Aim of the course
Studying Latin requires students to become confident linguists as well as critical analysts of the literature written in that language. Students read texts from authors such as Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Livy and Tacitus, and become immersed in the mythical origins of the Roman world as well as its gritty political realities.
Latin provides a chance to learn more about the Romans and their literature, an opportunity to understand the language behind so much scientific and medical terminology and a means of improving one’s understanding of the way languages, both ancient and modern, work.
Students begin by reading a variety of texts to introduce them to the breadth of Latin literature. We look at works by a range of authors, which may include texts written by Caesar, Catullus, Cicero, Petronius or Propertius. There is also an extensive programme of language teaching to help students become confident readers of original texts.
Students focus on five elements that make up the A level:
• Unseen Translation (of nominated authors – Livy for prose and Ovid for verse)
• Prose Composition (translating from English into Latin)
• Prose Comprehension (of texts written by a range of authors)
• Prose Literature (study of prose set texts, which will often be taken from Tacitus’ works)
• Verse Literature (study of verse set texts, which will often be taken from Virgil’s Aeneid)
Students participate in a number of trips, most notably to lectures in London given by subject specialists on the set texts and to plays performed in the ancient languages. The department also loves to take trips abroad – the last trip to Greece was in February 2020.
We encourage students to read beyond the requirements of the exam specifications and to pursue their own interests. We have lists supporting further reading; suggested texts include Mary Beard and John Henderson’s Classics – A Very Short Introduction, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian and Tom Holland’s Rubicon.
The department also has a collection of the Omnibus periodical aimed at those studying classical subjects in the Sixth Form.
Students of Latin have the chance to compete in essay competitions, as well as in the annual Senior Reading Competition run by the local branch of the Classical Association. In addition, students have the opportunity to get involved with our student-led Classics society, Lyceum, as well as take part in our breakfast seminar group, CCC (Classics, Coffee and Croissants).
Four written papers at the end of the Upper Sixth – unseen translation, prose composition or comprehension, prose literature and verse literature.
Please note that Covid may have implications on the way exam boards award grades at this current time.