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.

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