Prep Five travelled back in time today when we were visited by Penelope from Athens and Andros, 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 Ayesha was the evil, snake-haired Medusa and Alfie was the fearsome Minotaur. We also visited the agora or marketplace, where Emily and Henry – a rich Athenian couple – wanted to buy some slaves. There was a promising selection in Prep Five; poor Sam was chosen to work in the dark and dangerous silver mines, while Ruby 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, Keane played the part one of these elderly judges. Izabella was a strong Spartan woman who took her baby to Keane 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 Daniel), was ordered to leave home and go to the agoge, the Spartan military school for boys. Pointing to the door, Izabella said there was to be no whining, and Daniel 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, Daniel 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. Sam and Daniel carefully combed and oiled each other’s long curly wigs prior to battle. Next it was Oscar’s turn to be a Spartan soldier, and he modelled some heavy armour complete with a helmet, assisted by his faithful slave Oliver. The girls 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!)
Next we learned about different styles of ruling in Greece. Jacob was a domineering king, who showed no mercy when Leonard dared to challenge his orders. Poor Leonard was ordered to drink poison and die! Ying Wun was a member of the rich ruling oligarchy and once again, her people had no power. Finally, Jenson represented democracy which was the method of government invented in Athens. We all supported people power with great enthusiasm!
We enjoyed two Greek games during 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 Ying Wun took the three headed dog Cerberus for a walk, Oliver and Adyan turned out to be geniuses at the Academy, Lucie married a rich man while Alfie successfully defeated the Persians. After lunch, we used our pottery skills to design clay coins. Many of us used snakes for decoration; Alfie put a one eyed Cyclops on his coin, while Ying Wun’s coin showed a beautiful Athenian pot. 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 Izabella and Ayesha. Oscar was a sinister Hades, the lonely god of the underworld, and Ruby was the ferry man who helped the dead to cross the river Styx. Lucie, Emily and Olivia 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.