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100 GCSE and A-Level Students attend the Hub's second annual Classical Civilisation Conference

The Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building

Professor Momigliano on the 'Homeric World'

The organisers, volunteers, and interns

13 March 2019

On 7 March, the Bristol Classics Hub hosted its second annual GCSE and A-Level Classical Civilisation conference. The programme was tailored to current exam specifications for those studying Classical Civilisation, but was also designed to appeal to those studying Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient History, or those interested in studying a classical subject at university.

The Bristol Classical Hub was delighted to welcome 100 students from 10 different schools across the South West and Wales to the heart of the University, the Wills Memorial Building. After an introductory talk in the Great Hal, GCSE and A-Level students were split up, and each enjoyed a separate ‘strand’ of the conference.

The GCSE day began with a lecture by Dr Hannah-Marie Chidwick on ‘War and Warfare’, where students learned that army recruitment today is not all that different from army recruitment in the Roman Empire. Dr Lyndsay Coo followed with a lectured on ‘Women in the Ancient World: Women to be feared’. She suggested that sisters in Greek tragedy allowed society to explore the level of danger posed by more than one woman acting rebelliously. After a short Q&A with current students about studying classics at university and a break for lunch, the theme turned to myth. Dr Vanda Zajko kicked off the afternoon by asking what do we mean by myth? / What constitutes myth-making? Is it a story, a mashup? This was followed by a student-led workshop on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, which rounded off the day with lots of creative discussion and lively interaction.

A-Level students, meanwhile, began with a talk by Professor Patrick Finglass on Greek tragedy and the myths that inspired it. Professor Fingalss showed how Greek tragedy is still with us today, and that plays from two thousand years ago still speak to us about relationships, migrations, rights. Then, much as the Greeks did during their dramatic festivals, the tone shifted to the comedic, as Dr Paul Martin led a lecture on how comedy loves to make judgements about tragedy, and what this can tell us about how an ancient audience received culture. A-Level students were then able to talk to current undergraduates and postgraduates about university life and what encouraged them to study Classics. The afternoon sessions took the form of an epic, with Professor Nico Momigliano taking students on a journey through the ‘Homeric World’, including its language and artefacts, before discussing the question of Homer’s existence, whether Homer was more of a culture and theory than a person. Dr Edwin Shaw concluded the journey with a lecture on Virgil’s Aeneid. In the lecture, Dr Shaw discussed the wider cultural relevance of the Aeneas narrative in Augustan Rome as a means to think about the distinctive nature of Virgil’s version.

A taste of what went on during the day can be seen on our Twitter feed, where we live-tweeted quotes and images from the lectures. A big thank you to Penelope Kolovou (a visiting Erasmus+ Staff member from the University of Bonn) for her help with this promotional work. Thanks also to all our volunteers, interns, and our funders (Classics for All and the IGRCT). The conference would not have been possible without generous support on all fronts. A final thanks to the students who attended and provided valuable feedback. It has been a pleasure hearing how the day inspired a number of attendees to consider studying classics and ancient history at university.

Stay tuned for details of next year’s conference.

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