the grammar we've covered is here on our Grammar page.

Wannabe god
Bruno then took over as teacher, and showed us some Olympian gods, Titans and wannabe deities. Serious point scoring for excellence here, with an extra contribution from Anna for recognising Caesar Augustus. And to answer the question about who the baby at Augustus' feet is, it's Cupid, son of Venus - the creator of the statue was reminding his audience of the claim that Augustus was a descendent of Venus (hmmm, a bit of propaganda perhaps?).

A feisty one
One final outstanding question from birthday girl Lai'Larni: do we get the word 'feisty' from 'Hephaestos'? I was pretty sure we didn't, so I looked up the etymology (where the word comes from). A 'feist' was a term used in the past for a small, yappy dog, so you can see how it turned into the adjective we use today.

11 October 2014

Lesson 4 - annuit coeptis* Iuppiter (Zeus likes what we're doing)

Message received, Zeus
Can it really be a coincidence that when we do a lesson about the gods and goddesses of Olympus, an almighty storm descends over Greig City Academy and rattles the windows with the rumble of thunder? I think not! Zeus (or Jupiter to the Romans) is the god of thunder and lightning, and uses them to communicate with mere mortals. I think he approves of what we're up to ;-)

So today we took a look at the Olympian gods and goddesses their 'specialist' areas, their symbols and/or special animals. We watched a clip from Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief that showed us how the gods can be an argumentative lot, and how they support their champions and heroes on earth. We also saw a perfect illustration of how myths are used to explain natural phenomena, with the tale of how Persephone has to spend four months a year in the hellish company of Hades (and that's the reason for winter). Here's the clip if you want to watch it in full.

If you've read the Odyssey or Percy Jackson, you'll know that gods have their mortal favourites whom they help out. But who's your patron god or goddess? You can find out here.

* If you can get your hands on a US dollar bill, you'll see the Latin phrase 'annuit coeptis', which means, 'He approves of our undertakings' ('He' meaning God). These words come from a prayer spoken by one of the characters in The Aeneid, an important epic poem about the foundation of Rome. More on this in due course!

Classics Club hits the headlines

"Why is Miss making me hold cat food?!"
Classics Club has now appeared in three recent editions of the Ham & High newspaper. If you can't get your hands on a copy, there's a link to the online article below.