Wesley College is identified by our motto, Sapere Aude or Dare to be Wise, our distinctive purple and gold colours, as well as the College crest and the lion symbols.
The Wesley College motto, Sapere Aude, appeared in the first College Prospectus of 1866. The words occur in the Epistles of Horace (I.ii.40): ‘Dimidium facti, qui coepit, habet. Sapere aude: Incipe’ or ‘Well begun is half done. Dare to be wise: make a beginning.’
The colours purple and gold were adopted in 1866 under inaugural headmaster, Dr James Corrigan. The school colours between 1876 and 1901 were changed to light blue and white, represented in the school crest. LA Adamson as headmaster reinstated purple and gold, colours traditionally associated with royalty, in 1902.
The crest, designed by Frank Goldstraw, later headmaster from 1893 to 1895, first appeared in 1877. It acknowledges the Southern Cross in the cross quarters of the shield and visualises our motto. The lion passant, or standing, in the first quarter symbolises courage, vigilance and readiness to act in the daring pursuit of wisdom; the books in the second and third quarters symbolise the wisdom to be gained from learning; and the lamp in the fourth quarter symbolises the light of wisdom.
The lion, derived from the lion passant of our crest, was introduced as an independent symbol at Wesley in the early years of the headmastership of LA Adamson. Adamson commissioned a leading Italian sculptor, Ettore Cadorin, to carve the four war memorial lions at the St Kilda Road Campus. Lion sculptures also grace our Elsternwick Campus and Glen Waverley Campus. The lion symbolises courage, vigilance and readiness to act in the daring pursuit of wisdom.