Member of the Division of Humanities
Joseph Cummins (also Philosophy)
Dennis Hughes - Senior Faculty Status
The conception of liberal education had its origin and earliest development in the classical Greek and Roman worlds, and the study of classical civilization has held a central place in the subsequent history of liberal education. Because of their continuity and comparability, the ancient and modern worlds offer valuable perspectives on each other. Their continuity has long been recognized: many modern languages, institutions, values, and the forms and symbols in which we frame ideas are derived from the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. But since our modern world differs in important ways from its origins, the study of classics also supplies a comparative perspective that promotes reflective examination of the current assumptions by which we speak, think, and act.
Grinnell courses in classics deliberately and explicitly invite students to apply what they come to know about ancient Greece and Rome to the facts and modes of understanding they learn in history, the physical and social sciences, philosophy, literature, and the arts as taught from more recent points of view. Classics offerings are designed with sensitivity to the diverse needs, interests, and goals of all students, and the study of classics is a particular asset for the study of the health sciences, law, literature, art history, and religion, though not without relevance to many other fields as well.
The department offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses in ancient Greek and Latin, as well as courses in English. At the 300-level in Greek and Latin, students read selections of some of the world’s most influential and enduring literature. Alongside language courses the department offers an extensive array of courses in ancient history, art, philosophy and political thought as well as courses in Greco-Roman mythology and the linguistics of Greek, Latin, and other related languages.
All majors take at least one 300-level course in Greek or Latin, since study of texts in their original languages is the cornerstone of our interdisciplinary subject. Beyond this requirement, however, students have significant choice in planning their course of study. Those who prefer more extensive study of the languages may choose to read a wide selection of ancient authors on the Classical Languages and Literature track, while those who prefer to study Greco-Roman civilization more broadly may choose from a broad array of courses in English on the Classical Studies track: In addition, many majors are encouraged to study abroad in an approved program in Athens or Rome in order to study the Greek and Roman cultures in their original setting.