Classical Civilisation

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Classical Civilisation represents a diverse and exciting Sixth Form subject option for The John Lyon School, an integral part of the Classics Department’s offering at The John Lyon School (alongside both Latin and Greek). Currently offered for the first time at Sixth Form, “ClassCiv” is taught by all three staff members within the department. We utilise the AQA Specification and plans exist to expand the subject down to GCSE – watch this space!

“ClassCiv” is a school subject unlike any other, drawing directly upon Western Civilisation’s roots in ancient Greece and Rome. The subject combines skills and content from such areas as art, art history, archaeology, drama, history, literature and religion in a dynamic and meaningful way—“ClassCiv” is the ultimate cross-curricular discipline and as such provides fantastic preparation for university studies, wherein students have to ’think outside the box'!

Considerable emphasis is placed on expanding students’ experience beyond the classroom within the subject, including museum visits to Oxford, Cambridge and the British Museum, planned overseas to Rome and Greece, and a panoply of guest speakers and conferences.


Classical Civilisation holds the following options for AS (Lower Sixth Form) study:

 Unit 1: Greek Sculpture and Architecture

Examining the development of monumental temples and the sculptural depiction of men, women and the gods, this unit combines art, architecture, archaeology and religion in a fascinating exploration of Greek art and culture in the 6th-4th centuries BCE. The Parthenon and the Athenian Akropolis, the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia (home of the Games!) and treasures rescued from the bottom of the sea are just some of the highlights of this course.


Unit 2: Homer’s Odyssey

One of the great epic stories from antiquity, The Odyssey tells the story of one man’s extended journey back home after the Trojan Wars. En route to his kingdom of Ithaka, Odysseus must battle gods, monsters, the elements and wicked seductresses — amongst other obstacles — to be reunited with his beloved wife and son…. Even then he has to kill dozens of people to settle the score!) The ultimate 'tall tale', The Odyssey set the standard for similar works throughout the centuries.


For A2 study in the Upper Sixth Form, Classical Civilisation offers:

Unit 3: Mycenaean Archaeology

This unit starts with an exploration of archaeology as a discipline and a science: apart from written texts — not always reliable, sometimes not even there! — how can we find out about the past lives, events and civilisations that preceded ours? Materials remains – cities and fortresses, tombs and graves, weapons and armour, jewellery and pottery – all combine to tell the tale of the beginnings of ancient Greece during the Late Bronze Age.


Unit 4: Roman Epic

A return to epic tales, this unit focuses on Virgil’s Aeneid - the story of one man’s journey not homewards, but rather to found a homeland. The Trojan prince Aeneas escapes the destruction of Troy and journeys to Italy to lay the foundations of Rome and her empire. Doomed love, the death of a father and an excursion into the Underworld precede Aeneas’ arrival in Latium — only by facing the greatest of personal enemies can he fulfil his destiny… We shall seek to examine the lessons taught by this grand story, the insights into character, theme and plot to unpick the rich tapestry woven by Rome’s greatest poet.