Latin & Greek

Latin & Greek

We try to make the study of Latin, and of ancient Greek and Roman culture, both useful and inspirational for all boys, whatever their inborn ability with languages.

Latin, with its concreteness, its highly inflected syntax and its free word-order, is radically distant from all modern European languages.  By visiting that faraway world, even while it remains difficult and alien, children can come to see how thought and language are intertwined but different.  Philology is the parent of philosophy. At the same time, Latin and Greek are deeply present within English and other modern languages.  A vast array of vocabulary and terminology is built out of ancient materials, sometimes ingeniously repurposed and sometimes borrowed just as they are.

That simultaneous distance and nearness of the ancient languages also applies, pari passu, to the ancient cultures.  They are at the same time wonderfully strange and weirdly familiar.  On one hand, the speeches of Cicero; on the other, the myth of the Minotaur.  All in all, the point of studying classical language and civilisation is to broaden horizons and deepen self-awareness; to learn more about who you are, where you come from, and where you are going.

We hope to instil the love of all languages, whether ancient or modern. The grammatical content of Latin helps the boys understand the grammatical structure of a language. The syllabus is closely allied to whatever concept is being taught by the MFL department. Emphasis placed on the etymology of words since this knowledge will increase the boy’s vocabulary and help reinforce spelling patterns.

The boys are also introduced to classical civilisation which has had such an influence on many aspects of Western thought. They study Greek and Roman mythology as well as learning about the daily life of the Romans.

Boys start in year 5 when the emphasis starts with the exploration of the Greek and Latin roots of English words leading to an introduction to the first verb conjugation and some vocabulary.  Roman social history and mythology are also studied regularly.

In year 6, there is more focus on the grammatical content so that by the end of the year, the boys have reached level 1 CE.

In year 7, having strengthened the understanding of the basic grammar met in year 6, further tenses of the active voice are studied and increased knowledge of nouns and adjectives enable pupils to deal with and enjoy more complicated stories in Latin met in the Level 2 syllabus.

In year 8, pupils are expected to complete the level 3 syllabus midway through the year. They will meet participial phrases, purpose clauses and verbs in the passive voice enabling them to tackle Latin resembling original authors and being in a strong position to cope well with both level 3, CASE and beyond. In addition to finishing the CE syllabus, all boys are introduced to classical Greek.

At every level, close attention is paid to thorough learning of grammar and vocabulary through games, quizzes etc. Use is also made of the ample opportunities to see the wealth of classical material available in London.