On Wednesday 18 January pupils from RHS and schools in the surrounding area were treated to a university-level classics lecture by Dr Frisby of Kings College London.
She spoke to the assembled crowd of classicists on the title 'Unpicking the Shroud: The Women of Epic and Weaving the Narrative'. It was a truly fascinating and challenging lecture stretching from the Homeric epic with Penelope and Helen to Catullus 64. Dr Frisby drew our focus to women, weaving and clothing gifts; a surprisingly profound and metaphorical topic. She began by passing around a Roman loom weight and explaining the importance of weaving as a cultural occupation of women with particular reference to Penelope, the wife of long-suffering Odysseus, Helen of Troy, Andromache the wife of Hektor, Calypso and Circe.
The idea of women weaving as a metaphor in poetry was explained through Helen and her weaving of the Trojan War; the very same war that Homer wrote of in The Iliad. Dr Frisby said that both the pattern of words and the pattern of the threads are intricate, painstakingly placed to achieve a 'picture' of the battle. The Iliad is not itself battle, but a representation of it, just as Helen's cloth is. Penelope, the weaver of the deceptive shroud was also covered and during The Odyssey the shroud narrative is told three times, by three separate people.
Dr Frisby closed by reiterating the meaning, metaphor and deception that exists behind the woven squares of antiquity.
Anson (Year 12)