Latin and Greek

Ancient Greek and Latin literature can be studied either in translation or in the original. We offer language courses at the introductory, intermediate, advanced, and graduate level, and provide opportunity for learning through computer-assisted language programs.

Studying Greek and/or Latin is your portal to some of the oldest and, unquestionably, the most influential literature ever written. The impact of the works of Homer, Thucydides, Plato, Virgil, Ovid, Livy, and so many other ancient authors is almost impossible to overstate. Furthermore, both Latin and Greek remained the languages of scholarship and culture long after the end of the Roman Empire. You may be surprised to learn that Newton wrote many of his publications in Latin, or that Milton wrote Latin poetry, but you shouldn’t be. Latin was the lingua franca of the educated elite in Europe until well into the twentieth century.

A good knowledge Greek and/or Latin is thus one of the major keys to understanding the history, cultures, and literatures of Europe and the Mediterranean world from 700 BCE to the present day.
Begin your language studies early, preferably in your first or second year. The 100- and 300-level courses (for reasons too arcane to explain, there are none at the 200-level) should be taken consecutively. They lay the foundation for the 400-level classes, in which you will read Greek and/or Latin texts in the original.

Taking just the 100-level courses in Latin and/or Greek will already reward you with a much stronger understanding of the way in which languages are structured, improving your writing skills and making it much easier to learn other languages. But to benefit fully from the time and energy you invest in Latin and/or Greek, you should strongly consider taking them up to at least GREEK and/or LATIN 302.

Latin and Greek teaching faculty

John Harris
Adam Kemezis
Kelly MacFarlane
Christopher Mackay
Katie Mackay
Rebecca Nagel
Frances Pownall
Jeremy Rossiter
Selina Stewart

Did you know that Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) was a brilliant linguist? She used her fluent knowledge of many languages (including Latin) as a powerful tool to take command of discussions and negotiations. On rare occasions, her flights of rhetoric were recorded for posterity. An example is her off-the-cuff response to a “strutting” ambassador who had tried to “daunt” her with “with stalking looks and swelling words” in 1597. With a devastating bit of flawless Latin rhetoric she humbled the ambassador and so delighted the court that it was still recalled in eulogies after her death, six years later.