Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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The motto of The Geelong College is 'Sic Itur Ad Astra'. The translation of the latin phrase Macte animo … sic itur ad astra adopted by the College for many years has been 'Be of courage … thus is the way to the stars' . The motto was chosen by one of the original two assistant masters of 1861, George F Hutton. The School often paraphrases the motto as 'Reach for the Stars' . The motto appears on the College Coat-of-Arms.

The latin phrase was believed at one time to originate from part of a verse by the Roman Poet, Statius, but this appears inaccurate. More recent research has revealed that the earliest use of the phrase appears in Virgil's Aeneid, Book IX, wherin the latin phrase reads 'macte nova virtute, puer, sicitur ad astra'. David West, for example, translates the context of the fuller phrase as: 'You have become a young man Iulus, we salute you! This is the way that leads to the stars' .

Mark Andrews of the College has explained that 'the translation is a little liberal in the first part, but essentially, the youthful God, Apollo is addressing young Iulus (also called Ascanius, the son of Aeneas), who has just used his bow for the first time in battle and been blessed by Jupiter with a victory. Hence, this is the way to go on to further success and his destiny. Mr Andrews provided a literal translation of the motto as: Blessing (macte) on your new bravery (nova virtute), boy! (puer). In this way (sic) go forth (itur) to the stars (ad astra)' .

Wikipedia comments that 'The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem written by Virgil in the late 1st century BC (29 - 12 BC) which tells the legendary story of Aenas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter. The first six of the poem's twelve books tell the story of Aeneas' wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem's second half tells of the Trojans' ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed'.

This linking of Greek and Latin sources in the College motto may be indicative of George Morrison's belief in the importance of the classics in education.

'Sic Itur Ad Astra' is also the title of a musical tribute to Geelong College composed by Parl Jarman to commemorate the 2011 Sesquicentenary of the College.

'Sic Itur' is also the name of a sculptural work by Noel Essex at the Senior School campus.
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