The Londinium Summer School

Boudicca statue

The Londinium Summer School

15-19 and 22-26 July 2019 

Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

The Londinium Summer School offers a series of five-day courses for adult learners on different aspects of Greek and Roman antiquity, from Greek tragedy to the archaeology of Roman London. Taught out of the Institute of Classical Studies, a national centre for research, these intensive courses do not require a knowledge of Greek or Latin.The ICS is based in Senate House at heart of Bloomsbury, just north of the British Museum. Those enrolled on the courses will also be able to make use of one of the world’s greatest libraries. Courses may be taken for pleasure or MA level credits, or both.


The following courses will be available. Please note that it is only possible to take one course per week. You may sign up for one week or for two weeks.

Week One: 15-19 July 2019

Troy in the long twentieth century (1863-2019)

Ever since Homer’s Iliad, the story of the Trojan War has fascinated writers, artists and creatives. As recent productions such as the BBC/Netflix series Troy: Fall of a City or the ongoing graphic novel Age of Bronze show, that fascination remains firmly in place. This course looks at the last century and a half (roughly) of the manifestation of that fascination. Beginning with Hector Berlioz’s 1863 opera Les Troyens, the course moves to the impact on the popular imagination of Heinrich Schliemann’s discoveries at the site of Troy, and then moves through representations on stage, cinema screen, television and radio (both in drama and documentary), in painting, novels, poetry, and comics. It is impossible to cover every manifestation of Troy, but key works will include Jean Giraudoux’s play The Trojan War Will Not Take Place, Christopher Logue’s poem War Music (1981-2016), Wolfgang Petersen’s 2004 movie Troy. As the course goes along, students will also be introduced to the ancient literary, historical and archaeological evidence for Troy. By the end of the course, students should have an appreciation of the multiple ways in which the War has been revisioned, from historical fiction to space fantasy.

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Roman Games

The public games of the Roman empire, both small and grandiose, were a significant factor of the lives of its inhabitants and the wealthy political elite. Recently the games have attracted much attention from scholars as they can be used to analyse a range of different social and economic functions. These include the social psychology of the games, event calendars and disease, the organisational systems which allowed for games to be presented on such a scale, civilisation and blood sport, to name a few. This course will approach all forms of entertainment (gladiatorial combats, beast-hunts, chariot racing, theatrical, and athletic) as they highlight many different aspects of the ancient world all the way from inception to organisation to the day of the event. Discussion will revolve about recent scholarship on the games and theoretical approaches to Roman entertainment which can lead to exciting and original perspectives which are otherwise obscure in the ancient record.

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Greek tragedy: text, film, performance

This module provides an opportunity to explore what makes Greek tragedy such a compelling and enduring art form. We will take a close look at surviving plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides – as well as a few fragments of plays that haven’t survived – examining how they work as pieces of theatre and how audiences in ancient Athens might have understood them. We will then look at how these plays work in performance now, on both stage and screen. This will be approached by examining some recent examples as well as through practical exploration in class time. The module thus offers a unique opportunity to investigate Greek tragedy from the dual perspectives of past and present, text and performance, theory and practice.

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Week Two: 22-26 July 2019

Roman London

The Romans created London, and the impact of its creation shapes the UK to the present day. In this course we will look at why the Romans chose London in the first place, how it became Britannia’s chief city, its transformation from a city of manufacturing in the first century CE to a city of luxurious houses in the third, and London’s fall and rebirth in the post-Roman period. All key buildings will be examined, including the amphitheatre, fort, baths, forum and basilica, Mithraeum, and of course, the bridge. The major events in London’s history are addressed: the revolt of Boudicca, the Hadrianic fire, and the liberation of London by the Caesar Constatius Chlorus, father of Constantine the Great. Students will be introduced to the most important pieces of evidence, such as the Bucklersbury mosaic, the Spitalfields Roman, and the Bloomberg Tablets, the oldest pieces of writing from Roman Britain. The course includes a walk around the City of London, to see what remains of the Roman period, and a visit to the Museum of London. Students should leave with an understanding of how the ancient city worked, and why it continues to be a source of fascination for archaeologists.

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The Caesars: monuments in stone and text

“Which emperor is Donald Trump most like?” Mary Beard comments that this is the question she is most often asked in recent years by journalists. How would we set about answering it? The stories and images of Roman emperors we have received are filtered narratives, and crafted images. Both written texts and visual images illuminate the lives, impact and influences of the rulers of the Roman Empire, but they must be read closely and critically. In our week together, we shall explore some key written texts and some material monuments of emperors, including Augustus, some others Julio-Claudians, Trajan, Hadrian, and Constantine. The emperors took what was originally a family name - 'Caesar' - as a title; this in itself was a form of monumentalising themselves and their achievements. ‘Caesar’ became the title of a line of rulers who strove to legitimise their rule and celebrate their achievements. We shall also explore some notable receptions of some of these emperors: extracts from Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, and Gibbon’s account of Constantine, for example. A visit to the British Museum will complement classroom discussion. We may even consider which emperor Donald Trump is most like.

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Ovid and his Afterlife

Writers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers continue to draw on the rich repository of ancient mythology found in the work of the Roman poet Ovid. Using focused case studies of Ovidian characters re-worked in a variety of epochs, cultures, and genres, from Renaissance art to contemporary women’s writing, this module explores the afterlife of Ovid's poetry and the complex artistic and cultural routes through which it has been transmitted, transformed, and subverted. The module will introduce learners to Ovid, his work, and its themes, with a focus on Heroines (written in the years preceding 16 BCE) and Metamorphoses (before 8CE) to illustrate the ways in which Ovid himself re-uses and re-works earlier texts and myths to create historically pertinent and politically pointed tales for his Augustan audience. We will discuss contemporary critical and interpretative approaches used in Greco-Roman reception studies, including intertextuality and reception theory; we will ask how works of reception can both challenge and reinforce narratives of a ‘classical tradition’; and we will consider the continuing adaptability of Ovid’s poetry - and its enduring problems - in the era of #MeToo. Seminar sessions will be supplemented with guest lectures and a visit to the National Gallery.
Participants wishing to take the module for credit will be asked to submit an analysis of a work of literature, art, music, or film that engages with Ovid’s poetry and which has not been discussed in detail in the course. The tutor will be happy to discuss possible topics.

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Courses will be taught at Master’s Level but no knowledge of Greek or Latin is required. They are open to anyone over the age of 18. Teaching will begin at 10am each day and there will normally be 2 blocks of teaching per day, each lasting two hours. Each course may be taken for 20 MA level credits upon payment of the additional fee and satisfactory completion of an assessment. If you wish to attend as part of your Continuing Professional Development each course is worth 20 CPD points and a certificate will be provided upon request.

Temporary membership of the Classics Library will be available during the Summer School with an extended period of membership for those submitting an assessed essay for credit. Library induction tours will take place at 12 noon on the Monday of each week.

The fee for the Londonium Summer School is £650 for one week (£520 unwaged), which includes the provision of documentary material, sandwich lunches and coffee and tea. There is a further charge of £150 per course for students who wish to be assessed for credit offered by the University of London.

The deadline for applications is 14 June 2019.

For enquiries please contact valerie.james@sas.ac.uk