Heffers Classics Forum

One of our younger members, twelve year old Liv Sample, recently attended the Heffers Classics Forum and sent us the following account of her day, which featured, amongst other distinguished classicists, two of our brilliant speakers from last year: Professors Paul Cartledge and Edith Hall.  Liv’s entertaining account gives us an excellent insight into the event:

“This is my second visit to the Classics Forum run by the famous Cambridge  bookshop, Heffers. This event brings together the academic gods and goddesses of Classics in one packed day, where they speak with authority and humour on subjects which are the basis for their latest books.

This year, I heard speakers such as Professors Edith Hall and Paul Cartledge, and also my own personal favourite classicist, Adrian Goldsworthy, who spoke eloquently about what the Pax Romana really means. Another wonderful talk, with beautiful pictures, was by David Stuttard who spoke about places linked with Greek mythology that can be visited to this day. Now I so want to visit the olive tree of Athena near the Parthenon!

The highlight of the Forum is always the Balloon Debate where five eminent classicists give short speeches on why a certain thing should be saved, in the event of the world ending. The audience votes in a democratic fashion for the most persuasive speaker and it is just brilliant fun. The subject on this occasion was which copy of a classical work should be saved.

The works up for discussion included the account of the Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar, Antigone and Philoctetes by Sophocles, Martial’s Epigrams and Lysistrata by Aristophanes. I voted for Antigone presented by Edith Hall as firstly it is the work I am most familiar with and secondly because Antigone was a rebellious teen who seems so modern in her attitude. However, Professor Oliver Taplin’s amazing presentation of Philoctetes  nearly swayed me – what suffering that poor man went through and how well it was described! In the end, Edith Hall won- her passionate speech and her ideas about feminism and listening to what the young have to say,  inspired us to raise our hands and vote.

As well as the lectures, the Classics Forum gives plenty of opportunity for book signing with all the speakers. It is a really wonderful and rather intense experience for all those interested in Classics. I would recommend it to all and I certainly plan to return for the next one.”