It’s all Greek to me! Prep V get in character…

Prep V travelled back in time today when we were visited by Penelope from Athens and a warrior from Sparta, each trying to prove that their city was the best. 

Firstly, we investigated some Athenian artefacts. We enjoyed trying out the theatrical masks and wigs, looking at models of Athens’ famous buildings as well as pottery, jewellery and coins from the Athenian marketplace. We also examined a wax tablet, an abacus and a papyrus scroll showing the Greek alphabet from the Academy, and the rather unpleasant looking snakes and leeches which were often a Greek doctor’s remedies.  

Our next stop was the Greek theatre, where Amelia was the evil, snake-haired Medusa and Lucas was the fearsome minotaur. We also visited the agora or marketplace, where Angel and Dean – a rich Athenian couple – wanted to buy some slaves. There was a promising selection in Prep V; Leo was chosen to work in the silver mines, while Zach was chosen to be a potter; both displayed excellent miming skills. Who knows, if they work really hard, they might even be set free some day! 

Next, we looked at life in Sparta, a much more rural place with five villages each ruled by an ephor. With his white wig and walking stick, Luca played the part one of these elderly judges. Layla was a strong Spartan woman who took her baby to Luca to inspect. If the baby was weak, it would be abandoned on the mountain side to die. Fortunately, the baby was deemed to be strong enough and named Heracles. Seven years later, the baby (now played by Arthur), was ordered to leave home and go to the agoge, the Spartan military school for boys. Pointing to the door, Layla said there was to be no whining, and Arthur was to return when he had a beard in ten years’ time.  

Spartan school had no buildings, tents or dormitories but was just fields where the boys slept on the ground. They learnt to run, swim, wrestle, steal their food and most importantly, they learnt never to surrender or show pain. Disobedience was punished by a bite from the teacher; fortunately, Arthur behaved like a true Spartan warrior! We also found out that Spartan soldiers were very proud of their long curly hair which they thought made then resemble a lion with a long mane. Arthur and David carefully combed and oiled each other’s long curly wigs prior to battle. Next it was Frankie’s turn to be a Spartan soldier and he modelled some heavy armour complete with a helmet, assisted by his faithful slave Toby. Angel, Amelia and Layla acted the part of harsh Spartan wives who sent their husbands off to battle with the words, “Come back with your shield or on your shield!” (In other words, come back victorious or dead!) 

We enjoyed two Spartan games to end our morning’s activities. Pattae, was rather like draughts, and we used black and white pebbles to capture our opponents’ pieces. Some of us showed great cunning and strategic skills! Next, we played an Athenian game of chance which told us our fortune. Using a dice, chance cards and a set of owls we had a series off adventures during which Frankie caught Medusa, Amelia married a rich man (twice!) while Arthur successfully defeated the Persians. 

After lunch, we used our pottery skills to design clay coins. David decorated his with snakes, Luca put a monster’s mask on his coin, while Dean’s coin showed Hades’ trident. We left our coins to dry and went down to the hall to prepare for our performance of a Greek myth. We used singing, musical instruments, props and our acting skills to tell the story of Persephone and her mother Demeter, played by Angel and Layla. Daniel was a sinister Hades, the lonely god of the underworld, and Leo was the ferry man who helped the dead to cross the river Styx. Alex, Lucas and Kaspen were an especially monstrous three-headed dog Cerberus. We rounded off the afternoon with some spirited Greek dancing based on the myths of Achilles, Medusa and Pegasus the winged horse. There was just time to learn about the goddess Hera, who sometimes came to earth disguised as a peacock. Everyone was given a tall peacock feather and we found that by staring at the blue eye, we were able to balance it on the end of one finger. 

Just before our visitors departed on their long voyage back to Ancient Greece, it was time to decide if we would prefer to live in the city of Athens or Sparta. We voted, and Athens won by a narrow margin, although there were a number of brave and stoic individuals who favoured the rigours of the Spartan lifestyle. Our thanks to the excellent team from Makers of History for their entertaining, educational and exciting day, as well as to all our parents for their continued support. 

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