Applied in: Winter 2016
University Offers: Cambridge, Durham, St Andrews, Exeter, UCL
I believe it is essential to study classical languages and civilizations because they are the source of our literature, our philosophy, our political systems, our conception of art and even our definition of beauty. The understanding of Latin and Greek allows us to properly read the texts that gave birth to western culture. By knowing these languages, we can become familiar with the thinking of the people of this era in a way not permitted by translations. It also immerses us in history by hearing the voices of those who lived 2000 or 3000 years ago.
This is why I am very excited about studying and perhaps eventually teaching Classics. At my school, studying both Latin and Greek was not an option. However, I was given special permission not only to study both languages, but also to attend further classes with the years above mine. As a result, I’m taking twelve hours of Greek lessons a week in my last year at school. This has helped me widen my vocabulary and understanding of Greek language, literature and history to such an extent that I now tutor younger students on a weekly basis. On occasion, I have also taught full classes of younger students, and once gave a full lecture to the French thought group ‘Poursuivre’.
I often go to see performances of ancient Greek plays I have read, such as Electra, Antigone, Bakkhai or The Oresteia. Experiencing these plays live gives me a much better understanding of the effects -such as catharsis- they can have on a modern audience. In my opinion, the unwavering popularity of Greek theatre demonstrates the importance and timelessness of these works.
In 2015, I completed a two-week internship at the Musée du Louvre, in the Decorative Arts department. Over the course of this internship, I worked on the setting up of an exhibition on the Thracian kings and I translated a Latin inscription. I found this to be a fantastic experience, during which I got to work closely with curators and I learnt to apply my skills and knowledge in a professional setting.
I greatly enjoy translating extracts, especially from Greek. My translations include poems by Sappho, epigrams by Anacreon and extracts from tragedies such as Oedipus Rex. Working on this tragedy was particularly useful to me when I studied modern texts it influenced, such as The Infernal Machine by Cocteau and -as part of a research project- Incendies, a film by Denis Villeneuve inspired by Wadji Mouawad’s play which combines elements from the author’s and a Lebanese resistant’s lives with Greek and Roman mythologies. One of my proudest achievements is translating the complete first book of Lucian of Samosata’s True History, a perfect example of the impact of classical texts on our culture as it was perhaps the first work of science fiction ever written.
My translation skills were singled out by both my Greek teachers in Year 12, who selected me for the Concours Général, France’s most prestigious academic competition, for which an average of 60 students are selected each year. The competition consisted in a four-hour long translation of an unseen text, in my case a fable by Aesop. Preparing and sitting the Concours were hugely enriching and enjoyable experiences which gave me an opportunity to look further into translation and to discover new texts. This was not the first time I took part in a Classics competition, as I also participated in the Concours Arelabor in Year 10, a Latin competition my school ended up winning that year.
I look forward to discussing classical literature, history, philosophy and art with my teachers and fellow students at university as I love talking about people’s ideas and opinions as well as challenging my own.
I strive to be an active promoter of classical studies and have taken part in organizing festivals and activities as well as rallies defending the teaching of ancient languages at the Sorbonne.