omnianulla
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Hi,

I love the idea of doing classics at Cambridge. I study French, Spanish, History and politics and I think that the four year classics course would be amazing.

Can anyone suggest some reading around classics that would help to give an introduction as unfortunately my school offers no Latin/Greek or classics.

Many thanks.
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TheClassicsGeek
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Where to begin there are so many!

Firstly, if you're interested in getting a good foundation in Greek and/or Latin I would suggest the following books:

Greek to GCSE by John Taylor
So you really want to learn Latin by Nicholas Oulten (this book also gives a great overview of Roman history)

I definitely found these useful especially since I self taught Greek to GCSE. Then for literature I would suggest reading in translation the classics: The Aeneid, The Odyssey, The Illiad, Ovid's Metamorphoses, some Cicero speeches...

If your interests are mainly historical then Herodotus and Thucydides are a good place to start for Greek and Livy and Tacitus for Latin. There are also some really good Greek plays: Euripides Medea and Aristophanes Clouds are my favourites. I believe you can see these plays being performed in some theatres- definitely worth going if you can.

For philosophy, Plato and Aristotle write in very manageable Greek so when you feel confident enough they are a good place to begin reading in the original!

Finally, I found the book 'a Classical Education' very useful in providing a great and easy to follow introduction to the classical world, and it covers everything from philosophy to history to literature to sports!

Hope this helps and happy reading!


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username163092
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(Original post by omnianulla)
Hi,

I love the idea of doing classics at Cambridge. I study French, Spanish, History and politics and I think that the four year classics course would be amazing.

Can anyone suggest some reading around classics that would help to give an introduction as unfortunately my school offers no Latin/Greek or classics.

Many thanks.
Latin or Greek are not required for any Classics degrees these days because it's just not feasible - very few state schools offer them and not all private schools do either.

You should demonstrate an ability to learn languages (French and Spanish cover that!). Have a look on the various unis' websites to see how they teach you the languages - at both unis I've been to, it's done via intensive courses (nothing to A level standard over the uni year). So you need to be prepared for that because they are not easy courses.

It would do little harm to look into Latin or Greek before you go/apply though. I personally would not recommend "So You Really Want To Learn Latin" as it really quite poor in that you need 4 or 4 of the book sets (1 main book, 1 answer book) to get anywhere near the standard of Latin in the intensive book courses - the first book doesn't even have you learning all the declensions or reading extended Latin and they'll have set you back £30 for just that.

Instead, I would recommend the Reading Latin books. They're not perfect (though the new editions promise to be much better, if you want to shell out for those) but they are the best I've seen so far. They're also the books that most unis use for their ab intio courses.

For Greek, Reading Greek is a popular textbook at uni but it can be dry (I found it to be so). John Taylor's Greek to GCSE books are popular but I've only just begun working with them so don't have a fully formed opinion yet. The answer keys for Taylor's books can be obtained by emailing the publisher.

In addition to getting to know the languages a little, you should read up on the history of Greece and Rome (a good textbook should cover this. Make sure it's written by an academic - just google the author - rather than Joe Bloggs who never took a history module in his life though).

Then there's the literature. At a minimum a good Classics student should be familiar with The Illiad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. I must admit that I've made it to postgrad Classics without this but don't follow my example, especially if you end up with an interview.

I focus more on the Roman side of things so in terms of other Latin literature Catullus is a good laugh, Ovid is great (his Metamorphoses for example). I think that's probably more than enough reading for now but the Classics society (sticky at the top of the thread) will have more suggestions for you if you want them.

Oh, and don't despair at not knowing the language before uni - I didn't either and I just got a distinction in postgrad Latin (that's roughly an A/A* in A level terms or a first in degree terms) and am applying to be a Latin teacher. Just because we didn't get the chance earlier doesn't mean we can't be awesome at it. We just have to work a bit harder to begin with!
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sek510i
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The Cambridge Latin Course is very good for a gentle introduction to Latin, although it's probably aimed at younger readers. That, plus the other suggestions above should be enough to get you into Classical literature

Also, for another side of the Classical world I would highly recommend looking at Susan Woodford's book on ancient art and architecture. It's very clearly written and assumes little to no past knowledge of the ancient world.
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