How the ancients actually spoke is a matter that has never been resolved, let alone agreed upon; Cicero wrote a number of works on oratory, but he does not get around to telling us about how actually to pronounce the words themselves. This opens up the intriguing question of whether the Greeks and the Romans employed the ancient equivalent of the best RP (‘received pronunciation’) of the 1950s BBC, or whether Romans living on the Esquiline or the Caelian hills (in the East end of the capital) spoke with a Romano-cockney twang down the market.
Despite (or because of!) this debate, the second annual Shrewsbury School Classical Reading Competition, organised by Mr Jim Sheppe, took place in the Ashton Theatre on 3rd December.
The event attracted a good number of competitors from the Third Form all the way up to the Upper Sixth, divided into three categories of Junior (Third Formers), Intermediate (Fourth and Fifth Form), and Senior (Sixth Form).
To listen and deliver his verdict on the renditions of Greek and Latin poetry and prose, the adjudicator Mr Adrian Saunders, from the Department of Archaeology and History of Art at Koç University had flown in all the way from Istanbul. He was impressed by the valiant efforts of all the competitors, and stressed the importance of allowing the languages to flow and ‘speak for themselves’.
The laurels were dispersed as follows:
1st prize - Henry Mayhew (Ch) Aesop’s Fables ‘The Frog and their King'
2nd prize - Angus Moore (S) Archilochus’ elegiacs
1st prize - Jamie Channon (PH) Apuleius’ The Witches of Thessaly
2nd prize - Paddy Cope (Ch) Aeneid II Laocoön’s demise
Joint 1st prize: Olivia Bradley (EDH) Mimnermus’ elegiacs
Ralph Wade (Rb) St. John’s Gospel