Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Form V and Frogs

Rebecca Roe writes: This comedy was written by Aristophanes in 405 B.C. for a particular purpose, to comment on corruption in Athenian politics.

It is a political comedy in which the god Dionysus goes to Hades to bring back a dead poet. It is a fantasy with many political references. Aristophanes wants the audience to understand how a poet can help the people in their time of need. It was written to make people laugh at his political message, with the comedy being quite crude at times. Aristophanes wants Athens to come to peace with Sparta and he shows them how to achieve this...

I found the play very funny and as entertaing today as I'm sure it was back then.

Paddy Owens writes: While 'Frogs' is a comedy it has underlying political points about matters such as slaves being given the vote after the Battle of Arginusae. Aristophanes also makes the point that Alcibiades, who has been banished, should be allowed to help Athens in their war against Sparta.

The story is about Dionysus and his slave Xanthias going down to Hades in search of a dead poet, Euripides. Along the way they meet many different characters and end up in lots of different situations. At one point they are both trying to prove they are gods by not feeling pain when they are whipped. Eventually they meet Euripides and Aeschylus who have a contest about who is the best poet. The winner is decided by weighing the words of their poetry!

Overall 'Frogs' is quite a funny play and is very different from the other plays we have studied. It is very funny and also carries a moral message to the Athenians.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oedipus Rex

Here are some thoughts from Form V:

Crispin Maenpaa writes:After reading 'Oedipus Rex' the first thing that comes to mind is how disturbing the play truly is. The plot centres on Oedipus, who, it is prophesied, will kill his father and marry his mother. The storyline involves him uncovering how this dark and eerie prophecy was fulfilled.

The action is unrelenting as key events occur. This keeps the reader on the edge of his seat and it's probably the most interesting play we have studied. It serves to give the reader numerous lessons such as the idea of 'hamartia' which means a flaw in character. We learn from Oedipus' flaws and seek to improve them in our own lives. the play teaches us to let certain things lie uncovered.

All in all it is a very enjoyable and fast paced play and is worth a read even for those who don't take Classical Studies as a subject.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thought for the week

In his final meditation of the year, Marcus Aurelius ponders the inevitable:

'How many came into this world with me have already left it!'


Monday, May 26, 2008

Thought for the week

Marcus Aurelius shows how we can be right even when we're wrong:

'To change your mind and defer to correction is not to sacrifice your independence; for such an act is your own, in pursuance of your own impulse, your own judgement, and your own thinking.'

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thought for the week

Marcus Aurelius advocates forgiveness:

'If a man makes a slip, admonish him gently and show him his mistake. If you fail to convince him, blame yourself, or else blame nobody.'

Easy to do...?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Form V and Prometheus Bound

Form V have recently finished their study of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound. Here are some of their observations:

James Crampton writes: The play is based on the myth of Prometheus, a Titan who was punished by Zeus for giving fire to mankind. One of the play's main themes is that of tyranny and dictatorship. Zeus is represented as the ultimate tyrant because he will not honour the rules of friendship or understand such things as love or sympathy. He punishes Prometheus even though Prometheus was the deciding factor in his victory over his father Kronos. The punishment is presented as particularly reprehensible not because it is harsh, but because it is imposed on someone who was a friend. Aeschylus intentionally highlights this fact by inserting references to friendship throughout the play.

Prometheus and Zeus square off as the representatives of intelligence and the invisible symbol of force. Zeus' henchmen mock Prometheus for not being clever enough to avoid punishment, and both the Chorus and Oceanus blame him for this, in a more sympathetic manner, by telling him to give in to the power of dictatorship. In the end Prometheus never gives in to Zeus and keeps his pride because he was treated wrongly by Zeus.

I really enjoyed studying this ancient play. It was very interesting and deals with many themes that are relevant to modern life. It was well written and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Classics.

Mikeila Cameron writes: This ancient Greek play has very modern ideas. It is about the individual against the state.Prometheus stole fire and gave it to humans. Zeus, who has just come to power, punishes Prometheus by chaining him to a rock at the world's end. The only way for him to be released is to tell Zeus his destiny and how to prevent his fall from power.

Prometheus is visitied by a number of people. Firstly Oceanus tries to persuade him to tell Zeus about his destiny and thus end his own suffering. Then Io arrives. She is cursed because Zeus lusts after her. Hera is jealous so she changes Io into a cow who is constantly stung by a gadfly and forced to wander the earth. Prometheus tells Io her fate and her future suffering.

Hermes, the messenger of Zeus, comes along to tell him that he will suffer even more if he doesn't tell Zeus the future. But Prometheus remains stubborn. Then the earth crumbles around him and he falls beneath it.

Zeus, although not a character in the play, appears in the conversations of the characters, representing a typical modern day dictator.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thought for the week

Marcus Aurelius gives his own version of 'virtue is its own reward':

'Have I done an unselfish thing? Well then, I have my reward. Keep this thought ever present, and persevere.'

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thought for the week

Here, Marcus Aurelius is uncharacteristic in tone. He may have just read a biography of Nero, or perhaps he was being prescient about his own son and successor, the cruel and wanton Commodus:

'A black heart! A womanish, wilful heart; the heart of a brute, a beast of the field; childish, stupid, and false; a huckster's heart, a tyrant's heart.'

Monday, May 5, 2008

In One Piece

The Bay of Naples MMVIII tour returned this afternoon safe, sound and all in one piece; and to weather not disimilar to that enjoyed by our 18 pupils and 4 staff in Campania for the past 5 days and nights. It was a wonderful time - really, really worthwhile, though we say it ourselves. Youngsters matured, bonded, engaged with the ancient world...and modern Naples in all its frenetic energy, colour and cultural unfamiliarity.

Many thanks to understanding staff whose pupils missed lessons for this valuable opportunity; and to parents who have been supportive in making it possible for their children to experience this unique region.

As always we promise photos to follow...where have you heard that before?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Today Was a Good Day, Today was a Damn Fine Day

Another scorcher draws to a close. The hottest so far, lovely though.

We set out at a leisurely pace for the town of Pozzuoli north of Naples to visit both the famous Solfatara, a volcanic crater that still appears very active to this day and the Flavian amphitheatre, Itay's third largest. Both went down well with the punters. It's really facinating when you come from placid old Dublin to just wander off a quiet street into an ancient steaming moonscape...the gates of hades.

After the amphitheatre (where Richard Brett gave us an introductory talk about the different functions it served) we lunched & browsed & eventually headed back to Naples proper for a conducted tour of a fraction of the artefacts housed by the National Archaeological Museum. The pupils were struck by seeing in the flesh artefacts they had only looked at laminated in a poster on the walls of Blackburn. The cabinet of secrets raised a few giggles.

This post has been brought to you by Tired but Happy Productions. A demani!

Friday, May 2, 2008

We've Lived the Slogan

Hobbie Rollis even wrote a melody, we say wrote, we mean : made up. Venimus vidimus vesuvium ascendimus. Today we reached the crater had a talk from a man who claimed to know about plates etc. & Dr. Stone spoke too. A haze (of heat) hung over the bay but the royal blue T shirt brigade stood proud for a photograph at the heart of where it all began.

All well here, in other words. We had a great tour of Herculaneum in the morning with a living breathing Italian archaeologist, a rapid lunch & then the climb to Vesuvio's summit.

Tomorrow's our Pozzuoli day with a late afternoon date at the Archaeological Museum in the heart of Naples...join us!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

This is Just to Say...

All is well here in Naples at the end of 2nd day, or first full day. Yesterday after an unholy, early morning start we arrived, checked in & headed off to Pompeii for an early evening stroll through Scavi Pompeii. Beautiful. A real eye opener for the pupils to see things in the flesh...and we're back there on Sunday.

Today was a national holiday, May Day so we took a day trip to Sorrento. I think i'll get one of the troops to clog up the journey on the Circumvesuviana, it was something else. The swim was good too.

Now we're off for pizza, so have to dash.

Clog you later.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Within hours now a merry band of Latin & Classical Studies 3rd Formers will be hopping on a plane to Naples. We hope to send back pictures, updates and stories from our five days away but this will all be dependent on internet facilities in our accommodation...we'll see. In any case certainly on return there will be plenty of material to 'clog up'.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thought for the week

This week, Marcus Aurelius returns to the theme of death:

'Death: a release from impressions of sense, from twitchings of appetite, from excursions of thought, and from service to the flesh.'

What an escape!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Antigone in Nifty Slideshow Format!

At Last! Antigone Pix

Well ladies and gents of the Clog world at last we have some visuals. And who better to feature first but il director himself. Indeed! The entire Antigone photo album will feature here tomorrow in a natty slideshow. And oh yeah, thanks for your patience!
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

T.Y. Book Reviews

Earlier this year our TY pupils were asked to choose from a selection of novels in the college library that were set in the classical world or simply took their inspiration from that world. Over the next few posts we will be including some their work starting today with the inaugural TY Classical Studies prize winner (not for this piece of work mind you), Ed Teggin's review of 'The Silver Pigs' by Lindsey Davies.

Rome, AD 71, Marcus Didius Falco is an Imperial agent to the newly installed Emperor Vespasian. Falco is a low ranking agent who is usually given demenial jobs such as cleaning up murder scenes. The start of the story is no exception as he is tasked with investigating the murder of a suspected conspirator, little does he know that dealing with this one case will entwine him in a full blown conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor Vespasian.The author, Lindsey Davies, starts off by introducing us to Falco and from the off there is an irony in that Falco describes himself as a republican and yet he finds himself in the service to the autocratic Emperor. Falco's talk of being a bit of a ladies' man lead s him to introduce Helena Justina, a senator's daughter with whom he once had a relationship with but even though he is still besotted with her, he tells himself that it would never work. Helena was once married to the obnoxious senator Pertinax who has just been found murdered in a prison cell as it seems that he too had dreams of a glorious coup against the Emperor and that maybe he would get to wear the royal of purple.The death of a senator in a fire at the temple of Heracles on the Aventine way leads to questions about a freedman called Barnabas who seems to be in someway beind these mysterious murders. In light of this, the Emperor orders Falco southwards in pursuit of this dangerous killer. Falco travels south in the company of his brother Petro and his family, masking his real motives as a family holiday. Falco investigates the surrounding area with the help of Helena Justina and dicovers that her father in law has designs on the throne. Now it is a race against time to prove his guilt before he can execute his plan.Shadows in Bronze is a fast moving murder mystery, set in Imperial Rome and is one of those intriguing books that you simply cannot bear to put down and it niggles at you until you eventually have to pick it up again and read on. I would gladly recommend this book to anybody as it has a good, interesting storyline which gives us an impression of what Imperial Rome was like.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thought for the week

Marcus Aurelius contemplates death:

'Despise not death; smile, rather, at its coming; it is among the things that Nature wills. Like youth and age, like growth and maturity, like the advent of teeth, beard, and grey hairs, like begetting, pregnancy and childbirth, like every other natural process that life's seasons bring us, so is our dissolution.'

A difficult proposition...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thought for the week

Marcus Aurelius advises us to to live for today:

'To live each day as though one's last, never flustered, never apathetic, never attitudinising - here is the perfection of character.'

Sensible advice indeed...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

'Medea' in Form V

Form V are currently studying Medea by Euripides, a story of love gone bad and the terrible revenge taken by the jilted lover, who kills her own children to hurt their father. Here, two pupils give their impressions of the play:

Allen Crampton writes: The play deals with many themes, mainly the suffering of women and how they seek revenge. It is set in Corinth, where Jason has brought Medea after all his travels. He met her on his quest for the Golden Fleece. She helped him, fell in love and had two sons with him. But in Corinth, Jason left her to marry Glauce, who was the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. Jason was a social climber.

The play is about how Medea gets her revenge and it is scary to see the lengths she will go to just to get back at him. Throughout, there is a chorus of Corinthian women who set the scene and fill us in on the feelings of the characters as the plot unravels.

Euripides wrote the play for an Athenian audience and it has a note of caution for them. It is about how they should treat women. At that time they were treated badly and had no say in how society was run. Euripides uses Jason and Medea as an example to show what can happen if women are treated badly. Medea is probably one of the first works of feminism. Euripides felt that times were changing and that the rights of women needed to be reviewed.

I particularly liked this play as it showed me what life was like in Greece at the time. It was my first ancient Greek play on the LC course and I felt that it was very accessible and easy to understand. There are many relevant themes that are easily recognisable and I would highly recommend this short work to anyone interested in the classical world.

Katie Murphy writes: Medea is a dramatic and fast-paced play. It tells the story of Medea and Jason and the wrath of a woman jilted in love. Medea was a witch. She married Jason, the old-style Greek hero of the Golden Fleece legend, who in this play is shown as beyond his peak and trying desperately to keep his social status. He has married the king of Corinth's daughter. Medea was not trusted by the people of Corinth as she was a foreigner.

Jason was aware of what Medea was like before he left her. She had murdered her own brother for him in the past. But in his blind stupidity, he ignored this. She is a very proud woman and she hurts very deeply and wants to hurt Jason as he has hurt her. At the very start of the play we hear that she is mad with love for Jason and will hurt him no matter what it does to her - even if it leaves her childless.

The play has very strong themes: the pain of exile, children and the blindness of arrogance. It shows how in ancient Greece men were seen as infinitely superior to women. So. strong women were often overlooked. As in this case, this can lead to disaster. No one feared Medea as they should, so they underestimated how far she would go in order not to lose face.

The play is a perfect picture of the power of love and how strong hate can be when love goes wrong.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thought for the week

Welcome back to our Trinity Term.
In the first gem of wisdom this term, Marcus Aurelius advises us to curb our instincts and intentions lest they lead us to err:

'If it is not the right thing to do, never do it; if it is not the truth, never say it. Keep your impulses in hand.'

More anon...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Hols

Mocks and end of term exams are well and truly over, revision schedules have been published for Form VI and III and the (working) holidays have arrived. No more posts here for a bit but for next term we have lined up some book reviews by the Transition Year set of works of fiction in our college library which are set in the classical world or at least use it as their inspiration. 

We notice that Seamus Heaney's take on Sophocles' Antigone, 'The Burial at Thebes' is being produced, once again, (its premier was only perhaps four years ago) by the Abbey, our national theatre and if there is a desire to go to it, particularly among members of the Junior play cast and the TY set who have studied it we will certainly organise a booking. I wonder why Seamus thought it a good ides to change the play's name? Anyone? Anyone?

In 'Other News & Developments' our Form III trip to the Bay of Naples is coming along nicely, it seems. This trip will leave on the 30th April and return with everyone else at the end of the May Exodus on May 5th. 18 pupils and 4 members of the teaching staff are travelling. Don't forget your passports on return from the Easter break, especially those Irish residents among you who generally don't need them in the normal run of the school term. The itinerary will include all the classic sites: Pompeii (twice), Herculaneum, the Archaeological Museum and more, for instance we will visit one of the islands in the bay, either the famous Capri or perhaps the cute island of Procida and there may be time for a tourist trap like Sorrento. Superb.  

Finally before signing off for the remainder of these wonderful three weeks confirmation just in that one of our Classical Studies teachers, Mr. Swift has been accepted as one of only 30 foreigners to compete in the annual swimmimg race across that iconic strait of water the Hellespont. Rich in tales from myth and history the first Hellespont swimmer was lovestruck Leander. His feats were matched by Lord Byron and now our very own 'Swifty' is all signed up and not yet ready to go...but he's got till August 28th!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Junior Play 2008

Here is long overdue review of the Junior Play 2008, Sophocles' Antigone.

Directed by Peter McCarthy and performed in the BSR this production had a cast drawn from Forms II, III and IV. In modern costume and with a starkly black and bare set, the drama posed a real challenge for the cast. The classic tale of the struggle between Creon (Robin Fitzpatrick) and Antigone (Anna Traill) provided a great sense of tension as evidenced by the silence of the audience.

Accompanied by a reproduction of ancient Greek music, the Chorus (Opeline Kellett and Gina Mirow) introduced the play and then commented on the action throughout. The individual scenes involving Creon, the Citizen (Kate Haslett), the Soldier (Fred Mann), Ismene (Alannah Howie) and Haemon (Jasper Pickersgill) all built towards one of the highlights, Antigone's final speech. Here Anna Traill certainly held the audience with a compelling and emotional performance as Antigone bade farewell to life .

The conversation between Creon and Teresias (Sebastian Stephenson) provided some hope of a happy ending as Creon decided to take the prophet's advice and free Antigone, but it was too late.

The news of the double suicide of Antigone and Haemon was related to the Queen (Sophie Kyd-Rebenburg) by the Messenger (Patrick Tice), who gave a masterly account of the tragedy. The return of a broken Creon was further blighted by news of the Queen's death, leaving Robin Fitzpatrick to contemplate, in a powerfully emotional finale, the folly of his ways and the worthlessness of misguided kingship.

It was left to the Chorus to remind us that:

The greatest gifts a man can have
Are Wisdom and the fear of Heaven.
Man's pride will always be punished
And all his boastfulness brought low.

This was a magnificent performance from all the cast and is testimony to the tremendous talent in the college.

Due to gremlins in the system, the photographs are not yet available but they are on the way!

All Back to Augustus'!

After painstaking restoration the house of Augustus in Rome is now open for visits. Read more here in a Guardian article.

Inter-Schools Table Quiz

Last night saw three Columban teams of mixed ages compete in the annual table quiz organised by the Classical Association of Ireland- Teachers. The event was hosted by St. Andrew's College and many thanks to them for their hospitality. All three teams came out with creditable scores after the 60 questions were asked, with A. Crampton (V), C. Guinness(V), A. Brooke(IV) & I. Verkhovskiy(III) scoring 45 placing them somewhere in top ten - a great total since there were questions on topics we only cover in Sixth form .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thought for the week

Our final reflection from Marcus Aurelius this term concerns the importance of teamwork:

'What is no good for the hive is no good for the bee.'

Until next term,

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Transition Year Prize

This is the first time there has been a dedicated prize for pupils taking Classical Studies in the T.Y. Programme. We've decided to make the prize as open as possible in terms of submissions by pupils. Basically you have an hour to write (under exam conditions) a prepared piece of work on any aspect of the Classical world. How's that? It could be something you take a special interest in, something you studied in depth in Junior Cert. Latin or Classical Studies, something you've swotted up on in the last week. It could be a review of some work of art, a travel piece recounting a trip to a site of classical interest, an opinion piece on the Parthenon marbles. Anything.

The prize will tke place in the Library today, Monday 11th from 6.45, for an hour. Here at the Clog we'd encourage as many of you as possible to enter, and who knows it might form the basis of a successful entry into the Transition Year Academic Prize

Inter-Schools Table Quiz

We've been mentioning to many of you informally that the above event is taking place in St. Andrew's College this coming Tuesday evening. Who's up for this? A table quiz of purely Classical Studies questions, come on...perfect, no?

We're provisionally down to enter 3 teams of 4. 12 heads. Entry is €2.50 per quizzer and most of you seemed keen to have a pop. We'll be approaching you to firm up the details in the next few days.

Here's one to get you in the mood - What name was Paris given at birth by Hecabe and Priam?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thought for the week

This week Marcus Aurelius advises us to keep calm and not allow 'things' to get to us:

'Our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us.'

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thought for the week

This week's meditation from Marcus Aurelius is particularly relevant to the teaching profession. In times of stress and exasperation we should remember his gentle words:

'Teach them better, if you can; if not, remember that kindliness has been given to you for moments like these.'


Monday, February 18, 2008

Thought for the week.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180A.D.) was a Roman emperor. In his later years he wrote a series of reflections which he called simply To Himself. These thoughts are better known as his Meditations. Most are quite short and portray a humble, honest, pious and pensive individual. He died on March 17th 180A.D. and was succeeded by his son Commodus, a wastrel and a brute, quite unlike his father. The father and son were portrayed by Richard Harris and Jaoquin Phoenix respectively in the film Gladiator.

Our first selection from the Meditations is the following:

'All of us are creatures of a day; the rememberer and the remembered alike.'

More next week...

Senior Classical Studies Prize 2008

This year's prize has been awarded to joint winners Sophie Haslett (Form VI) and Celeste Guinness (Form V). Congratulations!

Candidates were asked to discuss in an essay the following:

'The issue of youth, with its innocence, arrogance, valour and tragedy permeates the epic poetry of Virgil and Homer. It provides lessons for the reader in terms of moral and heroic behaviour.'

There were many other fine entries from Forms VI and V. The winning essays will appear here in due course.

Mocks Upon Us

On Thursday Leaving Cert. Classical Studies students get their first real flavour for what is to come in June. All the best to all of you. The following Thursday (ages away!) the Form III set are being put through their paces...but more about that to follow.

For those of you not doing mocks in the near future here's a bit of fun for you: a computer game involving triremes and battering rams. Knock yourselves out!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

World Wide Wonderful!

This post is really for the Latinists among you and was passed on to me by the Blogmeister general at, excellent cross curricular work. Anyway the link below leads you to a Finnish radio website which features the world's only broadcast of news in Latin! You're not looking at Caesar or the new developments in phalanx warfare but rather Dafur, Super Tooosday or Trappatoni (if anyone in Finland is interested in the FAI)

Enjoy and remember to take everything you read on the web cum grano salus!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Junior Classical Studies Prize

We have a winner!

Having waitied for a couple of late entries due to Antigone commitments we are happy to announce that Robbie Hollis is this year's winner. Well done Hobbie! Special mention must be made for the strongest Form II entry from Opeline Kellett. Thanks to all of you for entering and attempting what was quite a tricky paper.

And as for those promised Antigone pics...well tomorrow's another day, right?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Welcome to the first post of our Classical Studies blog, The Clog. We are hoping to update this site on a weekly basis (at least) with news from the Classical world within St. Columba's and beyond. Look out tomorrow for pictures from this weekend's Junior play production of 'Antigone' by Sophocles, directed by our head of department Peter McCarthy. This challenging play was performed admirably by a cast of pupils from Transition Year, Forms III and II.