Greek in the Park

Some press coverage of Lorna Robinson’s latest project:

IT’S not every day you get the chance to learn ancient Greek.

Now Dr Lorna Robinson is giving people in Oxford the opportunity to pick up the secrets of the language in parks across East Oxford.

For the next nine weeks, the director of the educational charity The Iris Project will be running the series of free lessons for adults and families, to introduce the language of the ancient Greeks.

The sessions started at the weekend in South Park and will run every Saturday in the park at 2pm. Meet at the entrance next to the playground.

About 20 people are expected this Saturday.

As with the Latin in the Park series, Ancient Greek in the Park will involve a series of free hour-long weekly sessions.

Latin in the Park was set up to help promote access to classics among adults, and has been running since April 2008.

Dr Robinson, from Risinghurst, who also ran the Latin in the Park sessions, has also worked with state schools in Oxford to promote Latin teaching.

She said: “The Latin in the Park series has been a success, so we thought we would try something similar with Ancient Greek.

“A lot of people find the prospect of learning Latin or Greek quite daunting but we wanted to show people that anyone has a chance of picking them up.

“I did a PhD in Classics straight after I left university and I want to try to widen the opportunity for people to access the languages because they are now mostly taught in private schools.

“Latin and Greek are still an excellent basis for learning other languages and I do not want to see them die out. We are also trying to introduce people to aspects of Greek and Roman culture.

“Classics is often viewed as an elite area of study only accessible to the very educated.

“The intention is to encourage people from all walks of life and backgrounds to have a go at picking up a bit of Latin and now ancient Greek over lunch in a relaxed setting.”

The Iris Project promotes access to classics in state schools and urban areas and its patrons include Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, and Baroness Warnock.

The place of classics in a British education has declined in recent years.

Boris Johnson is a high-profile promoter of the classics and says every schoolchild should have the opportunity to learn Latin.

via Get out and learn Greek in city’s parks | Oxford Mail.

More info on Greek in the Park, Latin in the Park, Iris Magazine, etc. at the Iris Project …

Roman Villa from Berkeley?

University of Bristol Arms
Image by Dave ® via Flickr

No … not the one in California (although I’m sure someone will misread this and use it as additional ‘proof’ that the Romans reached the Americas) … I think this must be the one in Gloucestershire, which is interesting because it doesn’t appear to have been a Roman settlement …

AN IMPERIAL Roman villa complex could sit underneath the town of Berkeley, archaeologists believe.

In the final hours of their four-week dig students from the University of Bristol found several Roman items, igniting theories that a Roman villa could have been underneath their trench in the garden of the Edward Jenner Museum.

Their aim this year was to find evidence of an Anglo-Saxon religious community, dating back to around the 9th to 10th century.

The team, led by TV archaeologists and lecturers at the university Dr Stuart Prior and Prof Mark Horton, did find many items that suggested the site dated back to Saxon times.

However last Friday, hours before they started to re-fill the trench, they found a large quantity of Roman wall plaster. The day before they had found some Roman roof tiles and Roman coins, all around three post-holes in the ground, also believed to date back to Roman times.

“In the closing moments of the dig we found the best evidence yet that a Roman villa lay under Berkeley, probably under the church,” said Prof Horton, a presenter on BBC series Coast.

“We are lucky that on this site the soil is clay because it preserves things beautifully so we have had some finds in very good condition.”

The Roman villa is likely to date back to around 3rd to 4th century and Berkeley could even be the site of an imperial settlement of Romans from Gloucester.

“This is a really exciting find,” said Dr Prior. “We will come back next year to Berkeley because there is definitely more Roman finds waiting to be discovered.”

The dig, which is organised every year for students on archaeology and anthropology courses in Bristol, uncovered some major historical finds including a mint condition Anglo-Saxon belt strap end with the face of a dragon and a covered over road leading to St Mary’s Church.

It is now thought, almost certainly, that an Anglo-Saxon minster – a walled religious community – lived in mainly by high status women existed in Berkeley. It is the first to be excavated in the country.

Bring back Latin!

Wallsend station is probably the only station ...
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A call from Harry Mount in the Telegraph:

There’s an excellent new report out today by Politeia (which, as any fule know, is the ancient Greek for citizenship).

The gist of it is that Latin should be taught in state primary schools. Quite right, I think, and for the reasons they say – it improves your English and your foreign languages – but also because it’s such a beautiful language, at the root of all western European literature.

Also, it’s the last subject that is still taught in a rigorous, old-fashioned way. For half a millennium, until around 1960, classics formed the heart of the curriculum (which, the same fule will know, means “a race” in Latin, from curro, -ere – I run) in British schools.

The subject has withered away since then but, like some long-forgotten, super-civilised province left behind after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the surviving outposts of Latin teaching still follow the ancient rules.

I teach Latin to some friends’ children – private and state-educated – and it’s amazing the stuff they learn from Latin that they should learn from their English lessons but don’t: subjects, objects, verbs, tenses, conditional clauses, subjunctives. Teach a child the genitive, and they’ll never get the grocer’s apostrophe wrong again. No wonder that my colleague Toby Young is keen to have Latin taught at his proposed new school in Ealing.

The complex intellectual scaffolding of teaching and learning has been removed from other subjects; Latin puts it back in.

There are some excellent comments at the Telegraph too …

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xvi kalendas quinctilias

Otto Jahn Otto Jahn. Stich von August Weger na...
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ante diem xvi kalendas quinctilias

  • 212 A.D. — martyrdom of Ferreolus and Ferrutio
  • 1716 — Alexander Pope’s translation of the Iliad is published
  • 1813 — birth of Otto Jahn (archaeologist and philologist)
  • 1937 — birth of Erich Segal (Classicist, known to Classicists for his work on ancient comedy; known to the rest of the world as the author of Love Story)