Classics – Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation

Here at Glenalmond we pride ourselves on our strong Classical heritage, and daily we all doff our caps to William Gladstone’s statue on the way to Chapel, himself a notable Classical scholar as author of over 30 books on Homer.

All pupils are introduced to Latin and the Classics in Second and Third Forms, and a large number further their classical studies at GCSE, A Level and beyond.

 

Extra Curricular

We enjoy a rich and varied number of trips and visits. These include our showpiece trip to Rome, Pompeii and Paestum the jewel of Campania, which we run every two years for approximately 30 pupils. We also visit Hadrian’s Wall in the summer term, as well as attending talks more locally at schools and universities. Glenalmond also hosts the annual SCIS Classics conference when teachers of Classical subjects from all over Scotland come for a day of talks and discussions.

Head of Department - Mr George Pounder

Miss Rebecca Masson

George Pounder is an OG, leaving Glenalmond to study Classics at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. From Oxford, he spent a year in the Royal Marines before becoming a teacher. He taught for two years at Ardvreck School in Crieff, then did a PGCE at Jordanhill in Glasgow. He spent two years at Rugby School teaching Classics and as an Assistant Housemaster before returning to Glenalmond, where he spent 6 years as Housemaster of Matheson’s before his translation to Head of Classics in 2013.

 

 

Second Form

For most pupils, this is their first exposure to Latin and the ancient world. We currently use the very accessible, and very fun, So You Really Want to Learn Latin Prep book to introduce the language, and by the end of the year, pupils are roughly at Common Entrance Level 1 standard. We also spend a good deal of time learning about different aspects of the classical world, exploring history, culture and mythology in various ways. Pupils also learn a little Greek which adds a further interesting dimension to their appreciation of classical, and their own, languages.

Third Form

All pupils do some Latin in the Third Form. This varies between complete beginners and experienced linguists; all pupils develop their knowledge of the language and of the ancient world in a variety of ways which are designed to be fun, challenging and interesting. We use a combination of Cambridge Latin Course and So You Really Want to Learn Latin books to develop language, and a variety of other resources for introducing other background material.

Latin

Studying Latin equips pupils to develop a sensitive and analytical approach to language making informed, personal responses to the material studied. All pupils actively engage in the process of enquiry into the classical world so that they develop as effective and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers. By studying a range of appropriate sources, they build knowledge and understanding of selected aspects of the classical world. This fosters an awareness of the continuing influence of the classical world on later times and of the similarities and differences between the classical world and their own.

All pupils studying Latin are prepared for the four papers of GCSE: the OCR syllabus is followed. There are two language papers testing translation of unprepared passages and comprehension. Section A features stories about Mythology and Domestic Life, while Section B covers History. Two papers on verse (Horace, Martial and Ovid) and prose (Cicero, Pliny and Tacitus) set texts respectively are also taken, with translation into English and comprehension and stylistic analysis questions to be answered in English.

Reading literature in this way provides a fascinating insight into many aspects of Roman life including history, mythology, culture, art and philosophy. Indeed, Latin and Greek are the only subjects apart from English, up to and including A Level, where real literature is studied in the original languages. In language studies we revise and expand material learned in the Third Form. Pupils joining in the Fourth Form may take this subject if they have previously studied Latin. All skills are tested regularly by means of questions from past papers. All pupils take Latin GCSE at the end of their Fifth Form year. 

Greek

Greek is taught for GCSE outside the timetable; typically there are two language lessons and one literature lesson per week. There is no need to have studied Greek before starting in the Fourth Form – the course starts at the beginning and works through systematically.

The exam (at the end of Fifth Form) involves three papers: one language paper involving translation and comprehension of two passages of Greek.Section A covers Mythology and Domestic Life, and Section B covers History, giving pupils contact with a broad range of Greek stories. Papers 2 and 3 are literature papers: one prose and one verse text is studied, and the papers require a good understanding of these as literature, asking questions about stylistic features as well as background material.

We follow the OCR syllabus. Greek GCSE is challenging but deeply rewarding: classes tend to be small (typically 6-10 pupils) but focused and highly stimulating. The material is fascinating, and we explore many of the great Greek authors and periods as part of the course. 

 

The study of the Roman world by reading the words of its authors opens our eyes to understanding who we are today. Whether it is reading Latin love poetry to explore ideas about modern morality, savouring the power of Virgil’s epic to remind us of our place in the universe, analysing Cicero to enable us to think about contemporary politics or using Tacitus to compare Rome’s and our own celebrity cultures, Roman writers resonate strongly with us today.

Developing skills acquired at GCSE, pupils taking Latin will study prose and verse literature as well as deepening their understanding of the language. Literary Criticism is a particular focus, and the texts are read appreciating the author’s style as well as the historical and social contexts. Language work involves translating unseen passages into good English as well as revising grammar and syntax. We follow the OCR syllabus throughout. 

 

The courses

There are four components to the new A Level course: 2 Language papers, and 2 Literature papers. The Language papers test pupils’ ability to translate from Latin into English with the option of some simple translation into Latin in one of them. Pupils will improve by reading and discussing lots of original Latin, becoming more confident in ‘real’ Latin. The Literature papers involve reading some set books, and pupils develop skills learned at GCSE in responding sensitively prose and verse texts. The new linear course allows the study either of two texts (one verse, one prose) in great detail, or a broader range of authors. There is no coursework in Latin.

 

Scheme of assessment

Translation (Unit 1a)

1hr 45 min examination [33%]

Candidates build on their knowledge of vocabulary and linguistic structures. Candidates are expected to be familiar with the vocabulary and linguistic structures used by the authors specified.

Comprehension or Prose Composition (Unit 1b)

1hr 15 min examination [17%]

Prose Literature (Unit 2)

2 hr examination [25%]

Candidates study and discuss a prescribed amount of Latin text, as well as some of the text in translation to give a better understanding of its context. There is a choice of texts, including Cicero Pro Milone, Tacitus Annals I, and some letters of Seneca

Verse Literature (Unit 3)

2 hr examination [25%]

Candidates study and discuss a prescribed amount of Latin text, as well as some of the text in translation to give a better understanding of its context. There is a choice of texts, including Virgil Aeneid VII or X, Ovid Heroides, Ovid Amores, Tibullus and Propertius.

 

Able pupils are prepared for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge and other leading universities. Pupils sit the A Level papers after two completed years of intensive Sixth Form study. All Glenalmond pupils of any Classical subject are guaranteed a place on our major school study trip every second year to Rome, Ostia, Pompeii and Paestum.

 

Recommended Qualifications

It is recommended that any pupil who wishes to study Latin should have achieved at least a B grade in GCSE Latin. Pupils from other countries should have studied Latin for at least two full academic years and have some evidence to demonstrate this.

 

Subject Combinations

Most usual subject combinations with Latin A Level are likely to include Classical Civilisation, English, History, Politics, Greek, French, or Mathematics.

 

Careers and Higher Education

A Level Classics pupils tend almost without exception to read for Honours Degrees at University, many reading Classics or Classics plus a modern language or some combination involving Ancient History or Archaeology. Classics graduates have a very good record of finding employment in a wide variety of areas.

The study of Classical Greek gives pupils the opportunity to read some of the finest works of literature and history from any period in the Western World in the original language. Greek authors speak timelessly to us today – reading Greek tragedy enables pupils to grapple with issues of identity and justice, Homer comments on the horrors of war, Plato encourages us to question the world around us, and the historians help us to consider political, social and economic issues as well as global conflict.

As in Latin, pupils taking Greek to A Level have the opportunity to study prose and verse literature while deepening their understanding of the language. Literary Criticism is a particular focus, and the texts are read appreciating the author’s style as well as the historical and social contexts. Language work involves translating unseen passages into good English as well as revising grammar and syntax. We follow the OCR syllabus throughout. For more information visit the OCR page.

 

The Courses

There are four components to the new A Level course: 2 Language papers, and 2 Literature papers. The Language papers test pupils’ ability to translate from Greek into English with the option of some simple translation into Latin in one of them. Pupils will improve by reading and discussing lots of original Greek, becoming more confident in ‘real’ Greek. The Literature papers involve reading some set books, and pupils develop skills learned at GCSE in responding sensitively prose and verse texts. The new linear course allows the study either of two texts (one verse, one prose) in great detail, or a broader range of authors. There is no coursework in Greek.

 

Scheme of Assessment

Translation (Unit 1a)

1hr 45 min examination [33%]

Candidates build on their knowledge of vocabulary and linguistic structures. Candidates are expected to be familiar with the vocabulary and linguistic structures used by the authors specified.

Comprehension or Prose Composition (Unit 1b)

1hr 15 min examination [17%]

Prose Literature (Unit 2)

2 hr examination [25%]

Candidates study and discuss a prescribed amount of Greek text, as well as some of the text in translation to give a better understanding of its context. There is a choice of texts, including Thucydides History, Plato Apology and Xenophon Memorabilia.

Verse Literature (Unit 3)

2 hr examination [25%]

Candidates study and discuss a prescribed amount of Greek text, as well as some of the text in translation to give a better understanding of its context. There is a choice of texts, including Homer Odyssey X, Sophocles Antigone and Aristophanes Acharnians.

 

Able pupils are prepared for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge and other leading universities. Pupils sit the A Level papers after two completed years of intensive Sixth Form study. All Glenalmond pupils of any Classical subject are guaranteed a place on our major school study trip every second year to Rome, Ostia, Pompeii and Paestum.

 

Recommended Qualifications

It is recommended that any pupil who wishes to study Greek should have achieved at least a B grade in GCSE Greek. Pupils from other countries should have studied Greek for at least two full academic years and have some evidence to demonstrate this.

 

Subject Combinations

Greek, with its disciplines of literary analysis and linguistic rigour, fits well with most arts based subjects, but we have even seen (and wholeheartedly endorsed) Greek A Level accompany two other sciences!

 

Careers and Higher Education

A Level Classics pupils tend almost without exception to read for Honours Degrees at University, many reading Classics or Classics plus a modern language or some combination involving Ancient History or Archaeology. Classics graduates have a very good record of finding employment in a wide variety of areas.

The study of the Classical world gives us invaluable insight into how we think, live and behave today: it explains who we are in a way no other subject does. Through the study of literature (all in English translation) and various visual and material sources, pupils engage with the ancient world in a variety of ways.

All texts are read in English, and no knowledge of any ancient language is required for Classical Civilisation, though certain key words are explained in context.

Classical Civilisation develops strong skills in analysis and evaluation of a wide range of sources, as well as the ability to think coherently and argue clearly.

 

Course Description

Over the course, pupils will study one topic from each of the three components listed below:

Component 1: The world of the hero

This is a compulsory component consisting of an in-depth study of:

one of Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey

and Virgil’s Aeneid

The poems of Homer were considered by the Greeks themselves to be a foundation of Greek culture, standing as they do at the beginning of the Western literary canon. This component provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate the lasting legacy of these works and to explore their attitudes and values. The epics of Homer, with their heroes, gods and exciting narratives, have been in continuous study since their conception, and remain popular with learners and teachers today.

This component also provides learners with the opportunity to appreciate Virgil’s Aeneid, a cornerstone and landmark in Western literature. Drawing inspiration from Homer, as well as from his own cultural and political context, Virgil explored what it was to be a hero in the Roman world and created a work which has proven enduringly popular. All material studied will be in English translation.

 

Component 2: Culture and the arts

Pupils will study one of the following topics, chosen from:

  • Greek theatre
  • Imperial image
  • Invention of the barbarian
  • Greek art

 

All of these topics involve the study of visual and material as well as literary sources, weighted equally between the various types. The study of these topics enables us to get a clear picture of how the ancient world relied on visual imagery as much as literary; we, in turn, consider and compare our own world in relation to the ancient to help us understand many aspects of our own cultural lives. All material studied will be in English translation.

 

Component 3: Beliefs and ideas

Pupils will study one of the following topics, chosen from:

  • Greek religion
  • Love and relationships
  • Politics of the Late Republic
  • Democracy and the Athenians

 

All of these topics include the study of classical thought; from ideas about politics and correct governance, to what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when it comes to love and desire, to the nature of the gods and their relationship with mankind. The content of all components is equally split between classical thought and either literature or visual/material culture. All material studied will be in English translation.

 

Recommended Entry Requirements

There is no need to have studied anything classical before choosing Classical Civilisation; as such Classical Civilisation is an ideal subject for new Sixth Form pupils. Classical Civilisation is not studied at Glenalmond for GCSE, therefore pupils are starting a new subject. As everything is studied in English, no knowledge of any ancient language is necessary, though some key words will be explained in context. Owing to the nature of the subject, competence in reading texts and writing well-structured essays is helpful. We work hard on developing reading and essay writing skills over the course, however. A willingness to engage in discussion and to think flexibly is also beneficial.

 

Subject Combinations

The rich and varied nature of Classical Civilisation means that any pupil, with an interest in exploring who we are and what makes us tick will get a huge amount from this subject. Most usual subject combinations with Classical Civilisation are likely to include English, History, Politics, Geography, MFL, Economics or Mathematics, however any subject complements Classical Civilisation.

 

Careers and Higher Education

A Level Classics pupils tend almost without exception to read for Honours Degrees at University, many reading Classics or Classics plus a modern language or some combination involving Ancient History or Archaeology. Currently there are a number of OG’s studying Classics, with and without the languages, at top UK universities. Classical courses are becoming more popular in more universities the length and breadth of the country, and owing to the analytical nature of the subject, as well as the skills in reading and writing English which are honed in the study of Classics, Classics graduates have an excellent record of finding employment.