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Classics (CLAS, GREK, LATN)

Chair: W. Stull

The Department of the Classics strives for a broad and deep understanding of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, studying not only language and literature but also history, art, archaeology, religion, and society. Students concentrating in the department may choose one of four different tracks. Those who major in Latin, Greek, or Classics make language and literature their main focus; majors in Classical Studies give less emphasis to the languages but acquire a wide knowledge of Greco-Roman history and culture. In addition, we offer a minor in Classics that requires a total of six courses. Most of our courses are also relevant to students concentrating in a range of other subjects (e.g., history, English, political science, philosophy). The skills acquired in our classes—critical thinking, clear writing, and attention to detail—are of permanent value, and many of our graduates are pursuing careers in law, medicine, investment banking, computer science, and education. Others have gone on to graduate work in classics, ancient history, or archaeology.

With the exception of 300- and 400-level Latin and Greek, all courses offered by the department are open to first-year students. Courses listed as CLAS have no prerequisites and require no knowledge of Greek or Latin; they provide penetrating surveys of literature, history, mythology, religion, art, and archaeology. GREK and LATN courses are all based on study of the ancient languages, and interested students are urged to begin taking them sooner rather than later. First-year students with high-school background in either Latin or Greek should discuss course placement with a faculty member in the department.

The department supplements its courses with extracurricular activities that include lectures by well-known scholars, opportunities to assist professors in research (on campus and abroad), extended study courses to Rome and Athens, and participation in the Venice Study Group.

The classics faculty are always glad to discuss the program with anyone interested.

Advanced Placement

Students who submit a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Latin exam are eligible to receive course credit for LATN 122 provided that they complete a higher level Latin course at Colgate (i.e., LATN 201 or above). Students must contact the registrar's office once the higher level is completed to have the credit officially recorded.


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CLAS 221, The Epic Voice & Its Echoes
Beginning with the first poems in the Western tradition, this course studies the epic genre in all its distinctiveness and variety. It explores the themes and ideology of epic, ranging from the heroic to the philosophical and didactic, and considers how the poet deals with fundamental questions: the nature of heroism, life and death, individual and community, mortals and immortals, memory, and the power of poetry. It also examines the craft of the epic poet, uniquely situated between orality and writing. Authors studied include Homer, Hesiod, Apollonius, Lucretius, and Vergil.

CLAS 237, Roman History
The history of ancient Rome from its foundation through the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Emphasis is placed on political, constitutional, and social developments.

FSEM 153, Ancient and Modern Lawgiver
Faculty Profile for Professor Rood

Why do we invoke the Founding Fathers when arguing, for example, about the right to bear arms? “That’s what the Founding Fathers said in the Constitution!” Who are these crafters of law and why do they hold such great authority? The figure of the lawgiver extends far back into antiquity. Around 1000 BCE, Hindu authors wrote about the first man and lawgiver, Manu; the Israelite lawgiver, Moses, is also dated around that time; and Minos, the lawgiver of Crete, was already considered ancient to the ancient Greeks. Lawgivers constitute a category of the heroic, who stand at the head of polities as far back as we can trace in the history of civilized life. In this course, we will study some great lawgivers of antiquity with a concluding comparison to the American Founders. Our readings will cover mythical, historical, biographical, philosophical, literary, and sacred texts; with authors such as Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, and Josephus, plus selections from the Bible and the American Founding. Questions we will address include: who can be a lawgiver? must he have divine sanction? why does a free people defer to its lawgiver? what is the purpose of law? should we always obey them? Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive course credit for 200-level CLAS course and satisfy one half of the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

Naomi Rood is an Associate Professor of Classics. Her research focuses on archaic Greek poetry; she is currently interested in antiquity's thinking about its past in the form of ancient Greek ideas about the people and place of Minoan Crete as expressed in epic, tragedy, and philosophy.

GREK 122, Elementary Classical Greek II
The second semester of an introductory study of the elements of the Greek language. A thorough and methodical approach to the basics is supplemented, as students progress, by selected readings of works by ancient authors.

LATN 121, Elementary Latin I
The first semester of an introductory study of the elements of the Latin language. A thorough and methodical approach to the basics is supplemented, as students progress, by selected readings of works by ancient authors.

LATN 201, Intermediate Latin: Prose
Examines the prose styles of Cicero and Sallust through readings of selections from both Cicero's Orations and Sallust's Bellum Catilinae. Close reading allows students to expand and develop their knowledge of Latin grammar and syntax as well as to learn the fundamentals of Latin prose style.