Classics BA Personal Statement - I know Latin but not Ancient History!

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JaneSeymour24
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#1
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#1
Hello all! Asking for some advice about potential classics degree applications.

I’m just about to finish my A Levels before taking a gap year and then going to study classics at uni. I’ve done Latin A Level which I absolutely adore and I have very limited knowledge of ancient culture through study of set texts etc but that’s it!! In my gap year i plan on learning a little bit of Greek but could anyone advise me where might be a good start for some ancient history knowledge?
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Ovidianmorals
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Maybe read the Aeneid for some Augustan context and the Iliad or/and for some Homeric context
Sappho is really good for 7th Century BC Greece
I am really interested in the Mycenaean Greece so I prefer to read non-fiction books about this but I find it useful to chart history through reading literature from that time period
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BlancheCheng
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Hi! I think just start from whatever part you're interested in. I applied for Classics as well but I really had no idea about what ancient history was like (except for the things I learned for my A-Level Latin). I didn't mention any ancient history stuff in my personal statement except for some Augustan context when talking about Ovid and some gender history when talking about the life of ancient women in my written work (for Oxford only). For me, I'd much prefer to learn history about the literary/philosophical books I read rather than starting from a dry history book
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15colesch
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hi! i have an offer for cambridge classics undergrad and my interest largely leans towards literature rather than history but i can try to help!

remember since classics is interdisciplinary and has sooo many elements you dont have to know everything, so find what interests you most!

personally i havent even read many books, but i love listening to podcasts! there are so many on spotify, and i find natalie haynes super easy going and interesting to listen to with a great range of topics! other recommendations i have are 'lets talk about myths, baby' (obviously about myths, not history, but ive been listening for years) and the History of Rome podcast (quite monotonous but has a complete history of rome to get an understanding)

if you enjoyed the set texts for latin (which ones did you do?? i do virgil for both verse, then cicero and tacitus ) ) and want to look at more literature, then branching off from those authors in whatever direction interests you is also a good starting place, or even reading some of the other set texts from different years. for example, i read some of Virgil's georgics since i really like the natural descriptions in the Aeneid.

If you haven't read the iliad or aeneid and think they could interest you, then go for it! they're honestly great books. i mean to read emily wilson's translation of the odyssey this summer too
if you don't feel like reading them, alternatively could explore retellings such as silence of the girls and a thousand ships, or madeline millers books.

check out this list too!
https://ellesthetics.wordpress.com/2...g-classicists/
like i said ive barely had any time to actually sit down and read lol, but ive read some of the roman revolution and it seems good (warning though, its LONG, 524 pages)! augustan rome is a more manageable 137 pages. the greeks and romans in 10 chapters by nigel spivey is also an amazing introduction to an overview, plus the cover is beautiful enough to buy it for that alone haha. honestly any book from this list will be an amazing read.

also you could visit any sites or museums near you, even galleries, as seeing artifacts and sites in person is equally valuable! the only (social) history i mentioned on my personal statement were the findings at vindolanda, with small every day items of jewellery and dice etc

the beauty of classics is how you can find anything that interests you! dont worry about having an all-encompassing knowledge across loads of areas of classics, just find a niche which you find cool! explore with different media and eventually you'll find something which youll love

if you have any questions or wanna talk abt anything classics related ask away ) sorry for the long ramble!
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JaneSeymour24
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Thank you so so much!! I had my final A2 Latin exam today and am lowkey sad its over but excited to learn some new things rather than the same lines of the Aeneid over and over again…

I absolutely fell in love with the Aeneid and especially the whole concept of epic destiny and how Virgil’s audience would have accpeted/reacted to it so I’m definitely gonna try and tackle the big 3 epics this summer! But I also never got to properly delve into Augustan context and its influence on Virgil so will probably look into that too and see where it takes me!

Podcasts definitely seem like a good shout, as do documentaries so will have a browse but thank you so much for your tips!
(Original post by 15colesch)
hi! i have an offer for cambridge classics undergrad and my interest largely leans towards literature rather than history but i can try to help!

remember since classics is interdisciplinary and has sooo many elements you dont have to know everything, so find what interests you most!

personally i havent even read many books, but i love listening to podcasts! there are so many on spotify, and i find natalie haynes super easy going and interesting to listen to with a great range of topics! other recommendations i have are 'lets talk about myths, baby' (obviously about myths, not history, but ive been listening for years) and the History of Rome podcast (quite monotonous but has a complete history of rome to get an understanding)

if you enjoyed the set texts for latin (which ones did you do?? i do virgil for both verse, then cicero and tacitus ) ) and want to look at more literature, then branching off from those authors in whatever direction interests you is also a good starting place, or even reading some of the other set texts from different years. for example, i read some of Virgil's georgics since i really like the natural descriptions in the Aeneid.

If you haven't read the iliad or aeneid and think they could interest you, then go for it! they're honestly great books. i mean to read emily wilson's translation of the odyssey this summer too
if you don't feel like reading them, alternatively could explore retellings such as silence of the girls and a thousand ships, or madeline millers books.

check out this list too!
https://ellesthetics.wordpress.com/2...g-classicists/
like i said ive barely had any time to actually sit down and read lol, but ive read some of the roman revolution and it seems good (warning though, its LONG, 524 pages)! augustan rome is a more manageable 137 pages. the greeks and romans in 10 chapters by nigel spivey is also an amazing introduction to an overview, plus the cover is beautiful enough to buy it for that alone haha. honestly any book from this list will be an amazing read.

also you could visit any sites or museums near you, even galleries, as seeing artifacts and sites in person is equally valuable! the only (social) history i mentioned on my personal statement were the findings at vindolanda, with small every day items of jewellery and dice etc

the beauty of classics is how you can find anything that interests you! dont worry about having an all-encompassing knowledge across loads of areas of classics, just find a niche which you find cool! explore with different media and eventually you'll find something which youll love

if you have any questions or wanna talk abt anything classics related ask away ) sorry for the long ramble!
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pkchan
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(Original post by 15colesch)
hi! i have an offer for cambridge classics undergrad and my interest largely leans towards literature rather than history but i can try to help!

remember since classics is interdisciplinary and has sooo many elements you dont have to know everything, so find what interests you most!

personally i havent even read many books, but i love listening to podcasts! there are so many on spotify, and i find natalie haynes super easy going and interesting to listen to with a great range of topics! other recommendations i have are 'lets talk about myths, baby' (obviously about myths, not history, but ive been listening for years) and the History of Rome podcast (quite monotonous but has a complete history of rome to get an understanding)

if you enjoyed the set texts for latin (which ones did you do?? i do virgil for both verse, then cicero and tacitus ) ) and want to look at more literature, then branching off from those authors in whatever direction interests you is also a good starting place, or even reading some of the other set texts from different years. for example, i read some of Virgil's georgics since i really like the natural descriptions in the Aeneid.

If you haven't read the iliad or aeneid and think they could interest you, then go for it! they're honestly great books. i mean to read emily wilson's translation of the odyssey this summer too
if you don't feel like reading them, alternatively could explore retellings such as silence of the girls and a thousand ships, or madeline millers books.

check out this list too!
https://ellesthetics.wordpress.com/2...g-classicists/
like i said ive barely had any time to actually sit down and read lol, but ive read some of the roman revolution and it seems good (warning though, its LONG, 524 pages)! augustan rome is a more manageable 137 pages. the greeks and romans in 10 chapters by nigel spivey is also an amazing introduction to an overview, plus the cover is beautiful enough to buy it for that alone haha. honestly any book from this list will be an amazing read.

also you could visit any sites or museums near you, even galleries, as seeing artifacts and sites in person is equally valuable! the only (social) history i mentioned on my personal statement were the findings at vindolanda, with small every day items of jewellery and dice etc

the beauty of classics is how you can find anything that interests you! dont worry about having an all-encompassing knowledge across loads of areas of classics, just find a niche which you find cool! explore with different media and eventually you'll find something which youll love

if you have any questions or wanna talk abt anything classics related ask away ) sorry for the long ramble!
omg classics at cambridge is literally my dream. which college did you apply for?
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15colesch
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(Original post by pkchan)
omg classics at cambridge is literally my dream. which college did you apply for?
i applied to selwyn and got pooled to murray edwards finding out on thursday if im in eeeek
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artful_lounger
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You don't need to talk about every element of classics in your PS - you can even just talk about one specific area you're interested in. As above it's pretty wide ranging and not all classicists work on all areas (in fact sort of necessarily once they get to the point of PhD and beyond, they normally just focus on one quite specific area). So if your main interest is in e.g. literature, or philosophy, or whatever else, you can just write about those. You'll later in the degree pick up the bits of ancient history you need to contextualise those anyway!
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