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Before Gallipoli there was Homer – the Classics and the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915

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This talk is open to the public

The famous Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 was fought almost within sight of the ruins of Schliemann’s Troy. Many classically trained and highly idealistic Edwardian youths like Rupert Brooke (Rugby and King’s, Cambridge) and Patrick Shaw-Stewart (Eton, Balliol and All Souls, Oxford) found themselves in the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division, and heading for the Dardanelles (the ancient Hellespont) to take part in a campaign which might help to restore Hellenism to Ottoman Constantinople. Drawing directly from the poems and letters of these two well known literary figures as well as from those of fellow scholar-soldiers who took part in the campaign such as A.W. St Clair Tisdall VC (Bedford School and Trinity, Cambridge), Charles Lister (Eton and Balliol), Charles Bean (Clifton and Hertford), G.W. Claye (the Perse School, Cambridge), the lecture aims to bring to life the initial excitement over the chance to prove one’s manhood on the Plain of Troy followed by the disappointments and frustrations of a doomed military campaign. The lecture will also examine the patriotic ideals and class-superiority of a closely-knit cultural and social elite as well as the unfailing common belief in the supremacy of a classical education made tragically relevant by a modern military campaign waged so close to its original roots.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Humanities Society talks series.

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