The variety of Classics never ceases to amaze me, from the bucolics of Tibullus to the drama of Aeschylus’ ‘Agamemnon’ and from the grandeur of Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ to the precision of Thucydides. As a keen debater, I am fascinated by the power of oratory in antiquity and decided to research this with an EPQ. In this, I compared the political aspects of the ‘Philippics’ of Demosthenes with those of Cicero to investigate their underlying themes and any similarities between them.
Cecil Wooten’s ‘Cicero’s ‘Philippics’ and their Demosthenic Model’ outlined a persuasive argument: that the “rhetoric of crisis” is central to both sets of ‘Philippics’. Kathryn Tempest’s analysis, in ‘Cicero: Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome’, that Cicero’s (and Demosthenes’) goal is to seek to “denounce his opponent as an enemy of freedom, and thus declare war on him” was fascinating and at Bryanston I had the opportunity to discuss this with her which I really enjoyed. Bryanston made me appreciate the benefits of being part of a wider classical community and working with like-minded peers. I would like to further this experience at university.
The role that oracles played in antiquity also intrigues me. I was inspired to explore this by visits to Delphi and, recently, to Dodona and the Necromanteion by the River Acheron. Parke’s ‘Greek Oracles’ led me to think about whether oracles were used to justify an existing decision or provoke a fresh one. When reading Herodotus VII, I was struck by the use of oracles in the prelude to Salamis and the response to the ambiguity of the phrase “wooden walls”. Here, I believe, the oracle was used to rationalise a decision that Themistocles had already made. The manipulation of facts to justify decisions continues today as my study of Politics A Level has taught me. Oracles and their relationship with religion and politics have prompted me to think about the similarities and differences between the world then and now, something that I would like to continue studying.I also find the role of coins as propaganda tools for Rome interesting. I decided to set up an exhibition of Roman coins at school and gave a talk on them to the Classics Society, in which I explored the role of these coins in projecting the power of Rome. I then examined some coins at the British Museum minted under Augustus (Octavian) that illustrate his achievements.
After reading ‘Res Gestae’ in the original, I saw comparisons between the coins and the text which indicated that Augustus used coins to spread news of his accomplishments to the furthest parts of the Roman world. There was an aureus minted in 28 BC with the inscription LEGES ET IVRA P R RESTITVIT. This outlines a similar programme to his ‘Res Gestae’ (particularly 34.1). Christopher Howgego’s ‘Ancient History from Coins’ has furthered my interest, particularly when he discusses how much coins show us about the politics of the time in which they were minted.
I feel strongly about the survival of the study of Classics and a highlight of my school week is teaching Latin to children aged 8-11 at a local junior school. I hope I am helping to inspire more young people to be interested in the subject! Part of the reason why I am passionate about the pursuit of Classics is its relevance to today’s world. I explored this in an essay ‘Why is popular culture still interested in Classics?’, which won the 2018 Gladstone Memorial Essay Competition run by Omnibus magazine. I am currently the President of the Oundle Debating Society and debate at many events such as Oxford Union and ESU competitions. I also sing regularly in choirs, enjoy playing sport and like to read detective and other novels in my spare time.
I have found so much to inspire me through my studies at school and am really excited by the prospect of immersing myself in the Classical world at university.