Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies

About the Department

This interdisciplinary field encompasses the languages, literature, philosophy, and history of the people of the ancient Mediterranean basin. The Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Department presents as wide a range of courses as possible in this diverse but fundamentally unified field.

The department’s course offerings are designed to foster student understanding of ancient Mediterranean cultures, including in relation to other cultures both ancient and modern. Through critical examination of the values of ancient Mediterranean civilizations, students are encouraged to explore their own values and cultural assumptions and to understand how the ancient past (real or imagined) has been used to construct the world in which we live.

In courses in ancient history, culture, and literature based on texts in translation, students use literary texts of many genres as well as material evidence uncovered by archaeology to arrive at a deeper understanding of the ancient Mediterranean world.

The Department 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 and Ancient Mediterranean Studies will progressively build a more complex and comprehensive understanding of the cultures of ancient Mediterranean 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 the department conduct independent research in order to develop a sustained argument on a focused topic that is informed by a broad understanding of the field.