Dr Gilbert reports:
There was to be no stopping the pupils and staff on the classics trip which took place over the course of four very busy days this Easter vacation. Arriving in Naples early on Wednesday 6 April we travelled straight to Cumae, the site of an oracle in ancient times: a priestess called a Sibyl who would become possessed by the god Apollo and utter riddling prophecies of the future. The famous encounter between the Sibyl and the Trojan hero Aeneas has been published very recently in Seamus Heaney’s translation of Book 6 of Virgil’s Aeneid. Next we went to Pozzuoli for lunch al fresco, and visited the large Roman amphitheatre, once the site of gladiatorial fights and wild beast hunts. The day closed with a trip to the volcanic Solfatara where we saw boiling mud and hot gasses emerging from the ground. Delightful.
Day two took us to the luxurious Villa Oplontis (buried in the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79) and the ancient town of Pompeii. It is an extraordinary place, caught in its time like no other. However, in many ways the visit to Paestum on the third day was even more remarkable fuor being such a surprise: three very well preserved Greek temples quite took the breath away.
On the final day we visited the National Archaeological Museum in Naples which helped to put so much of what we had seen in its wider context. All in all it was the perfect end to a brilliant trip: twenty-five pupils studying Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation, from years 10 to 12, who gained enormously from the experience and could not have behaved better; a delightful hotel by the sea in Meta, near Sorrento; and sunny weather far better than we could have hoped for given the gloomy forecasts before we left.