And bag the booty! The classical Romans and Greeks possessed an honest materialism which was as refreshing as it was intense, and the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers’ Annual Speech Competition follows suit by giving real cash monies as its prizes. Leave those cheap, tawdry medals to the ‘everybody wins’ sportsdays of Educate Together schools: classicists can handle the rough-and-tumble competition of the gymnasium, the forum and, as we witnessed last night, the rostrum. Our small but mighty team was welcomed to the august halls of Trinity College by two Conleth’s Classics Whiz-kid alumni: Alistair Daly, current TCD Ancient Greek student and inveterate herbal tea imbiber and Phillip O’Hanrahan, History and Politics student and reigning Trinity College Mario Kart Champion. Phillip is a past winner of this competition, Alistair is the competition’s current Ancient Greek judge and both were members of the last Conlethian team to capture the ‘Ides of March’ Classics Table Quiz title, a prize so honoured by classicists that Alistair claims he has yet to pay for one for his ginseng infusions when out knocking them back with the Greek and Latin crowd on a Friday night.
As usual, the Gonzagans were strutting around exchanging pleasantries amongst themselves in Etruscan and texting Sanskrit to their relatives busy hunting tigers in the Punjab, and once again the jebbies dominated the laurels: there is no denying the classical scholarship of that ad maiorem dei gloriam crowd! But the Conlethian cohort was not to be denied its fair share: Saul ‘Damascus’ Burgess adopted a split personality to recreate the infamous last conversation of Achilles and Hector, perfectly channelling the anger of the former and the poignant resignation of the latter and finishing second in a tough LC Classics Division. Anna Celant read from the Aeneid Book II in flawless Latin and channelled Thucydides so well, she took second place in Ancient Greek! (Anna also had the honour of being the only female amongst the 48 Latin and Greek competitors!) Anna’s classmate, and countryman, Eduardo Donnini, was so flawless in his metrical fluency with Aeneid Book VI that the judges were lulled asleep! And brave Joe Downey, who only recently barely survived a skirmish at the back of the phalanx during the ‘Ides of March’ quiz, was chosen by lot to be the very first man ‘over the wall’! Not to be daunted, even by the presence of several baying Holy Faith-Clontarf girls, Joe delivered a spirited rendition of Phaedrus’s Errans in Silva. Not only did these four think the evening was a instant classic but so did the contingent of fellow Conlethian students who did not compete but formed a protective praetorian guard, made up of a wide range of characters from the Commodus-like Eoin MacNally to the Stoic Paul Ralph. Ad majorem St. Conleth’s gloriam!