Latin on the Rise in the UK

Latin always seems to be on the rise, and yet there are still contrary opinions about its utility … from Skynews:

A growing number of children as young as seven are learning Latin in a move to improve their literacy and understanding of ancient civilisations.

Existing teachers are being trained to take the lessons with funding from the charity Classics for All , and a group of 20 schools in Norfolk is showing what can be achieved.

Project co-ordinator Jane Maguire said: “It gives them the ability to understand sometimes quite hard words in English and to interpret them through their knowledge of Latin.

“It gives them an understanding of the grammatical structure of a language which helps them when they come to learn a modern language and it opens up the whole legacy of the Roman empire which is all around us.”

Her view is shared by the Department for Education. All seven-year-olds will learn a language from September with Latin and ancient Greek included as options.

Antingham and Southrepps Primary is a tiny, rural primary school in Norfolk where Year 4 pupils have had the chance to dress up as Romans and act out the tale of an ancient birthday party in Latin.

Emma, aged nine, said: “I think it’s helping us because it’s nice to learn that lots of our words come from Latin.”

And eight-year-old Emily says she can imagine continuing with the subject at secondary school. “It’s fun!” she said.

Down the road at North Walsham High, pupils of all ages are learning the subject.

Rachel, aged 13, thinks it could help with her career. “I want to be veterinary nurse when I’m older and some of the medicines are in Latin so I wanted to try it out.”

And Michael, 12, said to start with he was not keen “but I’m doing good in it now and I like it”.

But teacher and author Francis Gilbert believes it is a waste of time.

Mr Gilbert said: “It is not a living language, it’s a dead language. You can’t go to ancient Rome and to speak it as you can with Spanish or German.

“The vast majority of children find it completely removed from their lives … not relevant to who they are. It’s very, very difficult to present it in an energetic and enthusiastic way.”

The Mayor of London disagrees. Boris Johnson recently pledged a quarter of a million pounds so that children in the most deprived parts of the capital could learn Latin.

In the past two years, the number of pupils taking Latin GCSE has risen by 9%.

But up to 70 classics teachers retire each year while only 25 emerge from university ready to replace them.

Classics for All is trying to bridge that gap and more grants are available to give teachers the skills they need to teach it.

The biggest challenge for many schools may be fitting another subject into their already busy timetables.

Just a note in passing to Mr Gilbert: the “vast majority” of schoolchildren find EVERYTHING we teach “completely removed” and “not relevant” to their lives. That’s a feature of education in general, although I question the sweeping “vast majority”. That said, suggesting that something “[is] very, very difficult to present it in an energetic and enthusiastic way” perhaps says something about Mr Gilbert’s teaching abilities than the teachability of Latin, (it *is* rather easier to get hormone charged kiddies interested in Romeo and Juliet than perhaps Caesar … but howzabout Ovid?). Gilbert, by the way, writes frequently on matters educational in the Guardian … he seems to be generally against ‘the system’ and much that actually challenges students. He also uses the word “I” an awful lot.

Boris Johnson’s Original Oration of Armand D’Angour’s Ode at the Royal Opera House

Armand D’Angour has written to inform us that a somewhat shaky video of Boris Johnson’s original oration of Dr. D’Angour’s ode is available at his site. It’s rather dramatic (and funny) and is rather more formal than the plaque-ceremony repeat which we mentioned last week (Boris Johnson Orates Armand D’Angour’s Olympian Ode!!).  Here’s a direct link to the video (it takes a while to download). Dr. D’Angour’s page on the Ode and the events surrounding it is also definitely worth a visit: Ode for London Olympics 2012

Boris Johnson ‘On Tour’

As long as we’re talking about our favourite mayor of London, we might as well mention this item from the travel pages of the Australian … Johnson is taking the writer on a bicycle tour of the city … an excerpt of the Classical bits:

[…] Boris has written a book on “the people that made the city that changed the world”, and his publishers thought it would be fun if he re-enacted it for me. The plan was to start at the Monument at 7am, but within three seconds of arriving, the plans change. Boris announces we should start at Bishopsgate with Boudicca. “Oh, we’ve gone the wrong way,” he says, two minutes later.

“Let’s just do a U-turn here — we’ve got to break the law a bit. Although, just for the record, I want to say I wasn’t actually breaking the law. That was a perfectly legal manoeuvre.”

Some time later we’re on Bishopsgate as sort of planned and, with renewed composure and a crumpled suit flapping in the chill morning breeze, Boris asks me to imagine the wooden houses of AD60 instead of the glass and steel of 21st-century London.

“Act I, Scene I. This is where Suetonius Paulinus met the poor inhabitants of the colony — well, actually, the town. Colchester was the colony; London was already up-and-coming. And here he is, poor old Suetonius Paulinus. He’s come all the way down the A5 from North Wales.”

“Boris!” shouts a man on a bicycle. “Morning!” shouts Boris to the biker. “The Iceni are coming with a big-breasted Boudicca. An absolutely brass-bosomed, bonkers Boudicca — an Essex girl. A wronged woman. Suetonius Paulinus meets the Londoners and they beg him. They say, ‘Suetonius, help, we’re going to get massacred.’ And he says, ‘Sorry, folks, there’s nothing I can do.’ “

“Morning, Boris!” Another biker. “Morning! Right, off to the next place.” […]

via: On your bike, Boris (Australian)

A Taste of Boris’ Oration

I’ve been anxiously checking in on Youtube in the hopes of seeing a video of Boris’ performance of Armand D’Angour’s Olympian ode and while we still don’t have the full thing, Susannah Davis (on Twitter; naturally we direct a tip o’ the pileus to her) did point us to this glimpse from a Greek source:

cf: <a href=””>London 2012 Olympic Ode!</a>

London 2012 Olympic Ode!

This one’s been percolating in various papers for the past couple of days, but the Telegraph takes it that extra step by providing the text (which I’ve been waiting for):

Mr Johnson, who studied classics at Oxford, will recite the poem that he commissioned for the Games in both Greek and English.

The ode was created by Oxford academic Armand D’Angour who wrote the poem in ancient Greek with modern lyrics and then translated the six verses into rhyming couplets.

The English version includes puns on athletes names such a “lightning bolt” which is a reference to world record holder Usain Bolt. The poem also includes notes to London 2012 chairman Lord Coe, diver Tom Daley and volleyball captain Ben Pipes.

The Mayor said: ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to declaim Dr D’Angour’s glorious Olympic Ode at the Opening Gala, a work that breathes new life into the ancient custom of celebrating the greatness of the Games through poetry.

“I have no doubt that the members of the International Olympic Committee are fully versed in ancient Greek, but to ensure the elaborate puns can be fully appreciated I shall have the pleasure of vocalising the Ode twice, once in Greek and then again in English.

“I shall try to resist the temptation to regale the attendees a further time in Latin, though I cannot make any promises.”

The ode will be engraved on a bronze plaque that will have a permanent home in the Olympic Park

This is the second time that Dr D’Angour has created an Olympic ode – he wrote a Pindaric Ode for the Athens Games in 2004.

The Oxford academic, who created the poem in the style of Pindar, said: “I hope that these Odes will help to raise the profile of the Classics, which is an endlessly fascinating and inspiring subject.

“It will certainly be fun to hear the Ode read by the Mayor in his inimitable style, and I hope people will enjoy seeing the plaque when visiting the area in years to come.

“Writing an Ode for the Games revives a musical and poetic tradition from ancient Greece, where Odes were commissioned to celebrate athletic winners at the Games. Pindar was the greatest poet of his time, and sponsors paid a great deal of money for athletic victors to be honoured with an Ode by him.

“I have aimed to be faithful to ancient style and form, and used alcaic metre. Of course the puns may make people groan, but Pindar’s audiences may have done so too!”

The full Pindaric Ode for the London 2012 Olympics:

The new Olympic flame behold,
that once burned bright in Greece of old;
with happy hearts receive once more
these Games revived on London’s shore.

Praise rival teams, in sport allied,
as athletes stream from far and wide;
the poet too must take the road
conveying praise to victory owed.

Millions of watchers will embrace
the passion of each close-run race,
The efforts of the rowing teams
and gymnasts on balancing beams.

The will observe with rapt delight
the archer draw his bowstring tight,
the skilful rider guide her horse,
and lightning bolt around the course.

The pipes will play, the drum resound,
as medallists are daily crowned;
the crowd’s hurrah will reach the skies
when victors hoist the golden prize.

Now welcome to this seagirt land,
with London’s Mayor and co. at hand
good luck to all who strive to win:
applaud and let the Games begin!

Even better, the Telegraph includes the Greek (as an image):

via the Telegraph

via: London 2012 Olympics: Boris Johnson to recite Olympic Ode in ancient Greek (Telegraph)

Long-time readers of rogueclassicism will recall that this story actually broke last October (!): Primus a Boris (more useful links there).