By Illia Rebechar and Emily Taylor, VI Form
Classical Diploma Mosaics
Note: Each year students who are taking Greek II and have also taken three years of Latin work together throughout the spring to present a project at the end of the year to receive their Classical Diplomas. This year the project was driven by the question: How is the study of Classical languages and cultures still relevant to the 21st-century learner? Students worked through rounds of brainstorming over Zoom and ultimately ended with a project that would use a classical art form, mosaic pieces, to communicate the relevance of classical influences all around us.
The mosaic I have worked on depicts three of the commonly known philosophers of the ancient world, Socrates (left), Aristotle (center) and Plato (right). The three have probably been most influential in my life as I have observed a multitude of different aspects of everyday life use some topic of their philosophical works.
First, I would like to mention that Plato’s cave was a big inspiration for one of the most proclaimed movies in the world, The Matrix. The film resembles a society in which all humans are connected to an illusionary world from which they are freed when chosen. The Matrix, since its debut in 1999, has sparked numerous conversations about Plato’s original cave idea, and even inspired actual research to see if humanity did in fact live in an illusion.
Second, I would like to examine, as Socrates would like, the judicial system in many countries. The search for justice and truth was an ideal of Socrates and he spent his life looking for truth. Socrates has inspired humanity to think more deeply about our everyday life. I firmly believe humanities progression in social justice, ethics and morality stemmed from Socrates’s vision.
Finally, Aristotle has probably made the most substantial physical alterations to our world. In Europe today, the equivalence of High School is the Lyceum. They are institutions of higher education where young adults today go to gain knowledge in all spheres of life (my sister finished her lyceum last year). What many may not know is that Aristotle is the founder of the idea of Lyceum and he was the first to pioneer higher education in the ancient world. Philosophy has been a great focus in our class this year. Not only did we read Socrates’s Apology closely, but we also have spent time thinking about overarching themes in Greek plays through a more philosophical lense. Philosophy is still very practiced today and is part of some of the hardest scholarly topics like science, social justice, languages, and the arts.
Architecture in the modern world is something you can often look at and think, “how this was made has history.” History lives around us in people and textbooks, but every now and then we get to see it in physical forms and all types of art. The grand scale of ancient architecture and the thought that has been meticulously built into the stone is amazing, especially when you are able to catch glimpses of its modern counterparts.
Standing tall in the right upper corner is the acropolis in Athens, a little off in the distance, a building well known and word that has developed into something more. The word meaning almost “city on a hill” has become a powerful phrase in the modern world. An image of a hopeful and more ideal government stems from one of the first-ever democracies. It has stood the test of time with strong standing Doric columns and represents the rich history of the Greeks. Running through and around the acropolis is a Roman aqueduct, the earliest form of water manipulation. The Roman harnessing of water represented the power of the empire and control over this life-sustaining resource showed an impressive knack for collective learning and complex ecosystem engineering. Columns stand tall along the right of the panel due to their lasting relevance to modern architecture. Made of individual stacked circular stones, these columns held up massive roofs and looked good while doing it, with impressive detailing when Ionic or Corinthian in style.
When thinking of Roman or Grecian architecture, many recall images lovely, and once again grandiose, amphitheaters and theatres. The most famous and known to all is the Roman Colosseum. This was the largest amphitheater built in the Roman reign and took inspiration from the Greek theatres before it. It displays the combination of arches and columns, similar to the aqueducts. This style is what we have repeated in our modern architecture. The Greek theater above it, while different in form and build, was equally impressive. Often Greek cities were built around a hill, so it was easy to find an area that would make for an ideal theatre. Then they would simply build inwards, carving out the necessary seating. From the Greek word, θέατρον, amphitheaters flourished, and the “seeing-places” that the Greeks invented became the origin of classical theatre and entertainment.
The architecture of the Classical world lives all around us now: in our buildings, culture, and the way that we dream. Our world keeps growing and with it, we build new, magnificent buildings of our own. Intertwined are the technological advances of the Roman and Greek worlds and the desire to build big. In this way, every day, we get to see the classical world unfolding around us.
Illia Rebechar is a VI form boarding student from Odessa, Ukraine. His favorite subjects are Greek, Latin, and Theatre. His favorite activities are performing on stage, reading philosophical texts and translating Ancient Greek.
Emily Taylor is VI form day student from Marlborough, Massachusetts. She enjoys classes that require critical and abstract thinking, but she also especially enjoys math and any of the hard sciences. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, gardening, and hanging out on her hammock.