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Troy Myth and Reality at the British Museum

20 December 2019

On Monday 10th December, Year 10-13 Classics students set off for the British Museum to explore their critically-acclaimed and much-lauded exhibition – Troy: myth and reality. Whether studying Latin, Greek or Classical Civilisation, there was something for everyone, which had a direct connection with their syllabus. It was a delight to see our 46 students so enthralled and enthused by the many artefacts from Troy, Greece and Rome as well as more modern displays which skilfully demonstrate the influence this world-famous story still exerts on the world today. Nothing comes close to seeing first-hand the pottery studied in class which show elements of the story such as the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the final battle between Achilles and Penthesilea, or the Berlin Painter’s depiction of the duel between Hector and Achilles and it is a thing of joy to see the students quite literally jump up and down in excitement when they recognise these artefacts. There was also a section on the excavation of the site by Schliemann which showed his findings, somewhat misguided suppositions and subsequent conclusions and many of these owl-like ‘face pots’ were a hit with the girls along with impressive storage-jars. Whether myth or reality, the 3 000-year-old story of Troy certainly seems immortal.

After lunch, there was time to explore other exhibitions at the British Museum including the controversial Parthenon Sculptures, which GCSE and A level Classical Civilisation students recognised as showing details of the Panathenaic procession. It never fails to impress when walking behind those imposing pedimental sculptures to see just how much detail is included on the figures never designed to be seen, but which show such skill, craftsmanship and dedication to their religious beliefs.

All the students were an absolute pleasure to take and it was wonderful to see how they embraced this opportunity. It was difficult to decide whose submitted answers on the worksheet with our questions to ponder deserved the prizes. In the end, congratulations go to Millie Bate (Year 13 Class Civ) Eliza Hyde (Year 11 Greek and Latin) and Eloise Evans and Pam Wallace (Year 11 Latin) for their detailed, original and thoughtful observances.

Our Classics students are already looking forward to the next instalment of the Department’s ‘Trilogy of Troy’ with Natalie Haynes’ talk about her latest book A Thousand Ships on the afternoon of 23rd January followed by a movie screening of part of the Hollywood blockbuster Troy to help raise money for the Cambodia Club and then Natalie’s second talk, available to all on The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. If you haven’t already booked your tickets for this evening talk, please do so soon via Eventbrite so as not to miss out!

Mrs Claire Binney, Head of Classics

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