Ancient History Personal Statement

When I took part in my Primary School production of the Odyssey, I didn't then realise that this would spark such a profound interest in Ancient History which persists today. Given its absence from the curriculum, my independent research into Ancient History has been a gateway to learning more about the Ancient world and contemplating its resonance today. I would like to further explore how myths informed daily life in antiquity and shaped the culture, beliefs and morals of ancient people and what lessons we can learn from history.

Literature from antiquity has transcended time, because the stories remain relevant and so are still being told and performed, just like my performance of the Odyssey. I went to the National Theatre to watch an all-female production of Paradise. It tells the story of Philoctetes after he had been deserted on an island before the Trojan War. I was extremely impressed by the modernisation of the play which drew attention to issues such as war and climate change. Rieu's translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey showed me the importance of unity and the nature of the gods as well as the depiction of war through rich storytelling. I particularly enjoy modern interpretations of the epics and myths of antiquity.

In Homer's Odyssey, Circe is depicted as power-hungry whereas Miller's depiction is simply that of a woman. Through Medea and Oedipus Rex I learnt about the tragic hero archetype. The moral lessons of the plays offer an insight into contemporary society's beliefs and teachings since so often the theatre was the foremost mode of education. Despite the lack of offer for Ancient History at my school, I explore the subject independently: Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time episode on Alexander the Great detailed how sources are biased towards the victories of the Greeks and raised the issue of limited evidence. Additionally, The Augustan Age examined the different leadership styles of Augustus and Caesar, as the former strived to maintain the dignity of the Senate and upheld his laws even at his daughter's expense.

History has allowed me to study the Tudor period. In this, I drew interesting parallels between Tudor Monarchs such as Richard III vs Henry VII and Roman Emperors Carinus vs Diocletian. Diocletian like Henry VII overthrew their partner to gain control of the country. My study of Politics has also highlighted how the politics of the current world has been shaped by the past. For example, how the Ancient Greeks created democracy and how the Romans subsequently transformed it. Through Philosophy I have studied the teachings of Plato and Aristotle which have given me further insight into the morals of the Ancient Greeks such as Eudaimonia, building on what I have already learnt from myth. I enjoy applying ancient philosophy and teachings to modern life and society. This year when I visited Athens, I was able to see the very buildings and temples which played a central role in antiquity. The Acropolis and the temples at Delphi helped me understand the context of the stories I have read and the importance of heroes to people in everyday life.

Visits to museums have provided further insight; looking at artifacts at the British Museum generated a train of curiosity as to where they fit into the ancient civilizations and questions about the ethics of such collections such as the possession of the Parthenon Marbles. I have more questions about their society, philosophy, and politics and how these remain relevant in today's world. My involvement in Sea Cadets has also inspired an interest in historic seafaring and navies. I believe I would be an excellent candidate for the course of Ancient History because of my passion, imagination, and open-mindedness which all allow me to understand the complexities of antiquity and hopefully solve the past or at least unlock some of it.

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