Weekend Reading: Romans on Stage



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!


christmas lego


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


@tutubuslatinus on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Romans on Stage

  1. 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… 🍾🤶🎄🎅🍷


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