Learning Classics is a bit like putting on a magic pair of 3-D glasses. Once you start delving into the language and the culture, you'll start to see it all around you. This blog is a record of the club's journey through the worlds and language of ancient Rome and Greece... and through modern times, too, searching for the influence of classics all around us. You'll also be able to find vocab, home tasks, links and generally enlightening info here, too.

31 January 2016

Lesson 13 - Cases and comedy

I can't believe how much hard work Classics Club did today. After warming up with some quick-fire present tense verbs (Latin to English and English to Latin), we tackled nouns in the nominative and accusative. To help you remember which case is which, here's that rap I showed you...
Jaszmine tackles cases expertly

We then set about doing quite a tricky exercise, identifying the number (singular/plural), gender (masculine/feminine/neuter) and case (nominative/accusative) of various Latin nouns, alone and in sentences. Here's that table again to remind you of the endings:


The descendants of Aristophanes

After about forty minutes of taxing language work, we started on our journey into the (sometimes strange) world of Greek comedy, tracing its influences on modern comedy. We identified:

  • fantasy choruses, still used by The Muppets
  • satire and social commentary, like in The Simpsons
  • layers of deception, such as Shakespeare uses in many of his comedies

16 January 2016

Lesson 12 - what makes funny funny?

Loads of language work today. We recapped all six present tense verb endings, then went one step further as we synthesised Latin verbs by playing the Flower Game. In teams, we wrote the infinitive in the middle of the flower, rubbed off the 're' and then added the correct 'person' ending. This acted as a warm-up for our first passage of Latin text about a visit to the doctor, where we applied all of our learning so far: verb endings, noun genders and case endings, and a bit of adjectival agreement. Plus a new skill: using a gloss to help with words we'd never seen before.

That was forty minutes of pretty hard graft, so you all deserved what came next. We're about to tackle Menander's Dyskolos ('Grumpy Old Man'), but to help frame our work, we had a think about what makes stuff funny. Three theories:

1) Social bonding - laughter brings a group together. Not only do we all like a good in-joke, but even the very act of laughter unites us. This footage managed to raise a few laughs in the classroom...

2) Schadenfreude, or enjoyment at others' misfortune/pain. When your mate wipes out and lies groaning on the floor, it's sometimes hard to suppress that chuckle. Some psychologists think this reaction may be an instinctive relief at bad things happening to someone else instead of us. Many of us (definitely me, I have to confess!) find humour in other people's physical or social misfortune. You've Been Framed would be out of business if we didn't. Here's a classic clip of how funny it can be when someone else hurts themself and looks a right idiot in the process...

3) Incongruity & the unexpected: weird situations and surprising people. Sometimes, things are funny simply because you're not expecting them. Who would think that this disruptive, rude, 'am-I-bothered?' pupil could do what she does at the end of this clip?...
So, have a think about what makes you laugh and we'll see next lesson if it's the same as the ancient Greeks. See you all in two weeks (next week's an INSET).

08 January 2016

Lesson 11 - Six persons and some drama

Into 2016 with a gear change in our language work. After a recap of what we already know/can just about remember through the haze of turkey, presents, crackers etc., we took a look at all six present tense endings. What a neat and compact thing a Latin verb is - in one word, you can learn what's happening, who and how many are doing it and when the action happened. We learned to look at the the beginning of the word to see what's happening, and at the end of the word to see who's doing it. And the six present tense endings we learned were:

...and we then put our knowledge to good use in an exercise translating different versions of the verbs orare (to pray), cantare (to sing), salutare (to greet) and laborare (to work) into English and then into Latin. More of this next week.

Next, on to our topic for this half term - Greek drama. We took a video quiz on Ancient Greek theatre, and if there were any answers you missed, here's the video...