Weekend Reading: Classical Lego

This week I would like to talk about my ongoing study of an important academic tool. Yes, that’s right – Lego.

My little boy developed a sudden Lego fixation last week. As a result we have bits of Lego Hogwarts lying around the house, and we’ve all taken to wearing slippers with sturdy soles. So of course I couldn’t resist delving into the murky world of Classical Lego – purely for research purposes, you understand. After a great deal of serious and scholarly collaborative research (also known as ‘Googling with a six-year-old’), I will now present my findings and draw some conclusions, before making some earnest recommendations for future research and development.


Literature Review

For Latinists there is the wonderful Legonium, with its Twitter outlet @tutubuslatinus. The site’s creator talked about its role in teaching in an interview earlier this year. Legonium has some fantastic videos, stories and grammar illustrations: so if you’re starting out with Latin, you should certainly take a look!

From Legonium.com


For a wider classical audience there are the Lego Classicists, models of famous classicists in Lego. This is the honour to which we all aspire! Mary Beard became a Lego Classicist this year, as reported by the BBC.

Mary Beard
Lego Prof/Dame Mary Beard, from Lego Classicists


There are also numerous Lego representations of Roman and Greek characters and sites. For instance, Brick to the Past has recreated Hadrian’s Wall in Lego; Prof. Michael Scott shared his recreation of the Delphi sanctuary of Apollo this week; and the Lego flagship store in Rome has been producing some impressive creations.

Lego, it seems, is used throughout academia, both as a teaching tool and as an outlet for academic satire.

The internet gives a home to Lego videos which cover everything from epic battles [not one for the kids!]  to Greek drama [my personal favourite!]:




My research to date has established that Lego is not only an effective teaching tool, but also a high status one, being respected by people at the top of our profession. As a result, I am now confident that I can redefine my Saturday afternoon building a Whomping Willow as a professional development activity.


Directions for future research

Clearly Lego has great potential; but it is under-utilised by the Higher Education sector as a whole. While there are several pioneers of Lego Classics lurking around the internet, their work has yet to break into mainstream university teaching. The obvious next step is to roll out the initiative, by replacing all tutorials with hands-on Lego experimentation. As a responsible tutor, my role in this should clearly be to facilitate this Big Shift, and to give up all forms of teaching in favour of messing around with toys.


Well, maybe the world is not yet ready for the Lego Revolution! But just wait till they make me Vice Chancellor…!





This week’s classical links from the four corners of the internet



From Classical Studies Support

Other toy-based continuing professional development is available: I’m rather partial to Playmobil.



Returning mosaic pieces – Daily Sabah 

Black Sea decree – Archaeology in Bulgaria 

Tomb in Mycenae – Greek Reporter 

Acropolis strike over exploitation – The Guardian 

Ancient shipwrecks – Reuters

Evidence of the ancient drug trade? – The Daily Beast

Antiquities and looting in Syria – PRI 

Greek vessel conservation – Index Magazine 

Building a Jordan database – Jordan Times 

New pictures from Pompeii – The Telegraph 

The Greeks predicted driverless cars and Alexa – The Sun 

Vesuvius and exploding skulls – Forbes 

Boris, Classics, truth and Brexit – The Guardian 



Comment and opinion

Classics and comics – Institute of Classical Studies 

The significance of the AeneidThe New Yorker 

Touring Swat – Lugubelinus

The adventures of OU classicists – OU Classical Studies Blog

Dalek and Gallifreyan scripts – CREWS Project 

A kernel of truth in Livy? – Ancient World Magazine

Writing about democracy – The Sphinx 

Graphic novels and the ancient world – Society for Classical Studies 

Loebs and other facing translations – Arab Lit 

Latin helpful for summoning demons – The Onion

Teaching migration – Classics and Social Justice

Some thoughts on ‘decorum’ – Aeon 

Should Homer be read with a British accent? – Under the Button 

Hadrian the Opera – The Loop

Etruscan treasures – Wanted in Rome 

Staging ElectraSententiae Antiquae

Donna Zuckerberg wrote a thing – Eidolon 

… and answered questions about it – Inside Higher Ed and Time 

… and talked about it – Greek History Podcast 

Roman dust – Cosmos 

Eagle of the Ninth? – Turning Points of the Ancient World 

Classics and YouTube – Medium 

Singing about myth – London Theatre 1 

… and dancing with Medusa – Ipswich Star 

Sensory Londinium – The History Girls 


Podcasts, videos and other media

Reading The Silence of the GirlsBBC Radio 4 

Portraits of the dead in Palmyra – The Iris

Armour of the ancient world – The History Network 

Warrior Queens – Ancient History Fangirl 

Prometheus – Extra Credits 

Talking about magic – ABC 

Want to save the Roman Republic? – Riddle 

The controversial Callixtus – Pontifacts 

Greek werewolves – Foxwede History 

Talking about the Odyssey TLS: Acast 


lego centurion

5 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Classical Lego

  1. This is a worthy cause to champion! I for one approve of the LEGO Revolution and wholeheartedly support its proliferation throughout higher education!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Cora Beth, I really enjoy reading your weekly newsletter. I follow up the links and find some really interesting stuff. In this week’s one I noticed the exploding skulls in Herculaneum article from Forbes. Earlier this week, I found an article on the Smithsonian mag website which covered the same story but in a somewhat more lively manner (boiling was mentioned!). https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/mount-vesuvius-boiled-its-victims-blood-and-caused-their-skulls-explode-180970504/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20181010-daily-responsive&spMailingID=36660529&spUserID=Nzg4Njk2Mjk4NTM3S0&spJobID=1381079310&spReportId=MTM4MTA3OTMxMAS2

    I have changed my original assignment story (about the Herculaneum papyri, a favourite thing of mine) for the exploding heads story.

    I am so with you about the Lego, love it. However, I am massively envious of your (child’s) Harry Potter Hogwarts and Whomping Willow sets. I love Harry Potter so much. It’s one of my Aspergery (new word) fixations!

    Anyway, thanks again and have a great Lego weekend. Definitely sturdy soled slippers needed. I can still feel the pain! Btw, there’s a Lego show at the NEC every year around this time.

    Best wishes from Carol

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Lego could be the perfect tactile approach to sensory studies in classics: garish colour, smooth surfaces, and ephemeralness all in one! Just think of all the temples you could build just to have turned into wonderful ruins…

    Liked by 2 people

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