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On a chilly spring March morning last week, ELSS Head of Classics Mr Anderson, and a group of enthusiastic Lower School pupils took to the open-air stage on Three Mills Green to read extracts from Homer’s Iliad – in 12  launguages including English, German, Arabic, Filipino and Lithuanian.

The event, organised by Mr Anderson, was part of the European Festival of Latin and Greek, where hundreds of schools and institutions around the world read part of the Iliad at the same time.

Mr Anderson explains how the project came about. “Pupils spent two months preparing for the event. We gave each of them a part of Iliad Book 24 to translate into a language which they speak at home. Between them, pupils at ELSS speak over 50 languages. Our aim was to celebrate this in an event which involved reading an ancient text that all pupils at ELSS get the chance to study in Year 7. We chose to read Book 24 –  an incredibly moving part of the epic.

Priam, father of Hector, visits Achilles, the man who murdered his son, to beg for his body to be returned. The two cry together about the suffering caused by the war and everything they have lost. Aiza, in year 7, read the immortal line:
‘Respect the gods, Achilles, and show mercy towards me, remembering your own father, for I am more to be pitied than he, since I have brought myself to do what no other man on earth would do, I have lifted to my lips the hand of the man who killed my sons.

All the pupils really enjoyed the event and will get the opportunity to similar readings in the future.”

You can view our video all of the pupils readings here.