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.

28 February 2015

Lesson 16 - Fighting talk

A new half-term and a new topic: the Roman army. After a video quiz, we now know about the signum, the testudo, the organisation of the legion and various battle tactics such as the triplex acies and the quincunx. Plus we found in Klaudiusz our resident military historian. We also got to watch a clip from one of the best films ever:

In this clip, we spotted the testudo formation, ballistae, a surprise rearguard attack, a signum and a battle cry. The two imposter objects we categorically didn't see on the battlefield were the sistrum (rattle) and the xylospongium* (and a surprising number of the class already knew the, erm, personal hygiene purposes of this gadget). Mind you, as Klaudiusz pointed out, you probably would want to run away from anyone wielding a xylospongium in a menacing way!

"ubi sunt arma mea?!"
In language work, we learned about prepositions, and then helped a hapless centurion find all his missing weapons by answering his question, "ubi sunt arma mea?"

"canis ad villam currit" - Andrew

"pilum super villa est" - Klaudiusz

"sagitta circum villam volat" - Tanvir

Next week, we'll be looking a famous soldier from Latin comedy: Miles Gloriosus, the Bragging Soldier.

* delicate definition of xylospongium, courtesy of Kacper: "Well, when you've done a number two, it's for, well, you know..."

15 February 2015

Brilliant Bacchae

A double hit of Classics this week as we spent Thursday afternoon watching The Bacchae at the Bloomsbury Theatre, and Friday afternoon making masks inspired by the play.

The trailer led us to expect all kinds of drama...
The play was dark and brooding, full of sinister energy. Brilliant acting, dancing, costumes, set and music. If you want to see more about the staging of the production, watch this video:
The following day, we used our knowledge of the play to create masks for various characters:

07 February 2015

Lesson 15 - To be, or not to be...

...not in the philosophical/existential sense, but the grammatical. After seeing tantalising glimpses of the verb over the past few weeks, we finally encountered 'esse' (to be) in all its present tense glory. It was interesting to see how many European languages' versions of 'to be' have their roots in the Latin forms:

laetus sum
molestissimi sumus!
Thanks to Bruno and Kacper for their Portuguese and Romanian readings of the verb: it's amazing to have such talented linguists in the class. We then applied our new knowledge of 'esse' (which, incidentally, you can see on our grammar page if you want a reminder) by helping celebrities speak Latin. Who'd have though One Direction were capable of getting their adjective to agree so perfectly in number and gender...

Then on to more Bacchae. Here's that pithy quote we liked last week in the original Greek (which, in a joint effort, the class managed to read out loud):

Talk sense to a fool and he'll call you foolish.

(And, yes, that would be a pretty big tattoo, Kacper!). We read the scene where Dionysus addresses his Bacchants, the women he's lured onto the mountainside. Some of us had a go at reading wearing a mask, and we discussed why masks were used. All of this is great preparation for next week, when we're going to be making our Bacchae masks. The class have all been allocated a character for which they have to create a design that communicates clearly who the character is. Here's a summary to help you:

Dionysus: I think Lorenze's description was spot-on, but let me paraphrase. He's good-looking and muscly. Probably wearing some vine-leaf crown.

Tiresias: Old, blind seer (i.e. can tell the future).

Cadmus: Theban elder, thinks Pentheus is being an idiot.

Pentheus: Young, arrogant, uptight King of Thebes.

The Chorus of Bacchants: Women gone a bit wild. Probably haven't brushed hair/had a wash in a while. Possibly a bit drunk. Like a dance. Gaga over Dionysus.

Agave: Pentheus' mum, one of the Bacchants. Like chorus but bit older.

Pentheus' severed head: (lucky you, whoever got this one). Gory blood-fest. 

Here are some pictures for inspiration. Don't feel you have to stick to an Ancient Greek style: many cultures create amazing masks. But make sure the characteristics are clear.

a selection of Ancient Greek masks

African mask

Mexican mask

Creepy Japanese Noh mask

Sinister, iconic mask from 'V for Vendetta'

Modern 'wild woman' mask