As a student studying Classics at New College, you have a chance to fully engage the rich and diverse nature of the discipline. From ancient languages and literature to classical mythology, drama, art, history, philosophy and culture, you will explore a wide variety of topics related to Greek and Roman life that shaped Western history and continue to influence modern society as well.
Classics became “classics” because they set the standard to which artists, thinkers and political leaders still aim and by which we measure new work that claims a place beside them. At New College, our flexible academic program is the perfect match for this important field. By working closely with a faculty mentor, you will be able to develop a plan of study that meets your academic interests while providing perspective and insights into the origins and history of Western civilization. You will also develop the close reading, advanced writing and interpretive skills that will prepare you for a wide variety of careers.
The heart of our AOC in Classics is the intensive study of Greek and Latin in order to gain a better understanding of some of the Western world’s most influential literary works. Following a thorough introduction to each of the languages, you will move quickly to reading authors like Homer, Herodotus, Euripides, Sappho, Ovid, Juvenal, Petronius and Plautus in their original languages, and you will explore the literary, historical, philosophical and cultural questions posed by each.
Small classes mean that you will have an opportunity to get to know your teachers and your classmates on a first-name basis and to dig deep into areas of research and study that interest you. You will also learn to articulate and defend your ideas, and to constructively critique those of your classmates. As a result, you will gain the critical thinking, analysis, research and writing skills demanded both in graduate school and in the workplace.
For majors and non-majors alike, faculty members in Classics also offer a variety of courses, tutorials and Independent Study Projects (ISPs) on classical topics in translation. These include general surveys of Greek and Latin literature, classical mythology, and more focused courses in Greek drama, ancient epic, love and sex in the ancient world, and late antiquity.
This emphasis on intellectual depth, critical analysis and individualized attention helps prepare our graduates in Classics for success in a wide variety of fields. Some of the common career paths taken by our graduates include law, public policy, diplomatic service, teaching and business.
Our students must complete seven contracts, three Independent Study Projects and a senior thesis project to graduate. Contracts consist of three to five academic activities — courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects, etc. — that will develop your personal educational goals during a semester.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Classics:
The Ancient Novel
A study of the development, nature, and purpose of extended prose fiction in the Greek and Roman world. After readings from Homer’s Odyssey, which served as a model for many novels, we will read Chariton’s Chaereas and Callirhoe, Achilles Tatius’ Leucippe and Clitophon, Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe, Heliodorus’ An Ethiopian Story, Petronius’ Satyrica, and Apuleius’ Metamorphoses. In addition to close reading of the primary sources we will consider the social, political, and religious backgrounds to the works and read extensively in the secondary literature.
This course will explore the major myths of Classical Greece and (to a lesser degree) Rome. Through literary and visual sources, we will examine multiple versions of many ancient myths, looking at the core narrative but also comparing and contrasting the various renderings to see how they interrelate. To appreciate more fully myth’s importance, we will also consider various ancient and modern theories of interpretation, as well as look at the legacy of classical mythology in modern art and literature. While we will stress the reading and interpretation of primary texts and images from the 8th Century B.C.E to the 2nd Cent. C.E., we will also use secondary source material to gain a synoptic view of myth. This course will help you learn the contents, contexts, plots, and characters of Greek mythic stories and their variants; gain a deeper understanding of ancient Greek culture, especially its religion(s) and literature; discover how myth relates to your life, the history of culture, and the contemporary world. This is a writing-intensive course and part of New College’s Seminars in Critical Thinking; it is recommended to students who want to improve their critical thinking and writing skills. This class is limited to 15 students with preference given to first or second year or recent transfer students.
Greek and Roman Drama is a survey of Classical theater and the societies that produced it. The course examines in detail the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, Terence, and Seneca. Among the topics considered in relationship to drama are: tragic and comic festivals, the nature of Greek theaters, theatrical roduction techniques, religion, women, democracy, tragic and comic heroism,myth, ancient and modern literary theory, and the legacy of Greek and Roman theater in the modern world. After taking this class, students will have a greater understanding of ancient drama and culture and also be better readers, viewers and interpreters of theatrical works, both ancient and modern.
Love and Sex in the Ancient World
A study of love, sex, and the relationship between the two in Greek, Roman, and early Christian thought and practice. Subjects to be considered include marriage, romantic love, homosexuality and bisexuality, sexual violence, sexual excess, and abstinence from sex. While we will take note of modern theorizing about love and sex, including a critical reading of Foucault’s Care of the Self, our focus will be on the experiences of the ancients as revealed through a variety of sources, including ancient philosophy and literature, art, and graffiti. This course is cross-listed with Gender Studies. Essays and research paper. Prerequisite: previous coursework in classics or gender studies, or the permission of the instructor.
Elementary Ancient Greek I
Elementary Ancient Greek I is the first half of a year-long course on the language of the ancient Greeks. This course covers Chapters 1-13 of Thrasymachus, a book uniquely organized to allow students to read a continuous Greek narrative from day one. The text includes adapted passages from famous, ancient Greek authors; and by the end of the second semester, we will even be reading unadapted passages from Homer’s Odyssey. Successful completion of the first year of Greek will prepare students to read and understand ancient works in the original language.
Elementary Ancient Greek II
Elementary Ancient Greek II is the continuation of Elementary Ancient Greek I. Successful completion of the text Thrasymachus will prepare students for advanced work in ancient Greek.
Prerequisite: Elementary Greek I at New College, or the equivalent. Please see instructor if you are uncertain about placement.
Elementary Latin I
Knowledge of Latin is essential for reading the literature of classical, medieval, and early modern Europe. Latin may also be useful for historians, art historians, archaeologists, philosophers, and students of religion or theater. Immersion in the elegance and simplicity of Latin encourages the development of the student’s English prose style and general clarity of thought. This course rapidly covers the first half of Wheelock’s Latin Grammar and is a prerequisite for Elementary Latin II. Elementary Latin I has no prerequisites and is intended for beginners or those with high school Latin preparation inadequate for advanced work.
Elementary Latin II
Elementary Latin II is a continuation of Elementary Latin I, which is its prerequisite. Completion of the second half of Wheelock’s Latin Grammar will prepare the student for advanced work in Latin.
Advanced Greek: Homer’s Odyssey
Intermediate/Advanced Greek is the first semester in a year-long course in ancient Greek literature. We will concentrate on Homer’s Odyssey, starting with book I and moving on to other sections as the term progresses. In addition to constantly reviewing Greek grammar as we encounter it in our text, we will also complete a systematic review of morphology and syntax via handouts and homework. There will be a weekly grammar and vocabulary quiz (you will be responsible for learning the top 300 Homeric words). We will also read a range of academic articles in English about the Odyssey. At the end of this course, you will be better able to read, translate and interpret archaic Greek epos. You will also be prepared to move on to a more advanced course in Greek literature.
Advanced Greek: Herodotus and Lucian’s “Histories”
Intermediate/Advanced Greek is the first semester in a yearlong course in Greek literature. We will concentrate on the first book of Herodotus’ Histories and Lucian’s True History. Herodotus (c. 485-425 BCE) is often dubbed the “Father of History,” but his work is actually an interesting mix of ethnography, history, and mythology. This mixture of real and unreal history prompted Lucian (c. 125-180 CE) to parody Herodotus in his True History, a fantastic account of a personal journey that involves sailing to the ends of the earth, venturing to the moon, and being swallowed by a whale. In addition to constantly reviewing Greek grammar as we encounter it in our texts, we will also complete a systematic review of morphology and syntax via handouts and homework. We will also have daily vocabulary quizzes. At the end of this course, you will be better able to read, translate, and interpret Greek prose in the Ionian dialect and prose satire in the Attic dialect.
Advanced Greek: Plato’s Symposium
Advanced Greek is the second semester in a yearlong course in Greek literature. We will read the majority of Plato’s Symposium, one of Plato’s most famous dialogues. This will be a fast-paced chorus, in which we will read a great deal, but we will also constantly be reviewing Greek grammar as we encounter it, as well as discussing the dialogue from a philosophical and literary point of view. At the end of this course, you will be better able to read, translate, and interpret Plato and Classical Greek prose more generally.
Advanced Latin: The Germania of Tacitus and Ancient Ethnography
In the fall of 1943, as Allied troops landed in southern Italy, a detachment of SS troops under the command of Heinrich Himmler launched a raid on a villa on the Adriatic sea in search of a peculiar prize, a fifteenth-century manuscript of a Latin text written in the first century AD. The text: the Germania by the Roman senator and historian, Cornelius Tacitus, a study of the origin and the character of the Germanic peoples beyond the Rhine. Few ancient works have had such a powerful and, at times, unfortunate influence on early modern and modern thought about the nature of ethnic differences in European history. In order to properly contextualize the monograph, we will begin the semester reading (in translation) some Greek ethnographic works, including selections from Herodotus and from the Hippocratic treatise Airs, Waters, Places, and some secondary literature on classical ethnography. Next we will read selections in Latin from Caesar and Pliny, and Tacitus’ Germania in its entirety. Finally, we will read secondary literature on the reception of the work in the early modern and modern period.
Prerequisite: Elementary Latin I and II at New College, or the equivalent.
Advanced Latin: Juvenal, Satires
Decimus Junius Juvenal (c. 55 AD—after 127 AD) wrote sixteen hexameter satires during the reigns of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. He adopts the persona of a traditionalist Roman, indignant at being dispossessed by Greeks and Easterners and contemptuous of an effeminate and vice-ridden elite. He provides an unforgettable picture of Roman decadence during the Empire, and his savage attacks provided a model for satirists in the medieval and modern West. Prerequisite: Elementary Latin I and II at New College, or the equivalent.
Advanced Latin: Ovid’s Love Poetry, Amores and Ars Amatoria
The prolific poet Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 BC -AD 8) began his literary career with the publication of love elegies, the Amores. Following in the tradition of Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, Ovid’s poems offer a witty and sophisticated portrayal of love and sex in ways that subvert traditional Roman moral and political ideals. Ovid’s works represent the culmination of a generation of Golden Age poetics, and his elegies, properly interpreted, offer fascinating evidence of the construction of gender roles in antiquity and beyond. Prerequisite: Elementary Latin I and II at New College, or the equivalent.
Classics at New College is an ideal AOC for students who want to pursue business, law, education and the arts. Our program focuses on close attention to detail developed through language study, a heavy focus on close reading and strong writing, and a broad knowledge of the historical and literary background of Western civilization.
Dana Arak ’98 is associate counsel for Forever 21, Inc. She earned her law degree at the University of Florida and wrote her New College thesis on “A Photographic Interpretation of Myth from the Metamorphoses of Ovid.”
New College is proud of our many graduates in Classics. Here’s a sampling of what some of them are up to these days:
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Classics
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Classics:
“Mentula Magna Minax: A Study of Genre in Catullus’ Abusive Poetry” by Zachary Low
“Complex Context in the Iliad: Epithets, Gnomai, and Paradeigmata” by Jenica Leahy
“The Hardest Work of All: Aristophanes’ Words on his Art of Comedy” by Ross F.Berlin
“Athenian Leadership in Thucydides:”History of the Peloponnesian War”” by William Buckingham
“Turpis Tristis Mundus: Greed, Lust, and Sacrilege in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses” by John McCall Branson
“The Antigone Experience” by Shauna Hoar
“For the Love of the Gods: The Rhetoric and Reality of Religious Authority in Late Antiquity” by Christopher Koel Blexrud
“The Homeric Hymn to Hermes and Archaic Iambography” by Justin Boner
“Grand Perversions: Sex and Genre in Ovid’s Metamorphoses” by Melissa Grady
“Balance in Herodotus’ Histories” by Ana McGrath
“The Tenth Muse: Sappho’s Poetry and Influence” by Kali Rainwater
“Aeneas and Guan Yu: A Study of Heroism in Two Parts” by Lissa Silver
“Jordanes’ Getica: Groundwork for a New Translation” by Danielle Reid
“Carmina Inferni: The Underworlds of Dante, Homer, and Vergil” by Matthew Newton
“There was Neither Victory nor Defeat: Atypical Amoebaean Contests in Ancient Pastoral Poetry” by Brendan Rabon
“The Frogs of Aristophanes: An Introduction and Translation” by Derek Segebarth
“An Analysis of the Classical Symosium in Three Texts” by Laura Wolfgang
“Deconstructing Gothic Identity” by Amy Paterson
“Wisdom Ethics: The Relationship Between Knowledge and Virtue in Selected Platonic Dialogues” by Naomi Esther Campa
“Sappho and Catullus: Stepping Out of Gender Roles” by Angela Tseng
“Visions of Vice: The Emporer Nero in Three Ancient Historians” by Vanesa Botero-Lowry
“The Gallae: Transgender Priests of Ancient Greece, Rome, and the Near East” by K. A. Lucker
“Heroines and Saints: A Comparative Study of Female Ideals in Antiquity” by Megan Cleaver
“Animal Husbandry: Desire and Domesticity in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses” by Alexander Hague
“Praecia’s The Tricks of the Trade” by Morgan E. Smith
“A Photographic Interpretation of Myth from the Metamorphoses of Ovid” by DanaArak
“And the Fluent Man Carried Off the Brave Man’s Arms the Character of Odysseus throughout Classical Literature” by Lindsay Alane Morse
“Miles Gloriosus: A Translation with Commentary” by Tara North
“The Propriety of Love: An Exploration of Platonic Love Based on the Dialogue Lysis” by Erin Slemmens
“Martyrs and Murderers: Women of Euripides” by Jesse Weiner
“Catullus and Clodia: The Lesbia Poems” by Muriel Avellaneda
The Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College is home to a broad assortment of books, scholarly journals, national and international databases, and other print and electronic media related to the study of classics and is available to students throughout the year. The library is also home to the College’s Academic Resource Center (ARC), which hosts a number of services of interest to Classics students including the Writing Resource Center (WRC) and the Language Resource Center (LRC).
You might also be interested in…
New College students have free access to the Ringing Museum of Art and its art library, which is located next door to campus. The museum offers 21 galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American and contemporary art. It also features an extensive collection of pre-modern European art and has recently hosted exhibits on Veronese, Rubens and other artists of the medieval and Renaissance periods.
New College hosts the Biennial New College Conference on Medieval & Renaissance Studies, which draws top scholars in history, literature, art history, philosophy and other fields. Students have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the scholars and attend the conference presentations.
Anemoi (“The Winds”) is New College’s journal of pre-modern studies. Students participate as editors, reviewers and contributors with content covering the classical, medieval and early modern periods.
Thanks to partnerships with numerous area schools, Classics students at New College have excellent opportunities to do teaching internships at the K-12 level.