A Level Classical Civilisation
Preparation and pre-reading for A Level Classical Civilisation
We’re really excited that you’re interested in studying A-level Classical Civilisation at New College. Please have a look at the preparation and pre-reading activities below which will give you a good grounding. Approach this as a pick’n’mix and don’t worry about completing every task, just pick the ones that interest you most!
If you have access to the following books or the means to purchase them, I highly recommend that you read the following –
Beard, M. (2016) SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, Profile Books
Fry, S (2017) Mythos, Penguin
Fry, S. (2018) Heroes, Penguin
These are the set texts for the World of the Hero module which you might want to get a head start on –
Homer, The Odyssey, Penguin Classics (translated by E. V. Rieu)
Virgil, The Aeneid, Penguin Classics (translated by David West)
The college subscribes to a website called Massolit which provides video lectures by academics about the Ancient World. To access the site, you sign up using your school email address. www.massolit.io/
These videos will not only boost your knowledge on the Ancient World further but they will begin to prepare you for A-level where we engage much more with the ideas of academics. Alongside lectures for Classical Civilisation, there are also videos on here for Ancient History, English Literature and Philosophy.
The Open University – Courses
In the second year of study, we will look at Virgil’s Aeneid. The Open University are running an introductory course for free which takes approximately 7 hours.
They are also running a free introductory course on the Classical World. This course will be very useful if you have not studied Classics at GCSE.
The following documentaries can be watched on YouTube. As you watch them, complete a set of notes (these can be bullet points, spider diagrams or mindmaps). Again, these documentaries will boost your knowledge of the Classical World and engage with academics.
Prof Mary Beard – Ultimate Rome
Episode 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LL_acQHNs-o
Episode 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urJbBsdvjKU
Episode 3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5alrhQKGOjg
Episode 4 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvBghnYyiR4
Prof Michael Scott – Delphi
Prof Michael Scott – Ancient Greece The Greatest Show on Earth
Episode 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAkLTWQUbG8
Episode 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaRIZIPAL6M&t=4s
Episode 3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnqz1zxGDTA
Prof Bettany Hughes – Athens the Truth about Democracy
Ted Ed also do excellent short clips on famous Greek and Roman myths –
If you have access to Amazon Prime you can watch the following for free –
The Great Greek Myths Seasons 1 & 2 – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07PN7MNLW
Access the Radio 4 In Our Time Podcasts where Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss a wide range of things including Roman Emperors, Horace and The Iliad: In Our Time
There are a range of ancient plays online that you can access and these would be particularly helpful to watch and research as you will be studying a selection of plays on the A-Level.
This might be a good place to start – Lysistrata (16+ sexual references and strong language) and Antigone.
Lighter Reads – Fiction about the Classical World
There are thousands of fiction books about the Classical World and listed below are some of my favourites. If you have the means to buy them, I highly recommend you do. Alternatively, when you return to school in September they are all available on the bookcase in the Humanities Pod.
Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller – Circe
Pat Barker – The Silence of the Girls
Natalie Haynes – A Thousand Ships
Margaret Atwood – The Penelopiad
Omnibus is a magazine dedicated to the ancient world, and covers a broad range of interesting topics, many of which are quirky and obscure! You’ll find answers to questions you had never even thought of asking! Their catalogue is available for free here:
Read some articles on Greek and Roman history and learn something interesting – we discuss lots of different topics in Classical Civilisation so you never know, this knowledge may come in handy!
Research some of the authors
Use the internet to research some of the ancient authors we will be studying:
When completing your research, look for information for the following questions
- When/where did they live?
- What was their job or profession?
- Did they live through any important historical events? If so did they have a role in these?
- What genre of work were they writing? What innovations are they credited with making to their genre?
- What major works did they write? What are these works about?
- What legacy have they left behind? What influence have they had on others after their death?
The following websites could be a helpful starting point: