A Classical Association Lecture by Dr John Davie
On Thursday evening, the School Pavilion was packed full with Sixth form classicists from Dean Close, Cheltenham Ladies’, St Edward’s, Cheltenham College and Monmouth schools, who had all come to hear Dr John Davie deliver a Classics Lecture.
Both Latinists and Classical Civilisation students are studying Virgil’s Aeneid and it is important for them to understand the nature of relations between the most powerful man in Rome and the author of the Romans’ national epic. This lecture focused on poetry and patronage in the age of Augustus, adding great value to the A level students’ studies.
Dr Davie’s talk was a veritable tour de force, delivered in stately measure and in a mellifluous Scottish brogue. He sped from Homer to the Augustan principate in 40 minutes, focusing on patronage (particularly during the rule of Alexander the Great’s successors, the so-called Hellenistic era and the advent of imperial rule at Rome under the emperor Augustus) and the role of the poet in immortalising his kingly sponsor. He was quick to defend the poet Virgil against the charge of propaganda, emphasising his poetic vision and the beauty of his verse. The speaker concurred with the lapidary pronouncement of the great John Dryden on the merits of Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid: “The best poem by the best poet”.
Dr John Davie is well equipped to lecture to a large group of sixth formers from schools across Gloucestershire: he possesses a wealth of teaching experience, having taught Classics at Harrow and St Paul’s, London (where he was Head of Department for 15 years). Since 1999 John has taught at a number of Oxford colleges and now prepares the Classics students at Trinity for Mods (that is when he isn’t busy translating the plays of Euripides for the Penguin Classics series).
We are extremely grateful to him for finding time to visit to Dean Close School.