Gilbert Murray Essay Competition

The Gilbert Murray Essay Competition is an annual contest hosted by the Glasgow & West Centre of the Classical Association of Scotland. It is open to any pupils at Scottish schools from P6 through to S6. If your school teaches Classics, entries may be submitted through them, but you should not worry if your school does not offer Classics: you can still enter by yourself!

We are now open for entries in the 2020-21 competition!

Prizes will be awarded in four sections, each with their own topics (the tasks can be found below!):

a) for pupils in P6 & P7      

b) for pupils in S1 & S2              

c) for pupils in S3 & S4         

d) for pupils in S5 & S6

There will also be a special award of £50 to the most outstanding entry overall.

Conditions of Entry

Entries can be made by pupils at Scottish schools through their teacher, or can be submitted independently. Please remember the following conditions:

  1. The entrant’s own name along with the name of their school should be written on each entrant’s work.
  • (a) Entries that are submitted through schools should be accompanied by a letter from the teacher listing the name and year group of all the pupils concerned, and confirming that the work has been done independently.
  • (b) Entries submitted on an individual basis should be accompanied by a signed declaration that the work has been done independently and contact details (postal and email addresses).


For P6 – P7   Not more than 600 words

For S1 – S2     Not more than 800 words

For S3 – S4        800 – 1000 words

For S5 – S6        At least 1000 words*

(A bibliography is essential for S5/S6.)

*Advanced Higher Dissertations may not be submitted. See section (d) option 3, however, for a possible alternative.

Please note that completed work should be sent to Dr Jane Draycott, Classics, School of Humanities, 65 Oakfield Avenue, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8LP OR emailed to to arrive no later than Friday 30th April, 2021. 

Entries will be assessed by members of the Committee. One or more prizes and certificates will be awarded in each section, depending on the quality of the entries. The decision of the judges will be final.

The results will be posted on the Classical Association of Scotland website ( 

It would be helpful if staff from participating departments would include their e-mail address at school in the letter which accompanies the entries.

Essay Subjects 2020/21 

(NB only one option should be entered by each pupil.)

Section a) P6-P7

1. Draw a picture of a monster from classical mythology.

2. Imagine you are a soldier based in Vindolanda. Write a letter home with the latest news.

Section b) S1–S2

1. Draw a cartoon-strip which retells the story of Romulus and Remus.

2. Imagine you are a travel agent in ancient Greece. Design a brochure advertising the Olympic Games.

3. Retell the story of Theseus and the Minotaur from Ariadne’s perspective.

Section c) S3-S4

1.  Generally we know little about the lives of gladiators except what is on their tombstones. Look at this inscription and the accompanying translation, then write a possible life-story for Diodorus.

Diodorus, gladiator (left) and opponent Demetrius.

‘Here I lie victorious, Diodorus the wretched. After breaking my opponent Demetrius, I did not kill him immediately. But murderous Fate and the cunning treachery of the summa rudis (the referee) killed me, and leaving the light I have gone to Hades. I lie in the land of the original inhabitants. A good friend buried me here because of his piety.’

For more about the inscription and story, see the website below:

2.  You are organising a party. Who from the classical world would you invite and why?

3.  Why are films, games and other entertainments based on the classical world so appealing today?

Section d) S5-S6

1. Should statues of Julius Caesar be removed in response to concerns being raised about his violation of human rights in Gaul?

2. Re-imagine a piece of classical art or literature for the modern age, e.g. a sculpture, mosaic, piece of drama etc.

3. Take an aspect of your dissertation and explain why you find it interesting. (Note: you should stick to the recommended length for S5/S6 essays.)

Once again, please note that completed work should be sent to:

Dr Jane Draycott
Classics, School of Humanities,
65 Oakfield Avenue
University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8LP
Emailed to to arrive no later than Friday 30th April, 2021. 

Gilbert Murray, Professor of Greek at University of Glasgow (1889-99)

Stories in Stone: CAS Online Seminar Series

CAS is delighted to announce the first of its free Online Seminar Series.

Stories in Stone: Breaking the Code

Saturday 29th August 2020

Live Seminars via Zoom

Stories in Stone: Breaking the Code is the first in our series of sessions loosely centred around the theme of ‘Beginnings’. In this set of three seminars, participants will start with a consideration of the Latin and other classical allusions that permeate our daily lives in modern-day Scotland before contemplating the history and influences that brought us to this point. It is divided into three hour-long classes that participant are welcome to pick and choose from, but which are designed to build on one another. The focuses of this session are:

  1. Latin language and epigraphy*
  2. Classical Reception of the ancient word in a Scottish context

(*While there will be a number of original texts and inscriptions considered, this session is designed with beginners in Latin in mind. Indeed, no previous experience of the language is necessary, since material-aids will be provided. That said, we hope that post-beginners or those with more experience in the language will find something of interest in the wider discussions, too!)

The sessions will be divided as follows:


Session One: The Past in our Present

‘What did the Romans (and Greeks!) ever do for us?’ While the daily lives of those living in the ancient world might seem very remote from the lives we live today, our present is still shaped (consciously and unconsciously) by our classical ancestors. In this session we will look at how we have used Latin and Greek mottos, inscriptions, and iconography to shape our identity and city-scapes here in Scotland. We will reflect upon where these traditions ‘began’ and how they impact our present. By introducing approaches to classical reception, this session seeks to introduce some of the ideological concerns associated with epigraphy, which we will explore further in the classical context in the following sessions.

Session Two: Cracking the Code 

Getting to grips with some Latin! This session will introduce students to Latin and focus on language and translation, using short inscriptions as accessible example texts. Students will be provided with a decoding toolkit to enable then to start translating and using Latin straight away.

Session Three: Monumental Messages

In this session, the students will consider the meaning and significance of inscriptions – what influences their wording and creation, and can they tell us more than just what’s written? Here we will be thinking about context and stories/message transmitted with the aim of enabling a greater degree of interaction, encouraging students to explore the inscriptions in more depth. The examples for the first half of this session will focus on ancient Roman funeral inscriptions before two case studies focusing on more modern examples.

These sessions will be run by: Alison Greer (University of Glasgow); Alice Rae (University of Edinburgh) and Sarah Wolstencroft (University of Glasgow), with additional input from Hardeep Dhindsa (King’s College London) and Alex Imrie (University of Edinburgh).


To sign up, or for more information, please contact Dr Alex Imrie ( PLEASE NOTE: participants will need to register to receive the access codes for the Zoom live sessions. Some materials will be pre-circulated to attendees and/or will be made available on this website.