Exam Board Entry Requirements Subject Leader
OCR Grade 5 or above in Classical Civilisation if taken, otherwise Grade 6 or above in English Language and Literature
Mr J Collett

In the Sixth Form Classics becomes even more interesting.  An opportunity, across the two years, to really get into the greatest literature of all, (in translation) as well as studying the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero a philosophical, political and persuasive genius.

 

Epic Poetry 

In Homer’s Iliad striking similes and eye-catching imagery combine to focus on the tragedy of Achilles and his psychotic rage. Like all ancient Greek literature, it speaks to the modern world about life and the lessons of hubris.  

And then there is Virgil’s Aeneid. This epic traces the rise of Rome from the ashes of Troy. Virgil never fails to engage.  T.S. Eliot was indebted to him: John Milton makes him the guide in Paradise Lost. His voice speaks to every generation, not least for those vanquished by others’ victories.  We are privileged, as A level students, to study Virgil, for whom ‘the poetry is indeed ‘in the pity’. 

 

Greek Tragedy & Comedy 

Out of ancient Athens come the tragedians, Sophocles and the younger, more enigmatic, Euripides. Both regularly have their work performed today, much to the enjoyment of our pupils.  Euripides delights in confounding our expectations and asking the deepest of questions. Sophocles terrifies with the bewildering tale of Oedipus destroyed by a dreadful destiny. Poor man! He solves the riddles of others but not his own! As light relief Aristophanes makes us laugh with his absurdities and exaggerations. 

 

Cicero & the Roman Democracy 

We follow Marcus Tullius Cicero’s career as a lawyer and politician with a lifelong concern to protect freedom and democracy against populist politicians. Caught between the formidable challenge of Caesar and Cato, Cicero fought for freedom: forever trying, but mostly failing, to win over the towering figure of Pompey the Great.  So familiar does the politics of his time seem we are reminded of Mark Twain’s observation: ‘history may not repeat itself but it very often rhymes’! 

 

Progression into Higher Education/Vocational Destinations

The literary and historical content of classical civilization means that it goes well with other arts & humanities subjects, particularly history, English, languages and geography. It can also be a counterbalance to more scientific subjects. It is highly regarded by university application officers as a subject demanding the ability to handle and present information in an organised way. Such skills are vital for management roles in any career.