Classical Studies

Classical Studies

Introduction

Classics may be defined as the study of ancient Greece and Rome without the study of the classical languages Greek and Latin. Students gain an in-depth knowledge of important aspects of both Greek and Roman civilisation, and an understanding of their formative and enduring influence on the rich cultural tradition of Western Europe. The subject combines elements of several disciplines: literature, ancient history, art history and philosophy.

What is the value of Classical Studies?

Classics is a subject of significant intrinsic merit and also teaches invaluable analytical and written skills which are crucial in today’s world. Classics introduces us to the high points of Western civilisation and allows us to examine some of the greatest works of the human intellect and creative genius.

We walk in the footsteps of countless generations who have learned to navigate the future more confidently by reflecting on the past. Classics teaches students to think analytically and independently. It also helps students to improve and develop their written skills. No matter what aspirations you have for the future, no matter what professional or career path you choose to follow, you will need to be able to think, speak and write clearly, logically and critically.

Classics not only opens our eyes to the outstanding achievements of the ancient world, enriching us personally and taking us to a world beyond our immediate and daily concerns, but also helps us to develop and hone skills that are crucial for both future study and professional life.

Is Classical Studies for you?

If you are interested in the humanities, and enjoy subjects like History, English, Languages, Music and the Arts, you may like to consider Classics. Humanities subjects provide excellent preparation for students thinking about careers in law, politics, government, diplomacy, academia, teaching, journalism, publishing, the media and communications, and in any of the creative professions.

If you are thinking of studying Latin at senior levels, then you should definitely think about taking Classics as well. Latin and Classics are an excellent fit. Latin will enable you to focus on the language and literary aspects of original Latin texts, while Classics will give you the wider historical, social, political, artistic and literary background, and enable you to read Greek and Latin texts in translation. Latin students who take Classics as well, will also gain an insight into the civilisation of ancient Greece which underpins and influences so much of Roman literary and artistic achievement. Some of our top scholars in recent years have studied both Latin and Classics.

If you are thinking of embarking on a mainly scientific or commerce pathway, with a view to a career in medicine, engineering, technology or business, do not underestimate the value of taking at least one, or perhaps two, subjects at some point in the Senior School that will encourage you to step outside your comfort zone.

Classics will introduce you to a very rich, invigorating and fascinating world beyond the perimeters of a strictly professional or career focussed course. A more holistic approach to learning at School is likely to be more beneficial to you, both personally and in your chosen profession, than you may envisage at this point. Many successful doctors, scientists, engineers, and businessmen among our Old Boys speak of the significant advantages gained from including a subject like Classics among their subject choices in their final years at School..

Form 5 (Pre-Q):

Recommended Achievement Levels: Students averaging over 60% in Form 4 English examinations or 50% in Latin have an appropriate achievement level to study Form 5 Classics. Students who do not fulfill this requirement should apply to the Head of Department to discuss admission to the course on a case-by-case basis.

Description: The course is open to ALL students, whether they intend to follow a Cambridge (AS/A Level) or NCEA (Level 2, Level 3) pathway in the Senior School.

The course will provide an excellent foundation for students wishing to study EITHER Cambridge AS/A2 Classics or NCEA Levels 2 and 3 Classics in Forms 6 and 7, but will also be a valuable introduction to the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome for those interested in taking the subject for one year only.

Students will still be able to take up AS/A Level Classics and NCEA Levels 2 and 3, in Forms 6 and 7, without taking Classics in Form 5, although students interested in taking the subject at higher levels are encouraged to take it from Form 5.

Course Outline: The Form 5 course will introduce students to the civilisations of both ancient Greece and Rome. The course content may vary from year to year but will generally include a selection of at least four of the following areas of study:

  • Myths and Legends, Gods and Heroes, drawn from the literature and art of both Greece and Rome
  • Conflict, crisis and the quest for personal power in the final years of the Roman republic (including the role of the Roman legions and the careers of Pompey the Great and the most famous Roman of them all - Julius Caesar)
  • The contrasting worlds of 5th century BC Athens and Sparta, set against the background of the Persian Wars, 490-479BC (including the Battles of Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis) • Selected examples of the awe-inspiring artistic and architectural wonders of the classical world
  • The life and career of the most famous Greek of them all - Alexander the Great

Methods of Assessment: School Examinations:

  • 1 x 1 hour examination
  • 1 x 2 hour examination
  • 1 x 3 hour examination (Pre-Q)

The Form 5 course, in terms of content and focus, is specifically designed with Auckland Grammar students in mind. Form 5 Classics leads seamlessly on to our current Cambridge (AS/A level) and/or NCEA courses in Forms 6 and 7. The Form 5 course will be assessed by written examination.

Continuation of Classical Studies: Upon completion of the Form 5 course, students may opt to take EITHER Cambridge AS Classics OR NCEA Level 2 Classics (depending on their individual assessment pathway), if they continue with Classics in Form 6.

Form 6 (NCEA Level 2):

Recommended Achievement Levels:

  • Students averaging over 60% in Form 5 Classics, English or History examinations, or over 50% in Latin, have an appropriate achievement level to study Form 6 Classics.
  • Students averaging 45-60% in Form 5 English may find Form 6 Classics difficult.
  • Students averaging under 45% in Form 5 English are not recommended to take Form 6 Classics.

Description: Students will explore a range of topics within the perimeters of the achievement standards set out below. At present, topics include Homer's Odyssey, the political and social life of ancient Rome in the time of Julius Caesar and the Art of Pompeii and Herculaneum. We also examine the life and career of the most famous Roman of them all, Julius Caesar. From time to time specific topics may vary. Students will be advised of any topic changes on a timely basis.

Course Outline: The course currently comprises the following Level 2 achievement standards:

  • AS91200 - Examine ideas and values of the classical world - Homer's Odyssey [4 credits, External]
  • AS91201 - Examine the significance of features of work(s) of art in the classical world - Art of Pompeii and Herculaneum [4 credits, External]
  • AS91202 - Demonstrate understanding of a significant event in the classical world - Death of Julius Caesar [4 credits, Internal]
  • AS91203 - Examine socio-political life in the classical world - Roman social and political life in the age of Julius Caesar [6 credits, External]
  • AS91204 - Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between aspects of the classical world and other cultures [6 credits, Internal]

Methods of Assessment: Form 6 Classics will be assessed through a combination of internally assessed and externally-examined NCEA Level 2 achievement standards, making a total of 24 credits.

Continuation of Classical Studies: Upon completion of Form 6, students may opt to take Level 3 Classics.

Form 6 and 7 (AS):

Pre-requisites: D grade or higher in any Pre-Q or Cambridge AS Humanities subject e.g. Classics, English, History or a language. Students who do not fulfill this requirement must apply to the Head of Department for admission to the course.

Recommended Achievement Levels: Students averaging over 60% in Form 5 Classics, Form 5 and/or Form 6 English or History examinations have an appropriate achievement level to study Cambridge AS Classics.

Description:We explore two Greek topics (Attic Old Comedy; Socrates) in the first half of the year and two Roman topics (Augustus; Virgil) in the second half of the year. Students are introduced chronologically to important aspects of 5th/4th Century BC Greek history, social life, values, entertainment and philosophical thought, through the eyes of the great comic playwright Aristophanes, and in an examination of the life and ideas of the Greek philosopher Socrates, through the writings of his student Plato.

The Roman topics transport us to a crucial period in Roman history, the last years of the First Century BC and the first few years of the First Century AD. The death of Julius Caesar signals the death of the republic. With the rise to power of Augustus, we witness the beginnings of empire. The greatest of the Roman poets ,Virgil, a contemporary and friend of Augustus, imbues his story of the Trojan hero, Aeneas, father of the Roman people, with universal themes that have resonated deeply with audiences from Virgil's own day to our own.

The course offers an excellent introduction to high points of both Greek and Roman civilisation and provides a superb foundation for Cambridge A Level Classics.

Course Outline: The course currently comprises the following four topics:

  • Attic Greek comedy: Aristophanes' Wasps and Frogs
  • Socrates: The ideas, philosophy, and character of Socrates
  • Augustus: The career and achievements of Rome’s first emperor
  • Virgil's Aeneid: The epic story of the Trojan hero Aeneas fleeing Troy and founding a new nation in Italy

Methods of Assessment: Cambridge AS Classics involves two 1.5 hour examinations -one on the Roman topics (Augustus, Virgil) and one on the Greek topics (Comedy, Socrates). Each topic has various assessment options - long essay or short essays or textual analysis involving short and paragraph answers. Coursework during the term will involve practice in all these options. There is no formal internal assessment component.

Continuation of Classical Studies: Those students in the Form 6, upon completion of the Cambridge AS course, may opt to take Classics at Cambridge A Level.

Form 7 (NCEA Level 3):

Pre-requisites: Form 5 or 6 Classics or Junior Latin are desirable, but not essential.

Recommended Achievement Levels:

  • Students averaging over 60% in Form 6 Classics, English or History examinations have an appropriate achievement level to study Level 3 Classics.
  • Students averaging 45-60% in Form 6 Classics, English or History examinations may find Level 3 Classics difficult.
  • Students averaging below 45% in Form 6 Classics, English or History examinations are not recommended to take Level 3 Classics.

Description: Students will explore a range of topics within the perimeters of the achievement standards set out below. At present, topics include the career and achievements of Rome's first emperor, Augustus.

We focus on his rise to power and revolutionary transformation of Rome into an empire, by ruthlessly employing all the means at his disposal: civil war, violence and intimidation, bribery, political office, propaganda - even his own family and friends.

We also study some of the greatest works of Roman architectural and engineering genius, including the Colosseum, the Pont du Gard and the Pantheon; and we meet many of the major Roman gods and goddesses in Virgil's epic masterpiece the Aeneid, which tells the story of the Trojan hero Aeneas who flees from Troy to find a new home in Italy and becomes the father of the Roman people.

Course Outline: The course comprises the following Level 3 achievement standards:

  • AS91394 - Analyse ideas and values of the classical world - Virgil's Aeneid [4 credits, External]
  • AS91395 - Analyse the significance of work(s) of art in the classical world - Roman Art and Architecture [4 credits, External]
  • AS91396 - Analyse the impact of a significant historical figure on the classical world - Augustus [6 credits, External]
  • AS91397 - Demonstrate understanding of significant ideology(ies) in the classical world - political messages through Roman Art and Architecture [6 credits, Internal]
  • AS91398 - Demonstrate understanding of the lasting influences of the classical world on other cultures across time - Experience of War [6 credits, Internal]

Methods of Assessment: NCEA Level 3 will be assessed through three externally-examined Achievement Standards and two internally-assessed Achievement Standards, providing a total of 26 credits. The coursework mark on School reports is derived from several assessment tasks each assessment cycle.

Form 7 (A2):

Pre-requisites: AS Classics - students who have not taken Cambridge AS Classics may not enter for the Cambridge A2 Classics course.

Recommended Achievement Levels:

  • Students who gain an A to a good D grade in Cambridge AS Classics will be admitted to this course.
  • Students who gain a low D grade in Cambridge AS Classics must consult with the HOD Classics to gain admittance to this course.
  • Students who gain an E grade or Ungraded result in Cambridge AS Classics will not be admitted to this course.

Description: A2 Classics gives students the opportunity to go deeper in discovering and uncovering the riches of the ancient world through the critical analysis and interpretation of its literary texts, studied in their own contemporary contexts.

The course of study progresses naturally from the topics studied in the AS Classics course. The texts studied will range from epic poetry to ancient plays and histories, and students will be expected to read widely around the topics, in addition to the primary and secondary set texts.

Course Outline: The course comprises the following two papers:

  • Gods and Heroes - the Importance of Epic: this topic focuses on the behaviour of gods and heroes in epic poetry, and on the nature of the epic hero (Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; Virgil's Aeneid). Students critically analyse and draw conclusions from their reading about the three central heroes, Achilles, Odysseus and Aeneas. Their exploration will include: the role and world view of each hero within his society; his relationships with the gods and with other significant figures in his world; and how the depiction of the hero may reflect each poet's purpose, message and major themes. Students will be expected to write critically about all three poems in the final examination.
  • The Changing World of Athens - its Friends and Enemies: this topic focuses on the development of Athens from 510-404 BC as a state, and the response of its citizens to the challenges of the period. Students are introduced to the works of the two greatest ancient Greek historians, Herodotus, often called the Father of History, who wrote about the Greco-Persian Wars which took place in the early part of the 5th century BC and Thucydides, whose masterpiece History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the great conflict between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies (431-404BC), in which Thucydides himself fought and which finally brought Athens to her knees. We also read the comic poet Aristophanes' Acharnians for his unique take on the Peloponnesian war.

Methods of Assessments: Students will sit two 1.5 hour external examinations, one on each of the above papers. In both examinations, two extracts from the prescribed texts will be provided, together with an unseen extract from a primary or secondary author.

Candidates will be required, in essay form, to analyse and assess all three passages critically and also to draw on their wider reading from the course to answer the examination question. There is no internal assessment component to this course.

If you would like to learn more about, or discuss in more detail, any of the Classics courses outlined below, please feel free to see Mrs Hay-Mackenzie (HOD, Classical Studies) in C2 or email f.hay-mackenzie@ags.school.nz.