Latin & Greek for young and old.


Report on the JACT Greek and Latin Summer School, held at St. John’s College Durham, 18th – 25th July 2015


The twenty second summer school at Durham was attended by a record number of 106 students, with the usual mixture of young and old (16-91) which gives this summer school its distinctive atmosphere. We again enjoyed a mostly trouble free week and although there was a request for it to be held in the summer next year, the weather was suitable for both study and excursions, with just a few short showers at Housesteads.


The College

This was our twelfth year at St. John’s College and we were given the usual very warm welcome. The conference assistants were, as always, extremely helpful. We are most grateful to all St John’s staff for their contribution to the success of the week. The catering staff deserve special thanks for keeping us so well fed. The new block of 38 rooms with en suite facilities was quick to sell out again.

Students are encouraged to visit the magnificent cathedral which is very close to St John’s and we have a guide to the building in Latin and a quiz on some of the Latin (and Greek) inscriptions. Peter Rhodes has also given us his guide to the castle in Latin.



The Beginners and first Intermediate groups were working from Reading Latin and Reading Greek (2nd ed.). The higher Intermediate Latin group read passages from Cicero, de amicitia and Horace Satires 1.6. The parallel Greek group used Reading Greek (2nd ed) and read Thucydides from the new edition of The Intellectual Revolution. There were two advanced groups for each language this year. One Greek group read Homer, Iliad 14 and the second half of Sophocles’ Ajax while the other read the opening scenes of Frogs and a selection of Greek lyric poetry. Next year texts are likely to include Odyssey 5 and Hippolytus. One Latin group read selections from Pliny’s Letters and Tibullus Book 1, and the other passages from Ovid, Tristia 2 and Tacitus, Annals 1.

We have been fortunate to welcome four new tutors, Cate Murray, Ian Goh, Christy Lowe and Crystal Addey while Janet Watson, Pavlina Saoulidou, Gordon Cockburn, Viv Ellis, Peter Jones, Samantha Newington and Adrian Spooner all returned. To all the tutors I am immensely grateful. They are always prepared to help students and, indeed, to turn their hand to almost anything. Through their enthusiasm, experience and willingness to support each other, they are the driving force that makes the Summer School a success. We are sorry that Viv Ellis is to retire for family reasons and we offer her special thanks for her stalwart support and dedication over so many years. Benedict Lowe, Gaby Wright and Paula Rondon-Burgos contributed to our extra afternoon sessions. We are particularly grateful to Gaby for training the musical group with her usual flair.


Besides our usual teaching we have run voluntary sessions in the afternoons. This year we devised a programme in advance but made some additions to meet students’ requests:

Sun  20th 

2.00pm Learn all Latin verbs in one hour

3.00pm  Latin Epigraphy, Benedict Lowe
Mon 21st        

2.00pm Singing Medieval Latin, Gaby Wright
3.00pm Greek Participles, Pavlina Saoulidou
Tues 22nd       

1.00pm Trip to Housesteads and Chesters
1.45pm Singing Medieval Latin 2, Gaby Wright

2.00pm Greek Accents Pavlina Saoulidou
Wed 23rd          

2.30pm How to learn 5,000 New Words in One Day, Paula Rondon-Burgos
3.00pm Classics and biblical tradition, Sam Newington
Thurs 24th       

2.00pm Greek Enclitics Pavlina Saoulidou
2.00pm Reading the Vulgate, Christy Lowe  

3.00pm A Philological Anatomy Lesson, Gordon Cockburn.
Fri    25th       

1.30pm The Great North Museum and Newcastle architecture


Lectures and Other Activities

We also owe a great debt of thanks to our lecturers, all of whom were inspirational.

Saturday  18th July      Summer School Tutors, Meet the Monsters
Sunday   19th July       Prof Robin Osborne, The History of Art on the Athenian Acropolis
Monday 20th               Prof David Langslow, What is Indo-European? And how do we know?
Tuesday 21st               Lindsay Allason-Jones, Women in the Roman North
Wednesday 22nd        Prof Stephen Harrison, History and Politics in Vergil’s Aeneid
Thursday  23rd            Dr Federico Santangelo, Religion and Politics in Ancient Rome
Friday 24th                  A musical and dramatic entertainment by members of the course
On our Tuesday trip to Hadrian’s Wall we visited Housesteads, and Chesters, for which we must thank English Heritage for free admission to both sites.

On Wednesday the Hellenic Bookservice made their usual visit. They are a regular and very popular feature of the week and we are most grateful for their efficiency in supplying all our book requirements and students’ orders. The range of stock they brought this year was as usual impressive and thoughtful.

Friday night’s entertainment by students and staff was graced by some splendid performances. A variety of music, poems, plays and monologues, serious or comic were all performed with the right degree of gravitas, humour or appropriately ridiculous incompetence (a notable feature of the staff performance as usual).



Our main advertising was through our own website to which the JACT website offers a link. We owe a particular debt of thanks to the consultancy which built our website and hosts it without charge. Without that vital help, we would have found recruitment much harder. Next year I hope we can improve our administrative systems slightly to make acknowledgement of application and payment easier. We may also need to advertise elsewhere since some applicants don’t read the information on our website carefully and we had one applicant with no access to the internet, or even a computer.
In January details of the JSST summer schools should be in the CA monthly e-newsletter. The CA’s Home Page has a news section where it is easy to sign up for the e-newsletter We would like to thank all those teachers and lecturers who encouraged their students to apply and I hope we can continue to get information to schools.


Of the 106 students, 18 were from maintained schools (a very significant increase from last year’s 6) while a very healthy 29 came from the independent sector, 3 more than last year). We would like to encourage all sixth form students to apply, whatever their background. We continue to see a steady increase in the number of undergraduates and postgraduates. The OU remains the most significant provider of access to the languages for mature students, although since the OU timetable was changed, we have seen fewer OU students than we did in the past. Beyond the OU there are autodidacts, voluntary courses, and providers such as Madingley Hall and City Lit. There may well be a market for increased provision for dedicated mature students and some have expressed a wish to see another residential course during the year. This was a well balanced group and although age groups (see appendix) tended not to mingle socially, the mixture of ages worked well in class and other group activities. Students came from far and wide, some from abroad (Denmark, Romania, Italy, Australia, USA, Germany).


Many students have returned and more promise to return. Appreciative comments included numerous variations on ‘wonderful experience’ and almost all of the feedback was very positive. It ‘provided me with a month's pleasurable activity in seven short days. I'm so glad I did not miss it.’ Angela (78).


Financial Support

The Summer School is dependent on the generous financial support of various bodies. Grants were provided by the Cromer-Murray Trust, JACT Greek Project, and especially the Classical Association. To these we owe a deep debt of gratitude for making the Summer School possible. 10 students were helped with bursaries, some of which were substantial.


2016: The Summer School will be held at St. John’s College, 23rd - 30th July 2016.


Finally I would like to thank the many friends and supporters of the summer school who have helped to make everything run smoothly. Peter Jones has raised funds and has given advice and encouragement throughout the year. Newcastle University Classics Department, especially Prof. Wisse, has given us considerable support. Jane Gilhespie deserves particular thanks for her hard work designing application forms, creating spreadsheets, answering the many enquiries and attending to all the administrative details. Her help and expertise is much appreciated. Since the closure of NECLL, she has been working from home and has devoted much time and ingenuity to ensuring that our administrative systems actually worked!

                                                                        Alan Beale
                                                                        Course Director 2015


Appendix 1

Number of students                                                 106
School pupils (from maintained schools)                   18       
School pupils (independent schools)                         29
Undergraduates                                                          8
Postgraduates                                                            5
Classics Teachers                                                        2 + 2 potential                                             
Other                                                                        42

Age range                              16-91

16-17                                      43
18-22                                      11
23-30                                        5
31-59                                      13
Over 60                                   34

Appendix 2

Teaching groups: numbers were broadly similar to previous years, although there were fewer students for Beginners Greek (11) than the exceptionally large numbers last year when we had two parallel classes. Beginners Latin had the same as last year (7). As the Summer School has grown, the Intermediate 2 and Advanced groups have expanded and we have introduced a second Advanced class in each language which has enabled us to offer a wider variety of texts. It has also increased the mobility of students who have been able to move between groups when we change texts midway through the week. The numbers for Intermediate 2 and Advanced are therefore approximate.









Intermediate 1


Intermediate 1


Intermediate 2


Intermediate 2






Advanced Latin and Greek



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