Classics

All entering students who have previously studied Ancient Greek or Latin will receive placement recommendations from the department. Any student wishing to enroll in 300-level Latin must take a Placement Test during New Student Orientation (it is not administered at any other time). Placements are our best guess, known to be fallible, subject to discussion, explanation, negotiation.


The ancient Greek and Latin languages recommend themselves for the interest and importance of their literatures, for the foundation they provide for English grammar and vocabulary, and for the opportunity they offer to study Greek and Roman precedents for later European and American cultures. The beginning sequence in Latin is 103-Elementary Latin and 222-Intermediate Latin. Students with two or more years of high school Latin should consider 225-Reading Latin. The beginning sequence in Greek is 101-Elementary Greek and 222-Intermediate Greek. Humanities 101 is strongly recommended to any student of classics and is prerequisite to Classical Mythology (Classics 242) and all 300-level Latin and Greek courses, except for first-year students otherwise eligible for advanced work in Latin or Greek. Humanities 102 also focuses on the ancient world. The 200-level courses in history, art and archaeology, mythology, and philosophy are entirely in English, and sophomore standing is recommended for these courses.

Ancient Greek: Elementary and Intermediate Greek are concentrated in a year-long sequence (Greek 101-222). The two semesters are devoted to learning the elements of inflection, vocabulary and syntax, and to reading gradually more challenging adapted and original passages from ancient Greek authors. The text is M. Balme and G. Lawall, Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek, 2 Vols. (Oxford), which aims "to teach you to read ancient Greek as quickly, thoroughly, and enjoyably as possible, and to do so within the context of ancient Greek culture." If the class finishes the two volumes before the year's end, the remaining time will be spent reading from some of the following: Homer, Sappho, Anacreon, Herodotus, Sophocles, Euripides, Thucydides, Christian Scriptures.

Students who wish to use Greek in a specific area of study such as philosophy, drama, or biblical writings would normally need the first year of Greek, which they could follow up with advanced courses, or, by arrangement, individual reading of the Christian Scriptures.

Since the first year of ancient Greek qualifies students for attractive intermediate or advanced courses at the College Year in Athens, 101 and 222 are recommended for all participants in that program.

Latin: Elementary and Intermediate Latin are concentrated in a year-long sequence (Latin 103-222). Latin 103 is a fairly rapid introduction, covering many of the elements of inflection, vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. The text, the Oxford Latin Course, takes the form of a narrative of the life of the Roman poet Horace. From the beginning, students are taught to read connected Latin prose. Since the text also includes much supplemental material, the course also functions as an imaginative introduction not only to the language, but also to the culture and literature of the classical world-Greek as well as Roman. The course is usually a challenging review for entering students with one or two years of high school Latin or a year or two gap since their last look at the language. Latin 103 is offered fall semester only. Latin 222 continues where 103 leaves off, covering the remaining elements of syntax and grammar. Excerpts from Horace's poetry are introduced early in the semester. By the end of the course, students will have read extended excerpts from one or more additional authors. Those who end with a high B or above average should be ready to enter a 300-level seminar the following year. Latin 222 is offered spring semester only.

Latin 225 is intended for students who have had the basics of Latin (usually two or three years in high school, or Latin 103-222 at Grinnell) but still need more work in grammar and vocabulary and more experience in reading Latin before attempting a 300-level course. The syllabus includes a variety of readings in Latin (easy to moderate in difficulty) along with a continuous review of grammar. Offered fall semester only.

The full year (or, for those qualified, 225) is recommended for all students and is essential for those wishing to read literary texts. The reading material in all courses in the Latin curriculum from early in 222 on is selected for its importance in later literatures. Completion of at least 222 or 225 is recommended for those considering the ICCS Classical Studies in Rome Semester since students would then be qualified for attractive advanced courses in Latin.

Four-year plan: There is no typical four-year plan for a major in Classics, but some general advice can be offered. Entering students who have had Latin previously should take the placement test or consult with the department about the appropriate Latin courses for the first year. Otherwise a student should take beginning Latin in the first year, or, if there is strong reason, beginning Greek. Students should not attempt beginning Latin and beginning Greek in the same year, but for optimal flexibility beginning Greek should be taken a soon as possible. The strongest major program includes substantial work in both languages, but students may choose to concentrate in one language or the other. Humanities 101 is strongly recommended for the first year. The senior seminar is taken in the second semester of senior year. Courses in ancient history, art and archaeology, mythology, or ancient philosophy may be taken according to interest and career plans. Considerations regarding off-campus study have been m entioned above, and careful planning is necessary, with the help of one's adviser. Majors considering graduate work in classics should also study German or French to the intermediate level.

Although the following is an excellent four-year plan to complete a major in classics, there is always room for considerable variation:

FIRST YEAR FALL   FIRST YEAR SPRING
LAT 103   LAT 222
HUM 101 (or in spring)    
SECOND YEAR FALL   SECOND YEAR SPRING
LAT 225, GRE 101   LAT 3XX, GRE 222
HIS 255 or 256 or PHI 231    
THIRD YEAR FALL   THIRD YEAR SPRING
LAT 3XX, GRE 3XX   LAT 3XX, GRE 3XX
or study in Rome or Athens   ART 248 or 250 or GLS 242
    or study in Athens or Rome
FOURTH YEAR FALL   FOURTH YEAR SPRING
LAT or GRE 3XX   GRE 3XX, CLS 495