SATYRICA NOT ON MY FEET, BARRY!
Why Classics Matters Mary Beard Scandal Unwrapped Key Fresher Vocabulary
THENEWSATYRICA FRESHERS’ ISSUE September 2013
WHO’S WHO? The Classics Committee
Alex Cook, Treasurer
George Ellis, President
Harry Sharpe, Social Secretary
“I love lamp”
“Not just a pretty vultus”
“I’m a level 62 wizard”
When asked to describe himself in 3 words, Alex swiftly replied “irreverent, merciless, jackhammer and alpha male”. Our most shrewd mathematician is grateful that his new role will finally give him something with which to pad out his CV.
For many years George wandered the desert in complete silence, purely to better appreciate the sound of a whisper. A protector of Swedish chastity and a guardian of Classroom B6, George is our stalwart leader, and proud owner of a lop rabbit.
Responsible for co-ordinating our Society’s notoriously debauched gatherings, at which he will (we hope in his shiny green suit) ensure everyone is suitably entertained and outrageously merry at all times.
Aaron Marchant, Cultural Secretary
Laurence Hall, Co-Travel Secretary
Archie Hines, Co-Travel Secretary
“Timidi mater non flet”
“This round’s on me”
Last year’s Best Fresher impressed with his exceptionally youthful exuberance and appearances at all events despite not even studying Classics. He is now in charge of organising our more intellectual goings-on.
Our international man of mystery, hailing from that windmill and clog filled country that is the Netherlands. Together with Archie he shall take a lucky group to the Eternal City of Rome for vino, more vino, and maybe some sightseeing too.
Rightly labelled the most likely to end up on Made In Chelsea, Archie can’t wait to swap the King’s Road for the Via del Corso next summer, all in the hope of high-quality wine and intellectual pursuits in the City of the Seven Hills.
Vishnu Nambiar, General Secretary “This isn’t in Sanskrit?”
Vish was stretching at the back of the society meeting when candidates for the post were asked to raise their hands. Bad timing, a President-cum-bestfriend keen to “keep it in the family” and an unintelligibly ambiguous title meant that he was the only one with his hand up.
Gabrielle Telford, Co-Editor “I once lost my shoes”
Gabby hopes to bring all she can to the Society, primarily by attending every social event and taking the phrase “go hard or go home” a little too seriously.
Dr. George Maher, External Liason
Margie Cheesman, Co-Editor
“Don’t mention the war”
“B6 is dark and full of terrors”
What even is an External Liason? Our PhD student of Roman Economy thinks he knows. He’ll link us up with other Classics societies and get senior figures from the City to share how Classics has helped them in their careers.
Although a passion for re-sizing text boxes is what drew Margie to her role in the magazine, she now loves to align margins and edit paragraph styles.
Welcome to King’s and The New Satyrica! Let our revamped magazine be your treasured companion. We’re a hub of knowledge, ready to give you the inside track on the KCL Classics Society and all things Classical in general. We’ve got reviews, rants and reminiscences from your peers, as well as tips for when and where get your toga on, what to watch out for in London, how to get involved in the Greek Play and much more. Be sure to check out our feature on Why Classics Matters, too! Take note: we want your opinions or scoops on what’s going on within the Society and in the Classical World. So, don’t be shy – pitch your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to get your ClaSoc membership at Surrey Street and join on Facebook!
THENEWSATYRICA FRESHERS’ ISSUE September 2013
PAGE 3 TORSO OF THE WEEK See this 3rd Century BC bronze statuette of Aphrodite at the BM. Fit.
From our BM Correspondent: POMPEII By Petros Kastoras
Often I wish I could be a fly on the wall. I would imagine there are many lingering around the festering mess that has been the BBC's Classics department as of late. The recent 'documentary' "Who were the Greeks?" was little more than a clusterjam of disconnected 'facts' showing just how little faith the BBC has in the intelligence of its audience. Sweeping shots which would have been more at home in an Attenborough piece accompany just enough Greek vocabulary to act as a veil for what is, in reality, patronisingly meagre content. Rather than answering the powerful question posed in the title, the BBC takes the easy option. The content seems to stem from a production meeting that appears to have not extended past pulling a sodden Metro from the bottom of an intern's bag and using it as source material for the "common people". Seeing no need to look any further than the primetime staples of sex, food and a comical man-in-skirt segment, our new documentary is born. Don't worry, the facts can fit around this. 4th century events; 7th century artefects; backed up with Plutarchian evidence. Seems legit. The notion that this is acceptable because the majority won't know the difference just won't fly. Quite frankly, those who are looking to see a professor get pummelled by a butch Greek woman whilst eating a bull's testicle are not watching your documentary. They are more likely to be watching an ITV2 exclusive or a re-run of "My Big Fat Gyspy Wedding". So give the rest of us a break and create some real content. Stop skewing the facts. Stop screwing with Classics. Yours scathingly, Sofia Vicente
Must do better
My regular visits to the British Museum are well known to verge on the obsessive (cough cough, yes at one stage I did go 7 times a week and am not embarrassed to admit it…). So now I shall, very gladly, be reporting for The New Satyrica on anything noteworthy in the Museum, any new exhibitions, or any dirty artefacts (which the Greeks and Romans were so good in making) which the child in me just couldn’t help but laugh at. To start off with though, I shall aim to successfully urge everybody who hasn’t been to see the Pompeii exhibition to go as soon as possible, since it finishes on 29th September. The exhibition is set out in the style of a Roman town and house. It’s approached from ‘the street’, an area where artefacts relating to the public sphere are displayed, and thence into ‘the house’, where you can see domestic and personal artefacts. For those of you who studied Latin in the good ol’ Cambridge Latin Course manner, there is one item you will recognise; the bust of none other than Quintus Caecilius Iucundus. Unlike the picture of this childhood friend that is given in the course books, the real thing is rather more…mature. I mean, seeing Caecilius’ meat and two veg at the age of 11 would have been a rather sobering experience about the love the Romans had for penises. At this age however, I can pretend to be scholarly and talk about how the phallic bronze attached to the Carrera marble acted as an apotropaic symbol. In reality I couldn’t help but laugh out loud upon seeing this, to the disapproval of all the people standing around me who were just far too serious about this sort of thing. So I highly recommend going to see this exhibition as soon as possible, before it finishes and is replaced by some blah about ancient Columbian gold (who cares about that!?). Go, you freshers, go! Take advantage of what studying in London has to offer you!
THENEWSATYRICA FRESHERS’ ISSUE September 2013
An Ex-Subject: Why Classics Matters By Dr Benedict Wilkinson, who read Classics at Cambridge then converted to War Studies. He has recently been awarded his PhD at King’s College London
Here’s a sporting bet for anyone who is studying Classics: at least once, before this academic year is out, you will be asked what on earth possessed you to study languages and cultures which are dead. Extinct. Kaputt. Classics has, like the dead parrot in Monty Python’s famous sketch, “kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible”. It is an ex-subject, right? So why would anyone choose this exsubject over one which is alive, contemporary, useful and has realistic prospects of getting you a job? (Delete as appropriate, though vociferous interrogators will normally opt for all of the above). Most, if not all, Classicists are faced with this little scenario at some point. But in my experience many struggle to produce convincing answers. Classics does not, for example, lead inevitably into a specific career in the way that architecture or medicine does; nor, I’m sorry to say, does it lead inexorably to the riches of Croesus; and nor does it seem to lend itself to the “my subject is extremely relevant and valuable to society” argument. Most people believe Classics to be about as contemporary and relevant to today’s world as Betamax tapes, Commodore computers and first generation iPods. I have always found all this immensely frustrating, not just because you should be able to study any subject for the sheer thrill of learning something new, but also because, in my view, Classics is intimately connected to our modern world. Yes, that’s right: Classics is relevant. It lives on – the exSubject, unlike the dead parrot, ruffles its plumage and squawks again! After I changed subjects, converting from Classics to undertake research on the interdisciplinary b o r d e r s o f Po l i t i c a l S c i e n c e , International Relations and War Studies, I found, time and again, that Classics proved both valuable and relevant. In the first instance, I was surprised by how much the process of learning both Latin and Greek made modern languages, even those such as Arabic which were linguistically distant from the Classics, easier to pick up. Those in the professional world have recognised this, too – not for nothing does GCHQ , the British signal
intelligence agency, specifically search for Classicists to train up in difficult languages. Clearly, those excruciating hours poring over Kennedy’s Shorter Latin Primer have their advantages. In the second place, Classics fosters a certain intellectual flexibility and analytical excellence. This is derived from the process of exploring a culture through a limited range of sources. With relatively scant material, Classicists spend their time trying to understand the social institutions, power structures and political development of Greek and Roman cultures. To put it another way, Classicists explore the way in which cultures emerge, shift and recede and, in so doing, we acquire a penchant for a particularly striking and insightful brand of analysis. When translated into other fields (be it Political Science, Law or Economics) the Classicists’ in-built knack for turning an argument upside down – for seeing the alternative possibilities presented by the available data – is a bountiful strength. Linguistic and analytical skills are valuable, but it would be churlish to say that these cannot be acquired from degrees in other fields. No, the third great advantage of studying Classics is that it is everywhere. Classical ideas about democracy, government, conflict, strategy, ethics, power, culture – all pervade our modern world. Thucydides, for example, is core reading material on virtually every social science course for his observations about inter national relations. As for philosophers, Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell’s great collaborator, famously wrote that “all of Western Philosophy consists of footnotes to Plato”. At an even broader level, Greek and Roman cultural motifs are deployed and re-deployed across the modern world – Greek images of Europa adorn the Euro; Oedipus and Electra are re-deployed in Freud; Greek and Roman myths have been re-told in opera (Dido and Aeneas), in films (Troy, Gladiator, and I, Claudius) in plays, poetry and novels (Coriolanus, Omeros, The Hunger Games). Greek and Roman cultural artifacts are all around us. They not only tell us something about others’ past, but they tell intricate stories about our very own present. And that is precisely why Classics lives on.
Rosa WIcks, Greek Play Director Known for her long temper and short hair, Rosa comes with the health warning that she may lick your elbow.
The Buzz for 2014: Greek Play ‘WASPS’ By Rosa Wicks
Hello all! This year I’ve taken on the rather daunting responsibility of directing King’s 61st play in Ancient Greek for 2014 (with English subtitles!). We will be staging Aristophanes’ Wasps, a satirical comedy that mocks the institution of the lawcourts in ancient Athens and the notorious demagogue Cleon. It all sounds a rather serious affair, but despite the political backdrop the play is crammed with crude humour, slapstick and dirty jokes, all wrapped up in a witty critique of contemporary Athenian morals. The play follows the story of Philocleon, a likeable yet misguided old scallywag whose addiction to serving on the jury is the bane of his son Bdelycleon’s life. Bdelycleon has barricaded his father inside the house and, after multiple failed escape attempts, the chorus of old jurors (the wasps!) enter the scene to bust him out. Hilarity ensues! I am currently looking for the Greek Play’s cast (an element fairly key to its success): here’s where you come in! If you want to have a laugh, meet loads of amazing people, nourish your interest in Greek comedy and maybe even learn some Ancient Greek along the way, then get involved! We welcome all: from freshers to post-grads and those with from none to extensive experience in theatre. There are also plenty of nonspeaking roles for those of us who have a penchant for physical humour (like pretending to be a cheese grater), and for the stage-shy among you, or those with a particular talent for heavy lifting, there are plenty of backstage roles too. To be added to the mailing list, e-mail me at email@example.com and as soon as the date of auditions is announced, you will be the first to know! I look forward to seeing you all at the Wasps auditions!
THENEWSATYRICA FRESHERS’ ISSUE September 2013
TRAVEL Kastoras On Tour: 2013’s Greek Trip Reviewed By Laurence Hall
With such fantastic memories still lingering in my mind, I thought it only right that I write a review of what was without doubt a dazzlingly fantastic trip organised by now ex-King’s student and the Classics Society’s very own Greek sleazebag, Andreas Andreou. This summer, 17 intrepid Classicists headed off to the sunny climes of everyone’s favourite bankrupt European country and home of democracy, Greece. In the footsteps of Byron, with romantic notions of Hellas and the Grand Tour and with our minds set on walking around, seeing and touching the Athens of Perikles, Themistokles and Socrates, off we went. In reality, it ended up more like the aftermath of Plato’s Symposium; Alcibiades turns up, throws the place upside down, some of his friends cause even more mayhem and you wake up the next morning not entirely remembering what happened the night before, but knowing that you had an awesome time. We visited all the major archaeological sites in Greece: Athens, Delphi, Mycenae, Epidauros and Olympia all fell before us, with the ever faithful bus driver Kostas Chrysanthou (seriously? His surname means golden-flower? He was a 25 stone Greek guy whose chin wobbled when he spoke and who told (unrepeatable/terrible??) jokes about Albanians!) at the helm of our noble chariot. Eating souvlaki, smoking and drinking at the wheel of our mini-bus on mountain roads which were designed for goats, Kostas shall stay in our hearts forever. However, I think it is only right to say that this trip wasn’t all looking at rocks and old pots. Drinking cheap beer and wine, chilling at the beach, eating souvlaki day-in-day-out for breakfast, lunch and dinner and shouting “KASTORAS!” (oops, in-joke!) at every possible opportunity, all with the greatest bunch of people this University has to offer, made this trip one to always remember. I’d like to finish with a bit of Byron, it’s only appropriate after all: “Maid of Athens! I am gone….. Can I cease to love thee? No!”
The Abruzzo: A little known region of Italy By Alex Thug-Rate
When we think of Italy, especially as tourists, we think of the gondolas of Venice, the art of Florence, the buildings of Rome and the atmosphere of Naples; seldom do we consider the Abruzzo. This is, however, not just a modern fad or an oversight linked to where Ryanair flies. This mountainous and rugged area has been considered backward since the Romans started writing. Located on the Adriatic coast of Italy, separated from Rome by the still noteworthy barrier of the Apennines, the journey (as anyone who has travelled across by bus knows) is and would have been a considerable undertaking. This area, isolated from the richer and more metropolitan western coast of ancient Italy, was inhabited by the Samnites, a proud warrior people, who the Romans believed to be keen on war and little else. These fearsome mountain men were viewed with a mixture of contempt and respect by the Romans, rather like Asterix and Obelix. The Abruzzo, however, does have much to recommend it. Home to the Montepulciano grape and growing durum wheat, from which the best pasta is made, it performs well in the crucial areas of food and drink, by far the most important qualification for any destination. The rich past of the area is brought to life through the many museums, some with very innovative displays, such as at Chieti, and it is clear that the allegations of backwardness and barbarism are unfounded, although there is far less of their civilisation preserved than say at Pompeii. The beaches are wide and sandy, the town of Sulmona, the birthplace of Ovid, is almost painfully charming with its winding cobbled streets, and the countryside is beautiful. The heart of the Abruzzo is to be found here, in the high valleys where the beaten-up tractors rule the roads and life is still hard.
THENEWSATYRICA FRESHERS’ ISSUE September 2013
PRESIDENT’S GUIDE Key Fresher Terminology
Confronting the Trolls: Adventures with Mary Beard By Sneha Choudhry and Margie Cheesman
GTP Challenge Named after the infamous G.T.P., who was the first to complete (or even attempt) this feat. The challenge involves going into Wetherspoons, ordering a meat pie with gravy, and a quadruple gin. Both must be finished within 15 minutes, including all of the gravy.
To do a Tom This is the phrase used to describe the action of telling six different Classics students that you love them within a ten month period.
Good Fresher Each year there is a Good Fresher, who will receive much societal attention. This rank is achieved by partaking in as many events as possible, and by looking young. Regardless of name, Good Fresher will sometimes be referred to as 'Alan'.
Kostas A respectful term for any member of the Society who is a bit of a ‘lad’ without trying to be. Also; a derogatory term for someone who can't judge the quality of a beach.
Kastoras / κάστορας A word used within the Classics Society to refer to any object, animate or inanimate. Also; a greeting, or an affectionate nickname for other members of the Society.
The Social Calendar What’s Up By Harry Sharpe
The Social Calendar is without doubt one of the most highly anticipated and exciting parts of being a member of King’s prestigious Classics Society. For our fresh meat, here’s a round-up of last year’s 2 Social Secretaries’ winning shindigs and a preview of the unmissable social happenings to come. First off, the traditional Freshers Week Toga Pub-Crawl is a must. This event is undeniably the best way of making friends early and getting to know all the favourite local drinking holes around the Strand. It’s essential for starting to earn consideration for the much-coveted Classics Society Awards, with enduringly significant titles such as ‘good fresher’, ‘biggest prowler’ and ‘most flatmates dragged to a Classics event’ to be won. Last year, our end-of-term parties were landmark events: the swanky Christmas Ball at Covent Garden’s most desirable ‘secret’ underground venue, then our fabled Summer Boat Party on the Thames, and finally that end-of-year 20s-themed basement speakeasy party that nobody quite remembers ... As well as these dearly beloved events so steeped in tradition, I’m planning to add an extra few things to the Social Calendar. Perhaps most notably Classics Assassins, a competition of stealth and ingenuity (although all actual murdering will be severely frowned upon) and a never-been-donebefore-by-KCLClaSoc Monopoly Pub-Crawl, which will be a great way to get to know your way around London and get to know some of the people on the course a little too well. Overall, this should be the best year yet - so make sure you don’t miss out!
Mary Beard, OBE, ‘Britain’s Best Known Classicist’, lectured at KCL between 1979 and ’83 before returning to Cambridge where she is now a professor. Beard is well known for her TV documentaries (remember ‘Pompeii’, ‘Meet the Romans’ and ‘Caligula with Mary Beard’?) and for her books, 12 so far, the most recent being Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations. She is the Classics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement and writes a great blog for the magazine, ‘A Don’s Life’. Beard took part in ‘Jamie Oliver’s Dream School’ in 2011. Like Jamie, she ‘cocknifies’ her genre and gets accused of ‘dumbing down’, but in reality Beard truly brings classical knowledge to the masses, combining humour with awe-inspiring erudition. We like her. Anyone else outraged at the recent online threats she has faced? On 4 August 2013, Beard received a bomb threat on Twitter in the charming form of: ‘A bomb has been placed outside your home. It will go off at exactly 10.47pm and destroy everything.’ Some might be surprised that Beard even has a Twitter account. But they’d be mistaken: glance down the thread of her Twitter page and you’ll see a thriving hub of Classical debate – she has many followers who are scholars and students discussing obscure questions such as interpretation of Latin inscriptions – but also loads of debate about the barrage of sexist and ageist abuse to which she is constantly subject. She makes a point of forwarding the pathetic troll messages she receives, along with her own hilarious quips and comebacks. To one infantile troll who asked ‘do you tuck your saggy tits into your socks?’, she answered ‘Boring! Anyone know his Mum?’ About another, she joked ‘One said to me today “you’re so ugly I won’t be messing with you”. PHEW I say’. She endlessly battles the eejits who are ‘sick of her shit’. What shit? If they think she’s attention-seeking then they’ve got it the wrong way around. ‘It’s now 9 months since Mary Beard last brushed her hair. Only another 3 to go’. Wow, what shining wit! (Forgive the Spoonerism.) Meanwhile, Beard also responds to questions from fans, and congratulates young Classicists individually on their GCSE results: ‘Well done. And I am sure it was you not my programmes’. This just illustrates the gulf between her kind and educationally giving nature and how the trolls see her: basically, as an ugly old [insert misogynistic term for woman]. So, she doesn’t give us the cover-girl look on TV. Oh, is that the only acceptable image of woman? Why is there this hatred of real-looking women? Beard tweeted on 19 August about new Marks and Spencer adverts featuring ‘older’ women such as Helen Mirren, but all with dyed hair: ‘Women in new m&s ad are a great & feisty bunch. But […] don’t spot a whiff of grey. Women go grey M&S!’ And she’s right: women do go grey. What’s wrong with that? We don’t all have to dye our hair as we climb the mountain of age, and media ought to reflect reality. But that little tweet caused a storm of media controversy and prompted more pathetic attacks. Again Beard defeats the sad haters by publicising their comments to illustrate their ugly, pathetic nature. And it’s quite entertaining in a sadistic sort of way: ‘Just because you look like an ungroomed horse’s arse doesn’t mean all women over 50 should’. She laughs it off. It’s not all fun. On 3 August she planned to join the ‘Twitter Silence’, organised in protest against rape threats received by Caroline Criado-Perez and others, but on the day Beard wrote: ‘Planned to be off twitter, but I’ve had more threats this morning (rape and worse). It IS still going on. Tried to report to Twitter, failed.’ Violent, sickening abuse based on ageism, misogyny and other stupid prejudices is something that not only Mary Beard and other female academics and celebrities suffer from, but they are in a good position to do something about it – and Beard is leading the way. So, trolls beware! Our favourite Classicist has spoken! And our advice for those vile troll beings: still need to appease that sensation of bubbling aggression? Why not study satire or invective? Hone your skills in rhetoric? Develop an imagination? Maybe even – get a life and study Classics?!
THENEWSATYRICA FRESHERS’ ISSUE September 2013
AGORA AUNT Dear Agora Aunt, After being away for twenty years, my hubby’s finally returned from Troy. You’d think this was great news, but whilst I’ve remained faithful despite his presumed death and rejected the advances of no less than 108 men, all of whom wouldn’t mind flashing their cash to wed me, it turns out he’s been seeing other women including a goddess! How do I compete with her?! On top of that, he made a big thing about how much I’ve aged and casually mentions he’s leaving me to go away again. I just don’t know what to do, I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m so sick of men, what should I do? - Penelope, Ithaca.
Readers’ responses ‘Seriously? The weight of the world on your shoulders? Insensitive.’ – Atlas. ‘I’ve got a solution for problematic husbands and their concubines… have you got a bath and some sort of net?’ – Clytemnestra. ‘Compete with a goddess? Don’t bother, you have no chance.’ – Niobe. ‘Sick of men? Call me maybe?’ – Sappho. Agora Aunt’s verdict Sounds like you need to get used to having your husband back in your life. I just get this feeling you’re a well-matched pair; he’d never find anyone as well suited to him as you. Instead of viewing your fidelity negatively, try looking at yourself as a Classical symbol of marital devotion. Good luck! Agora Aunt xx
Above: one of the many cultural events to come