Belvedere College - Classics




The teaching of Classics in Belvedere College has been an integral part of the school’s curriculum since its foundation in 1832; indeed, when the Jesuits were unable to obtain the services of a lay Catholic teacher to teach the Classics in the 1830s, they took the unusual step of employing a Protestant teacher to do so, so earnestly did they wish to maintain Latin and Ancient Greek.

The teaching of Classics can be, for those students who take it, rewarding, instructive and fun:

  • rewarding as it can enrich several other areas of study, especially languages,
  • instructive as it can provide a sense of discipline to what is being learned and
  • fun, as the people of the ancient world often endured and enjoyed the same  challenges as we do e.g. security, financial, religious and entertainment.

The current tours to Greece and Italy at the end of Syntax and Poetry, respectively, prove doubly useful to the students, exposing them to what they have studied and providing a striking memory of what they will study in greater detail.

In the study of the Classics we encourage our students to reach high academic standards and, in doing so, we challenge the boys to think and evaluate the people of the ancient world i.e. their society, values, and standards. We have a rich and diverse curriculum to teach and our resources (texts, videos, online resources etc.) seek to complement the work done by the teaching staff.

Our aim is always to remain at the front of people’s minds when thinking of subjects available at Belvedere and to inculcate in those who choose to study Classics a sense of worth of a classical education in today’s society.

Classics Department Staff 2020/21:

Mr Paul Bermingham - Classics, Latin and Classical Studies (Department Co-ordinator)
Mr Philip Hogan - Classics, Ancient Greek, and Latin
Mr Dermot Kavanagh - Classical Studies
Ms Nuala Sheridan - Classical Studies
Mr Thomas Bishop - Classics and Classical Studies

At this time the Junior Cycle Curriculum is changing, and, as a result, our subject offering reflects this. Elements (1st year) and Rudiments (2nd year) are studying the new Classics specification. Other year groups are studying the old syllabi. The new courses are being phased in over time.
Subjects Offered:
• Classics (with a module offered in either Ancient Greek or Latin): Junior Cycle
• Latin: Junior Certificate (Grammar/ 3rd year only), Transition Year and Leaving Certificate.
• Ancient Greek: Junior Certificate (Grammar/ 3rd year only), Transition Year and Leaving Certificate.
• Classical Studies: Transition Year and Leaving Certificate.



Why take Classics?

Any student who takes up Classics in 1st year will find it to be a rich and rewarding experience. He will explore the subject through the study of myths, everyday life in the ancient worlds and language, all of equal benefit and interest to them. The study of Greek and Roman civilization gives an insight into the world of a very progressive society. The Classical World is a part of who we are. Classics suits the student who has an inquiring mind and a passion for history.The imaginative and adventurous student with an aptitude for languages and or a Mathematical mind is ideally suited to the pursuit of this subject.

For the youngster coming into first year who has chosen to study the Classics, he enters a world that is, in certain ways, very alien to his own: He will notice the absence of mobile phones, Netflix, Instagram etc. He will be plunged into a different world and yet the Roman or Ancient Greek had many things in common with our 12 year old – he shared a common currency with the rest of the Empire, loved the games in the amphitheatre, explored philosophy in the agora and maybe hated school!

We in Belvedere are excited to able to offer the full menu of the Classics. Not only will the student get to study about the Spartan phalanx or the Games in the Colosseum, experience the adventure of Odysseus’ or Ulysses’ (whichever you prefer) voyage home and appreciate the awe and terrible power of the gods, they will also have the possibility to get a taste of and delve into the language of these people; how they communicated with each other, with the world at large and with us. Very few schools offer both the Latin and Ancient Greek modules of Classics. It is a rare opportunity for any prospective student. In their study of Ancient Greek or Latin, students will learn to read and comprehend the language in its written form. The emphasis is on learning to read, translate and write in these languages. Students will read stories in Ancient Greek or Latin about real, everyday people from ancient Athens or the Roman Empire. They read some of the stories of the ancient myths and historical events in the target language. Grammar is taught on a need to know basis. The days of the dusty grammar book are gone; students study the language through stories which are presented in an interesting and exciting way. Students will discover the root of many common words in English today, and, furthermore will help them in their study of French and Spanish.

Any study of Classics also involves a study of the history, myth and civilization: Students find out about the many battles which took place in the Ancient World; What happened when the invading Persians landed at Marathon? How did the 300 Spartans manage to deal with 180,000 “barbarians”? Did Hannibal really bring elephants over the alps? Why were all the Roman rulers called Caesar? Did Nero fiddle while Rome burned? Why did the Romans recline while eating? What happened at Troy? Was there really a 10 year war because of a single woman? Students will encounter some of the main characters of myths: Odysseus/ Ulysses, Achilles, Aeneas, Jason, Heracles/Hercules, the Ancient Greek and Roman gods etc. The composition of an ancient army? What was it like to be a slave in ancient society? Did they have it tough? How did gladiators get awarded the coveted wooden sword? What did the Romans learn at school etc? What about theatres? Why did the actors wear masks?

Students will have an opportunity in Transition Year to travel to part of the ancient world (Greece) and visit all the sites of importance. They will see the centre of Athens and its magnificent temples; where the Delphic Oracle made its predictions; and where the Olympic Games began thousands of years ago.
Classics will give students a unique opportunity to gain an insight into a great civilization; the foundation of our modern culture today. It gives the student a wonderful introduction to and understanding of a classical language should he choose it. Any opportunity such as this just has to be grasped!


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