We may study the past, but we live in a present that we have inherited from them. As far removed as the world of classical antiquity may feel, as distant as the ancient Mediterranean may be, as different as the daily lives of the Greeks and Romans may have been, the study of their world puts ours into perspective.
My interest in the classics began at school, but a Bachelor of Arts at ANU allowed me to expand my knowledge of ancient history and improve my Latin, studying with those who later became educators themselves, and learning from pioneers in their fields, who emphasised the collegiality and interdisciplinary nature of the classics in a modern context.
The superbly curated ANU Classics Museum showcases highlights from their collection, and is a regularly used teaching resource, putting everyday objects literally within our grasp.
The Master of Classical Studies was a logical next step, giving me the opportunity to learn Ancient Greek in addition to Latin. Research opportunities within the Centre for Classical Studies abounded, enabling me to make close textual analysis of classical poetry in their original tongue, and examine the development of the strategic and imagined frontiers of the Roman Empire.
My Masters culminated in a summer course spent in Turkey and Greece, traversing sites only studied in books or glimpsed in photos, clambering across stony fields littered with two thousand year old pottery, and searching for Greek cities lost to pine forest and olive groves. Standing amidst their ruined temples, walking across the mosaic floors of their bathrooms, listening to a performance in their theatres it dawned on us that they were not so dissimilar from us at all.
And so we realise, the past is not a foreign country but instead our own.
Russell has since graduated from the university.