Latin A level gives students the chance to discover the Romans through their own words. Our current set prose text, The Phillipics, brings the reader right into the heart of the turbulent politics of Republican Rome, at a time when Caesar was assassinated, and men were fighting over who would rule the city. By studying Cicero’s blistering and coruscating attack against Mark Antony, students experience this famous verbal attack first-hand in Cicero’s own words. The set verse text, Virgil’s Aeneid, has a different tone. Students read of the devastating effects of war and there is a timelessness inherent in the descriptions. Virgil’s description of a battlefield – of “the groans of the dying” and the “weapons and bodies [that] lay deep in blood” – could sit just as easily in a more modern context.
Latin is a challenging subject; the standard is high and students very quickly progress to reading original, unadapted texts. It’s a special moment when one reads the words of Roman writers, without adaptation or editing or bias, and plunges into the world of the ancient Romans, experiencing their desires, fears and values.
A level Latin teaches one to analyse and to weigh up the validity of different arguments and evidence. For this reason, it sits well alongside subjects such as History, Philosophy, Psychology and other discursive subjects. Classics students often go on to careers in law, journalism or politics, but the subject also gives a good balance to the Sciences and Maths.
Outside the classroom, the Classics department has a programme of overseas trips to Italy and Greece. Make no mistake – this is a subject that sets apart its pupils. Not every school offers Latin and you have a unique opportunity here at RGS to do so.