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CAI 2018 Summer School ‘Entertaining the Masses’ Review

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On the weekend of 17-19th August, the Classical Association of Northern Ireland was proud to host the Classical Association of Ireland‘s Summer School for 2018 in Queen’s University Belfast. With its range of subjects and speakers, the Summer School promised to live up to its overall topic of Entertaining the Masses.


After the CAI AGM, the 2018 Summer School was kicked off by its keynote lecture entitled ‘Honour among Thebes’ from none other than best-selling novelist Natalie Haynes. The eager audience were immediately enthralled by Natalie’s machine gun delivery and tremendous quick-wit as she covered every possible avenue of the topic that her hour long time slot permitted. Natalie took us back to her days before becoming a best-selling author and classicist, reminiscing about her less-successful stints as a comedian in the Mandela Hall and the Empire, both little more than a stone’s throw away.


That comedic background was in full view with a fast paced, whirlwind but highly entrancing lecture which involved a plethora of (somehow hugely relevant) tangents like The Rock, Fast and the Furious, punching a mega-shark, the Brian Coxes and so many more…

Natalie observed that female characters within Greek tragedy are not the focus of the works, even those named after them – paying particular attention to Antigone who has far less lines than her male counterpart and uncle, Creon. We learned of the interesting consistencies between modern soaps and ancient plays, with both paying heed to Aristotle’s theory of tragedy. For them to be tragic, all plots must contain things such as mythos (plot), unity of place (be it in front of the palace of Thebes or on Coronation Street) and unity of time (all things must follow a logical and chronological order).

Focus fell predominantly on Aristotle’s favourite, Oedipus Rex, and how the smartest person in the whole tragedy is Jocasta, Oedipus’ wife/mother. She, above all other main characters (including the male ones) is first to deduce just who has murdered the previous king, ultimately leading to her tragic suicide and all within her minimal 120 lines of dialogue.


Finishing off our fantastic keynote lecture, we are treated to a short reading of Natalie’s book The Children of Jocasta, which showcases the points of view of two of the female characters from the Oedipus stories, Jocasta and Ismene.


The Summer School reconvened the following morning with CANI’s own Helen McVeigh hosting ‘Classics and Modern Culture: in conversation with Natalie Haynes.’ Natalie highlighted that it should be the goal of Classics to make itself less elitist. The days of classical subjects being reserved for those who can afford the education and the appropriate institutions should be gone; those subjects should be made available to study for anyone who wishes to, be it a state school or private one.


“But what got you into Classics?” asks Helen, to which Natalie replies, “a brilliant teacher” – a simple response, but perhaps one that resonates with all of us. Our greatest loves, our greatest interests were perhaps ignited by an inspirational teacher earlier in our lives. We hear of Natalie’s series on BBC Radio 4, Natalie Haynes Stands up for the Classics, a 30 minute show featuring ‘showbiz’ guests, stand up and all centring on characters and people from the Ancient World.

A few more diversions here and there and we round off the conversation with a reading from Haynes’ next work, A Thousand Ships; a compelling story of the Trojan War, from the point of view of the women and the goddesses. Natalie also answers a few questions from the captivated Summer School members.


Dr Laura Pfuntner (QUB) introduced the second lecture of the day, ‘Fun and Games in Ancient Epic’, given by Professor Helen Lovatt of Nottingham University.  The audience was first asked to think about what the epic heroes actually do for fun. “Feasting and games”, according to Professor Lovatt. These were ritualistic, sometimes commemorative and vastly more serious than usually thought. Gladiatorial combat and chariot racing were important spectacles and enormous public events. A key to revealing this information is to look at the architecture of Ancient Rome, especially the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus. The sheer size of these carefully constructed places can only suggest that the Romans considered the idea of games and sport as being of the upmost importance, especially as these structures have been able to withstand the test of time.


Professor Lovatt explained that “storytelling is serious business”, with feasting and games playing a major part. Epics such as the Iliad and the Aeneid go into great depth at times to describe fun and games for us. The Iliad 23 gives us the great example of the funeral games held for Achilles’ dear friend, Patroklos. As Professor Lovatt highlights, these games are perhaps fun for the viewer (and reader) but can be very serious for the participants as they quite often argue over results such as when Menelaos in Iliad 23 complains that Antilochos only overcame him in the chariot race by cutting him off.

An interesting question was raised regarding the competitiveness of Ancient Greek society as a whole, with Professor Lovatt reminding us that sport, games and competition were seen throughout Greek life, be it through the work of poets, vase painters or of sculptors.


After a brief interlude, Helen McVeigh introduced Dr Cressida Ryan (Oxford) for her talk asking ‘Why is Tragedy Entertaining?’ Following the Bee Gees’ song ‘Tragedy’ (the Steps version), we follow Dr Ryan through the five things that make tragedy entertaining by using five different lyrics from the catchy song.

Plato lambasts the concept of poetry (especially tragedy) within his Republic, considering it self-indulgent, provoking the wrong emotions. It does not help the grieving move on, leaves us with the inability to reason and so strays us further and further away from his concept of the ‘good soul’. The views of Plato’s most famous student, Aristotle, differ drastically. He believes that one must be a genius not a madman to write good poetry. Aristotle suggests we can learn from poetry as it can be relevant within our own lives. Aristotle himself was not sure how to define tragedy, offering four separate definitions in the Poetics. What he does state are the rules which a tragedy must follow and for there to be rules there must be reason – something which Plato believes a tragedy lacks.


Dr Ryan then raised Hitchcock’s concept of suspense versus surprise. In one scenario there is a bomb under the table between two people but the audience has no idea until the bomb explodes. This is surprise. Suspense is where the bomb is under the table, the audience know it is going to go off soon, while the people at the table may not. In many ways, suspense is perhaps more effective as the audience then gets to participate in the action of the play. Classical tragedy offers similar journey – quite often the audience know what is around the corner: the audience know Oedipus has married his own mother; it’s just a matter of time until he finds out.

It should be said that during this lecture we almost had a tragedy of our own when the wind breezed through an open window causing a banner to fall right in front of some unsuspecting CAI Summer School attendees! Dr Ryan was on the case however, and swiftly moved the banner out of the way.


Dr John Curran then introduced QUB’s own Barry Trainor, who presented his paper on ‘All War and no Play: Entertainment at Sparta.’ Barry highlighted that what we generally think of when we think of the Spartans – militarism, social order, austerity – is a somewhat narrow idea of what they were really like as a people.

Their frequent festivals not only carried heavy religious connotations – famously causing Sparta to fail to arrive in time for the Battle of Marathon – but may also have been important ‘holidays’ from the usual day-to-day austerity of Spartan life.

Barry then focused on Spartan laughter, a concept that could be considered ‘unspartan’ but was actively encouraged. The legendary lawgiver Lykourgos believed that laughter was also a way for Spartans to escape from the austerity of their everyday life, to relax and unwind. Sosibius also mentions the prevalence of the divine personification of Laughter amongst the Spartans, who built sanctuaries to this emotive god. Barry also spoke of how the Spartans taught their youth what kind of laughter was acceptable and encouraged them to mock one another. The butts of these jokes quite often were the Helot slaves who would be systematically humiliated as a means of mental subjugation and thus demonstrating the superiority of the Spartans.


The final talk of the 2018 Summer School was introduced by Amber Taylor, as CANI’s Helen McVeigh asked ‘Who Read Ancient Novels?,’ with significant focus on the Callirhoe of Chariton. This tale features apparent death, long journeys, love at first sight (many times!) and reuniting all as prevalent themes throughout its length. But who read this fantasy story?

Ben Edwin Perry suggested that the novel was intended for the uneducated and women; perhaps he believed it was intended for a kind of ‘Mills and Boon’ readership. As Helen points out, this is not necessarily the case. At one point in the text, Chaireas, the narrative’s male protagonist, is compared to Achilles. It is well worth noting that if the readers of Chariton’s novel had not been taught Homer at school then this comparison within the middle of the text would have been for nothing. Therefore, Chariton would have been inaccessible to his supposed readers.


Helen asked us to think about the women who could have been reading this tale. Greek vases depict women reading and studying – clearly educated and literate, while Herodotus spoke of a mother teaching her child Greek language and grammar. Chariton’s Callirhoe was polite, intelligent and cultured. Could this in turn mean she was literate?

After the projector decided to switch itself off, Helen took a few questions from the enthralled Summer School delegates, speaking of (potentially rude) monks, the influence of Dickens and if Chariton’s text survives in full.


And with that the 2018 CAI Summer School lectures came to a close, allowing delegates and speakers to adjourn to nearby watering holes for further discussion and refreshment, before reconvening at QUB for a splendid dinner. This may have been the end of the weekend’s festivities, but not its opportunities for learning.

Patrician Journies


Early on Sunday morning, a group of Summer School attendees departed QUB with their tour guide Dr Therese Cullen, an expert in early monastic Ireland and Patrician studies.

The first stop was Nendrum monastery on the shore of Strangford Lough.  Founded by St Mochaoi in the fifth-century, Nendrum was a sizeable monastic settlement that held a significant influence over the local area. It is one of the best preserved cashel sites in Ireland and continues to use a tide-mill, which dates back to the early 7th-century; possibly one of the oldest in the world.

The group then travelled to Saul church, which tradition holds was the location were a local chieftain granted St Patrick a barn for shelter – Saul being the anglicised word for Sabhall, Irish for barn.


After a soup and sandwich lunch at Paddy’s Barn, the next stop was Downpatrick cathedral – the traditional resting place of St Patrick. Much to delight of all, Dr Cullen had liaised with archaeologists from QUB who agreed to show us the excavations that were taking place at the cathedral. There was some artefact handling and shown the actual dig sites.

Just outside Downpatrick, the final stop of the day was the well-preserved Inch Abbey. Dr Cullen rounded off a very pleasant and informative day by showing off the various areas within the Abbey, such as the cloister, the altar and even the oven!


There are many who need to be thanked for their contribution to what was a fantastic weekend.

– the Classical Association of Ireland for allowing CANI to host the Summer School at QUB once more

– the staff of QUB who looked after us so well over the weekend

– Dr Therese Cullen of Irish Monastic Tours for sharing her expertise on the guided tour

– all of the delegates who attended the Summer School, offering insightful questions and intriguing discussion

– the speakers for their insight and expertise on the classical world

And special thanks to Helen McVeigh and John Curran for all their efforts in helping bring together such a fantastic event.

Amber Taylor and Barry Trainor

Canada Room, Queen's University BelfastFriday 17th August 2018'Honour Among Thebes'Natalie HaynesSaturday 17th…

Posted by The Classical Association in Northern Ireland on Saturday, July 21, 2018

Belfast Summer School 2018 Review

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In July 2018, 35 students and seven staff gathered at Queen’s University Belfast for the third Belfast Summer School in Latin and Classical Greek.  Many students came from Belfast and the surrounding areas and some travelled from as far as Enniskillen, L/Derry, County Donegal, County Clare, Birmingham, Kent, and even Massachusetts, USA.


Nineteen students signed up for Latin at Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced level. The Intermediate class reviewed grammar, while the Advanced students read Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the original language.  Ten students studied Greek at Beginners level, with the remainder taking Lower Intermediate and Intermediate classes. Intermediate level provided a grammar review while the Lower Intermediate Greek class was intended for students who had completed the Beginners’ level course.


This year we also introduced translation workshops on the Saturday. The Classical Greek workshop was led by Dr Martine Cuypers (TCD), examining the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey. The Latin workshops were led by our tutors, in which students looked at a few unadapted extracts from texts including Catullus, Caesar, and the beginning lines of Virgil’s Aeneid. All of our students performed admirably with these difficult texts after only a week of study.

The range of students was as diverse as previous years. In the Beginners’ Greek class alone there were high school students, a postgraduate student about to embark on the study of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, and an English graduate entering his training for the ministry.  Among the Latin classes, there was a GCSE student who wanted to read a Latin text as preparation for A level, a solicitor returning to her Latin roots having rediscovered the Ecce Romani books from her schooldays, and a trainee primary school teacher who hopes to inject some Classics into her lessons.

Many others said they were taking the course for fun. Each of our students has their own story and it was a joy to meet them and chat with them during the course of the week. In particular, Anita, Amber and Ava have attended the summer school for three years’ running.  In 2016, Ava had just completed her GCSEs though her school did not offer any Classics subjects: she is self-taught in Latin and learned Greek from the summer school. We are extremely proud that she has been accepted to study Classics this autumn at the University of Cambridge.


The summer school prides itself on the language skills of its tutors.  Each year the number of classes has increased and this year’s new appointments to the staff were Dr Laura Pfuntner (QUB, Advanced Latin) and Dr Steph Holton (Newcastle University, Intermediate Greek).  Other tutors were Dr Kerry Phelan (Maynooth University/UCD, Beginners’ Greek), Helen McVeigh (Lower Intermediate Greek), Stephen McCarthy (Maynooth University, Beginners’ Latin) and Stephen Strickland (Intermediate Latin). Solomon Trimble, a student of Greek and Latin at Belfast Inst, was the summer school assistant.

Academic talks were presented by Intermediate Greek tutor Dr Steph Holton who spoke about the interpretation of dreams in ancient Greek medicine, and CANI’s Dr Peter Crawford who offered evidence in a mock trial of Gaius Julius Caesar. On both occasions, there was standing-room only for these fascinating talks, with many interesting questions offered from the floor.  Many thanks to both of our speakers.

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An informal dinner took place in Town Square on Botanic Avenue and was also attended by members of the CANI Board. After the concluding classes on Friday morning, certificates were presented to the students by Dr John Curran from CANI and QUB’s School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philosophy.  Dr Curran congratulated the students on completing an intense week of study, and thanked all the staff for their hard work and enthusiasm.


Student feedback this year was overwhelmingly positive, in many cases expressing a desire for a longer course, more Greek and Latin!

Other comments included:

“I would like to thank CANI for this amazing opportunity.”

“I liked the instructor’s energy and enthusiasm and want to come back next year for another class.”

“(The course) was very absorbing, thoroughly planned and a real pleasure to attend.”

We could not have had such great success without our wonderful students.  We love teaching Latin and Classical Greek and clearly there is an audience for these languages.

Grateful thanks are due to Dr John Curran, Dr Peter Crawford, Dr Martine Cuypers, Queen’s University Belfast, Maynooth University and the Classical Association in Northern Ireland.

Plans are afoot for next year’s summer school so…


Latin and Classical Greek15-19th July 2018

Posted by The Classical Association in Northern Ireland on Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Aeneid, Book VI, A Journey through the Underworld at Lumen Christi

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On Tuesday 26th June 2018, Lumen Christi College’s Latin Club graciously hosted Amber Taylor representing the Classical Association in Northern Ireland for a presentation entitled The Aeneid, Book VI, A Journey through the Underworld.


After an initial discussion of what the Aeneid was, who its author Virgil was and what happened in the story prior to Aeneas entering the Underworld engaged, an excited group of 20 post-primary school pupils listened intently to the tale of the epic hero Aeneas’ descent into the Underworld, alongside the Cumaean Sybil to seek out the ghost of his father Anchises and the advice that he would give to him.

Not only did the presentation of a particular book of Virgil’s Aeneid offer the chance to explore the dark and twisted geography of the Underworld as well as its terrifying monsters (e.g. harpies, gorgons and hydras) but it also gave the opportunity to explore themes and stories perhaps not explored in the epic itself. Death is of course the most prominent theme and Virgil explores this in various ways.


Through Book VI we see a κατάβασις (katabasis), a ‘going down’ to the Underworld and so the presentation was able to side track for a short time and explore those who have entered Dis aside from Aeneas, such as Hercules during his 12th labour and Orpheus to rescue Eurydice. Ways in which one can die were also explored with Dido, having committed suicide at the loss her lover Aeneas, now forever roaming the Fields of Mourning; those who have died before their time and those who are eternally damned to torture for their sins in Tartarus.


Of course, when Aeneas finally reaches his father he is told the truth of his future – he will come to begin the lineage that will be the founders of Rome, the greatest empire in the entire world (as Virgil likes to point out!). As Anchises points out the future rulers of Rome, Virgil’s voice sings loud throughout the passage, praising Rome for its glory and triumphs as well as the line of Caesars, especially Augustus himself, who was emperor around the time the Aeneid was written.

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A question and answer session at the end prompted some really intriguing questions from the pupils of Lumen Christi, showing their enthusiasm and engagement for Classics such as “Why did Virgil base The Aeneid on both The Odyssey and The Iliad, rather than one?”.  As well, a pop quiz ensured all went away with some sweets to kick off the start of Summer (and hopefully encourage their outlook on Classics!).

Lumen Christi’s Latin Club teacher, Miss Ava Wilson had this to say about the talk; “Lumen Christi College was delighted to welcome Miss Amber Taylor to speak to pupils about various translations of ‘The Aeneid, Book VI’ on Tuesday 26th June. The event was attended by around 20 pupils from both Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. It is safe to say that all became thoroughly engaged with Miss Taylor’s lecture, expressing interest in all aspects of the material covered, including the riveting plot of the epic, the geography of the mythological Underworld, the dramatic value of the text – even the Latin of the original and the nuances of Seamus Heaney’s translation.

 Miss Taylor really got the group engaged with the Latin of the original text, pointing out and explaining the significance of individual words. The pupils seemed to really enjoy this, and, for those who have studied some of the language, it gave them the opportunity to see the kind of level their efforts could lead to! The pupils seemed to really enjoy seeing how the material related to pop culture and other myths. I think the inclusion of such references helped make the material more accessible to them.

The success of the quiz at the end stands as testimony to both the level of interest shown by pupils and the effectiveness of Miss Taylor’s lecture – the prizes went rather quickly! This definitely generated an interest among pupils who were new to the subject. I would like to thank the Classical Association of Northern Ireland for this wonderful opportunity and, in particular, Miss Amber Taylor for her interesting and engaging presentation.” (Ava Wilson).

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Once again, the Classical Association would like to thank Miss Ava Wilson for organising the event and for helping make it such an enjoyable day for all involved. As well, we at CANI would like to extend our thanks to Lumen Christi College for once again allowing us into their school and letting us explore the Classics with their pupils.

Amber Taylor


‘Animals and Vegetarianism in Antiquity’ Dr Pamela Zinn Review

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CANI’s 2017/18 talks programme finished out with Dr Pamela Zinn (Texas Tech University) speaking on ‘Animals and Vegetarianism in Antiquity.’ While the heat outside (and inside) might have acted as a deterrent, such was the interest in the Classics and Dr Zinn’s subject that extra chairs needed to be brought in to the Old Staff Common Room, not to mention a bolstering of the summer drinks table!

Dr Zinn began by demonstrating how integral to the ancient life animals were and not just because the world of antiquity was an agrarian one, with there prominence in art, myths and even history: geese reputedly saved Rome from the Gauls by warning of the approach of an army.


Some animals were seen as divine or capable of revealing divine wishes through omens – cats in Egypt and the original auguries coming from the flight of birds. Dr Zinn then provided some more specific examples such as how because Romulus saw more birds than Remus, the city they built was called Roma not Remora and how Claudius Pulcher famously through the sacred chickens overboard prior to the Roman disaster at Drepanum because they would not give him favourable omens.


While an affront to modern sensibilities, animal sacrifice was not only an important aspect of the religion of ancient societies but also to its diet and community life.


Meat-eating was not as widespread in the ancient world, not due to any real aversion to it, but as many of the animals were less numerous, harder to farm and required for other activities, as beasts of burden, supply of resources, providers of entertainment and instruments of war.


Such community sacrifices were therefore the main source of meat for large sections of the population, with Dr Zinn referring to the prevalence of feasting in ancient epics as suggesting that “only heroes eat meat.”

The ancients were also prominent pet-keepers. They are written about in books and on inscriptions, commemorated on tombstones and depicted on icons and other art. Numerous examples were given including Pompeii’s archaeology famously preserving mosaics and volcanic casts of dogs; how the philosopher Porphyry had a talking partridge and how Tiberius granted a state funeral to a raven who always saluted him as he entered the forum.

With the closeness between the ancients and their animals and meat-eating somewhat uncommon, it might be expected that vegetarianism was more widespread than the evidence seems to suggest it was.

Some philosophers certainly showed sympathy of animals. Pythagoras thought that eating animals was tantamount to cannibalism due to reincarnation, while Lucretius felt that animals had free will and reason and that sacrifice was a violation of the public trust placed in animals. Virgil intimated that animals were key to civilisation.


Of course, these were very much in the minority with the likes of Cato, Aristotle and the Stoics viewing animals as having limited or lesser souls, therefore worthy of being only possessions and food.

To such men and much of the population, vegetarianism and its concomitant abhorrence of sacrifice was a rejection of the gods and/or the community which were so important to ancient societies. Dr Zinn provided the example of Seneca, who gave up vegetarianism for the sake of his political career as it was seen as foreign and anti-social.

After a thoroughly engrossing and colourful talk, Dr Zinn took numerous questions from the audience about various aspects of her work and the subjects covered, striking up further conversations over the summer drinks served throughout.

CANI would like to thank Dr Zinn for taking the time to return to these shores and for her presentation and willingness to interact with so many of the attendees afterwards.

And thank you to all who attended on the night and to all other talks in the 2017/18 programme.

Have a great summer and look for our new programme of events for 2018/19, which should be largely finalised in the coming weeks…

If you cannot wait until the autumn for our next public talks then perhaps you would be interested in our upcoming Latin and Greek Summer School or the Classical Association of Ireland’s annual conference being hosted by CANI at Queens University, Belfast this August.

And our blog will continue to delve into the weird, wonderful and not so well-known corners of the Classics and Ancient History.

‘Warfare and Peacemaking in the Roman provinces in the first century BC’ Workshop

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The first (ever!) ancient history workshop to be held at Queen’s University Belfast was convened by Dr Laura Pfuntner on 24 May 2018 on the theme of warfare and peacemaking in the Roman provinces in the first century BC.

The workshop was a welcome opportunity to explore a familiar epoch in Roman history – the decline and fall of the Roman Republic – but from a perspective strikingly different from that of the Roman urban elite. In the face of the letters of Cicero and Plutarch’s biographies of the great men of the period, it is easy to forget that most of the victims of the civil wars are likely to have been living in the provinces governed by Rome.


A series of papers sought to bring attention to bear on the kinds of contexts in which the conflicts between upper class Romans manifested themselves. Alexander Thein (UCD) illuminated the local politics of Athens as Sulla intruded violently into the world of the Greeks, while examining the varied settlements of Sicily and Sextus Pompey’s task in locating himself there allowed Laura Pfuntner (QUB) to provide valuable insight into the perspective of the governed towns and villages of the island during the tumultuous years after Caesar’s death.


Carsten Hjort Lange (Aalborg) demonstrated that the very definition of ‘civil war’ was a highly contested concept that was itself an extension of the politics of the period and Peter Morton (Manchester) again questioned the notion of a ‘fixed narrative’ in looking at the way in which slave revolts were folded into the narrative of high politics, becoming themselves both cause and effect of the deterioration of social bonds.


With Manuel Fernández Götz (Edinburgh), discussions turned to archaeology and some startling insights into some contemporary work being conducted in central and northern France. The strangeness of the northern peoples as depicted by Caesar emerge from the archaeology as more settled, urbanised and sophisticated than hitherto appreciated – and made Caesar’s brutal subjugation even more destructive than many have suspected.


Hannah Cornwell (Birmingham) completed the day with an exploration of the imperial language of peace, a language that had to work in the provinces above all for Octavian/Augustus’ masterly navigation of the Roman commonwealth from the stormy waters of war to what would become Gibbon’s famous two centuries of greatest human happiness.

The day was a splendid success and Dr Pfuntner is to be congratulated not just on the conception of the workshop and its star line-up of scholars, but also on the highly successful format that welcomed speakers, students and even some history colleagues from Enlightenment Studies who were certainly enlightened on the rich sources for the late republic and also the vigour and stimulation of discussions between ancient historians.

We have not heard the last of the QUB ancient history workshop!

Dr John Curran



CANI Film Night III: This Time Its in the Daytime w/ Jason and the Argonauts

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In 1963 the world was captivated by the delightful, dramatic stop-motion technique found in many movies of the decade. Don Chaffey’s 1963 version of Jason and the Argonauts was one that caught the attention of millions.


With its terrifying harpies and hydras, clashing rocks, the beautiful Medea and of course, the all important Golden Fleece, this tale is set to keep you interested throughout. Of course, no Hollywood blockbuster is complete without a few deviations from the original mythology. There are some chronological differences with Talos being defeated on the way to the Golden Fleece rather than on the long journey home. The god Triton (wonderfully depicted as a mermaid) makes a big feature as well, holding the Clashing Rocks back from crushing the terrified Argonauts to death – in the original myth it is the blinded King Phineas who tells Jason to release a dove before entering the Clashing Rocks to avoid its imminent dangers. I have always felt that, even with its deviations from Classical myth, it is still a story the Ancients would have been proud of with its colourful visuals, quick pace and constant action.


This is the movie that began to stoke the fire of my love for Classics. As a young girl my father put this movie on the television with the intent to show me one of his favourites – little did he know he started me on my journey through the Ancient World. I was in awe of the stop motion techniques of Ray Harryhausen that brought the harpies, Talos and skeletons to life; mythology really did seem like magic when portrayed on the screen.


With all of this in mind and following the success of our previous screenings of Gladiator and Monty Python’s Life of Brian, CANI were incredibly excited to host their third annual movie screening of Jason and the Argonauts in the Ulster Museum, who CANI would like to thank once more for its willingness to host our events. With a fascinating and insightful introduction by CANI’s own Katerina Kolotourou (and after some deliberation at how to move a large curtain away from blocking the screen), an enthralled audience sat back and for an hour and 44 minutes watched in admiration as Hera and the gods on Mount Olympus aided Jason and his companions in their quest.


Speaking to a few people after the performance, I received nothing but positive opinions for the screening. There appeared to be ample debate after the showing with some viewers telling me that seeing Jason and the Argonauts playing on a larger screen for the first time, really served to bring the movie and the Classical myth it derives from, even more alive. The setting of the Golden Fleece became even more mysterious and magical as its golden wool seemed to glitter that much brighter. The hydra was a big favourite as well; showing its fierce hissing and jabbing on the big screen only served to heighten the fear it produces.

Overall I can say with confidence that this was a wonderful event for all involved. It can be said that Classics (and the enthusiasm for Classics) is very much alive not just in the traditional sense, but even from the modern viewpoint where big budget productions bring these tales into the eyes and hearts of all who watch them. This was the third movie event for CANI and hopefully there will be many more to come.

Amber Taylor

Ulster Museum Lecture Theatre£5 entrance, brief introduction, drinks services available12th May 2018, 2pm

Posted by The Classical Association in Northern Ireland on Sunday, January 7, 2018

CAI Summer School 2018 ‘Entertaining the Masses’

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Classical Association of Ireland Summer School 2018

Entertaining the Masses

17th–19th August , 2018
Queen’s University Belfast

The Belfast Branch of the Classical Association in Northern Ireland welcomes you all to our Summer Conference 2018, to be held at Queen’s University Belfast.

All activities will take place in the Canada Room, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University, Belfast.

You will find a link to the brochure and registration form here. This document contains details on the ticket price as well as the booking form and pertinent information.

For further information please contact

Friday, 17th of August
17.30 Registration & Reception
19.00 CAI Annual General Meeting
19.50 Official Opening by Dr John Curran, School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philioophy, Queen’s University Belfast.
20.00 Keynote Lecture: Natalie Haynes
‘Honour Among Thebes’
Saturday, 18th of August
9.00 CAI Central Council Meeting
10.00 “Classics and Modern Culture: in conversation with Natalie Haynes”
11.00 Coffee/Tea break
11.30 Lecture: Prof Helen Lovatt
‘Fun and Games in Ancient Epic’
12.30 Lunch
13.30 Lecture: Dr Cressida Ryan
‘Why is tragedy entertaining?
14.30 Lecture: Barry Trainor
(Queens University Belfast)
‘Dungeons and Hydra: Board gaming in Ancient Greece’
15.15 Coffee/Tea break
15.30 Lecture: Helen McVeigh
‘Who read the ancient novels?’
19.00 Reception
19.30 Annual Dinner of the Association
Canada Room, Lanyon Building, QUB
Sunday, 19th of August
10.00 Outing – Medieval and Monastic Ireland
(conducted by Irish Monastic Tours)

Please note that the bus will depart from the main gates of Queen’s University at 10.00am sharp. Participants will return to Queen’s University at 5pm.Price includes lunch at Paddy’s Barn, Saul, Downpatrick ( will visit:

  • Nendrum, the monastic settlement at Nendrum on Mahee Island in Strangford Lough was believed to have been established by St Mochaoi (better known as Coalán) in the 5th Century AD, with links to St Patrick. It is one of the bestpreserved monastic cashel structures in Ireland.
  • Inch Abbey, where the story of St Patrick and the snakes was recorded
  • Historic Downpatrick to uncover St Patrick’s legacy and see the High Cross in Down County Museum
  • Down Cathedral and the traditonal site of St Patrick’s Grave

Useful Information:


Stranmillis College,
Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5DY
A limited number of single, ensuite rooms have been reserved for the summer school costing £38 per night B&B. Please contact Joanne Gribbin on tel: 028 9038 4377 or email:

Duke’s at Queen’s Hotel
65-67 University Street, Belfast BT7 1HL
Tel 028 9023 6666,

Ibis Belfast Queen’s Quarter
75 University Street, Belfast BT7 1HL
Tel 028 9033 3366,

Holiday Inn Express Belfast Queen’s Quarter
106a University Street, Belfast BT7 1HP
Tel 028 9031 1909,

If calling from the Republic of Ireland, replace 028 with 048.

Religious Services:

St Francis Church
Liberty Street, Cork
Sat. 6.30pm vigil; Sun. 7am, 9am, 10.30am, 12pm

St Brigid’s
40 Derryvolgie Avenue, BT9 6FP
Vigil Mass: 6pm Saturday
Sunday Masses: 9am, 10.30am and 12 noon

Fisherwick Presbyterian Church
4 Chlorine Gardens, BT9 5DJ

St Thomas’s Church of Ireland
1A Eglantine Avenue, BT9 6DW

Moravian Church
1a University Road, BT7 1RY
Sunday service, 11am