JACT Greek Summer School 2016


The 49th Greek Summer School had 351 students, a modest increase on the last two years.
They included people educated in the USA, Ireland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Dubai, Singapore, and Venezuela. The majority were at school in the UK. 67 students attended or had attended maintained schools, but we aim in future years to increase the proportion. There were 19 university students, including two from the Charles University in Prague and one from the Pontifical Xaverian University in Bogota.

Greek classes:

There were 75 Beginners in 12 groups, 63 Intermediates (i.e. pre-GCSE) in 8 groups, and 213 Advanced students (from immediately post-GCSE to university level) in 25 groups. No group had more than ten students; the Beginners groups were kept particularly small thanks to a special grant from the Cambridge Classics Faculty. The Beginners used the JACT Reading Greek textbooks, as did most of the Intermediates, though some of the latter used Taylor’s Greek to GCSE if that was what they had used previously. Favourite authors and texts read by Advanced groups included: among many different books of Homer, Iliad 3, 18 and 24, and Odyssey 6, 7 and 18; of prose authors, Plato, Demosthenes and Lysias; of the dramatists, Euripides was the most popular, in particular his Bacchae and above all his Women of Troy, ahead of the production of that play at the end of the fortnight.


There were 45 tutors, including 16 from universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Cologne, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Reading, Swansea, and Warwick), and two teaching at the summer school for the first time. One tutorship was again generously supported by Trinity College, Cambridge. Two potential teachers were with us for the second week under the scheme efficiently administered by Simon Costello. Heather Sanger in her seventh year as our matron was again supportive and reassuring to students and tutors alike. Lucy Emmanuel, William Johnson and Thomas Kelly were superbly efficient and energetic Director’s Assistants.

Beyond the classes:

Visiting lecturers were Patrick Finglass on Stesichorus and Homer, Kathryn Tempest on Roman attitudes to the Greeks, Robin Osborne on making sense of Herodotus, Carrie Vout on seeing God in Greece and Rome, Judith Mossman on Plutarch and Shakespeare, and Emma Stafford on myth in Athenian vase-painting. The home team was represented by John Taylor on Aristophanes’ Wasps and Anthony Bowen on Euripides’ Women of Troy. The early-afternoon seminar programme continues to expand in attendance and in the range of topics on offer: Linear B, scansion, accentuation, the third declension, prose composition, verse composition, reading papyri, Greek mathematics, how to do ancient history, Zeno’s stadium paradox, the Romans and the Greek East, New Testament Greek, the Renaissance recovery of Greek, and Oscar Wilde’s Hellenism. There was as usual lively competition between some forty teams in the Greek and general knowledge quiz, masterminded and compered by Judith Affleck and Tom Ford. Eleanor Dickey and Philomen Probert led a walk to the Iron Age site of Hod Hill, Andrew Downey organized a lawn tennis tournament, and an excursion visited Salisbury. A fine and varied concert was arranged, rehearsed and conducted by Clive Letchford. Aristophanes’ Wasps was hilariously produced by Holly Eckhardt with a highly talented cast and production team. The Greek play in the open-air theatre on the final evening was Euripides’ Women of Troy, produced in a wonderfully atmospheric way by Emily Clifford with Anthony Bowen and Tom Ford. Clare Sharp and her large team of helpers headed by Anne Bowers and Nick Denyer produced superb costumes and ingenious props for both plays.

Students’ feedback:

165 students (45%) returned questionnaires, with almost all their feedback extremely positive. The great majority felt that they had made more progress with their Greek than they had expected, and almost all the rest that they had achieved at least as much as they had hoped. It was a typically industrious cohort: over 90% of respondents said they had devoted at least three hours per day to independent study (e.g. doing language exercises, preparing texts, learning accidence, etc.); about two thirds had done four or more hours’ private study per day. Students routinely said that they found the pace challenging but rewarding, the teaching clear, and the environment supportive. Almost everyone had, in addition to their language work, attended lots of the lectures and seminars; many had also found the time to participate in musical, dramatic or sporting activities. The Summer School continues to attract students who like to be busy and are keen to make the most of the opportunities on offer. As in previous years, there was great praise for both individual tutors and the course as a whole.

Our thanks:

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Cambridge Classics Faculty, the Oxford Faculty Board of Classics, the Craven Committee (Oxford), the Jowett Copyright Trust, the Classical Association, Trinity College Cambridge, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, the Gilbert Murray/Cromer Trust, and several private benefactors.

The Summer School is as always grateful to Bryanston School, whose staff do everything they can to be helpful, and of whose superb facilities we have free run. The Summer School also relies on the commitment and dedication of many individuals throughout the year. Julian Spencer has taken over as Treasurer, in succession to Andrew Downey who served in this role for 23 years. We owe a particularly large debt to Cathy Bothwell, the Course Secretary, who from autumn onwards arranges almost every aspect of the Summer School, from initial publicity through the applications process (now all online) and living arrangements at Bryanston to the coaches that transport people away at the end. Plans are in hand for celebration of the fiftieth Summer School in 2017.

John Taylor, Director
Henry Cullen, Director of Studies