SHEFFIELD CLASSICAL ASSOCIATION
Sheffield Classical Association
On Saturday afternoon, Alumni, and Alumnae of the Classics and Ancient History Department of the University of Sheffield (and many other interested parties) gathered together to reminiscence and swop memories of the time when Greeks and Romans held sway on Floor 7 of the Arts Tower (not HR) and the 'Pater Noster' lift was used by people who really understood what the words meant. This joyful occasion-many interesting stories were told and exchanged-was organised and facilitated by Dr. Daniele Miano to whom the greatest thanks are owed (omnes gratias maxumas -note the early form-agimus).
Payne (or sometimes Fitzpayne) Fisher (known in Latin as Paganus Piscator) – of whom sadly no image survives – was Oliver Cromwell’s unofficial Latin laureate. Here is an extract from Fisher’s ‘breakthrough’ hit, Marston Moor (printed in 1650). Fisher had fought at the battle of Marston Moor on the losing royalist side and in 1647 he was probably fairly recently out of prison, casting around for support and patronage in the political climate:
This describes an historical event—the unseasonable weather at the battle of
Marston Moor on 2 July 1650, when a summer storm caused confusion on the
battlefield. The Scottish forces, fleeing in confusion amid the slaughter, are
stopped, and the fortunes of the day reversed, only by the arrival of Cromwell
Anfractus vacuas, & hiulci Fragmina Campi
Adductis reparauit Equis; per mille cohortes
Perrumpens, mediaeque terens glomeramina Turmae.
Na´mque globos Legionum, & concurrentia rupit
Agmina, vulnificos gradiens intactus ad Enses,
Atque per Imbriferi displosa tonitrua Plumbi.
Turriger innumeris Elephas sic cinctus ab Armis
Erigitur, spumı´sque Irae furialibus undans
Ferrea nodoso regerit venabula dorso
Toruus, et Obstantes Bellantum proterit hastas.
He restored the ravaged horns, and the wreck of the cleft plain
With horses that he brought in, forcing his way through a thousand companies
And restoring to ordered smoothness the small groups of men of the middle squadron.
For he burst the spheres of the Legions and the ranks of men
Rushing together, stepping intact to the wound-bearing swords,
And right through the bursting thunder of the shower-bearing Lead.
Like a tower-bearing Elephant girded with innumerable weapons
He draws himself up, seething with foaming fury
Throws off the iron hunting spears from his knotty back
And ferociously tramples the spears of the warriors in his way.
Read more about this undeservedly little-known 17th Neo-Latin poet here. As an accomplished Latinist Payne Fisher would have undoubtedly contributed to the Save Classics at High Storrs fund. You can do the same here.
Just a reminder about our spring Classical Association talk next Wednesday:
7 March, 5 for 5:30pm at the HRI (see events 2017-18 for details)
Judith Mossman (Coventry), ‘Plutarch and the Roman Triumph’
The Crowd Funding Page is still going-you can still contribute here and read about the campaign. See previous posts on this site for what has happened already: the actual total (including some large donations from alumni who feel that Latin and Classics have helped them in their careers and should be open to everybody who wants to study them) is about £24,300. The High Storrs Classicists have put in an incredible effort to save their subject! Brava Gina and her helpers! A press release is promised when they reach £2500! This may well happen!
She writes in a recent email: "Alumnus and TV personality, Paul Heiney, is coming into school next week to make us a publicity film totally at his own expense . . . He's hoping to get Bettany Hughes to appear and give us an endorsement . . .the father of one of our current Y8 girls who wants to do Class Civ for GCSE . . . is a very well-known folk musician called Martin Simpson and he is doing us a benefit gig in school in May. We're hoping that should bring in at least £5,000 so what a fine chap!"
Well, here on our right, at the top of School
croft, stood the old Grammar or Latin School. In those
days the presiding genius was the Rev. C. Chadwick, who, in
1800, concerned to observe that persons are persuaded to
consider the language and learning of the great models of
antiquity of little use to boys not intended for a learned profession,
advertised the commencement of classes for instruction
in the English language. The school had been built
two hundred years, and well do I remember the rev. gentleman
emerging from the steps (for the school was below the
level of the lane), with his gold-headed cane and three-cornered
hat, to the awe and admiration of the boys. Part of
the house he lived in is now the Burns Tavern, which stands
at the western corner of School croft. It was generally believed
by us that the young gents had raised the devil in the
old porch of the school, but had been so alarmed they never
tried it again. They were a bold and warlike race, and looked
down with scorn on the schools below them, with which they
were ever at war. Their most determined enemies were from
Figtree lane, where a school was conducted by Mr. Cowley.
The contending hosts generally met about the top of Lee
Croft. I have seen the "advance," the "charge," the " retreat,"
and the "rally," when, happily, the bell of the classicals
was sounded, and a truce was made. . .
Dr. George Calvert Holland:
'George Calvert Holland was too remarkable
a man to be passed over with a mere mention.
The perseverance which enabled him to triumph over the
disadvantages of a lowly origin, the scholarship which he
snatched by his own hard industry, the romantic though
painful vicissitudes of his life, and his genial personal
presence alike point to him as an illustrious figure in the
history of Sheffield during the earlier half of the present
Holland was born at Pitsmoor, when Pitsmoor was an outlying
hamlet, and salmon were speared in the then clear waters
of the Don. His love of the classics caused him often to
prolong his readings through the night. But he became
dissatisfied with translations ; he burned to read Virgil and
Petrarch in their native tongue. Under difficulties which had
about them strange elements of the grotesque, he—the sawmaker's
son—set himself to acquire Latin, French, and
Italian, and made such extraordinary progress as to become a
marvel amongst all his acquaintances'.