About the Department

The pioneer of the interdisciplinary approach, the field of classics encompasses the languages, literature, philosophy, and history of the Mediterranean from the second millennium BC to the fifth century AD. The Classics Department presents as wide a range of courses as possible in this diverse but fundamentally unified field.

In each of the course offerings in the Classics Department students explore cultural phenomena that lie at the root of our own experience. Modern Western languages, literature, philosophy, and history have carried within them the deep grain of a classical past, which is at once surprisingly familiar and intriguingly alien. In courses in ancient history, culture, and literature based on texts in translation, students use a wide range of sources and methods to work towards an understanding of the ancient Mediterranean, both on its own terms and in its relation to later cultures.

The Classics Department also offers courses in Latin and ancient Greek each year. Students learn the sounds and structures of the language and a basic reading vocabulary in introductory courses; in intermediate and advanced courses students develop their fluency and accuracy in reading and deepen their appreciation of style, rhetoric, and nuance. In all Latin and Greek courses, students also use the languages as a way of entering the heart of the vibrant world of classical antiquity. As an added bonus, students should gain from their study of either language valuable insights into the substance and structure of English and the modern European languages.

Students who complete a major or minor in Classics will progressively build a more complex and comprehensive understanding of the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome by studying them from a variety of angles, and by bringing a growing body of knowledge to bear on their studies. Students who major in Classics learn to conduct research and to develop a sustained argument on a focused topic informed by a broad understanding of the field.