Junior Cert Classical Studies and Latin: Roman Army puts a stop to students’ march

Latin paper criticised for appealing mainly to stronger students

A question on the Roman army, which featured on the higher level classics paper, was quite difficult in comparison to some other topics, according to classics teacher and ASTI subject representative Jim O’Dea.

“Apart from that, my only criticism of the paper was a disparity in the allocation of marks in section b of various topics. It was a fair paper and pupils who did not cover the Roman army, where they were asked to write about a typical battle against a barbarian army,” he said.

The ordinary level paper contains 70 per cent of the same questions but has a different marking scheme, and Mr O’Dea said it was generally a reasonable paper.

The Latin exam, which was held at the same time, was broadly in keeping with expectations at both higher and ordinary level, said Aryn Penn, ASTI subject representative and a teacher in Gonzaga College in Dublin. Ovid was a featured poet and students were asked to translate a Latin poem into English.


“The higher-level question on the Circus Maximus on the history section is one that students would have found easy to handle, but some other parts of the paper had an unnecessarily high level of difficulty in terms of translation and grammar,” she said. “In the new classics syllabus, we hope to see papers that can ask questions which are suitable for students of varying levels of ability.”

Classics has some of the lowest numbers outside of the non-curricular languages, with 253 students taking junior cert Latin and 657 sitting the classical studies paper.

A new combined classics course is expected to begin from 2019. This will replace and combine the present courses in classical studies, Latin and Ancient Greek, with students able to do classics with or without a language module.


(i) In what century did Socrates live? (ii) Give one reason why Athenian juries were so large. (iii) Name one of the places where Socrates served as a soldier. (iv) What order was given to Socrates and four others by the Thirty Commissioners? (v) According to Socrates, why might his manner of speech be unusual in a court of law?

Use one or two sentences only in each answer.