Over 60% of the words we use in English come from Latin. It is no surprise, then, that research bears out the connection between higher levels of literacy and the study of Latin. The subject is taught to Junior and Leaving Cert in Clongowes as well as in Transition Year. The Latin Department aims to generate an interest in the language and culture of Ancient Rome as well as an appreciation of the influence that this has had on the modern world. As our current Latinists will tell you, however, the subject is also great fun in its own right!
Students in first, second and third year follow the Cambridge Latin Course (Books I – IV). They also study the history of the Roman republic and Roman social life and civilisation. In 2013 the department launched its Latin Avatar Project, in which students work in groups to produce computer animations about Roman civilisation.
Transition Year students deepen their knowledge of Latin by studying both classical and modern texts, including extracts from Petronius and Livy as well as J.K. Rowling’s Harrius Potter. They listen to news items from Radio Finland’s Nuntii Latini and study Latin terminology in medicine, law and science. The history of Rome from the death of Julius Caesar to the death of Augustus is explored through Roman coins and inscriptions.
Students in fifth and sixth year study the history and literature of golden age Latin. They complete a close study of 500 lines of Virgil’s Aeneid and translate passages from Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, Caesar, Sallust, Livy, Horace and Catullus. They study the history of the Roman empire from Tiberius to Trajan and the art and architecture of the Roman world during this period.
In their final year of the Junior Cycle students take part in the Inter-Schools Latin and Greek Speech Competition in Trinity College Dublin. Students also have the opportunity to attend events organised by the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers, such as the Ides of March Table Quiz and Latin language study skills seminars.
In the past, the department has organised school tours to Rome for Rhetoric students to visit historical sites such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Ara Pacis, the Pantheon and Trajan’s Column. There are plans to organise a similar trip early next year.