Courses and events


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Live readings from the Metamorphoses

Free – on zoom

13th December 2021

Roman Baths - imageRoman Bath, Bath

Tales from the Metamorphoses 

19th February 2022.

King’s College, London

The Song of Arms and a Man 

Date to be arranged

Recent events


1st February 2020

The Romans and their gods

Roman Bath

“A thoroughly enjoyable day.”   “I could have listened for another hour.”   “Clear, engaging, a good mixture of material.”


23rd November 2019

The Song of Arms and a Man

St John’s College, Cambridge

“It was wonderful to hear so much of the Aeneid performed this evening and to romp through the story from start to finish. The cast of ‘The Song of Arms and a Man’ did a brilliant job bringing the text to life.”


5th October 2019

The Song of Arms and a Man

Charterhouse, Surrey

“The Virgil was phenomenal. Lots of our students were in the audience – thank you for inspiring them. I was spellbound.”


24th August 2019

Horace’s Odes

Gloucester Cathedral

“You managed to make it both informative and fun, and we really enjoyed the pronunciation practice as well!”


15th June 2019

The Song of Arms and a Man

Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford

“It was a real treat, it was so well done with the wonderful readings … I was transported!”


6th April 2019

A day in Ancient Greece and Rome

Fishbourne Roman Palace

“Thank you for a most interesting day”
“The approach to history was so engaging. I cannot wait to follow this up”


30th March 2019

A day in Ancient Greece and Rome

Gloucester Cathedral

“The course was excellent”
“The teaching was ideal”
“It was a lovely day, as always, and the mix of people friendly and inclusive”


23rd March 2019

Latin for Beginners

Roman Bath

“It made you think, with a variety of tasks”
“Even better than expected.”
“Thoroughly enjoyable and very informative”


9th February 2019

The Song of Arms and a Man

University of Bristol

“For anyone interested in the Aeneid, this is an absolute must-see!”

Course and event summaries



Tales from the Metamorphoses

Where other epic poems focus on a particular event or character, Ovid’s  Metamorphoses offers a collection of them, and because we tend to treat this poem as a go-to compendium of ancient myths (which it is), it is possible to lose sight of the whole. We will look at individual stories and also take a step back to view the broader structure of the poem.

Selections will be read in English and the original Latin.



The Romans and their gods

These colourful fabulous figures enliven the literature of the Romans. But what of their darker side, those mysterious powers with chilling consequences for mortals who err in some way or who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Religious beliefs embraced the ‘personality’ gods who figure in ancient literature and art, like Jupiter, Mars and Venus, and also all kinds of less visible spirits. The day will take a tour of some of the insights offered by ancient writers and poets, with a chance to hear some of the most thrilling verses ever composed.



The Song of Arms and a Man

The Latin Qvarter’s presentation of Virgil’s Aeneid is read by Emma Kirkby, Llewelyn Morgan, Matthew Hargreaves and Victoria Punch. George Sharpley’s adaptation of a rarely heard masterpiece echoes the ancient culture of public performance of poetry, and is accompanied with live ancient music by Barnaby Brown and Callum Armstrong. The performance brings the thrilling epic alive, telling the story of Aeneas’ struggle to fulfil his destiny as founder of Rome – from his escape from the burning ruins of Troy to his asylum and heart-breaking affair with the Carthaginian queen Dido and then his reluctant war with the inhabitants of his fated homeland of Italy. Selections of Virgil’s epic verse are read in the original Latin interspersed with an English narration which tells the whole story of the poem. This innovative and acclaimed presentation was first performed in Gloucester in 2018, and since at Bristol, Oxford, Charterhouse and Cambridge,



Latin for Beginners

Spend a day on classical Latin, with a look at Latin words at the root of English ones. See how the language works, enjoy some ancient gossip, learn more about ancient writers, and hear their work read aloud.



A day in Greece and Rome

What do the ancient Greeks and Romans mean to you? This one-day course traces the rise of Greek civilisation from the legendary times of Troy to the end of the Roman Republic and the first emperors. These two cultures are closely related and in turn shaped the world that followed. The Greek classical heyday was the fifth century BC, Rome’s was four hundred years later. In between came Alexander and his conquests, which left a world transfused with Hellenism: this was what the Romans inherited and they put their own stamp on it. In fact they put their stamp on quite a lot.



Horace’s Odes

How unique a poet is Horace? He belongs to a well-established tradition of preclassical Greek lyric poets, he reproduces their forms, themes and functions, and even their metres in the Latin language. He absorbs literary mannerisms of 3rd century Greek poets from Alexandria and also from recent Roman poets like Catullus. After him come medieval verses which echo similar themes, and Renaissance and later poets who deliberately seek comparison (Ben Johnson, Marvel, Pope and others). He is one link in a long chain of lyric poetry. And yet he has an extraordinarily distinctive voice. None of his themes and topics are new (e.g. invitations, celebrations, goodbyes, praises, erotic desires, farewells to love, reflections on friendship, how to live, and not least what to drink). It is possible that there may be more poems lost to us which are close models. But somehow Horace stands out as one of the most original poets in all antiquity, for his humane, ironic outlook, his unpredictable switching of direction (scene, characterisation, emotional focus, tone, slipping into humour or irony and back again); and above all what one scholar called the ‘miracle of sound’: his choice of words, in their time fresh and colloquial, and their enchanting (and for us challenging!) arrangement.

Latin in the cloisters - imageWhy Latin in the cathedrals?

In the 8th and 9th centuries there was a renaissance of learning in Europe, and Latin was at its heart – in cathedrals and monasteries.

At that time the overlord of a large part of western Europe, Charlemagne, had many new cathedrals and monasteries built. He instructed them to teach Latin, to produce more scribes to work in the courts and more priests to use the one language shared across Europe.

The Latin of Charlemagne’s day was a broad sweep of literature. There were liturgical and religious texts, laws, histories, administrative records (then, the clergy did all the ‘clerical’ work), works of fiction and poems, and also the treasured books of a much earlier timGloucester_Cathedral - imagee.

These pre-Christian writers – poets, historians, orators, storytellers and letter-writers – reflected values of a quite different world; but they were too good to ignore. The great classical writings of Cicero, Virgil and Ovid, whose stories of mischievous gods and whimsical goddesses were treated as allegories, were copied and kept alive in the cathedrals and monasteries like Gloucester shown here.