Oxbridge Project: Classics Lecture

Dr O’Hear: On Tuesday May 6th the Oxbridge Project opened its summer season of lectures with an extremely well-attended talk from Classicist Dr Kathryn Tempest of Roehampton University.

Building on the group's not inconsiderable smattering of knowledge of the Odyssey, the Iliad, Imperial Rome and the Greek and Roman gods, Dr Tempest took us on a whistle stop tour of Virgil's Aeneid and its likely sources. We saw how books 1-6 of the Aeneid mirror the Odyssey and books 7- 12 mirror the Iliad, both of which having been 'written' by Homer some five centuries earlier.

Dr Tempest also introduced us to the conflicting theories that exist on whether the Aeneid, the story of Rome's beginnings from the ashes of Troy, had been written in praise of the emperor Augustus, the first absolute ruler of Rome or whether Aeneas with all his flaws (such as his affair with Dido, the 'pagan' queen of Carthage) was in fact intended as a veiled critique of the new Emperor.

Ahmed Mohamed in 10B and Abubaker Baldo in 8B both asked interesting questions and Dr Tempest was very pleased to learn about the growing numbers of BDA students studying Latin. She herself teaches a Classical Civilisation degree course at Roehampton and several students expressed an interest in such a course. This in turn led to an interesting discussion of university course choices and a reiteration of the wise advice (echoed by many of our speakers) that it is important to study a subject you are passionate about at university and that what employers are interested in is a good degree (a 2:1 or above) in a solid subject (which could range from Chemistry to Theology to Classical Civilisation and even to Oriental Studies).

So don't narrow down your options by confining yourself to a more 'vocational' subject like Law or Economics and Management at university. Such courses are harder to get onto, usually not as interesting and may not ultimately prove as popular with employers.