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Classics in the Senior School & Sixth Form

Classics in the Senior School & Sixth Form

If we had consulted the Delphic Oracle in September 2019 and been told that the coming academic year was to be a challenging one we might have thought we understood ...

The arrival of two new teachers in Miss Hussey and Miss Whitelaw and the temporary departure of Mrs Lyon on maternity leave had been expected. But of course, as Oedipus himself discovered, and our Sixth Form Classicists will tell you, interpreting oracles is a dangerous business. 

Speaking of tragedy, as the group of St Mary’s girls left the Arts Theatre in October after seeing Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus there was a real buzz. As is the way with Classics, they had been challenged to see alternative perspectives, open their minds (and eyes) to cultural forms underpinning Western civilisation, and experience intellectual playfulness; all whilst having an immensely good time. An added bonus was seeing Miss Hussey performing as one of the chorus. 

Classics Trip to Italy

Fast forward only a few days and 49 students were walking the streets of Pompeii, bringing to life through their linking and imagination the characters they know and love from their reading of stories in the Cambridge Latin Course: the doorway where Poppaea and Grumio met whilst everyone else was at the theatre; or the street down which Caecilius fought his way against the crowds in a desperate search for Metella and Quintus as the city was being destroyed. 

Our Classics Trip to the Bay of Naples never ceases to inspire and amaze the students, with its heady mix of Roman civilisation, stunning coastline, southern Italian warmth and the looming presence of Vesuvius. 

The girls who came on that trip to Italy will have stories to tell and it is through the epic stories encountered in Classics at St Mary’s that they will learn so much: in Year 9 Latin, girls have been studying the Tale of Troy and enquiring about themes of love, sacrifice and conflict and those studying the Myth and Religion topic in Year 10 GCSE Classical Civilisation have marvelled at the resilience of Hercules and Theseus.

Our Year 12 Latin students have been reading Book 11 of Virgil’s Aeneid, analysing the Latin text and developing the intellectual confidence to articulate personal views on Aeneas’ conflicted character. 

As Oedipus approached the doorway to the oracle at Delphi he would have seen the inscription ‘γνῶθι σεαυτόν’ (‘Know thyself’); it is through the study of Classics at St Mary’s that our girls can develop the High Performance Learning skills that will enable them to acquire knowledge and not only understand the world more clearly, but themselves too. 

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