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.

24 April 2017

Lesson 12: How to rule

We warmed up this week by looking at some words and ideas important to Aristotle, and by thinking of English words that come from those words. 

Next, we moved on (or perhaps backwards!) from Aristotle to his teacher Plato, who had some very interesting thoughts about the best ways for society to organise itself. First of all, we matched up various ‘-archy’ (‘rule’) and ‘-cracy’ (‘power’) words to their definitions. 
Timocracy - rule by people called Tim?
Democrat? Plutocrat? Oligarch?

Plato had some very clear thoughts on which systems of rule were better than others, but pretty low down on his list was democracy (behind aristocracy, timocracy and plutocracy). 

Say what?!! Isn’t democracy what we all aspire to?!!

But, perhaps with recent elections and referenda in their minds, several of the class came up with exactly the argument that the great Plato makes: “Some people don’t know what they’re on about and make the wrong decisions.” (Talk about great minds thinking alike!)

Next week, we’ll explore some of the ways in which voters can be biased, and work out whether modern society has the answers.

24 March 2017

Lesson 10: Food for thought... and for eating

"Please don't tell me my existence is meaningless!"
After a quick entree of Latin verbs, we got down to more important matters i.e. solving the mysteries of the universe (with a little help from Aristotle). Recalling our previous lesson (how we use memory and experience to make sense of the world), we explored how Aristotle disagreed with his teacher Plato about how we perceive reality. In Aristotle's world, it's all about experience, and not about some mystical, pre-existing 'ideas' or 'forms'. "Ask questions!" Aristotle urges us. "Ask what things are made of! Ask how they got here! And most importantly, ask WHY they exist!" Cue an epic class debate on the nature of the universe (which Devon has 100% figured out, apparently, but which the rest of us are still struggling with). Anyhow, your "What's The Point Of Flies And Spaghetti Bolognese?" worksheets should make for some interesting dinner conversations this weekend...

Enough of food for thought, let's have some real food for eating. We started the second
Sorry, Romans, not for you
half of our lesson with a quiz to see just what a Roman might have had in his or her kitchen cupboard. No jacket potatoes, popcorn or ketchup for these guys, as all these ingredients were native to South America, a land unknown to the Romans. No sugar either. They had to sweeten their food with fruit juices, fruit syrups and honey. Which we then tasted, along with authentic Roman bread (not to everyone's taste, but Daniel couldn't get enough!), pomegranate, dates and a fresh cheese. On the way out of the lesson, more dates and a recipe sheet of authentic Roman recipes translated from the original Latin of Apicius. Enjoy!

03 March 2017

Lesson 9: Bants!

Lego actually means 'I read' in Latin!
Bants about the imperfect
We're back (finally!) after half-term and INSET, starting with a quick game of Wood Roots Challenge (score = 18), and refreshing our memories about Latin verbs. With boards and markers, we played Quick Fire Verbs, looking at the beginning of the verb to see what is happening, and the end to see who is doing it. If you ever liked Lego (I still do!), you'll love Latin. The two are really similar: just use different 'bricks' (word stems, word endings) to change grammatical information (e.g.person, number, subject/object). Today we learned about a new set of 'bricks' - endings that show the imperfect (the Tense Formerly Known As Past Continuous Or Past Progressive), which translates as 'was .....ing'. 'Imperfectus' in Latin actually means 'incomplete', giving you an idea of the action of the verb being ongoing rather than done and dusted. So, after a verbal run-through of the endings, we played a game of Imperfect Quick Fire Verbs before settling down to an exercise sorting and translating verbs in this tense.

Elephant? Sofa? Sofa made out of an elephant?
Next, a brain-break... or was it? In a visual quiz, we looked at close-ups of objects and tried to work out what the object was. Fun, sure, but what on earth did this have to do with Classics (an excellent question asked by one of the class!)? Well, in working out whether that blue scaly stuff was from a snake, a dragon or a shoe, and in assessing if the brown wrinkly material was a leather sofa or an elephant, we all had to do the same thing: go back into our memories and search through our life experiences. Next week, we'll look at how the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle came up with the idea (radical for its time) that all of our knowledge is based on experience.

09 February 2017

Lesson 8 - Number time

Today we looked at numbers in Latin and in Ancient Greek, and discovered that they're still all around us in the modern world. Firstly, Latin, where we played a game of Word Roots Challenge, trying to find as many English words that come from...
This then led to several of the students asking, puzzedly, "If 'octo' means eight, then why isn't October the eighth month?" Two reasons for the confusion: (1) Romans started their year in March, and (2) these guys inserted their not-immodest egos into our calendars and got rid of the names for months 5 (Quintilis) and 6 (Sextilis).
Julius Caesar (July)

Augustus aka Octavian (August)
For more details behind the months' names, click here. We then turned our attention to Ancient Greek numbers. This time, working in reverse, we used English words as clues to help us work out Greek numerals:

This then led to another discussion about words ending '-athlon' (e.g. triathlon, pentathlon, decathlon): 'athlon' means 'competition' or 'contest' in Ancient Greek, so the number before it denotes how many competitions, or events, there are.

02 February 2017

Lesson 7 - Putting it all together

Today we focused just on our Latin language work, drawing together all of the things we've learned since starting in October.

We know about nouns....

We know about verbs...

We know some vocabulary...

So now, we put them all together, to work with sentences. But remember the number one rule in translating Latin sentences: find the verb (usually at the end), see who is doing the action by looking at the ending, then see what is happening by looking at the rest of the verb. By the end of the lesson, we were happily translating sentences that were four words long.

17 January 2017

Lesson 6 - Dinosaur discoveries

ich bin ein Ohrwurm!
Quite a lot packed into our session today. We warmed up with a game of Quick Fire Verbs: look at the beginning of the verb to see what's happening and the end to see who's doing it. The class has got impressively quick at this - looks like the o-s-t chant has done its job of giving you an earworm! (For more information on earworms - also known as brainworms - have a look here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earworm).

After going through our verbs worksheet, we then talked
about dinosaurs. But this is Classics Club, right? What have dinosaurs got to do with anything? Well, you knew that the word 'dinosaur' meant 'terrible lizard'. We then discovered that this comes from the Ancient Greek 'deinos', meaning 'terrible' and 'sauros', meaning 'lizard'. Many dinosaur names are compounds with their parts coming from Ancient Greek (and the odd bit of Latin). 'Tyrannosaurus rex' means 'king-lizard-king', just in case there was any doubt that he's at the top of the food chain. 'Velociraptor' means 'speedy thief'. And my personal favourite, the brontosaurus, or 'thunder lizard'. We then had a go at synthesising (putting together) compounds to create new dinosaurs. There were some pretty terrifying creatures, with more than two compound parts in many cases! 

09 January 2017

Lesson 5 - verbs, verbs, verbs

Into 2017 with a gear change of time (Monday lunchtime), venue (AG04) and focus of study (verbs). After making extra sure we know exactly what makes a verb a verb ('doing' or 'being'), we took a look at how Latin verbs show you not only what is happening, but who is doing it. Next week, we'll take a look at those verbs in sentences.

What + who = Latin verb

We then took a look at the six present tense endings that tell you who is doing a verb:

Using this verb ending 'code', we then 'cracked' some Latin verbs:

Next week, we'll take a look at those verbs in sentences.