This week has been Christmas Play Week in many primary schools – a tense time for teachers and parents alike, as we all wonder who is going to fall off the stage, who will burst into tears, and who will drop the baby Jesus.
In our neighbourhood there’s been quite a contrast. The primary school in a nearby estate has opted for a non-religious option (involving Santa, an assortment of dancing elves, and the dire threat of presents not being delivered). I’ve heard some grumbling, from parents at the Santa-school, on the basis that ‘It’s just not as Christmassy’. There’s still an appeal, it seems, in the traditional Christmas story – no matter how many bizarre tweaks it undergoes at the hands of small children!
My son’s primary school, on the other hand, threw everything but the kitchen sink at their Nativity. They didn’t just have wise men and shepherds: they had a squad of Roman soldiers, a singing star with her sparkly backing singers, numerous sheep causing trouble for the shepherds, angels, travellers, multiple innkeepers dealing with problem guests, and a group of inn-spectors doing an audit of Health and Safety in the Bethlehem hotels. A great time was had by all – except by one little sheep, who couldn’t take the pressure.
One of the great things about this time of year is the way it brings ancient history to life. Six-year-olds are asking about Caesar Augustus, and arguing about how a Roman soldier would have marched. Teachers are trying to explain the workings of a Roman census. Especially in a multi-faith school like my son’s, important questions are being raised about how different cultures and religions met in the Roman Empire. It’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year – if you’re a Roman history addict who happens to have a small child!
This week’s links from around the internet
From Classical Studies Support
From the archives – ‘Tis the Season – to Sing in Latin!
Mary Beard offers royal Latin lessons – Express and Star
…discussed by The Oldie
Cracking ancient languages – BBC Future
Wikipedia and women in Classics – The Guardian
Fixing Brexit the Persian way – The Edithorial
Roman grapes in Sri Lanka – Science
Mosaic pieces returned – BBC
Looted artefact tour – Hyperallergic
Roman remains in Colchester – Gazette and Standard
Vampire at the Hull-mouth (couldn’t resist!) – Hull Live
Minerva in the margarine – BT News
Comment and opinion
A Saturnalia feast – The History Girls
Greek toys – Ekathimerini
Sappho problems – Variant Readings
The childhood of Jesus – The Spectator
Weaving Women for Being Human – The Institute of Classical Studies
Talking about Vitellius – Linda’s Book Bag
Marriage and divorce in grammar – Koine Greek
Greek feasting – JSTOR Daily
Briseis the victim – Eidolon
Poetry and translation – The High Window
Thucydides and disillusion – Sphinx
Watling Street – The Spectator
Archive of ancient world articles – The New Yorker
Palmyra and Twitter – The Conversation
Myth and Aquaman – The Conversation
Reinstating Xenophon the philosopher – The Weekly Standard
Coin collection highlights – Roma Invicta
Brexit lessons from the Melian Dialogue – Sphinx
The Heroides as therapy? – In Media Res
Counterfeit Homers – Eidolon
Greeks and Persians – Weapons and Warfare
Podcasts, video and other media
Helen of Troy – That’s Ancient History
Women in the Aeneid – King’s College London
Ovid and seduction – Literature and History
Greek drone video – Greek Reporter
The Theatre of Dionysus – Gresham College
Republican Fabians – The Partial Historians
Podcast with Sarah Bond – The JoukBox
New York Classics – Society for Classical Studies
2 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Romans on Stage”
You’re right how Xmas can be effectively used for ancient interests. It’s the same with Greek, the only time when most students will show a sense of curiosity in obscure philological questions, like how many μάγοι were there! Oh, and just tell those “grumbling parents” that they are doing the baby Jesus story according to Mark or John instead of Luke and Matthew!
Have a happy Saturnalia… 🍾🤶🎄🎅🍷
I used to have a great ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ translated into Greek: must see if I can find it…! Thanks Leigh: Happy Saturnalia to you too!