Welcome to the Guildford Classical Association. This site is intended to publicise forthcoming events and deliver other news to our Classicist friends. You can also contact the association using the “Contact” page above.
Anyone is welcome to attend our public events, and to join the association for our newsletters, network and free entry to all our events.
It is not possible to hold this as a live event n the current circumstances. We shall instead provide recorded lectures that teachers can use with their pupils when and how they wish. Links to these lectures will be sent out to GCA members by 28 January. There will be no charge to members or their schools for these lectures.
Professor Philip Hardie, Trinity College, Cambridge, President of the Virgil Society, on Virgil : Aeneid 2. Lines 506 – 558; 705 – 740; 768 –794.
Dr Dan Hogg, Head of Classics, Cranleigh School and a Keynote speaker, on The prose texts from the Cambridge Latin Anthology: Tacitus: Germanicus and Piso; Pliny: Regulus.
On Tuesday 13th October the GCA hosted our second virtual session, a brilliant and captivating talk from Caroline Lawrence, author of the much-loved Roman Mysteries series of novels, amongst other titles.
Caroline enthralled our audience, first with an insight into the origins of her desire to be a writer and the inspiration she found in Mary Renault, and later into the elements, both literal and conceptual, that make her characters, and other characters throughout literature and film, so fascinating. It was entertaining to see so many of our favourite stories from mythology and popular culture broken down into just seven ‘Plot Beats’ and the way our audience had engaged with Caroline so enthusiastically was borne out in the thought-provoking and wide-ranging question and answer session at the end.
We would like to extend our thanks again to Caroline for enriching our evenings and just as Nancy Drew was such an inspiration in Caroline’s childhood, we feel sure that Caroline’s Flavia will now become an empowering role-model to even more young readers after tuning in to such a wonderful talk.
We are delighted to welcome Professor Llewelyn Morgan, Brasenose College, Oxford, as President of the Guildford Classical Association.
Prof. Morgan was already well known to the GCA, having delivered the 2019 Summer Talk, Aeneas in Italy: both Hero and Villain? and starred in The Latin Qvarter’s production of The Song of Arms and a Man, hosted by the GCA at Charterhouse in October 2019 (see earlier posts).
His first appearance as President was as MC and questionmaster at the GCA’s first virtual meeting, with Natalie Haynes on Pandora’s Jar – women in myths, stories and legends, and we look forward to welcoming him at many other GCA events.
The GCA’s first ever virtual meeting proved to be very popular and was a great success, thanks to a brilliantly engaging performance by Natalie Haynes, whose knowledge and enthusiasm shone throughout a talk that was, as anyone who has heard Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics on Radio 4 would have expected, both informative and entertaining.
The GCA’s new President, Prof. Llewelyn Morgan, who has appeared with Natalie in several of her radio programmes, conducted a lively Q&A session, including a selection of the questions submitted by the webinar’s large audience.
Natalie’s talk focussed on Medusa and (at a request from the audience) Medea, and offered her own fresh and thought-provoking take on these characters from myth. Many more women from myth and legend are featured in Natalie’s new book Pandora’s Jar.
We are pleased to announce that, although we have had to cancel our programme of physical meetings until further notice, we are able to resume activities online, and will be staging as much of the usual programme as possible in the 2020/21 season.
We begin the season with our usual September Opening Party, but this time as a webinar. We apologise to anyone who finds themself unable to use this format, but hope that it will enable many others who would not have been able to get to Guildford for a live event to join us.
We will post further information as the season proceeds.
It was the turn of Charterhouse this time to host our annual Reading Competition on March 12th. Although overall numbers were slightly down this year, we heard a good balance of candidates in each of the eight Sections. The passages chosen for the different age groups (Years 6 – 13) reflect the length of time the students have been learning Latin or Greek; there is a short play and lively dialogues for the junior classes, and solos from Greek and Latin literature for senior candidates.
Our experienced judges give up their time each year to share with us their expertise and encourage the students to improve their pronunciation and expression: theirs is not an easy task to judge between the good and the outstanding. This year the standard was very high and competition fierce. We are especially grateful to Miss Sarah Parnaby and Mr Jeremy Antrich who worked exceptionally hard to compensate for the absences of two colleagues through illness.
We congratulate all the candidates who practised diligently with their teachers to give a polished performance, in recognition of which everyone received a certificate – a smart new design for 2020. The very best received a substantial book token as a prize, and we extend our thanks to the Classical Association for their financial support in making this possible.
We also thank our hosts, Charterhouse, for making rooms available to us and for the provision of very welcome refreshments at half-time. We had a great afternoon!
Some of the winners of the 2020 Classical Reading Competition
We held our annual GCSE Latin Conference on Thursday, January 16th at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. This proved a satisfactory venue and, despite some problems with the sound system, most people could hear the speakers without difficulty. Talks started at 2pm and continued till about 4.30 with a refreshment break between the two. Five schools attended (one for the Virgil lecture only – selected lines from Aeneid 2.) Total student numbers were over 70 with about a dozen accompanying staff.
Our speakers were both from Nottingham University: Professor Helen Lovatt on Aeneid 2 and Dr Simon Malloch on Tacitus’ Germanicus and Piso and Pliny’s Regulus. Professor Lovatt used an informal style – moving among students and asking them questions, whereas Dr Malloch spoke from the lectern. The students engaged with both and asked relevant questions.
Our Secretary and Treasurer took our speakers to lunch before the meeting and refreshments were provided for all during the interval. My thanks go to our Membership Secretary, Marian Wernham, for helping organise this event.
We were very excited to welcome top-selling author Ben Kane to speak to our local students and GCA members about Hannibal last Tuesday. We had heard that Ben was not only a brilliant writer but also a charismatic speaker, and he did not disappoint. He gave his talk dressed as a hastatus (front-line Roman soldier) and brought replica Roman military equipment with him for the audience to see and try on. The students were fascinated to hear what minor players the Romans were at the start of the first Punic War and spellbound by Ben’s descriptions of Hannibal’s campaigns. Ben in turn was impressed by the number of thoughtful and intelligent questions at the end.
The talk was over all too soon, and the audience were left impressed by the depth and breadth of Ben’s knowledge.
The GCA is extremely grateful to Mr Andrew James and the Classics Department at Guildford High School for hosting this event and to the caterers for the excellent tea.
Professor Emeritus Chris Carey on Thermopylae revisited
For the talk at our 2019-20 Opening Party we were delighted to welcome back Professor Emeritus Chris Carey from UCL. Professor Carey specialises in Greek literature, especially early Greek poetry, oratory and drama, and gave us a very interesting lecture on Thermopylae, the subject of his recently published work ‘Thermopylae: Great Battles’.
Prof Carey provided insights into the battle through readings from Herodotus, Pausanias and Plutarch. He brought the history to life and drew in the audience with his own fascination in the retelling of the great battle between the Greeks and the Persians. His illustrations of the Hot Gates and the Isthmian corridor allowed the audience to see the past in a modern context whilst analysis of the geological and geographical implications of the battle gave him the opportunity to establish the intentions of the fighting for both sides. As Professor Carey admits, there remain lots of interesting problems with Thermopylae; nevertheless, he provided us with a clear perspective on one of the most important battles in history. The talk was well-attended both by Guildford Classical Association members andby staff and students, and the many questions at the end showed how interesting they had found the talk.
We are, as ever, grateful to RGS Guildford for providing the venue and refreshments, and our thanks go to Mr Ed Bush and the Classics staff for making the arrangements and hosting the event.