Classics presentations prove popular!

Friday 1 March 2024

Students and teachers were treated to fascinating presentations this week by sixth-form Classics students on topics ranging from Sparta and the Olympic games to Roman society at the end of the Republic and Mithraism. 


Year 13 students Catherine Harness, Caitlin Illston and Lucy Waterfield recently attended a Classics conference at Newcastle University and they were keen to cascade their findings.  “It was a wonderful opportunity for them to delve into these topics at Newcastle University,” said Classics teacher, Ms Roxby.  “The presentations in College helped build their confidence in public speaking and thinking on their feet when asked challenging questions.” 


Ms Roxby also praised the girls for their excellent knowledge: “They used their in-depth understanding of the subject to speak from memory without the use of scripts.” 


Lucy chose to do her presentation on Augustan propaganda and Virgil’s Aeneid, which explores themes of loyalty to family, country, and their gods.  She talked about Tu Marcellus Eris, a painting from 1812 by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres depicting the relationship between Augustus and his family.  Lucy spoke about the significance of this painting, as it shows how propaganda is not always negative and that, even centuries after Augustus’ rule, his actions continued to exercise influence.  A brilliant example Lucy cited was the development of the Roman Forum which established a strong link between the two leaders, Augustus and Caesar. 


Catherine spoke passionately on ‘The mysteries of Mithras’, exploring the secrecy of an ancient cult that had interesting initiation methods that acted as a rebirth into a new life as a member of the Cult of Mithras and the mysterious images that were left throughout ancient Rome and even Hadrian’s Wall. 


She was put on the spot with a question about the possibility that the cult could have threatened governmental power.   This was met with a very knowledgeable response about how the leaders of the cult were already influential people within society – she’d certainly done her homework on the topic! 


The presentations were highly engaging and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who dropped by to listen.  College Principal, Mr Waterfield, joined the presentations and shared his knowledge on the Roman Empire and how, in recent years, leaders like Mussolini had repurposed the propaganda and used them for his own means. 


Year 12 student Fabian Iliffe said: “I was impressed not only by their knowledge on the subjects but also by how interesting and in-depth the researched topics were.  It has even inspired me to do my own research on their projects.”