‘Mythology in the Ancient World’ at the Classics Study Afternoon

Date 3 May 2019

On 25th April, 58 school pupils all the way from Scotland to the South Coast of England came to St John’s to enjoy our annual Classics Study Afternoon.

Classics Essay Competition 2019All of the students had entered the annual St John’s Classics & Ancient History Essay Competition, which is open to all students currently studying in Year 12 or equivalent, anywhere in the UK, whether or not they are currently studying a classical or ancient history subject. A total of 101 students from 64 schools submitted essays, and all were invited to the Study Afternoon.

The participants enjoyed a series of four lectures on literature, archaeology, history and philosophy provided by St John’s tutors, united by the theme of ‘Mythology in the Ancient World’. In the first half, Dr Laura Miguélez-Cavero spoke on ‘Correcting’ Myths: the song of Ares and Aphrodite, Dr Alison Pollard, as well as showing some of the students around the Graeco-Roman collections at the Ashmolean Museum in the morning, gave a talk on Mythology in Roman Art. The students then had an opportunity to have a look around the college with some current Classics and CAAH undergraduate students, before Dr Amber Gartrell spoke on Between Myth and History: Where’s the Line?, followed by Professor Alison Hills’s discussion on Puzzles about myths.

Classics Essay Competition 2019

In the Essay Competition, students answer one of a range of set questions on archaeology, philosophy, literature and ancient history. The purpose of the competition is to promote independent research and encourage an interest in the study of the ancient world, in pupils who may or may not have studied Classics at school. In the awards ceremony the best essay in each category was awarded a £100 book token, with an additional £75 book token for the overall winner. An additional four essays were ‘highly commended’ by the tutors.

Classics Essay Competition 2019

This year’s winners were:

  • Overall Winner: Miranda Devine
  • Literature: “Is love a narrative force to be reckoned with in the epic? Discuss with examples from Greek and / or Latin Poetry.” Winner: Anneka Pink
  • History: “What role did the gods play in the life of the ancient city?” Winner: Gwennan Williams
  • Philosophy: “‘Does a carpenter or a shoemaker have certain functions and activities, while a human being has none? Or just as an eye, a hand, a foot and generally each and every part of the body appears as having some function, in the same way is there a function for human beings too?’ (ARISTOTLE). Do human beings have a function? What is it?” Winner: Sebastian Bird
  • Archaeology: ‘Why are mythological scenes so prevalent in Greek and Roman art and archaeology?’ Winner: Miranda Devine

Highly Commended:

  • Danielle Janine Schumann-Carter – Literature
  • Daisy Gosal – History
  • Bethan Whiskerd – History
  • Matthew O’Connor – Philosophy

The full SJC Essays and Study Afternoon Report 2019 is available here.

Students also enjoyed an informal discussion over tea with the tutors and current students, on all aspects of living and studying at St John’s.

Classics Essay Competition 2019

A big thank you to everyone who participated, and helped to make it an informative, engaging and enjoyable afternoon.