ClassicS Cock-Up

Department left shame-faced after mis-quoting Aristotle on their front door.

Classics greek latin Sidgewick Site

The Classics department was left shame-faced on Monday, after the revelation that the doors of their stylish, newly built entrance foyer boasted a misspelling of an Ancient Greek quote.

The eagerly anticipated facelift for the department cost a whopping £1.3 million, yet the embarrassing mistake renders the Greek quote totally illogical.

Academics chose the famous opening statement from Aristotle’s Metaphysics “all men by nature desire to know”, but spelt the word “phusei” (“by nature”) with an S from the English alphabet, and not the original Greek letter sigma, ∑. 

The cock-up caused hilarity at the classically trained Daily Mail, who jibed that "If anyone should be able to get a Greek inscription right, it ought to be the Classics department at Cambridge University."

Unfortunately the paper didn't quite get to grips with Aristotle themselves, originally entitling the story 'Red faces at Cambridge University as Latin inscription on £1.3m building is misspelled'.


The embarrassing engraving

Grammatical errors aren't the only thing causing dissent at the department.

Classicists, who spent months during the building works making the circuitous journey around the entire building to the temporary entrance, now face a new challenge: actually getting in. And not because they're too busy smirking at the spelling. 

Controlled by Health-and-Safety-approved-electronic-opening-mechanisms, the same pesky glass doors have been accused of opening too slowly, and too violently.

For hurried students and staff alike frustration eventually leads to “rage and bottle necks”, according to Professor of Classics, Mary Beard.

“To open them, you have to press an electronic “open door” button, and they then sweep aside dramatically in front of you. Dramatically and slowly” Beard continued. 

The doors can’t even be manually operated: “as soon as you push them open, and someone pushes from the other side, the doors take on a life of their own and come back and attack you…this is disabled access legislation gone mad – or perhaps done on the cheap.”

The two-storey extension has sparked a row with the neighbouring faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Blamed as the cause of traffic jams, the doors were slammed by Professor of Japanese Studies Richard Bowring, who predicted the blind corner of the now over-crowded site will lead to a “nasty accident”. 

Professor Malcolm Schofield, chairman of the classics faculty board, has described the extension as “ingenious and elegant”, while the University declined to comment.