A year together – online

It’s been another strange and challenging year, but thanks to support from the national Classical Association, we’ve been able to move online in 2020-21 and not only hold a lecture programme but also keep in touch with members, reach new audiences and grow our Classics community virtually!

Our webinars started with Polly Low’s excellent talk on Thermopylae as she explained how this battle was commemorated in antiquity and how the Spartans’ lives and deaths have been (mis)remembered in popular culture. Perhaps most surprisingly, she revealed that the war monument in Southport’s Lord Street bears a Simonides reference! Professor Llewelyn Morgan then took us on an around-the-world cultural voyage in the company of Hercules, the many named, multi-faceted and paradoxical hero and demi-god, before our President Professor Scott revealed the inner workings of Athenian democracy in January, a lovely evening albeit a bittersweet reminder of how we all normally enjoy a celebratory dinner together – roll on 2022 when we can celebrate his winning the prestigious 2021 Classical Association Prize!

In February, Ben Kane enthralled us with an ancient epic journey across mountains and sea as Greece and Rome clashed empires in the second century BC before Professor Helen King answered all of our questions on ancient medicine, covering a myriad topics, from pessaries and plasters to surgery, first aid kits and dentistry. Finally, in May, Dr Peter Liddel revealed the unexpected journeys and resting places of hundreds of ancient Athenian artefacts, across the UK. A huge thank you to all of our speakers for being so enthusiastic and generous with their time – speaking online is hardly conducive to the cake-eating and chatting we normally enjoy at events! We’re very grateful to them all and to our 200+ audiences for joining us on Zoom and asking lots of brilliant questions.

Moving online has allowed us to try new things and it has been great fun to start our free, virtual Book Club, a great opportunity to focus our reading, share our thoughts in an informal setting and explore how the ancient world has been received by different writers in the modern world – you can discover here which three books we chose to read first! We welcomed Dr Emily Hauser for an excellent author’s event and we have lots to look forward to including online Q&As with Prof. Armand D’Angour in September and Lucy Hughes-Hallett in December – email us at lsaclassics@gmail.com if you’d like to attend any of these free events. All are welcome and no prior knowledge is needed, although if you have read the book that’s a bonus!

We’ve also started an Ancient Greek Beginners’ group, thanks to our member Laura, and it’s been great to have twenty members start learning Greek with her guidance and support using the John Taylor Greek to GCSE textbooks; again, just let us know if you’d like to get involved. Online events have removed barriers of distance, meaning that we have welcomed members and ambassadors from further afield, as well as joining events run by other CA branches, and our 2021 Classics Competition received a record-breaking number of entries from students across the globe! You can read all about the Grand Final and the great array of answers given to this year’s question here: congratulations to the overall winner Martha Gayer.

Our 27 Classics Ambassadors have been busy writing blogs, curating our Agora newsletter, and creating content for our social media – particularly our Temple Tuesday series and ‘Learn Ancient Greek’ Instagram page. In June we held our end of year Ambassador celebration event with Professor Scott and awarded prizes to the winners of our Agora Writing Awards – Liv, Imogen and Abigail – and to Esmé, Declan, Florence and Lorna for their outreach work and social media support.

We can’t wait to welcome all of our 2021-22 speakers to Lancashire at last!

We look forward to welcoming you all back to the branch in September for our first lecture of the new season with Professor Robin Osborne, and to continuing many of the online activities that have brought us joy, companionship and entertainment over the past eighteen months. We can’t wait to learn more about Athenian art, Hadrian’s Wall, Greek mythology, ancient Delos, the lost women of Knossos, the ancient Greek Chorus and the archaeology of Pompeii with our fantastic speakers and we would love for you to join us! You can become a member or renew your membership here to access all seven lectures, either online or in-person in Lytham St Annes, as well as becoming part of our vibrant Classics Community.