Classical Civilisation

Classical Civilisation appeals to pupils who are interested in literature, drama, art, history, politics or philosophy, who wish to trace the development of these disciplines from their beginnings in the ancient world.

The subject begins in Year 10 (with taster sessions enjoyed in Year 9), is taught entirely in English, and requires no previous knowledge, only an interest in the roots of our culture and civilisation. Often pupils have enjoyed the cultural aspects of their study of Latin in Years 7 -9 and Classical Civilisation provides an excellent opportunity to explore these further.

The GCSE course contains elements of both ancient Greece and Rome and involves a comparative study of the two, with pupils given the opportunity to study classical literature and visual/material culture in their respective social, historical and cultural contexts.  Pupils examine temples, statues, vases, inscriptions, reliefs and frescoes, as well as exploring the timeless epics of Homer.

The A level course is open to both those who have enjoyed the subject at GCSE and those who fancy a new challenge. Its great benefit is its variety, with the chance to study literature, art, history and philosophy. The epics of Homer and Virgil form a central part of the course, analysing the themes and characters within these poems, whilst also considering the literary and social contexts that they existed in. For the second part of the course, students either have the opportunity to study ancient Greek tragedies and theatre, or to engage with Greek art, including vase–painting and free-standing and architectural sculpture. Furthermore, pupils explore classical ideas about love and relationships - key aspects of the literature, thoughts and ethics of any society - through the prism of Roman and Greek philosophy and poetry.

Beyond the classroom, we encourage pupils at all levels to broaden their understanding and appreciation of the classical world. We run a biennial trip to the classical sites of Italy or Greece and arrange regular theatre, lecture and museum trips. Our enthusiastic classical sixth formers run a dedicated Classics Club for the Lower School, and a Classics Society for the Middle and Upper School. For the Sixth Form, we run enrichment sessions, aimed at preparing students for university and drawing on the extensive expertise of members of the department.

Alleyn's owns a Greek skyphos, a purchase made possible through a kind donation. It depicts an owl, an appropriate figure for a school as the owl is the symbol of Athene, the goddess of wisdom.

An ancient 'skythos' jug, on display at Alleyn's school


A group of Alleyns students pose for a photo in a ruin