Classics (Greek & Roman Studies)
Leah Himmelhoch, Associate Professor, Chair
Jim Capreedy, Associate Professor
Greek & Roman Studies invites students to discover the literatures and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and the other Mediterranean societies with which they interacted. Courses in Greek and Latin focus on important texts in the original languages, aiming to develop students’ facility in reading Greek and Latin and to sharpen their skills in literary criticism. Courses in classical civilization, on the other hand, use materials exclusively in English translation and require no prerequisites, offering students from the entire Colleges' community an opportunity to study classical literature and institutions in conjunction with a major, minor, or interdisciplinary work in the humanities.
Offerings in the Department of Classics (Greek & Roman Studies) investigate all aspects of ancient Greece and Rome: their languages and cultures, their interactions with the rest of the Mediterranean world, and their subsequent influence on modern society. Thus, the study of the classics reveals important aspects of these ancient cultures, raising new and fresh questions and insights about the ancient Mediterranean world, and exploring how later cultures and eras have interpreted, deployed, or responded to antiquity. In addition, the department's faculty are especially committed to understanding and explicating issues of gender, class, and race, both historically and theoretically.
The department offers majors in Greek, Latin, and Classics (both Greek & Latin), as well as a new major called ‘Greek & Roman Studies’, which allows students to focus more on ancient culture courses in English (and less on ancient language acquisition). The Greek & Roman Studies major also allows students to create a degree-path blending ancient and modern course material (with departmental approval). Finally, the department also offers minors in Greek, Latin, Classics (both Greek and Latin), and Classical Studies (a minor requiring less language-study).
Students in Greek & Roman Studies develop significant skills in:
- close reading
- analytical and critical thinking
- foundational skills in foreign languages
- the ability to pursue independent research
- the ability to identify and to disentangle assumptions — their own or another’s — as they interpret data
- how to assess and use different types of sources to formulate cogent arguments
- how to understand and contextualize information both culturally and
Our department’s majors and minors have become doctors, lawyers, software coders, business-people, pharmacists, veterinarians, members of the clergy, graphic artists, museum curators, military officers, college/university administrators, teachers, and college/university professors. What would you like to be?
Greek & Roman Studies Major (B.A.)
disciplinary, 12 courses
Four courses in Greek and/or Latin, at least two at the 200-level. Seven additional classical civilization courses (or courses approved by the department) and one senior seminar (or another, approved course that serves as a capstone experience). Students may substitute any 200-level (or higher) Greek or Latin course for one of the seven classical civilization courses (with departmental approval), so long as it is not already being used as one of the four required language courses. No more than two 100-level CLAS (classical civilization) courses may count toward the major. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the major.
Classics Major (B.A.)
disciplinary, 12 courses
Four courses in Greek and four in Latin, including at least one 300-level course in each language. Four additional classical civilization courses or courses approved by the department. No more than two 100-level CLAS (classical civilization) courses may count toward the major. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the major. This major must include a capstone experience.
Greek Major (B.A.)
disciplinary, 12 courses
Seven courses in Greek language, at least four of which must be at the 200-level and one at the 300-level; five additional classical civilization courses or other courses with appropriate content approved by the advisor. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the major. This major must include a capstone experience.
Latin Major (B.A.)
disciplinary, 12 courses
Seven courses in Latin language, at least four of which must be at the 200-level and one at the 300-level; five additional classical civilization courses or other courses with appropriate content approved by the advisor. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the major. This major must include a capstone experience.
disciplinary, 5 courses
Three Greek and two Latin courses or two Greek and three Latin. No more than three 100-level language courses may count towards the minor. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the minor.
disciplinary, 5 courses
Five courses in Greek language, at least three of which must be at the 200-level or above. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the minor.
disciplinary, 5 courses
Five courses in Latin language, at least three of which must be at the 200-level or above. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the minor.
Classical Studies Minor – Disciplinary
Two courses in either Latin or Greek language plus three additional classical civilization courses. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the minor.
Classical Studies Minor – Interdisciplinary
Same as for the disciplinary minor, but selection of classical civilization courses must include at least one course from the classical studies group in a program outside of the Classics/Greek & Roman Studies department. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the minor.
Classical Studies Courses
The lists below are not exhaustive; for other possibilities, consult with the Classics department.
History and Anthropology
ANTH 102 World Prehistory
ANTH 206 Early Cities
ANTH 210 Prehistoric Ecology
CLAS 202 Athens in the Age of Pericles
CLAS 209 Alexander the Great and His Legacy
CLAS 230 Gender and Sexuality in Antiquity
CLAS 251 The Romans: Republic to Empire
CLAS 281 Fall of the Roman Empire
CLAS 310 Sparta: Greece's Warrior Society
HIST 220 Early Medieval Europe
HIST 308 The Historian's Craft
Literature and Reception Studies
CLAS 108 Greek Tragedy
CLAS 228 Classical Epic
CLAS 240 Classics in Cinema
CLAS 290 Classical Law and Morality
FRNE 285 The Troubadours: Songs of Love, War, and Redemption
ITAE 285 Dante’s Divine Comedy
WRRH 312 Power and Persuasion
Religion and Philosophy
PHIL 215 Aristotle
PHIL 370 Ancient Philosophy
REL 253 Creation Stories, why they matter
REL 254 The Question of God/Goddess
REL 258 The Qur'an and the Bible
ARTH 101 Ancient and Medieval Art
ARTH 116 World Architecture
ARTH 208 Greek Art and Architecture
ARTH 303 Roman Art and Politics
ARTH 332/432 Roman Art
CLAS 330 Greek Archaeology
THTR 220 Theatre History
Classical Civilization Course Descriptions
Courses requiring no knowledge of Greek or Latin, with no prerequisites, and suitable for first through fourth year students.
CLAS 108 Greek Tragedy This course reads selected English translations of tragedies written by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Their plays are not only important as fascinating stories in their own right, but because of the extraordinary influence they have exerted over the subsequent literature, art, philosophy, and even science of European and American culture. In this course, then, each play is read as a work of art in its own right and as cultural nexus connecting to broader issues, e.g., how it relates to its contemporary context as a religious, mythological, and political production; how it might have been received by its original audience (i.e., its cultural context); how ancient plays were produced and acted; or how these ancient texts were received over the course of history, and how they have been received and performed in the modern world. The course also considers possible definitions of ‘tragedy’ and why art is not “just” entertainment or a peripheral concern, but a human practice of extraordinary cultural significance (Offered every three years).
CLAS 202 Athens in the Age of Pericles This course is a survey of the history of ancient Greece, from the earliest days to the time of Alexander the Great. At the course’s center is the great age of Athenian democracy, so fertile in its influence on our own culture. Particular attention is paid to the social and political history of Periklean Athens, but we will also spend a lot of time considering the culture of Ancient Greece. The heroic Age, oral poetry, religion, philosophy, science, Athenian law, the theater, Greek sexuality, literature and architecture are all among the topics covered. The way in which the ancient Greeks thought and expressed themselves is bursting with examples to compare to contemporary times; thus, a critical examination of Ancient Greece and its heritage requires students to read a range of primary sources from ancient philosophy to biography. We begin the course with the political and social revolution that led to the rise of the city-state and then, focus our attention on life in Athens and Sparta during the fifth century B.C.E. The course then traces domestic Athens’ decline under the effects of the Peloponnesian War and Macedonian imperialism. (Offered every three years)
CLAS 209 Alexander the Great In 336 BCE Alexander acquired the throne of Macedonia but thirteen years later died in Babylon. In that time, Alexander had conquered the Persian Empire, been declared the son of the God Amun of Egypt, travelled past the Indus River, and had become involved in the acculturation of ancient cultures. Although Alexander had achieved a great deal his legacy achieved even more. In this course, we will study the man Alexander and the legacy he left behind. Alexander and his achievements offer many problems and scholars and enthusiasts have presented a multitude of interpretations. Consequently, and thankfully, a history of Alexander the Great is a wonderful entry into the world of historiography. In this course, we will examine topics such as his military genius, his administration of empire, and the mysteries surrounding his death. As the eminent Macedonian scholar Eugene Borza wrote, "it was Alexander's lot that to act as a human being was to move on a vast stage, affecting the lives of countless persons in his own day and capturing the fancies of those who lived after." (Offered every three years)
CLAS 228 Greek and Roman Epic In this course, we will read epic texts from Ancient Greece and Rome to acquaint ourselves with one of the most entertaining and informative traditions in the history of Europe and America. We will also discuss epic poetry’s significance to those who created, transmitted, and received it, as well as the different methodological approaches applied to epic texts. What makes an epic an epic? Are epics just stories, or are they something more? How reliable are epics as historical sources? Why has epic poetry gripped the imaginations of so many individuals for so long? Why do traditional epic heroes seem so unheroic to modern eyes? And how has the ancient epic tradition manifested in today’s world? (Offered every three years)
CLAS 230 Gender and Sexuality in Antiquity Ancient Greek and Roman literature were powerful forces in shaping attitudes toward and expectations for men and women that have continued into the 21st century. Through readings (in English translation) of Greek and Roman literature from what were very patriarchal societies, students explore the attitudes of these ancient peoples toward issues of sex, sexuality, and gender. Students examine material written by both men and women from different classes and cultures, with a view to assessing how ancient attitudes towards sex and gender have informed our own. (Offered every four years)
CLAS 240 Classics in Cinema Films dealing with ancient subjects like history or mythology often fare quite well at the box office. In fact, throughout the history of film, movies dealing with Greco-Roman antiquity, in particular, have broken countless box office records. Why are we so fascinated with historical narratives describing events that happened millennia ago, or narratives recreating the fantastical worlds of mythology? Is it 'just' pure escapism, or is there another reason why these films draw audiences? What does it mean that films about ancient worlds still speak to us? The study of Classics in film is important for many reasons. From a Classicist's perspective, films about antiquity are important because - regardless of their historical accuracy - they are a chief source of popular knowledge about ancient Greece and Rome. But from an audience’s perspective, we should ask: Why do films choose the stories they do (and which stories don’t get told)? How accurate are films about the distant past? How can we verify their accuracy? To whom are these versions of the ancient world beholden? What interpretive decisions are made and why? Are films about ancient subjects really about the past? (Offered every three years)
CLAS 251 The Romans: Republic to Empire This course surveys the “Roman Revolution,” from 140 BCE to CE 70: the Destruction of the Republic by Julius Caesar and Augustus’ founding of the Empire. Students trace the political evolution of Rome through these two centuries and read several central works by ancient authors of this period. The course also Considers the “everyday life” of the Romans - the conditions of the rich, poor, and slave, the changing status of women, and religious and philosophical pluralism within the Empire. The course thus aims to be an introduction to Roman History and culture during its central era. (Offered every three years)
CLAS 275 Special Topics Different topics taken up each time the course is taught. Course man be repeated.
CLAS 281 Fall of the Roman Empire Invasions and Germanic hordes, repressive regimes of late antiquity, problems with its armies, an emperor's adoption of Christianity and a corrupt Roman government - writers, both ancient and modern, have examined these and other issues concerning the fall of the Roman Empire. The present course will approach these topics with an emphasis on reading and analyzing the primary sources in an effort to discern for ourselves the nature of the so-called decline of the Roman Empire. We will examine the Empire's economy, culture, politics, and religion and the various perceptions of it all as we make our way through a history of the Empire. We begin with a brief look back at the beginning of the Empire and the Flavian Dynasty (c. 69 CE) and then turn to the reign of the Emperor Trajan (c. 98-117 CE). Then, we will work our way toward 476 CE and complete the course with a brief study of the emperor Justinian (527-565 CE). The core of this course is a survey of the Roman Empire - its culture, economy, politics, and religions - from 117 CE to 476 CE, and the examination of the changes that took place during this period that ultimately led to the end of the Roman Empire. Dedicated and thoughtful participation is required as we will read copious amounts of primary and secondary sources. Although there is no prerequisite for this course, CLAS 251 or a solid background in antiquity is strongly recommended. (Offered every four years)
CLAS 290 Ancient Law and Morality What did the law protect? How did the ancient Greeks and Romans administer justice? How did the courts operate and what were the penalties? How were law and morality connected and, how were they distinct? In this course, we will read court speeches, documents, and philosophies from ancient Athens and Rome. We will examine the ways in which rhetoric and law converged, justice was administered, and where morality and law were connected and remained distinct. We will, therefore, study how the ancients defined, developed, and exercised law within their own cultural beliefs; law as an idea, then, is as central to this course as the practices and procedures of the ancient court system. (Offered every four years)
CLAS 295 Power, Politics, and Rhetoric in Democratic Athens Whether it was convincing a state to support a war, mocking leadership, or convincing a jury, arguments, disagreements, and public discourse lay at the heart of the ancient Athenian democracy. In this course, we begin with the origins of the democratic system of the ancient Athenians and examine closely those powerful political and social discourses that shaped the ancient Athenian city-state during the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. This course is designed to examine closely the primary sources from ancient Athens and assess the ways in which the ancient Athenians distributed, exercised, and contested power. There are no prerequisites for this course, but students should be prepared to read and assess both primary and secondary sources and be willing to work together as we examine the public debates of the Athenians and investigate the so-called golden age of Athenian Democracy.
CLAS 310 Sparta: The Warrior Heroes of Ancient Greece When news of the battle of Thermopylae reached the rest of the Greek world the myth of the Warrior-Heroes of Greece was complete and over the next hundred years Sparta was a dominant culture within the Greek world. The Spartan culture has attracted many people to its study, both ancient and modern, but due to the reticent nature of the Spartans most of our understanding of their culture comes from outside their city-state. A history of Sparta, then, is as much an account of the rise and fall of the Spartan society as it is an examination of the mythic representation of this city-state by other Greeks and later writers. Dedicated classroom participation and preparation will be assumed as we explore the mirage and realities of this unique and powerful society. (Offered every three years)
CLAS 330 Greek Archaeology This course will provide a basic background in Greek (or rather, Aegean Basin) archaeology, ranging from the Stone Age to the death of Alexander the Great (in 323 BCE). Students will be introduced those sites, artifacts and concepts that are representative of their eras or styles, as well as those to which a beginning student of Greek archaeology ought to be exposed. Further, whenever possible, students will examine some of the field's more famous controversies. Other questions to consider are as follows: How much can we really know about any culture from its artifacts? How much do our own biases affect our interpretations? Is archaeology 'looting'? Who can 'legitimately' claim to 'possess' an artifact? (Offered every four years)
CLAS 456 1/2 Credit Independent Study (By arrangement)
CLAS 460 Senior Seminar in Classics This Senior Seminar in Classics is designed for majors in Greek, Latin, Classics, and Greek & Roman Studies and, as such, provides a capstone experience in Classics. The seminar's focus is the senior thesis, but it will also examine past and current scholarship across the discipline of Classics. Students will lead discussions of sources, texts, and scholarship as they consider a common topic or theme. Although the content varies each year, in each seminar students will gain a familiarity with the methodologies, critical approaches and research tools used in classical scholarship. During the first half of the course students work together on a common topic or theme to become familiar with classical scholarship. Then, during the second half of the course, students pursue their own research and produce their own senior thesis.
CLAS 495/496 Honors (By arrangement)
Classics Courses Offered Occasionally
CLAS 175 Special Topics
CLAS 221 Rise of the Polis
CLAS 275 Special Topics
CLAS 283 Aristotle
Greek Course Descriptions
GRE 101 Beginning Ancient Greek I The aim of the beginning Greek sequence (GRE 101 and GRE 102) is to provide students with the vocabulary and grammatical skills necessary to read ancient Greek authors as quickly as possible. This sequence also offers an interesting and effective approach to learning about the culture and thought of the ancient Greeks. No prerequisites. (Fall, offered annually)
GRE 102 Beginning Ancient Greek II A continuation of GRE 101, this course continues and completes the presentation of basic Greek grammar and vocabulary and increases students’ facility in reading Greek. Suggested prerequisite: GRE 101 or the equivalent. (Spring, offered annually)
GRE 205 The Greek New Testament In this course, students read one of the canonical gospels in the original Greek and the other three in English translation. Class work emphasizes the grammatical differences between koine Greek and Classical Greek. The course considers the numerous non-canonical gospels and investigates the formation of the New Testament canon. Students examine textual variants in the biblical manuscripts and discuss the principles that lead textual critics to prefer one reading over another. The theory that Matthew and Luke are based on Mark and a hypothetical document 'Q' is critically investigated. The course also introduces students to modern approaches to New Testament study: form, redaction, rhetorical, and postmodern criticisms. Suggested prerequisite: GRE 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
GRE 213 Plato In this course, a Platonic dialogue such as the Symposium, the Apology, or the Crito is read in Greek, with attention directed to the character and philosophy of Socrates as they are represented by Plato. It includes a review of Greek grammar. Suggested prerequisite: GRE 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
GRE 223 Homer This course is a reading in Greek and discussion of passages from either Homer's Iliad or Odyssey, with the entire poem read in English. Attention is given to the cultural and historical setting and to the nature of Homeric language, but the course also aims at an appreciation, through readings in the original, of the Iliad or Odyssey as poetic masterpieces. Suggested prerequisite: GRE 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
GRE 250 Ancient Greek Historians In this course, students read selections from Herodotus, Xenophon, or Thucydides, examining both the authors' prose styles and the historical contexts in which they wrote. The course aims to develop the ability to read the original Greek text of an ancient historian with attention given to vocabulary, grammar and style. In addition, students will also examine how Greek historians recorded their history so as to be both aesthetically pleasing and useful.
GRE 263 Sophocles This course includes a careful reading in Greek of one of the plays of Sophocles, such as Oedipus the King or Antigone, with close attention to the language of tragedy, as well as to plot construction, dramatic technique, and the issues raised by the mythic story. Suggested prerequisite: GRE 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
GRE 264 Euripides In this course, a complete tragedy of Euripides, such as Alcestis, Bacchae, Hippolytus, or Medea, is studied in Greek, with close attention to language and style as a way of appreciating the play's broader concerns and Euripides dramatic artistry. Suggested prerequisite: GRE 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
GRE 301 Advanced Readings I This course is offered to students who have mastered the fundamentals of Greek and are now able to read substantial amounts appreciatively. Readings are chosen according to the interests and needs of the students. Suggested prerequisite: two semesters of 200 level Greek or permission of the instructor. (Fall, offered annually)
GRE 302 Advanced Readings II This course is parallel to GRE 301. (Spring, offered annually)
GRE 400 Senior Seminar (By arrangement)
GRE 450 1 Credit Independent Study (By arrangement)
GRE 456 ½ Credit Independent Study (by arrangement)
GRE 495/496 Honors (By arrangement)
Latin Course Descriptions
LAT 101 Beginning Latin I This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of Latin grammar, accompanied by some practice in reading the language. The aim is to equip students to read the major Roman authors. No prerequisite. (Fall, offered annually)
LAT 102 Beginning Latin II This course continues and completes the study of basic grammar and introduces representative samples of Latin prose (e.g., Cicero, Caesar) and poetry (e.g., Catullus, Ovid). By consolidating their knowledge of grammar and building their vocabulary, students are able to read Latin with increased ease and pleasure and to deepen their understanding of ancient Roman culture. Suggested prerequisite: LAT 101 or the equivalent. (Spring, offered annually)
LAT 223 Medieval Latin At the end of the Roman Empire, as "classical" Latin grew more formal and artificial, vulgar Latin, the language of the "common people" and the parent of the Romance languages, emerged as a sophisticated literary instrument. Throughout the Middle Ages, an enormous literature was produced in this living Latin: works sacred and profane, serious and flippant. In this course, students read selections, in the original Latin, from works in theology, history, biography, fiction, and poetry. Attention is given to the differences between Medieval and "classical" Latin, but the course emphasizes the medieval authors’ creativity as artists in a living language. Suggested prerequisite: LAT 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
LAT 238 Latin Epic (Vergil Or Ovid) This course is a careful reading in Latin of a significant portion of the Aeneid or the Metamorphoses, with the entire poem read in English, to enable students to appreciate the poetry and Vergil's or Ovid's presentation of Augustan Rome against the background of its historical and literary heritage. Suggested prerequisite: LAT 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
LAT 248 Cicero and Pliny This course includes readings in the original Latin of works by eyewitnesses to the profound changes that Rome experienced during the late republic and early empire. It gives considerable attention to the literary intentions of the author and to the light those intentions throw on contemporary political feelings and postures. Suggested prerequisite: LAT 102 or equivalent. (Offered every three years)
LAT 255 Latin Historian: Tacitus or Livy This course includes readings from Tacitus, Annales, or Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, examining the authors' prose styles and the historical contexts in which they wrote. Students explore the authors' use of historiography as ostensible support or covert attack on political regimes. Attention is given to the ancient view that history must be aesthetically pleasing and ethically useful and to ancient historians' lapses in objectivity and accuracy. Suggested prerequisite: LAT 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
LAT 262 Latin Love Poetry In this course, selections from Catullus, Propertius, Sulpicia, Tibullus, and Ovid help to survey the language, themes, and structures of Augustan elegiac poetry. Considerable attention is paid to the Roman authors' views of women and of the relations between the sexes. Suggested prerequisite: LAT 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
LAT 264 Petronius or Seneca In this course, selections from the Satyricon, read in Latin, highlight Petronius’ wit, his depiction of contemporary society, and the Satyricon as an example of ancient prose narrative. Alternatively, selections from Seneca's Moral Epistles portray the Stoic philosopher's ethical concerns in a time of tyranny, and one of his blood-and-thunder tragedies illustrates the spirit of the age of Nero, in which evil becomes a fine art. Suggested prerequisite: LAT 102 or the equivalent. (Offered every three years)
LAT 301 Advanced Readings I This course is offered to students who have mastered the fundamentals of Latin and are now able to read substantial amounts appreciatively. Readings are chosen according to the interests and needs of the students. Possibilities include: prose Cicero, Seneca, Tacitus, Livy; poetry Horace, Juvenal, Lucretius, Ovid, Propertius, Vergil. Suggested prerequisite: Two terms of 200-level Latin or permission of the instructor. (Fall, offered annually)
LAT 302 Advanced Readings II This course is parallel to LAT 301. (Spring, offered annually)
LAT 450 1 Credit Independent Study (By arrangement)
LAT 456 1/2 Credit Independent Study (By arrangement)
LAT 495/496 Honors (By arrangement)