Departmental Guidelines & Goals
The Department of Classical Studies offers courses in the languages and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Students are introduced to the intellectual, social, and cultural achievements of classical antiquity that are the foundation for the formation and identity of modern western society. It is a curriculum that engenders both interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge and the development of analytical skills.
The major and minor in Classical Studies entails an education focusing on the history and culture of classical antiquity. Whether through courses focused on classical languages, ancient history, the rhetoric of politics, the logic of philosophy, or the art of poetry, the study of classical civilization inculcates a lucidity of expression and a predilection for reason, as it inspires creativity, civic awareness, ethical behavior, and critical inquiry.
The minor in Greek focuses on the language and culture of ancient Greece from the Mycenaean world of Olympian gods, kings, and heroes, through the cultural and intellectual domination of the democracy of fifth-century Athens, to the Hellenistic empire and legacy of Alexander the Great. The study of Greek enables students to read the original works that have defined Western literature and philosophy, from the epics of Homer to the dialogues of Plato.
The minor in Latin focuses on the language and culture of ancient Rome from its origins as a small village in central Italy, through its transformation into the capital of a Mediterranean and European empire, to its identity as the “eternal city” and center of Christendom. The study of Latin enables students to read and comprehend a language that has defined a literate and educated citizen of western society since the Roman Empire of the Caesars.
For students wishing to major in Classical Studies, it is recommended that they take the two courses in either Ancient Greek or Latin as early as possible. For students with no previous knowledge of Ancient Greek or Latin, this means the 111-112 sequence in either language; the 111 level is only offered in the fall, the 112 level is only offered in the spring.
Ideally, students would complete the classical language requirement (two courses in either GRK or LAT) during their first year; the three 200 level CLAS courses during sophomore year; the 300 level CLAS course and one “related elective” course from another department during junior year; the second “related elective” course and Senior Research during senior year.
Note that the classical languages requirement is based on courses, not levels, so that students who may place into the Direct Study level (tutorials) are still required to complete two courses of the language (or 8 credits).
Our current curriculum includes the possibility of a minor in Ancient Greek and/or Latin; however, it is no longer possible to major in the languages. For students finishing the 111-112 sequence of a classical language at Denison, or for those placed beyond the 111-112 sequence, the department offers a 211 level course, followed by Directed (361-362) or Independent (363- 364) Studies. Faculty members in the department supervise Directed or Independent Studies, following a ‘tutorial’ model. There is a syllabus for these courses (361-362- 363-364) based on the author, topic, or genre being studied; to qualify as a course toward the minor, it must be taken for 4 credits. For Directed or Independent Studies in Ancient Greek or Latin, students must receive permission from the department Chair who will then notify the Registrar’s Office.
Students wishing to continue Ancient Greek or Latin at Denison, after studying it in secondary school or at a previous college or university, must meet with the department Chair to determine placement.
Guidelines for placement in LATIN or GREEK are as follows:
- 111 level (one or two years of study in secondary school)
- 112 level (two or three years of study in secondary school)
- 211 level* (four years of study in secondary school) *(or for LATIN a score of 3 on the AP Latin Exam)
To place out of the General Education foreign language requirement (K) in Latin, students must score a 4 or 5 on the AP LATIN Examination.
Students cannot place out of the General Education foreign language requirement (K) in Ancient Greek unless they are transfer students who have completed the equivalent of the Advanced level at a college or university.
Typically, such courses are those that are broadly related to Classical Studies in terms of topics, readings, or emphasis. For example, a course that includes works by classical historians, philosophers, poets, or playwrights in its syllabus may be approved, or a course in which there is specific attention to the influences of the classical world.
Most frequently such courses may come from Art History and Visual Culture, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religion. But in the past the department has also accepted courses from other disciplines, such as English and Theater, as well as interdisciplinary seminars.