Thursday evening saw students and staff from Dean Close, Monmouth, King’s Gloucester, Malvern and Cheltenham Ladies gather to listen to Oxford University’s erudite Roman History scholar, Dr Edward Bispham, from Brasenose College. The specific topic was Cicero’s Philippic 2, an A Level set text, but Dr Bispham gave a superb and comprehensive historical context to all of the Philippics. These speeches delivered, or composed and circulated, by the Roman statesman and orator Cicero, were always, Dr Bispham argued, overshadowed by the cataclysmic assassination of the Dictator Julius Caesar, as Cicero found himself beset by the machinations of Antony and Octavian to assume his mantle. Although both tried hard to avoid the accusation from staunch Republicans like Cicero of aiming for sole power themselves, Cicero sided with Octavian and became increasingly vitriolic against Antony. Dr Bispham painted a clear picture of the misjudgements of Antony and Cicero, both of whom underestimated the young Octavian. Was Cicero caught between, on the one hand, the desire to present himself as the staunch Republican he mostly was, yet, on the other hand, the desire to be the saviour of Rome, prepared to be as bloodthirsty as he was as Consul 20 years earlier, when countering with illegal executions the Catilinarian conspiracy? It was refreshing to listen to an academic, who is passionate about his subject and grateful to leave behind him the administrative responsibilities of his position in Oxford to stimulate the thinking of A Level Latin students and their teachers on a subject dear to his heart.