Sol Day

Sol Day 07Jul2014 – iAuguste and Moi, Auguste – Exhibition and Social Media

A screen at the Moi, Auguste exhibition displaying all the tweets bearing the hashtag #MoiAuguste (C) Classics Collective

A screen at the Moi, Auguste exhibition displaying all the tweets bearing the hashtag #MoiAuguste (C) Classics Collective

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the I, Augustus (Moi, Auguste) exhibition last week at the Grand Palais in Paris, less than a month before the exhibition draws to a close. The organisers have managed to bring together a good collection of items, some reflecting Augustus himself, the majority reflecting the Roman World of the time.

For the current exhibition it is clear that the organisers thought about integrating the presentation of the objects with additional information through an app. Another possible integration was that of our personal experience of the exhibition and the collective experience of it, via the hashtag #MoiAuguste across different platforms of social media. Within the exhibition space at the Clemenceau wing of the Grand Palais, screens displays the Instagram and Twitter feed of the hashtag.

I am aware that the British Museum has invested much energy in promoting a twitter environment for its museum exhibitions, especially the blockbuster exhibitions such as the Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum and the Vikings: Life and Legend exhibitions. It is then often possible that other social media users can see the interactions by searching the hashtag on their social media platform, although I have not been aware of the use of screens to display the relevant social media posts before.

What I did notice is that, in the case of the Moi, Auguste exhibition, the tweets on display stretches back over a week (It displays around 8 tweets). I am unsure if a member of staff controls what tweets filters through but, in any case, this shows a lack of interaction through the social media platforms.

Is it a case of publicity that led to low social media interaction? The display screens and displays promoting social media is present on entry and throughout the exhibition. That seems adequate enough. Short of the staff promoting it to each visitor, the exhibition could not do more to promote the use of social media in relation to the exhibition. Furthermore, the exhibition did not seem to benefit from any city-wide poster campaigns that the British Museum exhibitions enjoyed. Since the hashtag link was placed on every poster promoting the Pompeii and Herculaneum and Viking exhibitions, the public awareness of the possibilities of enjoying the exhibition through social media will be greater.

It is also important to note that the Moi, Auguste exhibition is not at the scale of the Pompeii and Herculaneum and Viking exhibitions. Though the collection of objects is unique, on my visit on a Wednesday afternoon there were a handful of visitors in each room and it was not at all congested. If fewer people visit, then fewer people will interact; even then not all visitors would interact through social media.

Personally, the fact that I was not able to access the free Wi-Fi at the Grand Palais also did not help my use of social media within the exhibition hall. If this is the fault of the Wi-Fi provision (and, of course, it could simply be my phone malfunctioning), then there needs to be a way of ensuring that the internet coverage would facilitate such sharing – especially for us foreign visitors on roaming.

The Grand Palais (C) Classics Collective

The Grand Palais (C) Classics Collective

Once the points above is covered, is there any possibility of encouraging social media users to use it while they are enjoying the exhibition? There’s always a possibility of having a best tweet, photo or post of the day, week or month. The public display of someone’s social media post is also rather gratifying for the person who posted it. Perhaps there can be more structure – a list of questions asking visitors to react to the objects and respond via a linked hashtag. Perhaps this can even be done through an app, with a moderator collating it to then re-post it on the social media platforms. I am sure there are many more possibilities I have not considered here.

Fundamentally, exhibition organisers should also consider why there should be an integration of social media into an exhibition – and perhaps this might be compounded with the greater question of why we have exhibitions. If the purpose is to educate, then does a visitor posting photo of him or her next to an exhibit aid that? If it is for publicity, then is it not a problem if the social media posts are only seen by the visitors in the halls and some keen followers of the exhibition following on social media? And if it is for feedback, then is the format of social media best suited for that?

It is good to see the Grand Palais and other such exhibitors experimenting with social media within the exhibition, but it also seem to be the case that an integrated experience of an exhibition – through social media and through the physical interaction with the exhibition – seem far from mature. The possibilities of relating or being drawn to the exhibition from beyond the hall also seem limited. Perhaps many will be contented with social media providing practical support for visitors (when does the museum open? What is the price?) But surely we, not so much as Classicists but as curious individuals and the presenters of knowledge, can aim for better.


Sunday 01Jun2014

It has been a while! It has been busy, but we hope to bring regularity back to our weekly updates. Here is a round-up of last week’s news in Classics.

In our Sol Day weekly comments post this week, we consider the relation between ancient and modern languages in schools’ curriculum: Ancient Languages and MFL: FML or FTW?

Sunday 01Jun2014 “Ambitious project bids to bring Latin back into the classroom” in Glasgow. <Herald Scotland>: “Maryport Roman settlement: Dig unearths ‘lost harbour'” BBC News: “Most Popular Professions in Ancient Greece” Greek Reporter: Project launch to ameliorate the situation of life after PhD:

    • “Initiative to Assist Ph.D.’s without Permanent Academic Positions” American Philological Association:


  •  The Hortensii project – Tackling the problems facing PhDs without permanent jobs Hortensii:



“Oise: découverte d’un sanctuaire romain exceptionnel” BFMTV: Imitation may not be the sincerest form of flattery…:

    • “China to demolish full-size Sphinx of Giza replica following complaints from Egypt” The Daily Mail:


Sunday’s Supplements – blogs, comments and other occasional pieces

“Why Museums Hate Ancient Coins” CoinWeek:

“Defending the liberal arts at graduation time” by Joy Connolly. American Philological Association:

“Pompeii faces doom (again): Can… EU bail-out save the ancient city from neglect, rain and Mafia?” The Independent:

“Who, What, Why: What language would Jesus have spoken?” BBC News:

“How the Ancient Greeks did wealth taxes” by Peter Jones. The Spectator:

“Top 5 representations of ancient Athens in film and TV” by . Pop Classics:

“Pythagoras: A Mysterious Personality, Religion and the Infamous Theorem” Greek Reporter:

“Mythological Motifs: Tests Set for Men to Win Brides” :

“Photoset: The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece)” by . FOLLOWING HADRIAN:

“Bringing the Classics to life for our students, with Philip Walsh” :

“Laughter in Ancient Rome by Mary Beard, book review” Reviewed by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. The Independent:

“The rise and fall of the Macedonian Empire in pictures” by Ian Worthington. OUPblog:

“The Roman conquest of Greece, in pictures” by Robin Waterfield. OUPblog:

“Lily Allen’s Imperial Ambitions” by . Classically Inclined:


And in Spanish/Y en español:

“Del Foro al Museo. En el bimilenario de la muerte de Augusto” Blog de la Cultura y el Deporte de Andalucía:

“Descubrir la Tarragona romana” La Vanguardia:

“Curiosidades de los nombres romanos.” Ciencia historica:

“El teatro latino” :


Sol Day

Sol Day 01Jun2014 – Ancient languages and MFL: FML or FTW?

It is undoubtedly a good thing that Latin and Ancient Greek are included in the list of subjects eligible for EBacc performance measure. No matter that students must now do a Modern Foreign Language (MFL) subject for GCSE – they can choose Latin!

Why Latin? A student might think: “well there’s no point learning Spanish and Chinese because they all speak English and I have no plans to go to Germany. Besides, I don’t need to speak Latin – Latin doesn’t need to be spoken! #winning #YOLO”

The fact that Latin and Ancient Greek is placed amongst the Modern Foreign Language block is not unsurprising as such. As a student I remember filling out NUS online survey to get my NUS Extra card – the tag line was “Demand extra!” and I was always tempted to demand they put Classics onto a list of subjects that student-members might study. The list have never included Classics and I was always torn between languages and history. Looking at university departments (and even school faculties) I have also observed that Classics is mostly tagged alongside ancient history, sometimes with humanities and sometimes with languages.

Of course, ancient languages as GCSE subjects are different in nature to university courses in Classics. Though the point is debatable, I would still argue that ancient languages at GCSE level focuses on obtaining the foundations of the ancient languages. That is to say that students are learning the language but not quite applying it a great deal to any original product by the speakers and writers of those language and using it as a medium for analysis.

Should it be part of the MFL group? The teaching and learning of ancient languages are fundamentally different. The Chinese (and perhaps we do too) like to consider learning a new language through five sub-categories of reading, writing, listening, speaking and translating. For learners of modern language it is quite clear that the first four skills will have to be practised, with the fifth being an inevitable by-product (though in reality this will depending on the didactic methods). For the ancient languages the emphasis is on translation – though if Lingua Latina per se illustrata is used, then perhaps it appeals more to the reading aspect. Even the Cambridge Latin Course, with a more inductive approach in its heart and a healthy amount of comprehension questions, will require translation skills to be practised.

No language courses will be complete without an understanding of the culture and here, too, the content varies. Yet in reality, the amount of exposure students have towards culture varies so much from teacher to teacher, school to school that it may be difficult to compare. I will also confess that I do not have enough data to make it comprehensive.

In any case, the ancient languages are now, for Department of Education’s intents and purposes, part of this larger MFL family and category. Is it the right decision? To me, it is certainly the most pragmatic way of fitting it into the category. The danger is that the benefit of including the ancient languages within this category is diminished because schools and senior leaders who might be tempted to introduce the subjects into their curriculum, lured as they may be by their EBacc status, are not immediately aware that the two ancient languages are included. It’s not obvious that two allegedly dead languages are “Modern Foriegn Language”, after all.

So why doesn’t the Department of Education just call it “Languages”? Or perhaps “Ancient and Modern Foreign Languages (AMFL)”? You could just about pronounce the last suggestions through its initialism.

Sol Day

Sol Day 25May2014 – Gove set and march

I shouldn’t really be writing this blog today. Around me I have copies of Caesar’s Gallic War, Cunliffe’s detail on Pytheas’ journey and Asterix et Obelix apud Britannos, with some Tacitus to boot. For I thought I will be prepared for the time when Gove speaks to OCR and say: “I hate Homer, and Daily Mail doesn’t like Catullus. Besides, it’s not British. Get working OCR Classics…” nil desperanda Gove duce et que sera sera

Michael Gove’s intervention means three-quarters of the books on the government directed GCSEs, which will be unveiled this week, are by British authors and most are pre-20th century.

Daily Telegraph’s depiction of Gove.

Not that this is likely to happen. Whilst Gove did tell OCR that it was depressing 90% of school boys study Of Mice and Men according to an article in the Daily Telegraph, it could just be that he dislike romanticising labourers and their work. Besides, Gove likes Latin and Greek – he put it on the National Curriculum and promised to roll it out across the state sector, as long as it’s not a free school.

I am still unsure why Gove likes the ancient languages; he certainly showed aptitude in Latin in response to the Education Secretary’s equivalent of how-much-is-your-shopping questions when he was asked in parliament what festina lente meant. There are clues to why he sees ancient languages as beneficial – when speaking about rolling Latin out across the state sector he considered that Latin and Greek should not be the preserve of the independent sector, which suggests that perhaps this should be a way of balancing the discrepancy between state and independent school provision. It cannot be to do with the cultural side, otherwise Classical Civilisation will be included in his flagship EBacc measurement, just as the ancient languages (and the more traditional Ancient History course) are. Perhaps it is to do with developing good grammar, or to do with intellectual exercise – after all the right-leaning think tank Politeia did suggest introducing an element of Latin composition into the GCSE exam. But then the think tank is not Gove, and the suggestion has not been adopted (yet).

The known unknown. This is quite often what we are worried about. The only known known is that Gove is here to stay until the general election, perhaps beyond. The known unknown for us Classicists is why he favours Latin or what he will do in any aspect, particularly our part, of education policy. Could the unknown known be that he is not enhancing the reputation or the spread of Latin at all (and that Latin uptake is occuring in spite of him)? And if the unknown unknown is known, please comment below.

There are strands of philosophy of Gove that each of us is inclined to agree or disagree. But beyond the rhetoric, the assenters and dissenters have little idea how these philosophies will manifest itself when a policy is announced. Beyond that, if a political backlash occur, the end product is anyone’s guess. The most salient example is how the EBacc Certificate qualification became the EBacc measurement of performance. We Classicists know that Gove supports the ancient languages. So far this idea has led to the subjects’ inclusion in EBacc and the primary curriculum as well as a campaign to retrain more non-specialist teachers. But the reduction of PGCE places in Classics next year the fact that trainee teacher of Classics were initially set to have no funding next year due to an oversight is perhaps a worry on Gove’s commitment, if not an indictment on the Department for Education. Either the idea is not being seen through in policy, or there is much hot air being pumped out.

What is partcularly worrying is the subject of Classical Civilisation. The fact that Classical Civilisation is not included in EBacc, the fact that PGCE courses in Classics are to become PGCE courses in Latin with Classics, suggest a heavy emphasis on language but not on culture. As mentioned above, Gove never quite laid out why he favours the ancient language but if the reasons for his support is purely a combination of the fact that public schools offer it and so should state schools, and that we should do language gratia language as a means to developing logic, reasoning and the sort of rhetoric production that he produces, I am worried. I am worried because I am a Classicist, and being a Classicist is so much more than learning culture through Livy or Ovid unseens (which I do enjoy), but a more holistic approach to two, perhaps more, of the greatest civilisations whose origin is in the Mediterranean, the middle of lands. The language is the manifestation of a culture and the teaching of one should come with the other.

In this light, Gove’s meddling of the English syllabus, after he laid out the history curriculum like rounds in a history pub quiz, is worrying. The worrying thing is not knowing what to worry about. To me, the announcement today that Gove has actively commented on a detailed aspect of a syllabus is a surprise. The display of disappointment over studying the John Steinbeck classic is likely a result of his belief in exposing more, perhaps solely, books from the English canon. We know Gove favours the ancient languages but we do not know why – will there be a surprise in store for us as he exerts influence on the Classics curriculum? nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.


Goodbye Mr Lee

The Greek is supposed to say goodbye, I think…

In amongst all the talk on education policy can I just thank my year 10 Classical Civilisation students, who have given me a rather appropriately decorated poster and signed with lovely messages (and ones abusing my football loyalties). You will be missed – good luck in all your future endeavours!




Sol Day

Sol Day 27Apr2014 – #CA14, the physical and the cyber space

We really enjoyed a few days in the sun (and it was mostly sunny… and hilly) at the Classical Association annual conference at Nottingham this year, at 13-16Apr. University of Nottingham’s picturesque campus was the setting for a diverse array of panels. We have fond memories of the various pedagogical sessions and was impressed with the Twitter coverage, so we hope to bring you our thoughts below.


The Programme

But before we do, let us just thank the organising committee for what must have some complex and taxing work, since the conference mostly ran smoothly. There were various innovations from the previous conference, such as roundtable discussions and the change of meal format. The general impression we got from the campus was that delegates were enjoying themselves.

I enjoyed myself too, and it was particularly nice that, on that third time of attending a CA conference, I realise that there are more and more familiar faces. It was good to see fellow Tweeps, old friends from the South West and people interested in pedagogy.

There were things to consider next year. For example, the sit-down service for dinner allow for longer conversations and meeting of new people, but it does mean sitting down from 8-9:30pm in the separate dining halls. The planning of roundtable sessions at the same time as the excursions somewhat defeats the objective of a leisurely break and, for us, made finding a time to visit the book stalls difficult; not to mention the fact that the final morning panel overlapped with the excursions and both cancelled out lunch on the Tuesday. Bus issues from the gala dinner added to that. But then the overall experience for all was positive.

Having been on an organising panel for an annual conference I also know the hard work that is required; I trust that the Classical Association and the Department of Nottingham would not treat the comments above as anything other than the reflection of a conference delegate!

Pedagogy, digital and others

In the absence of much on Greek lyric or Hellenistic poetry, the focus of my visit to Nottingham turned to learning and pedagogy. And there was a good provision of that there.

Monday saw the double-panel “New Approaches to eLearning in Classics”. The six speakers all spoke on a different aspect of pedagogy and/or use of digital means of teaching/learning. Bart Natoli and Mair Lloyd both spoke of the importance of identifying theory and assessing practicalities in the new and old ways we have of teaching Classical knowledge; Mair, James Robson and Simon Mahony all considered the resources available to, and actually used by higher education institute to teach Classics. Sonya Nevin gave an in-depth presentation on one such project, the Panoply project which aims to bring vases to life by, amongst other things, animating them.  Moss Pike spoke about how to add a gaming aspect, a competition element to learning. Finally Andrew Reinhard gave us a round-up of the Classics world in social media. You can revisit the panel through Mair Lloyd’s thorough Storify summaries here: part I and part II.

On Tuesday we also attended a roundtable talk on “Defining Classical Scholarship: The Research/Teaching Interface” (The discussion of the roundtable session can be found through Storify, thanks to Mair Lloyd again). The talks were all really interesting, with Lisa Trentin and Bart Natoli presenting the practicalities and challenges of blending your own learning or research with the students. While Mair Lloyd gives an overview of language teaching at universities, Ben Cartlidge gives a specific example of language teaching through his own work. Nonetheless, what we really enjoyed most is the roundtable element of the session, the discussion and sharing of theories and ideas. This seems to be something that is lacking in Classical pedagogy, at a university level or a school level. Classics Collective wonders whether there could be more events where teaching ideas and theories are discussed and shared, either as part of the Classical Association conference or at an independent event.

We cannot omit the panel on teaching sensitive topics, scheduled amongst the final set of panels. Steve Hunt presented on how Classics, specifically at a secondary school-level, help brings out discussions of the more sensitive topics whilst Ronnie Ancona spoke about making a Catullus edition for schools in the US – how the decision on which poem to include could have repercussions in terms of whether schools would choose to use it.

#CA14 at Nottingham seems to be a bountiful conference in terms of pedagogy, we wonder if #CA15 will be the same?


In another sense we have noted that there is a far greater use of Twitter during the conference. We cannot give specific numbers, but the conference does seem to be the greatest in terms of twitter activity and specifically in terms of live-tweeting.

In terms of live-tweeting, Liz Gloyn seems to be peerless. Liz is also knowledgeable and the author of the live-tweet code. If ever live-tweet summary becomes an art form, researchers will not only consider the thoroughness of her notes, but the skill she must have been equipped for the endeavour. By no means was she alone in live-tweeting, with Kate Cook, Foalpapers and PaullusD and Claire Jackson, amongst others, contributing to the #CA14 hashtag.

Was it useful? There was certainly comments about how the tweets are keeping non-delegates informed of the paper and the proceedings. An empirical study of the functionality of live-tweeting will have to be for another time. In our case, we hope we brought you the right amount of news and updates from Classics Collective anyway, through Twitter, Facebook and our sister blog’s live update page.

Comments at the bottom of the page.




Sunday 27Apr2014

Late April, post CA and post-holiday and we are suffering from some form of cold here at Classics Collective-central. In any case, it has been a while since we last brought you a round-up of news from the previous week and we are very happy to bring you that this week!

We love Greek Myth Comix here at Classics Collective so let us start with The Odyssey Book 9, courtesy to Greek Myth Comix.

Sunday 27Apr2014

Please reply to this consultation concerning the GCSE reforms:

Where Romans lead, problems follow:

  • “Ancient Rome’s tap water heavily contaminated with lead, researchers say” The Guardian:

There are deep-rooted problems facing Rome and a turnaround is swiftly required:

  • “New Mayor in Rome Seeks to Prevent Further Decline in City” DER SPIEGEL:

Some good news in terms of restoration from Pompeii; some not so good news:

  • “Three restored Pompeii domus unveiled” ANSA:
  • “Pompeii “Exposed and Vulnerable” to Neglect and the Elements” acc. to Ingrid D Rowland. National Geographic:

Happy Birthday Rome!

  • Photos – “Legionaries, Gladiators and dances: Imperial Forum re-echoes the birth of Rome” La Repubblica:

Some “before and after” shots and a report on progress on restoration:

  • “Rome’s Colosseum Gets a Badly Needed Restoration” Wall Street Journal:

“HBO developing Ridley Scott series about ancient aliens in Egypt: The A.V. Club:

“Archaeologists hope to discover more Roman writing tablets at Vindolanda Roman Fort” Culture24:

“British Academy fears for humanities in open access world” Times Higher Education:

What would Odysseus think…

Special #CA14 Nottingham supplement

Blog posts

Nottingham – a two-paper booking on my PhD road show” by . Mair’s PhD Odyssey …:

“The Classical Association Conference 2014 – Nottingham” by . Classically Inclined:

“Classical Association 2014 and Beyond the Phalanx” by Sonya Nevin. Panoply Blog:

Storify – tweets collected onto a page

eLearning Part I (with image, tweet)” by . Storify (MairLloyd):

Storify – “ Defining Classical Scholarship (with tweet)” by . Storify (MairLloyd):

: Storytelling, historical authenticity and ‘Three'” by . Storify (UniofNottingham):

“Classical Association – Multifaceted Lucian (with tweet)”  by Cressida Ryan Storify (CressidaRyan):

Storify of the Twitter conversation #latinlangchat, which refers back to #CA14

about ~ 25/4/2014 (with tweet)” Storify ():


Sunday’s Supplements – blogs, comments and other occasional pieces

Darius Arya is posting a series of video reports on Rome:

Ancient beauty tips:

Ancient information technology:

“What Did Byzantine Food Taste Like?” Iris:

“Game of Thrones & Ancient Rome: Part I” Latin Language Blog:

“From Tarsus to Wales: the earliest Greek in Britain?” by Edith Hall. The Edithorial:

“Catiline — redivivus” by . A Don’s Life:

“Double take on Augustus: at the Grand Palais” by A Don’s Life:

“Marcus Aurelius and Junius Rusticus” Stoicism and the Art of Happiness:

“Winnie the Pooh and Aristotle on Nature” History of Philosophy without any gaps:

“Classics Professor and Veterans Read Homer” Dartmouth Now:

“Ancient lives” – Oxford Impacts videos, with Professor Dirk Obbink. University of Oxford:

A worthwhile project is now fundraising so that it could tell the story to the world:

Dates for the diary

 “CSCP Annual Conference” 7Jun. £ CLC:

 workshops for KS2 teachers interested in offering Latin/Greek. :

“Free Taster Day in Latin and Classics” for prospective applicants, 21Jun. Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge:

And in Spanish/Y en español:

“Safo reencontrada” :

“Adriano y su pasión por la cultura griega” National Geographic España:

“Epicuro, un remedio para la crisis” EL PAÍS:

“La mujer romana a comienzos del Imperio” :

“Constantinopla en la Antigüedad Tardía (I)” :

“Hermes, guía de las almas difuntas” :

“La crátera de Nióbides (I): reconstrucción de la pintura griega del período clásico” :

“De la sibila de Delfos a la Virgen de Covadonga” EL PAÍS:

“Mito instantáneo” griegodesiloé:



Sunday 06Apr2014

It’s been a while! It has been so busy in the last week of term that I haven’t really tweeted much. Now that Easter holiday (i.e. flexitime working) has arrived this is the round-up of whatever Classics news we have found, last week.


Sunday 06Apr2014

“Hadrian’s balls-up: University of York red-faced after it uses the wrong Roman emperor in new logo” The Independent:

“Saudi royal family could pay for restoration of Roman monuments” The Daily Telegraph:

“What happened next? As Roman exhibition comes to an end… Norfolk’s role in the fall of the Empire” Eastern Daily Press:

“A Memorial Inscription’s Grim Origins” Virgil on Ground Zero. The New York Times:


Sunday’s Supplements – blogs, comments and other occasional pieces

“Song of the Sirens” by . Armand D’Angour website:

“The Tao of Thucydides” by . Sphinx blog:

“Artefact – Model sailing ship with crew” by . David Allsop Classics:

“Teaching at Royal Holloway – a reflection” by . Classically Inclined:

“Learning to Love…Ovid!” by Elaine Sanderson. A Day in the Life of a Classics Undergraduate:


And in Spanish/Y en español:

Lee: “El mal uso del latín: por favor, no pisen al muerto” ZoomNews:

Lee/Ve: “Las luchas de gladiadores vuelven al Anfiteatro Romano de Mérida” Europa Press:

Lee: “Hipno y Tánato” :