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.

Our approach to teaching the Classics will always aim to reach high academic standards and, in so doing, will 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, slides etc.) seek to complement the work done by the teaching staff.

The aim would be always to remain at the font 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 and value, in today’s society of a classical education.

Classics Department Staff 2019/20

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


Subjects Offered:

  • Latin: Junior Certificate, Transition Year and Leaving Certificate.
  • Ancient Greek: Junior Certificate, Transition Year and Leaving Certificate.
  • Classical Studies: Transition Year and Leaving Certificate.

Why take Ancient Greek?

Any student who takes up Ancient Greek in 1st year will find it to be a rich and rewarding experience. They approach the subject in a number of different areas, all of equal benefit and interest to them. The study of Ancient Greek gives an insight into the world of a very progressive society. The Classical World is a part of who we are and where we come from. Ancient Greek suits the student with an inquiring mind, someone with an interest and aptitude in languages, and, due to its logical nature, someone with a good aptitude for Maths.

In their study of the language, students will learn to read and comprehend the language in its written form. There is no oral and aural involved. The emphasis is on understanding a piece of Ancient Greek. Students will read stories in Ancient Greek about real, everyday people from ancient Athens. They read some of the stories of the ancient myths and historical events in Ancient Greek. Grammar is only 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 rewarding way. Students will discover the root of many common words in English today. It will help them in their study of other languages (how they work etc).

Any study of Ancient Greek also involves a study of the history, myth and civilization. Students find out about the many battles that 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”? 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 Ancient Greek myth: Odysseus, Achilles, Jason, Heracles, the Ancient Greek gods and so on. How did a Ancient Greek army function? What was it like to be a slave in Athenian society? Did they have it tough? What did the Ancient Greeks learn at school etc? What about Ancient Greek theatres? Why did the actors wear masks?

Students will have an opportunity in Transition Year to travel to 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 started amongst others.

Ancient Greek will give students a unique opportunity to gain an insight into a great civilization; the foundation of our modern culture today. Any opportunity such as this should be grasped. Ancient Greek gives the student a wonderful introduction to and understanding of major European languages. offers lots of information and statistics regarding the subject of Ancient Greek.

Careers Portal links:

Junior Cycle link-  Click here

Latin is offered at Junior Cert and Leaving Cert level in Belvedere College S.J.  On this page you will find information on the subject and some answers to frequently asked questions.

For the youngster coming into first year who has chosen to study Latin, he enters a world that is – in ways – very alien to his own – no mobiles, no cars,slaves and a foreign language, and yet the Roman 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 and hated school!

From first year through to fourth year, there is a text book for each year, full of stories, photos, translation pieces and with a grammar section that explains each point of grammar as it arises in a simple and clear manner, with short exercises to test the pupil’s understanding.

The books are based on the life of a famous Roman poet, Horace, and start with him growing up as a little boy with his family in a small country town and ending with him living in Rome, a prosperous, educated writer and friend of the imperial family.

While it is true to say that Latin and Ancient Greek are no longer widely taught, there is a great value to be gained from studying them; 70% of our English words come from Latin. Latin and Ancient Greek form the basis of several major European languages; many medical terms come from Ancient Greek and Latin is the language of law. A study of Latin and Ancient Greek encourages a logic in how we think and express ourselves and provides a fascinating and, at times, entertaining view of life in one of the greatest Empires in history. offers lots of information and statistics regarding the subject of Latin.

Junior Cycle link: Click here

Currently, Classical Studies is offered as a Senior Cycle option for the Leaving Certifcate in Belvedere College S.J.  On this page you will find information on the subject and some answers to frequently asked questions.


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