OxLAT Summer school: A week of Classics & the Ancient World

Peter Haarer, Lecturer in Ancient History at Trinity College, offers a snapshot of life on the OxLAT summer school in Classics and the Ancient World, held for 25 students from Oxfordshire completing the OxLAT programme through the University’s Faculty of Classics.

Monday 29 July
Bright sunshine and summery weather greets the first day of the summer school – the final leg of our two-year programme. Great to see everyone again and to get stuck in to some revision in Greek and Latin, as well as the day’s theme, ‘ancient biography’. Suetonius keeps our students entertained in the morning, while first off after lunch guest speaker Anna Blomley gives us a splendid introduction to grave stelai, paying especial attention to context (ancient images of burial rites, modern images of ancient graves being excavated). We round of the day by thinking about ancient biographers, and how and why people write history through the lens of Plutarch’s Themistokles.

Tuesday 30 July
A rainy morning for a rainy subject as we translate from Greek the bare bones of the story of Admetus and Alcestis: shock that Alcestis gives up her life for her husband. Meanwhile, in a parallel session, Gail Trimble guides students through a passage of Cicero about the ‘shady lady’ Clodia (or it is Cicero’s shading a lady?). After lunch Alexandros Kampakoglou elucidates Euripides’ Hippolytus and the problematic character of Phaedra. Tea is followed by parallel sessions: Gail contextualising the passage of Cicero’s rhetoric from the morning, and guest speaker George Green articulating Roman coinage with the aid of actual gold pieces.

Wednesday 31 July
In Greek, we learn how to count to ten and to express time. In Latin, Gail Trimble introduces Catullus 64. In the afternoon there is an optional session on applying to university before we finish early for a much needed and well-deserved rest.

Thursday 1 August 
Our students’ confidence is growing daily and it is time to move beyond the indicative active and into the passive plus a conspectus of the Greek verb in full (optative, dual and all). Meanwhile in Latin the group reads in Pliny the Younger about the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79 and in the afternoon Emma Searle draws on her research expertise to deliver a fascinating talk on Pompeii. We complete the day with a session on Pliny’s corpus of letters and Thomas Mannack giving an introduction to ancient sculpture.

Friday 2 August
A.E. Housman’s ‘Fragment of a Greek Tragedy’ is the prelude to a final morning working on Greek language and learning about the transmission of texts via the Manuscript Tradition. Our very last formal session is given by Alan Bowman, former Camden Professor of Ancient History and world expert on papyrology, who shares with us his latest findings on the famous Vindolanda Writing Tablets. We round off proceedings with a splendid tea on High Table.