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A Classical Education: The Stuff You Wish You’d Been Taught At School by Caroline Taggart

June 3, 2017

I suppose it appeals to the inadequacy felt by all who didn’t have a traditional grammar school education but it does enable someone to bluff their way through a conversation where someone talks about being caught between Scylla and Charybdis.

She explains common Latin expressions (vice versa / status quo) and idioms (Herculean task), classical architecture and Aristotle’s influence on logical argument. common Latin expressions (vice versa / status quo) and idioms (Herculean task), Also classical architecture and Aristotle’s influence on logical argument.

Ironically, academies were where you learned philosophy. In the Tory academies, RE is usually marginalised.

She doesnt mention that the Romans invented the ghastly custom, beloved of soap opera weddings, ‘You may now kiss the bride.’

Those who can’t fathom why Easter is ‘third day’ after Good Friday do well to know that’s how the Roman calendar counted days.

It’s witty and amusing.

Some clever clogs has criticised it becuse: she claims that Homer lived and composed in the 9th century BC: although precise dating is impossible it is generally agreed that Homer (whoever he was) was a product of the 8th century BC. Any edition of his works, any textbook, any reliable reference book will tell you that. So what? It was a long time ago. But a 100 years is not an inconsiderable period of time. How would you feel about a popular history book that claimed WWII took place between 1839 and 1845? You would think the author was an idiot, and you would be right. What’s more Athens did NOT have an empire before the Persian Wars – that came later, and for very good reason – and no, Herodotus does NOT claim there is no evidence for Pheidippides’ run to Athens from Marathon: in fact he makes no reference to it at all. Oh, and by the way, modern scholarship now agrees the runner was actually called ‘Philippides’:


Well, the Greeks and the Romans had a huge influence on modern Western civilisation. What we still call classical architecture – those solid, reliable-looking buildings in our city centres – is based on Greek ideas; our scientific knowledge was helped along by Archimedes leaping out of the bath-tub. The Greeks and the Romans also invented all sorts of things, from underfloor central heating to fire engines.

“alea iacta est: ‘the die is cast’.”

Pliny also consulted the emperor on what he was to do with a group of Christians who had been denounced to him: if a man had `repented’ of being a Christian, could he be excused, or did having once committed the offence tarnish him forever? Trajan replied that such a person could be forgiven, provided he went back to worshipping the right gods, but he also came down hard on the idea of anonymous informers: Tor this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.’’

word inn which comes from a Latin gerund or verbal noun, meaning ‘that which be conveyed by a nod’.

The plays always had a religious background, so very often a god was brought on at the end to sort things out. The actor playing the god was carried by a crane (mechane in Gree machina in Latin) to give the impression that he w descending from the sky. Hence the expression deus ex machina — ‘a god from a machine’ — to mean some unexpected intervention that resolves an apparently hopeless situation

the arena. (The name comes from the Latin word for sand, harena, because the area was scattered with sand after each round of combat to soak up the blood.) Beneath the wooden floor of the arena was a network of cages, rooms and passageways for the people and animals that took part in the ‘games’ (more about them on p.181), plus lifts and trapdoors to get them up into the arena. A fence about 1.5 metres high separated the arena from the lowest tier of spectators and was topped with wooden rollers to stop the wild beasts climbing over it.

The Colosseum was also a masterpiece of crowd control. system of corridors called — rather too graphically perha — vomitoria opened out into the tiers of seats. Ea efficiently ‘spewed’ its section of the crowd into their pla and equally effectively vomited them out into the streets the end of the performance. It is said that the Colos could be emptied in quarter of an hour.

this is where the much-maligned ‘thumbs down’ comes from. In fact, turning the thumb down granted mercy; if the audience turned their thumbs up or inwards, towards their chests, it meant ‘fight on’

And Septimius Severus won his great victory over the Parthians, a people of southwest Asia who could twist round in the saddle and fire their arrows backwards while they were retreating — hence the expression ‘a Parthian shot’, meaning a final remark to which the hearer has no chance of replying. Most people would now say ‘a parting shot’, because they’re a bit vague about who the Parthians were, so there’s a chance for you to show off at dinner parties.

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