Classics VI Notes:
Like the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Classics and Latin Department may be surrounded and outnumbered but they are fiercely proud, frenetically active and quite blissfully unaware of how many ‘likes’ they have on Facebook. All students take Latin in First Year. It is a proven perfect primer for further studies in language, history, mathematics and cavalry battles. A bit of Latin also presumably helps in the fields of law and medicine, but its real attraction for mere dabblers is the ability to drop a pro bono or alia iacta est in mixed wine-and-cheese company. For the chosen few, Latin continues through Second and Third Year and here the pueri become viri, once they can command the Stephen Fry-dubbed ‘Rolls Royce’ of Latin grammar: the passive periphrastic.
For the Leaving Certificate, students may take either Classical Studies or Latin, but not both, as the exams run co-currently. Rumours abound that one Conlethian in the past, the ambidextrous Ambrose MacGillycuddy, managed to take both exams simultaneously, writing with both his left and right hands, but others claim that the Classics paper was actually completed by his conjoined twin, Umbrose.
Latin shifts to an early morning start for the Leaving Cert, and the small class size allows sufficient time and space for extensive discussions, which make the grammar, vocabulary and history go down like a leisurely cena in the luxurious triclinium of some splendidly idle patrician in the last, golden days of Rome.
Classical Studies is the broadest Leaving Certificate subject, mixing drama, history, epic poetry, biography, art and architecture in a delightful but challenging combination of different disciplines. You will analyse Alexander’s use of light infantry, measure the intentionally skewed lines of the Parthenon and voice the anguished rage of Jason as he weeps over the fate of his young sons. The abilities to read, write and think are the only pre-requisites but a taste for adventure is recommended.
Our phalanx of Classics and Latin students are quite active extra-murally. We are perennial laurel-winners at both the Classics and Latin Teachers’ Speech Competition and the Ides of March Classics Table quiz. (Click here for a write-up of our most recent expeditions to these competitions.) We also visit the interactive Classics Museum in UCD, wander amidst the neo-classical Georgian splendor of Dublin and every second year, head to Rome itself!
The best site for further useful links is the webpage of the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers: www.caiteachers.com