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

This course aims to give an in-depth understanding and appreciation of some very interesting ideas and people from ancient Greece and Rome. It develops skills of analysis, evaluation and written communication. The course is split into three Units.

 

Unit 1: The World of the Hero

This Unit covers two works. The first, The Iliad, is probably the best known tale from ancient times. The Iliad is an epic poem about the long and catastrophic struggle between Greeks and Trojans around the walls of Troy (or Ilium). The Olympian Gods even take sides for and against the doomed city. This literary study focuses on what makes it such a compelling story, how it was composed in a world without writing and what it meant to be a Hero fighting at Troy. Many memorable scenes stay in the mind long after closing the book.

The second, The Aeneid, is a study of Rome's answer to the Iliad; in other words, an epic poem that tells of the war at Troy, but moves on to describe how Rome arose from Troy’s ashes. A new kind of Hero emerges whose name was Aeneas: we examine how he was role model for the moral and social values Romans believed in. Again we examine what makes the epic such a compelling story, not least in the case of one of the most famous love stories of all literature, when Aeneas falls in love with the beautiful Queen Dido.

 

Unit 2: Culture and the Arts

Modern theatre and drama owes its invention to ancient Athens. We study how Athenian theatre design has such an impact on the modern theatre: with the help of much visual material we examine how they used space and stage techniques for maximum effect. In addition, we study three of the most famous plays to come out of ancient Athens, which are regularly performed in London today. Two are Greek Tragedies, exploring what happens to people caught up in a hideous train of events: events caused by what we call circumstance but which the Greeks called Fate & the Gods. By contrast the third is a Comedy that regularly raises much laughter from modern audiences.

 

Unit 3: Beliefs and Ideas

“Give me any jury court in the world and I will have them believing midnight is midday”. So boasted Marcus Tullius Cicero, the most powerful speaker in the ancient Roman law courts. We would believe him over the evidence of our own eyes, if we heard Cicero speak. How he was so persuasive we discover by studying the famous speech in which he destroyed a “mafia boss” of his time; we look at the techniques and sheer emotional power of Cicero’s word wizardry or rhetoric as it is more properly called. As a politician we see him take on the power players of his time: the dictator Julius Caesar and the even more frightening Antony. This study of political history comes very close to the pattern of our own times. Cicero fought for democracy, his enemies sought his elimination. We read his letters to his friends and his enemies and we admire his courage and determination. Your meeting with Cicero will not leave you untouched; he is an inspiring figure and you will be inspired.

 

Assessment

The public exams consist of essay questions and short answer questions based on extracts from texts or visual material. There is no coursework.

 

 

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.