On Monday 31st March 2014, the East End Classics Centre (under the aegis of the Capital Classics Project) held a parallel teacher training and student study day on Homer’s Odyssey, hosted by and organised together with the Department of Greek and Latin, UCL (an official partner in the Capital Classics Project). The day was particularly aimed at students studying Homer’s Odyssey for AS-level Classical Civilisation, but was open to all students interested in Homer’s Odyssey and epic in the ancient world. Over 40 students from BSix Sixth Form College, Fortismere School and Mossbourne Community Academy attended the day at UCL.
Students and teachers attended three lectures presented by experts on Homer and his legacy: Dr Antony Makrinos (UCL) opened the day with an excellent introduction to Homer, which examined Myceanean archaeology and Schliemann’s archaeological discoveries, Linear B, the tradition of heroic poetry and the epic cycles, important themes in the Odyssey, story patterns, heroic values and the heroic ideal, formulaic scenes and the roles of gods in Homeric epic and Homeric religion. Dr Makrinos also explored the role of women in Homeric epic, the roles of emotions and the legacy of Homer in the ancient world. Dr Peter Agocs (UCL) presented a fascinating and accessible lecture on ‘Homer and his tradition’, which focused especially on Homer’s position in Greek culture, the ‘Homeric Question’, oral features of Homeric song and the performance of epic poetry. Dr Justine McConnell (University of Oxford) presented a very engaging and dynamic lecture entitled, ‘The Odyssey through the Ages: from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century’, which explored the reception of Homer in literature, art, poetry and films, including the works of Dante, Tennyson, Turner, James Joyce, Derek Walcott and Margaret Atwood.
Between these lectures, students attended student study sessions focusing on different aspects of Homer’s Odyssey, which were led by postgraduate and undergraduate students from UCL. Teachers attended teacher training sessions focusing on approaches to teaching Homer’s Odyssey.
The event was very successful and enjoyable for all involved. One of the students commented that, “The student study and revision sessions were extremely helpful. They helped me to evaluate and analyse the Odyssey in a deeper way.”
We would like to thank the A.G. Leventis Foundation and the Department of Greek and Latin, UCL, for their generous financial support of the event, Professor Gesine Manuwald and David Alabaster in the Department of Greek and Latin, UCL, for all of their help and organisational assistance, Toni Shelley for assistance with student learning materials, Xavier Murray-Pollock (Iris Project) for assistance with the co-ordination of student volunteers, and all of our UCL postgraduate and undergraduate student volunteers, Naomi Scott, Katie Shields, Tim Castle, Florence Low and Larissa Erzinclioglu.