Classical Studies

There was nary a dull moment for the active and vigourous Columba College Classical Studies department in 2019.

In March, an alliance was reached with the Drama department as two Year 10 classes sought to bring Greek drama to life; one group tackled Aristophanes’ Frogs with comic aplomb; the other did harrowing justice to Sophocles’ affecting tragedy Antigone. This undertaking prompted a visit from Victoria University’s Emeritus Professor Christopher Dearden, who graciously brought his expertise to bear as he guided us through the social context of these productions - ensuring their readiness for the May performances - while taking time to talk to the senior classes about the evolution of the hero from Homer’s time all the way through to Virgil.

The April holidays saw a roadie which put paid to Odysseus’ frequent flier status as 24 Year 12 and 13 students ventured to the heart of ancient civilization, spending two astonishing weeks in Greece and Italy. From spring showers which leant the Parthenon an unforgettable sheen to the spine-tingling experience of being in the Colosseum on Easter Sunday, alongside the jaw-dropping museum visits, partaking in a foot race at Olympia and soaking up the Pompeiian sun, it’s impossible to sum up such lifelong memories in a paltry paragraph. Heartiest and most sincere thanks go to Ms Andrew, Ellie O’Neill and Michelle Walsh, whose organizational skills, warmth and good humour made this Herculean task all the more bearable, as well as the students, whose good grace and passion throughout the trip reflected the college’s values in excelsis.

For July’s Open Day, the Year 12 class held a Roman style ‘Memento Mori’ feast, enticing visitors with an array of delicacies while toasting to the good things in life. In spite of liberties being taken regarding the authenticity of some of the fare (there’s little archaeological evidence to suggest a Domino’s Pizza delivery service prior to the fourth century AD), it was heartening to see both students and guests indulging in ancient philosophies with such enthusiasm.

September witnessed the biggest ambush since the Battle of Teutoburg Forest as Columba descended on the annual University of Otago Classical Studies quizzes in record numbers. In the Senior division 2018 champions ‘Mythamphetamine’ (Holly Bancroft, Madeline McCane, Sophie O’Neill and Emma Orr) again emerged victorious with an unprecedented 53 out of a possible 55 points. Special mention to ‘Stab the Salad’, a Year 11 team (Sophia Arnell, Olivia Charles, Angela Fu and Chloe Heineke) who were pipped into 3rd after a tie-breaker question - a titanic result, given that Classics only starts as an NCEA subject at Level 2. In the Junior/Intermediate edition, ‘Athena’s Daughters’ – Clara Ballantyne, Alyssa Duthie, Jessica Mundy and Eleanor Wong – romped to victory, completing the Columba double. A rousing ‘macte hac gloria’ to all competitors and Classical Studies students alike; it’s because of you and your ardour for all things antiquated that, like the Hydra, Classics at Columba continues to thrive.

"Nam eloquentium quae admirationem non habet nullem iudico.”

Mr. J. Hayden

HOD Classical Studies