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September 2019 Newsletter

Guildford Classical Association                                                                 

September 2019

Dear Members and Colleagues,

I trust that you have all had a relaxing and enjoyable summer. The summer term, once again, was a busy one for the GCA. Professor Llewelyn Morgan delivered our annual May Talk at Guildford High School on the topic of Aeneas in Italy. Llewelyn’s enthusiasm both delighted and inspired the audience with his interpretation of Aeneas in Virgil’s Roman epic. During this time we also hosted the Certamen, at RGS. Great fun was had by both staff and students at this established annual event. Congratulations go to the teams from Epsom College and RGS for winning the finals. In July, the Committee reassembled at the AGM at the Horse and Groom in Merrow. We said farewell to Ian Peel, Chairman of the GCA for three years, who also gave us an interesting talk on ‘How realistic is The Iliad?’.

It gives me great pleasure to enclose this year’s programme card. These events aim to support, enrich and complement our teaching as well as the learning of students. At the Opening Party, Tuesday 24 September at RGS Guildford 7.30 for 8.00pm, Emeritus Prof Chris Carey, UCL, will be talking on Thermopylae revisited. This promises to be a superb talk for which I am sure Chris will draw many references from his newly published book Thermopylae, in the Great Battles series.

On Saturday 5 October 7-9pm at Charterhouse, Godalming, we are hosting a performance of ‘The Song of Arms and a Man’, the Latin Qvarter’s adaptation of Virgil’s classic and ever more contemporary story of a refugee leading his people from the East, performed both in Latin and English. This is a unique and valuable experience for anyone who is studying Virgil’s Aeneid, or indeed has done so in the past. Concessions are available to GCA members, students and school groups. We have arranged for a shuttle bus service from Godalming Station prior to the performance for those arriving by public transport. If members have real difficulty getting to Godalming but wish to attend, please contact Marian at marian.gca@btinternet.com or 01483 760133, who will endeavour to arrange lift-sharing. For further details, email guildfordca.office@gmail.com or phone 01252 875940.

This term’s Teach Meet is hosted by the Classics Department at Tormead School, Cranley Road GU1 2JD, Wednesday 6 November, 5.30pm for 6pm and will focus on the Classical Civilisation GCSE. Please email smichalopoulou@tormeadschool.org.uk if you are interested in coming.

Our Schools Talk this year will be held on Tuesday 12th November at Guildford High School, 4.30 for 5pm where the author Ben Kane will be talking on Hannibal. This is also suitable for older students as well as adult members, who are welcome to attend, as Ben’s books are aimed at the top end of the normal age-range for this talk, up to adults.

Looking forward to next year, please note the date of Thursday 16 January for our GCSE Conference, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, GU1 3RR. We are delighted to welcome Prof Helen Lovatt and Dr Simon Malloch, both from the University of Nottingham. Prof Lovatt will speak on the selected lines from Virgil’s Aeneid Book 2 and Dr Malloch on Tacitus: Germanicus and Piso and Pliny: Regulus from the Cambridge Latin Anthology. Further details on this are including in the mailing.

We will be sending out by half term the details and entry forms for our Latin and Greek Reading Competition, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday 12 March at Charterhouse, Godalming, GU7 2DX.

Please visit our website, https://guildfordca.wordpress.com/, and follow us on Twitter @GCAClassics for our programme and reports on events as well as regular updates. We hope that all the above continue to promote and celebrate the Classics.

I look forward to seeing you at as many of these events as possible. Please do communicate your views on them to me or any committee members (contact details on the programme card and online).

Yours sincerely, with very best wishes,

Stefanie Michalopoulou

Acting Chairman

GCA Special Event brings The Aeneid to life

Leaflet - Song of Arms and a Man - Guildford - draft 5

In its most ambitious venture of recent years, the GCA proudly hosted The Latin Qvarter’s acclaimed production of The Song of Arms and a Man – a stunning performance of Virgil’s Aeneid – at Charterhouse on 5 October.

The Song of Arms and a Man tells the story of Aeneas’ escape from Troy, his stay with Dido and his struggle to fulfil his destiny as founder of Rome. The selected Latin readings from the Aeneid, with the help of an English narration, told the whole story of the poem, rarely heard, in a unique presentation of the original verse, echoing the ancient culture of public performance of poetry.

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The event proved a tremendous success, exceeding all our expectations. The players: George Sharpley (narrator), Emma Kirkby, Victoria Punch (standing in at short notice for the indisposed Elizabeth Donnelly), Matthew Hargreaves, Llewellyn Morgan and Eileen Zoratti, assembled and the performance began. The audience was hushed and expectant as the piper, Callum Armstrong, got everyone’s attention. How exciting to hear a real aulos player! The English narrative beautifully echoed the original Latin and set the scene for the Latin extracts. It was entrancing seeing such well-known passages brought to life – acted out and performed in impressively fluent and expressive spoken Latin.

There was a real buzz during the interval while everyone enjoyed welcome refreshments before settling down to the emotional finale of the tale. All too quickly, the performance was over, bows and curtain calls were taken and the audience departed. As they left, we heard an amazing number of compliments on the production. The audience were obviously thrilled by the performance and very glad that they had come.

GCA Summer Talk, 5 June 2019

Llewelyn Morgan

Prof. Llewelyn Morgan from Brasenose College, Oxford on

Aeneas in Italy: both Hero and Villain? 

 On Wednesday 5th June we finally held our delayed Summer Meeting. We are very grateful to Guildford High School for allowing us to use their beautiful new 2016 Hall and to their caterers, who came in specially to serve refreshments before the talk. Our thanks go, too, to Mr Andrew James and the Classics staff for making the arrangements and hosting the talk.

  The talk was well-attended both by Guildford Classical Association members and by staff and students from Guildford Hight School, who all enjoyed it very much. Our speaker was Dr Llewelyn Morgan from Brasenose College, Professor in Classical Languages and Literature at Oxford, who specialises in Roman literature and especially Virgil, Ovid and Horace. Dr Morgan gave a fascinating talk on the subject of ‘Aeneas in Italy: both hero and villain?’ He provided clear and well-evidenced insights into both the character of Aeneas and the way he will have been seen by Augustan audiences. Dr Morgan also pointed out many convincing parallels between the Roman Empire at and just before the time of Augustus and the world of Aeneas in Italy.

  This talk was a very useful precursor to a special event that the Guildford Classical Association and Charterhouse are co-hosting in the Autumn. The Latin Qvarter is coming to Charterhouse on Saturday 5th October to perform their latest production, ‘Of Arms and a Man’, a complete re-telling of the story of the Aeneid with sections of the original Latin (translation available) linked by an English narration. This is both a chance to hear Latin as it was spoken at the time of Augustus and a very powerful and evocative re-telling of the story of Aeneas. It promises to be an evening to remember.


Classical Reading Competition, 2019

On March 7th we welcomed a record number of excited candidates for our annual Classical Reading Competition, which was this year held at St. Catherine’s School in Bramley.  Students from Years 6 to 13 competed in plays, dialogues and solo readings ranging in difficulty according to how long they had been learning Latin or Greek. Numbers of entries from each school have to be limited, to keep the competition within a reasonable timescale, but this popular event regularly attracts around 100 candidates, many of whom return year after year as they progress up the school.

Four experienced judges who are past or serving Classics teachers – this year Stephen Anderson, Christine Elliott, Sarah Parnaby and Phillip Parr – heard the candidates in different sections for Round 1, then a selected few were asked to  read again in the Final round, where the judges made their decision as to order of merit.

We are grateful to St. Catherine’s School for making their premises available for the competition, and for providing tea for all the candidates and accompanying staff and organisers.  We are also indebted to the Classical Association for a grant of money to cover the book card prizes awarded to the winners.

GCSE Conference, 24 January 2019

About a hundred Year 11 students and ten accompanying staff attended the GCSE Latin Conference held at Notre Dame School, Cobham on January 24th 2019 from 2.00 – 4.30 pm. Speakers and GCA  staff were given lunch on arrival.

Our first speaker, on selected lines from Virgil’s Aeneid 4 and 6, was Professor Matthew Leigh, from St Anne’s College, Oxford, a distinguished speaker and good friend of our Association over many years. He spoke virtually without notes  for about ¾ of an hour on the love affair between Aeneas and Dido and his talk provoked many questions from the students.

Students left the theatre for a refreshment break of ¼ of an hour, and returned for a talk focussing on the quite different subjects of ‘Boudica’ and ‘The Druids’. The texts, from the Cambridge Latin Anthology, included extracts from Julius Caesar and Pliny the Elder. The speaker on this rather difficult selection was Dr Dunstan Lowe, from the University of Kent, Canterbury. He projected very interesting images of symbols from Ancient Britain, and his subject matter gripped the attention of his audience, particularly the boys. We hope we may invite Dr Lowe to speak again, which he seems very keen to do. Both speakers distributed useful handouts to the students.

It was pleasing to see so many students benefitting from the GCA’s annual GCSE Latin Conference, in which top class academics provide exam-year GCSE students with deeper insights into the topics they are studying.

6th Form Lecture, 6 November



We were delighted to welcome Prof. Tim Whitmarsh from St John’s College, Cambridge, to speak on the performance of Homer in antiquity. Evidence from The Odyssey has encouraged the view that The Iliad and The Odyssey were invariably sung to a musical accompaniment, but Prof. Whitmarsh presented compelling evidence from various sources for a much more mixed picture, in which performances were commonly given by a rhapsode, without music but with a stick and a cloak as props. The best rhapsodes were the celebrities of their day – famous and wealthy.

The many questions at the end of Prof. Whitmarsh’s talk confirmed that he had captured the interest of the sizeable audience of 6th formers and GCA members.

The GCA is grateful to Mr Ed Bush and RGS for once again providing an excellent venue and facilities, as well as refreshments.

The 2018 Schools Talk on 9 October


Dr Mary Harlow, from the University of Leicester, gave a fascinating interactive talk at Guildford High School on the Roman toga, its significance in Roman society and how it was manufactured.

Dr Harlow brought her talk to life for her audience from GHS and two visiting schools (King Edward’s, Witley and Nonsuch High, Cheam) with a suitcase-full of props, including spun and woven woollen cloth, an array of drop-spindles for children in the audience to try their hand with, a Roman tunic and, of course, a toga – much appreciated in the dressing-up session at the end.

The extraordinary amount of yarn (around 40 km) needed to make a single toga, the likely size of the loom to weave it on (perhaps 5 m) and the total effort involved (approaching 1000 hours) all raise doubts about claims that Roman women in the classical period made togas at home for their menfolk.

Many thanks to Dr Harlow for coming so far to deliver an exciting and memorable talk and for bringing such interesting exhibits. Thanks, also, to Mr Andrew James & GHS for hosting the meeting and to Mr Adam Key from Nonsuch High for bringing additional togas for staff and pupils to try.