Classics and Latin at Melbourne Grammar

Studies in the Classics and Latin have been an important part of Melbourne Grammar School since the School opened in 1858. Our first Headmaster, Dr John Bromby (HM: 1858 – 1875), had a firm view that studies in Mathematics, the Classics and Literature formed the basis of a strong education. Within this context, studies in Latin and Ancient Greek represented the Classics.

At that time, schools were able to define their own curriculum. Matriculation (public) examinations were set by universities for those seeking to enter degree programs. At the University of Melbourne, these were initially focused on Latin, Ancient Greek and Mathematics, and Melbourne Grammar students normally performed exceedingly well in these subjects.

Future Headmasters would concur with Bromby. Indeed, our seventh Headmaster, Mr Richard Franklin (HM: 1915 – 1936), himself a Classics graduate from the University of Cambridge, advocated Classics as the best training for public life and the subjects were ‘head of the curriculum’.

Post WWII, there was a shift in interest towards the social and physical sciences, but Latin and Ancient Greek (and Ancient History) classes continued even so. However, in 1952, Ancient Greek was dropped as a subject in favour of emphasising Modern Languages. The 1958 Melburnian vol 82. No 4 reports that this “was a
retrograde step in a school where Classics have provided themselves such a potent educational force”.

However, under the leadership of Nigel Creese (HM: 1970 – 1987) there was a revival in the level of interest in the Classics and this has remained the case since.

Both Latin and Greek and Roman History were matriculation subjects (and were taught at the School) until 1970 when the Higher School Certificate (HSC) replaced the Year 12 Matriculation Certificate.

HSC subjects included Classical Civilisation and Latin, and these were both taught at Melbourne Grammar. The HSC was subsequently replaced with the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in 1987. VCE subjects include Classical Studies (formerly called Classical Societies and Cultures) and Latin.

Latin is currently offered to Melbourne Grammar students from Year 7 and Classical Studies from Year 11.

Read more about Latin and Classical Studies at Melbourne Grammar School here.