Personal Statement: Classics

Topics: Knowledge, Consciousness, Library Pages: 2 (594 words) Published: February 11, 2014
Personal Statement

Classics appeals to me because it is such a broad area of study, encompassing so many different disciplines (and so many of my interests!), but at the same time remains a single subject; the different elements fit together, illuminating and enhancing each other. A work of literature surely cannot be properly understood without some understanding of the political and cultural context in which it was written - and read. In the same way knowledge of a work or genre of literature allows an understanding of its influence upon popular consciousness and the actions of individuals, such as Alexander's emulation of Achilles.

Through my reading and schoolwork I have gained a reasonably extensive historical knowledge but the vastness of history makes it necessarily very fragmentary. I find this dissatisfying and I am partly attracted to the study of classical history because it can be given reasonably natural spatial and temporal boundaries, making it possible to place detailed study of a society or aspect of a society - literature, art or religion - within an understanding of how that society has and will develop as well as its relationship to other societies.

I have found it interesting to investigate classical history through initially reading historians such as Plutarch and Suetonius, whilst being conscious of their biases and factual unreliability as well as their historical perspective (such as belief in omens). When I then read modern accounts of the same time period I find it interesting seeing how they have used information from the authors I have been reading and how the perspective and emphasis has changed. Studying history at A level has helped to make me aware of the implications of the origin of historical texts.

Reading a volume of Plutarch's Roman lives I became fascinated by the process of transition from Republic to Empire, which I had never previously considered. As I began to read more on the time period I gradually...
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