Report by the Director and Director of Studies on the JACT Greek
Summer School, held at Bryanston School 29th July – 11th August 2012
The 45th Greek Summer School had 366 students, 16 of whom were undergraduate or
postgraduate university students (including two from the Charles University in Prague). The
remainder were at school or had just left. The student body included people educated in
various European countries, the USA, Canada and China; and 74 from maintained schools in
the UK. This year, for the first time, we found ourselves over-subscribed at the deadline for
applications, and to our great regret had to turn away 21 applicants.
There were 85 Beginners in twelve groups, 83 Intermediates (pre-GCSE) in eleven groups,
and 198 Advanced students (from just post-GCSE to university level) in twenty-one groups.
There was one group of eleven students, but the Beginners’ groups were kept to a maximum
size of eight thanks to a special grant from the Cambridge Classics Faculty. The Beginners’
groups used Reading Greek, as did many of the Intermediate groups, though some used the
Taylor course if that was what the students were using at school. Favoured authors and texts
among Advanced groups were as follows: among the different books of Homer read, Iliad 3
and 18 and Odyssey 21; of prose authors, Plato and Demosthenes; in drama, Euripides was
the most popular, with Medea and Bacchae especially so, though two groups also read
There were 44 tutors, including twenty from universities (Cambridge, Exeter, Glasgow,
Leeds, King’s College London, University College London, Nottingham, Oxford and
Warwick) and six teaching at the Summer School for the first time. One tutorship was again
generously supported by Trinity College, Cambridge. We were visited by Caroline Lawrence,
President of JACT, at the beginning of the second week of the course, and during the second
week of the course we were joined, through our Potential Teachers scheme (organised by
Mary Staniforth), by Louise Dawes (Jesus College, Cambridge) and Alice Jones (Corpus
Christi College, Oxford). Heather Sanger was our matron and the Director’s Assistants were
Kaiya Stone, Oliver Thicknesse and Abigail Walker.
Visiting lecturers were Tom Holland on classical antiquity and the origins of Islam, Kurt
Lampe on Homeric ethics, Polly Low on Thucydides and the commemoration of war, Carrie
Vout on ugliness and classical art, Ian Ruffell on Aristophanes’ Frogs, Armand d’Angour on
love and poetry in Sappho and others, Fritz-Gregor Herrmann on Socrates in love, and
Patrick Finglass on Oedipus before and in Sophocles. Course tutors offered a daily
programme of well-attended afternoon seminars covering a range of linguistic, literary,
historical and philosophical topics, to which Caroline Lawrence contributed a discussion of
the creative process behind her novels.
Academic work was supplemented by a stimulating choice of extra-curricular activities.
Eleanor Dickey led a walk to the Iron Age and Roman site at Hod Hill, and there was a coach
excursion to Salisbury on the middle Saturday. Emma Woolerton devised and compèred a
challenging quiz; the questions dealing with current affairs were made easier by the daily
newspapers which Holly Eckhardt brought up from Blandford early each morning. The
concert featured performances by the course orchestra (conducted by Keith Maclennan) and
choir (conducted by Jonathan Katz) as well as a diverse selection of chamber and solo pieces.
On the middle Sunday we enjoyed a hilarious production of Aristophanes’ Frogs, overseen
by Judith Affleck and Clive Letchford in their new translation (slightly modified for the
occasion to offer a novel solution to the choice between Aeschylus and Euripides). In the
Greek theatre on the final evening we experienced, in Greek, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King in
a taut and visceral reimagining directed by Costas Panayotakis and Jo Willmott. The
costumes and props for both performances (including some extraordinarily charming frogs)
were provided by a large team of students and tutors under the guidance of Clare Sharp.
The 186 questionnaires returned by students were overwhelmingly positive about their
experience. All but seven felt they had made great progress with their Greek, and 130 more –
and often far more - than they had expected to. It was also a hard-working summer school, as
150 respondents said they had done more than three hours independent study a day (on top of
the contact hours), and 97 more than four hours (several claiming to have done nine hours).
Almost all found the pace challenging but manageable, and the teaching was effusively
praised for its patience, clarity, passion and pastoral support. The lecture programme, and the
seminars especially, were widely praised, and there were numerous positive comments about
the hospitality showed to us by Bryanston School, individual tutors, and the course as a
We gratefully acknowledge support from the Cambridge Classics Faculty, the Oxford Faculty
Board of Classics, the Craven Committee (Oxford), the Jowett Copyright Trust, the Classical
Association (which funded two Classical Association Bursaries), the Bristol Anglo-Hellenic
Cultural Society, Trinity College Cambridge, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic
Studies, the JACT Greek Project, the Gilbert Murray/Cromer Trust, and private benefactors.
The Summer School is, as always, very grateful to Bryanston School, whose facilities make
possible a residential summer school and all the opportunities which arise from that. Its
activities take place under the guidance of its Management Committee and depend very
heavily on the support and advice of the committee’s members, above all its Chair, Keith
Maclennan. Finally, the Summer School simply would not take place without the work of
Elizabeth Warren, the Course Secretary, and her assistant Susan Swales: they put in place all
the arrangements with Bryanston School, work throughout the year to publicise the Summer
School, process applications, organise travel and accommodation, and finally ensure that
once we gather in Dorset the course runs like clockwork. We owe them our unbounded
Catherine Steel, Director
Chris Burnand, Director of Studies