Gwen Gets to Work

The Classics Fellow

June 29, 2020 Gwen / Ben Season 1 Episode 12
Gwen Gets to Work
The Classics Fellow
Show Notes Transcript

Gwen plays a game of Guess the God with Ben the Classics Fellow.

In this episode we will learn why we should care what people a very, very long time ago thought about how we ought to organise the world. Ben and Gwen talk about the Ancient World and philosophy, with a bit of Ghost Busters and cooking along the way.

Tune in to find out what the Classics Fellow's actual job is and what qualities you need beyond just having a really big brain!

I am a 7yr old. My name is Gwen Rose. I wanted to do this podcast so all the girls, boys and me could learn about what adults do all day. Visit our website for past episodes and to find out what's coming soon: https://gwengetstowork.com/

Produced by Enigma Records: https://enigmarecords.co.uk/

Support the show (https://www.gofundme.com/f/gwen-gets-to-work/)
Gwen :

Have you ever been asked, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Gwen's Mum :

Gwen Gets To Work

Gwen :

I like talking to people, and they like talking back to me. At least that's what I think. One day I asked my mum, "How do I know what I want to be when I grow up?" My mum said, if I interview people about like their jobs and things like that, I will find out and like all the people who are listening, um, you will find out too, if you don't know. Let's get to work! Welcome to Episode 12 of my podcast. In this week's episode, I am talking to a Classics Fellow. It was really interesting talking to him, so I hope you enjoy it. Heraclitus the Greek philosopher once said, change is the only constant in life. So we're going to play a new game called Guess the God to warm up. Are you ready?

Ben :

I'm ready.

Gwen :

Who was married to his sister?

Ben :

Who was married to his sister? Well a number of Greek gods were but Zeus in particular was.

Gwen :

Correct! Who was represented by a peacock?

Ben :

By a peacock? I don't know the answer, you tell me.

Gwen :

Hera/Juno?

Ben :

Hera, yes. The Greeks and the Romans had different names for the same god or goddess. So Zeus is the Greek name, right? And Jupiter is the Latin or Roman name. Hera is the Greek name, and Juno is the Latin or Roman name.

Gwen :

Okay. Who can make hurricanes?

Ben :

Who can make hurricanes? Well Poseidon can make hurricanes.

Gwen :

Correct. Who was born dressed in armour?

Ben :

Who was born dressed in armour? Ah, Athena was born dressed in armour.

Gwen :

Correct. Who was Percy Jackson's father?

Ben :

Oo I don't know.

Gwen :

Percy Jackson and Olympians.....pursusan? Perseus.

Ben :

Perseus. It's a book, yes, I know. I just don't know anything about it. Percy Jackson.

Gwen :

Who was Perseus' father?

Ben :

Who was Perseus' father, mm, is it Zeus?

Gwen :

Who was in charge of healing and also plague?

Ben :

In charge of healing? Well, there's a number in charge of healing but we have Asclepius.

Gwen :

We've got down Apollo.

Ben :

Apollo, yes.

Gwen :

Who likes hunting and also babies?

Unknown Speaker :

Who likes hunting and babies. Do you have down Diana?

Gwen :

Yes.

Ben :

Yes. Or in Greek she was called Artemis.

Gwen :

We have that down too.

Ben :

Excellent.

Unknown Speaker :

Who is the video game God of War named after and why was he not very popular with other gods?

Ben :

Who was the God of War named after?

Gwen :

Yeah.

Ben :

Is it Aries?

Gwen :

Yes.

Ben :

There we go.

Gwen :

Now on to the main questions.

Ben :

Okay.

Gwen :

First, what did you want to be when you were a kid?

Ben :

Oh, I wanted to be so many things when I was a kid. I wanted to be a cowboy.

Clip :

[...]

Unknown Speaker :

I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to be a chef for a while. I wanted to be anything in a costume when I was very young; Santa Claus, I had a Santa Claus costume.

Clip :

[...]

Ben :

I had a Ghostbusters costume. I was highly influenced by television and movies when I was very young. But then when I was about 12 or 13 I started reading Greek tragedy, and I knew I wanted to do something in the Classics at that point.

Gwen :

Do you like cooking now?

Ben :

Do I like cooking, I do like cooking now, especially now that I have two boys. Nice to cook for them.

Clip :

[...]

Ben :

I'm not all that good at it, I'm afraid but I'm trying to become better. And particularly now in the lockdown it's been a good opportunity to cook more. Do you like cooking Gwen?

Gwen :

Mmm, well, I don't always cook but I don't tell my mummy out which is fun.

Clip :

[...]

Gwen :

Like cooking pancakes and things like that.

Ben :

Yes, it's fun to eat something that you've made yourself, isn't it?

Gwen :

Yeah. What it is Classics?

Ben :

What is classics? Well, that's a good question. Classics is the study of the ancient Mediterranean world, right? So it's the study of the archaeology, that is to say the remains that survive from the ancient world. It's the study of the literature of the ancient world. It's a study of the languages that they spoke, Latin and Greek but not exclusively those two. And particularly for me, it's the study of the thought, of the philosophy, of the ideas that the people of that time first developed. So we're talking about thousands of years ago, we're talking about 2500 years ago in the case of the rise of democracy, the political system in Athens in Greece. So it's a very broad system of studying the ancient world, and not just the ancient world, but also why it matters to us. Why we should care what people a very, very long time ago thought about how they ought to organise themselves.

Gwen :

Wow. What is a philosophy?

Ben :

What is a philosophy? Well, it's a way of thinking about the world and our place in it, and particularly, the big sorts of questions, really, philosophy. You've already engaged in it. I'm sure when you ask what the meaning of life is, when you ask where the world began, and where it's going. When we ask questions about our place in that world. When we ask questions about whether it's right or wrong to do something we're asking philosophical questions. When we ask how we can know something, how we can know that other people are having thoughts just as we are having thoughts. Those are philosophical questions.

Clip :

[...]

Ben :

They get their start in childhood. The pressing questions that we never really get satisfying answers to. That's what philosophy is all about.

Gwen :

Wow. What is your actual job?

Ben :

My actual job. Well, I teach at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland in the Classics department there. My official title is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. What that means is they pay me to teach Latin and Greek, and also to think about ancient texts. To read them, to write about them, and to try to understand them better.

Gwen :

So do you have to have a really big brain?

Ben :

I wish. I wish I had a very big brain. More than a big brain, I think what's important is his determination and a willingness to focus for a very long time on a particular subject. That's more important than a really big brain. Because people with big brains are very smart, of course, but it's never enough to simply to be very smart. You also have to be determined. You need to be enterprising. You need to be very keen in order to really understand something better. It takes a long time. Patience is also very important, unfortunately. But it's a virtue that has to be developed. And I'm working very hard on it.

Gwen :

Are you mostly in a library or a classroom?

Ben :

I am mostly in the library, when I can be. At the moment of course, libraries are shut, which is a very great problem for me at the moment. By usually I spend about 75% of my time in the library or reading or writing, and 25% teaching.

Gwen :

Can you get your books online?

Ben :

You can get them online, some of them, yes. Not all of them unfortunately but some.

Gwen :

At your job is there a canteen?

Clip :

[...]

Ben :

I wish there were a canteen. I need to go out from from the university to have lunch, but there are at universities, lots of different places to eat. That's one of the nice things about universities.

Gwen :

What do you like to eat?

Ben :

Ooh, I'm not all that much of a keen lunch eater. But I do like to have coffee. And perhaps something very simple like sweets and candies for lunch.

Gwen :

Me too.

Ben :

Yes, that's the best isn't it?

Gwen :

Mm hmm. What do you have to wear at work?

Ben :

One of the nice things about being a teacher at university is that there is no required dress code. You have to be not very formal at all. So jeans are okay. It's quite open to interpretation. That is a nice thing.

Gwen :

Do you have to, so do you have to wear a cape?

Ben :

In the past, in the olden days, there was such a thing called academical dress that involved robes, flowing robes and capes and lots of different insignia indicating your area of study. And still on formal occasions, and at certain universities, this sort of dress is is still required, but it's quite rare. But two or three hundred years ago, say, at all times, teachers at universities would be wearing these very grand, almost monastic style clothes.

Gwen :

Jeans is better.

Ben :

Jeans is better. I agree completely.

Clip :

[...]

Gwen :

Have you done any jobs before that you didn't really like?

Ben :

Oo I've done lots of little jobs over the years. I've taught at a school. I taught Latin, the language, at a school in Cambridge for a while. I've worked in a shop, which I didn't much like but it was very educational for me to work there.

Clip :

[...]

Ben :

I've worked washing cars when I was very young. I worked as a caddy at a golf club; I carried people's golf clubs while they played golf. I worked in a bank for a while. All jobs that I didn't much enjoy, but I always knew what I wanted to do eventually.

Gwen :

Whilst you were at the, you know, like the golf club, did you sometimes do golf there?

Ben :

Sometimes, yes. I was able to play on the golf course at the golf club because I work there.

Gwen :

[...]

Ben :

But I was not much older than you really, 13 or 14 years old.

Gwen :

Do you have a favourite God?

Ben :

Do I have a favourite god? Um, i'm not sure I do have a favourite. I like a number of different ones for different reasons. So Aphrodite who is the goddess of love, for instance, is a very interesting God. She's depicted in art very prominently in lots of different periods of art history. And it's very interesting to compare and contrast how Aphrodite and indeed all the gods are depicted by artists. Apollo is the god of the Creative Arts in particular and I find that particularly interesting. And it's nice to look at certain gods and certain kinds of genres or classes of literature, different types of books, right? And the way they were talked about, described and used by ancient writers. So if we go back to our earliest Greek writer thousands of years ago - no one knows quite how long - Homer who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. It's nice to look at how the different gods are described by him, and then how the same gods are described by later writers. Do you have a favourite God Gwen?

Gwen :

I don't really know any gods actually for some reason. I only know a god called God.

Clip :

[...]

Ben :

Hmm.

Gwen :

I don't know any of the gods. That's a bit weird. Do you have a favourite philosophical idea?

Ben :

Philosophical idea.. I'm not sure any one particular philosophical idea is my favourite, I suppose the area of philosophy that I'm most interested in is the area that is concerned with questions about how we can know the world, whether we can actually know anything. And questions about how us as human beings fit into that world; how our knowledge of the world helps us to make sense of it and helps us to make sense of our relationships with other people.

Gwen :

Maybe I can find about all the gods and ideas on Horrible Stories.

Ben :

Yes, I think on Horrible Histories you can you can find out more. There's lots of resources to find out about the gods in the ancient world. One of the interesting things about the gods in the ancient world is not only that, that there were such Gods but there are so many of them, and they changed over time. They're understood differently, they've rised in importance and declined in importance. Some of the gods seem to come from outside of the ancient Mediterranean world, perhaps from India, or from Persia, or from ancient Egypt. There are cultural connections that that relate to the development of the gods and the development of religion that are very interesting to study. So, it's a moving picture that really is intriguing once you you dive into it.

Gwen :

Thank you. You are very interesting actually.

Ben :

I like the actually at the end.

Gwen :

I have one fun question.

Ben :

Okay.

Gwen :

Is the movie Troy, like, true?

Ben :

Well, since we've been talking about the gods, one of the things that's interesting about the movie Troy is they don't really appear in it. There are very few gods in that movie, but the story is based on Homer's Iliad, this great epic tale is full of the gods. The gods are central to that story. So they changed it to make it a little less Greek and a little less foreign. Um, so is it true? Well, who knows. But it may be based on a war that happened a very, very long time ago. And that deuced a story, the Iliad that is still very much with us, still very much relevant, and I hope one day you will read it because it's one of the most exciting things that one could read. I think.

Gwen :

I'll let you go back to your boys. It was really good talking to you.

Ben :

It was lovely talking to you too Gwen. Can I ask you one question?

Gwen :

Yeah!

Ben :

From all the interviews you've done so far, what is it that you've learned most? What is the most interesting thing you've seen in your interviews so far?

Gwen :

Oh that's a hard one.

Ben :

Yes.

Gwen :

All of them are basically interesting. Fine umm, probably the MMA Fighter?

Ben :

What did you learn about her?

Gwen :

Or the Reporter. Um, well, she doesn't have to be angry with like people to, you know, like, fight with people. And if I had to choose on from the reporter, he gave me good tips about if you made a mistake.

Ben :

Mistakes are part of all jobs, unfortunately, so it's good to get some tips on how to how to fix them. You've had such a variety though. It's been extraordinary to listen to some of your interviews: presidents, teachers, doctors, artists, so many interesting people.

Gwen :

Thank you.

Ben :

I hope you you continue; you're going to become a sort of David Frost of interviews about jobs.

Gwen :

Are you still working in the Corona Virus?

Ben :

I am still working. I'm trying to write now that I have a bit more free time from teaching. And I'm also trying very hard to plan for teaching next year which will have to be over the internet, given the new rules that are we are subject to so lots of new things and exciting challenges in the coming months.

Gwen :

Uh, bye.

Ben :

Bye!

Gwen :

Thank you for being on my podcast.

Ben :

Oh it's such a privilege and a pleasure to talk with you.[...]

Gwen :

Bye.

Ben :

Bye.

Gwen :

Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed that as much as me. If you did, please remember to leave me a five star rating and subscribe to the podcast, so you don't miss next week's amazing episode with an actual beekeeper. We went to visit the hives this week. Check out the photos on our Instagram. Bye! Transcribed by https://otter.ai