Weekend Reading: The Sadness of Endings

This week I think it’s fair to say that bored classicists on the internet have become obsessed with personality quizzes. Now, naturally my readers are far too intellectual for that sort of thing – as am I. But … just in case you want to see what everybody else is doing … here’s a selection.


Which Latin love poet are you? [on balance, I’m quite content to be Propertius]

Which Greek lyric poet are you?

Which tragedian are you?

Which tragic character are you?

Which Homeric Hymn are you?



And of course we’ve all been having fun by laughing a just bit at the logo for a new Netflix series, which I think is supposed to say ‘Chaos’:





I’ve had a great time doing my #ComfortClassics interviews this week (and I’ve got some brilliant ones lined up for next week too – there’s quite a queue now!). This week I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before (shhh… don’t tell anybody that I don’t know everything…). On Monday, Neville Morley was talking about Frontinus (definitely not one of my areas of expertise!), while on Tuesday, writer and classicist Daisy Dunn introduced me to a little sculpture from the British Museum that I hadn’t come across before. Jan Haywood from the OU was talking about Herodotus on Wednesday, and pointed me in the direction of the new Herodotus Helpline channel, which looks like fun. On Thursday I got the chance to talk to one of my internet heroes, the Rogue Classicist David Meadows, about the picture he uses as the header for his website – and that was a sculpture which was new to me, too. Today I posted an interview with lovely fellow OU tutor Anactoria, in which she talked about Tryphiodorus – and I must admit that I had to look him up!

So it’s been an entertaining (if busy) week.

But elsewhere there’s been a confused sense of things ending. Last week I received the final assignments from two of my Level 1 groups, because their final assessment has been cancelled – and I didn’t even realise until I was nearly finished the marking that I wouldn’t hear from them again. This week I’ve been marking final assignments for the Myth and Roman Empire courses. Usually at this point we’re starting the big build-up to the exam, or to the final project – but that’s all gone now. So it feels a bit like everybody is just drifting away.

Obviously there are good things here too. With the pressure of final assessments removed, people can relax and enjoy the rest of the reading – in an ideal world, that is. Some people are certainly pleased at the cancellation of a dreaded exam! But it’s all quite strange and unsettling, from an organisational point of view.

Of course, some students do know how to make it better…


I can now completely blot out the next 2 weeks… Thank you John!


So to a lot of my students (nearly 80 students this week, and another 20 next week), this is an abrupt and rather unwelcome goodbye. I hope you all stay in touch – and keep visiting this website for regular doses of classical weirdness!

Another piece of sad news to share is that the school travel company Hellene Travel has gone into liquidation. Sarah and John, the lovely founders and consultants, had this to say:


Our intention, 21 years ago, was to make Classical Travel more accessible and more relevant to more pupils, always to be Teacher led. “Tailor-made to suit the specific requirements of syllabus, budget and stamina”.

Despite often feeling as Horatio at the Bridge (particularly in the last couple of years), on the whole, we think we were successful. Unfortunately, this time, the combined forces of a Worldwide Pandemic and the vagaries of Corporate Investment have defeated us.

Although personally devastated at the demise of Hellene, we must remember the almost thirty staff redundancies within the Company and the incalculable consequences for our longstanding friends abroad; Agents, Hoteliers, Coach Drivers, Taverna owners, waitresses, bar tenders, cleaners – and their extended families.

To our Teachers – Thank you. We’ve made some incredible friendships and you’ve taught us so much.

Your messages of support since Covid-19 took hold have both nurtured and reduced us to tears. We believed we could endure, we are sorry to have failed you.

Now to practise what we preach “πάθει μάθος” – is that a Phoenix we see, flickering on the horizon?

Stay Safe, Stay Sane, Stay in Touch.

Sarah and John 


‘Don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.’


Cavafy “The Gods Abandon Antony”


I’m sure that Sarah (who contributed an interview to the Comfort Classics series a couple of weeks ago) and John will be back with new initiatives once the world starts turning again – but for now, Hellene Travel is a sad loss. I wish them all the best – and judging by the outpouring of affection for them on social media, so does everybody else.

And finally, since this website is supposed to be a repository for happy and/or amusing thoughts… you might like to know that I’ve been invited to make a ‘self-video’ for an Open University thing. The videographer will be contacting me with instructions, apparently, but I’ve already been provided with guidance on what to wear (no polka dots) and where to sit (in front of a plain background in a tidy room). The polka dots are not a problem – but the plain background and the tidy room have got me stumped. Throw in two manic cats and an opinionated and ever-present child, and there’s absolutely no hope of me pulling this off in a professional manner. I’ll keep you posted on just how badly it goes…




This week’s links from around the Classical Internet

(There’s been a lot going on this week, and I definitely haven’t spotted everything! Check out the Rogue Classicist’s daily Thelxinoe posts for more links.)




Stoicism and pandemic – The Guardian 

The Romans invented recycling – The Guardian 

Brading Roman Villa at risk – On the Wight 

Archaeology boom online – The Guardian 

Bones mystery – Metro News 

Oldest customer complaint goes viral – Newsweek

CA Newsletter – The Classical Association

Live action Hercules – People

Emergency funding – Eidolon


Boris-quoting-Cicero News

The health of the people…? – A Don’s Life

Overreacting – The Philological Crocodile 

Boris, Caligula and Cicero – UnHerd 



Comment and opinion

The new normal? – Sphinx 

Gladiators of Rome – History Extra 

What if Alexander had lived longer? – History Extra 

Perspective in Pompeii – Kleios 

Death, ageism and Greek myth – The Conversation



Podcasts, video and other media

Lots of Classics videos – Rogue Classicism 

Write With CREWS videos – CREWS Project 

Rome vs. Parthia – Antiquity and the Middle Ages 

Greek land warfare – The History of Ancient Greece Podcast 

Ovid not Covid – Natalie Haynes 

Toponymy in Herodotus – Herodotus Helpline 

Trailer: Ovid and the Art of Love – iTunes 




Teaching resources – The Classical Association 

Open access book on Ronald Syme – History of Classical Scholarship 

Revamped British Museum collection – British Museum 


Roman Society Summer Placements – The Roman Society 

5 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: The Sadness of Endings

  1. Your Result:
    You win, you are Sophocles, congratulations! You are a respected pillar of the community, but one who still enjoys a racy private life. You are just as comfortable offering profound meditations on the ephemerality of human happiness as you are delighting dinner parties with your sparkling wit as you cut conceited intellectuals down to size. For all your sophistication, though, nothing means more to you than your home town and its people. They hold a place in your heart ahead of all the plaudits and prizes you have amassed.

    Damn, all this time I thought I was Euripides! Although, looking at the narrative who am I to disagree *blush* – it is all true.


  2. It IS a weird feeling. I’ve submitted my final TMA for A340 and when I should have started panicking about revising for the exam in June I now have a sudden void, just a classics shaped hole where I would normally have been studying for the exam! Roll on October and A330!


    1. Sally – it is the same when you finish your degree, suddenly there is nothing to do. Then comes the MA and when that has finished, again…..

      Having saifd that, that was 2018 for me and here I am kicking my heels. With lockdown I can’t even bore friends who come round for dinner.


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