Many of the cultural assumptions that we share in the western world, and, indeed, in global culture, have their origins in the classical world of the Romans and Greeks. Having a classical education allows our boys to engage with language, history, philosophy, religion, politics and society in a confident, cultured and polished manner. Linguistic studies in Latin and Greek massively enrich the boys’ vocabularies, enable them to think systematically about the structure of language, and to overcome rigorous challenge. Our study of myth explores the identity of the hero. Ancient history enables the boys to explore a significant part of Britain’s past, and to learn about key historical figures. Classical civilisation compares and contrasts ancient ideas about the family, food, housing, entertainment, politics, education and slavery with our own.
Our boys begin studying Latin in Year 3, using the media-acclaimed Minimus course by Barbara Bell. The boys deepen their knowledge of their language and culture through the use of cartoon format narratives, Greek myths and the historical setting of Vindolanda, near Hadrian’s Wall. In Year 3, the boys get involved in an archaeology experiment. They bury two boxes of artefacts in the School grounds, and make predictions about what will happen to their objects. In Year 4, the boys excavate the artefacts and see what changes have been wrought.
Our Year 5 and Year 6 boys use Cambridge Latin Course Book I. Here they meet a real Roman family which lived in Pompeii, famously destroyed by the volcano Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. Boys who have excelled in Latin in Years 3-6 are invited to begin Greek in Year 7. Our Year 7 and Year 8 boys use CLC Book II and Book III which are set in Roman Britain and Egypt. Working with the History Department, our Year 7 and 8 boys create an ancient history project focused on answering a valid historical question about the Peloponnesian War and its similarities to other wars they have studied.
Over the years we have welcomed both Roman and Greek reenactors from Portals to the Past. Authors Barbara Bell and Caroline Lawrence have enthused our boys with their presentations. Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton have wowed our boys with their storytelling. We visit Verulamium Museum, the Museum of London and the British Museum and we aim to travel abroad regularly so that the boys can experience the classical world in its own setting, something which is both memorable and formative. We have visited Rome, Tivoli and Ostia in 2012 and 2017, and Greece in 2014 and 2019, and we are planning to return to Italy in 2024 and to Greece in 2026.