The ancient cultures of Greece and Rome gave Western civilization its original impetus and its seminal form. The knowledge of these cultures is thus a crucial foundation for an understanding our culture and for any evaluation of its place in the larger world. The classics department encourages, directs and disseminates the knowledge of all aspects of Greco-Roman civilization.


The department of classics expects its majors to do the following:

  1. read the Greek or Latin language, or both.
  2. understand, appreciate and interpret works of classical literature both in the original and in translation.
  3. be familiar with the principal features of Greek and/or Roman history and the methods of establishing and interpreting them.
  4. be familiar with the principal physical remains of Greece and/or Rome and the methods of interpreting them.
  5. use the major tools, techniques and methods of classical studies.
  6. be able to communicate their ideas in both written and oral form.


Goal A: Greek and/or Latin Language

Given a previously unseen passage of ancient prose or poetry of typical difficulty, the student will be able to

  1. Render the passage into English of an equivalent structure and meaning.
  2. Answer grammatical and comprehension questions about the passage.
  3. Produce, with time and lexica, a reasonably polished version of the passage.
  4. Read the passage aloud in the target language with accuracy, fluency, clarity and expression.

Goal B: Ancient Literature

Given a passage from one of the genres which they have studied, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the conventions, history and special techniques of that genre of ancient literature.
  2. Analyze the significant stylistic features of the passage.
  3. Discuss the place of the passage in the career of its author and in the history of the genre.
  4. Discuss the place of the genre in its literary and cultural context.

Goal C: Ancient History

Students will be able to:

  1. Reproduce a general chronological narrative of Greek or Roman history in broad outline and of the most significant events in particular.
  2. To produce an analysis of the military, political, social, economic and/or intellectual context of significant events, individuals, institutions or periods.
  3. To discuss and analyze the primary sources and the ways in which they are used to create modern interpretations of significant events, individuals, institutions or periods.

Goal D: Physical Remains

Students will be able to:

  1. Identify and analyze real extant ancient remains or artifacts.
  2. Recognize ancient or classical elements in the art of later periods.
  3. Produce an analysis of the impact of events of history, intellectual movements and significant individuals on art of the ancient world.
  4. Document, with appropriate terminology and aesthetic perceptiveness an out-of-class experience with art, such as a museum visit, participation in an excavation, etc.

Goal E: Tools and Techniques of Classical Studies

Students will be able to:

  1. Locate and evaluate appropriate primary sources.
  2. Locate and evaluate appropriate secondary sources.
  3. Use correct theoretical and technical terminology.
  4. Identify and use appropriate bibliographical tools, identify and use appropriate technological resources.

Goal F: Written and Oral Communication

Students will be able to:

  1. Write several types of papers on classical subjects.
  2. Make in-class oral presentations on their research.


Individual students demonstrate their achievement of Objectives A1 and A2 in the final exams of language classes above the 200 level, of Objective A3 by producing a polished translation done outside of class, of Objective A4 by making an audio tape of their reading of prepared passages of prose and poetry and of previously unseen passages, of Objectives B1, B2, B3 and B4 in essay questions and papers in literature classes, of Objectives C1, C2 and C3 in the final exam and/or papers on ancient history, of Objectives D1, D2 and D3 in the final exam and/or papers on ancient art or archaeology, of Objective D4 by documenting the out-of-class experience, of Objectives E1, E2 and E3 in all test-essays and papers produced on ancient literature, history, art or archaeology, of Objectives E4 and E5 in research papers produced for major classes. of Objective F1 in essay questions and papers in all major classes, of Objective F2 by making formal oral presentations in their major classes.

Process: Assessment Portfolios for Majors

The department of classics requires each graduate to present a portfolio of representative work done for the degree. The contents of the portfolio will not affect in any way your grades in individual classes, but a completed portfolio is required for a degree in this department. It will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, not to grade you! We hope that the portfolio will be useful to you in clarifying and advancing your plans for the future. We thank you in advance for your co-operation. Each candidate for graduation will present to the department no later than the beginning of the last semester in residence a portfolio which will contain a sheet outlining the student's classes and experiences which meet the departmental objectives and at least one each of the following:

  1. A seen and an unseen translation of a language passage produced under test circumstances.
  2. A polished translation of a language passage produced outside of test circumstances without constraints on time or lexical aids (Greek and Latin Majors only).
  3. A paper reporting on the student's direct analysis of an ancient text, artifact or historical problem.
  4. A paper analyzing and evaluating a secondary source on an ancient text, artifact or historical problem.
  5. A research paper on an ancient text, artifact or historical problem.
  6. An audio tape of the student reading a passage of prose and a passage of poetry in the target language (Greek and Latin Majors only).
  7. Evaluation sheets from assigned in-class oral reports in four classes.

We recommend that you begin accumulating these items as soon as you decide to major. As you progress through the major, you will want to review these items and add to or even replace them as your skills and experience improve. Items from different years and stages of your training will be welcome and useful, but the final selection will be up to you. Since the actual major you end up with may change it is a good idea to collect samples from all areas, and then make a final selection of your best work when you submit the portfolio.