Classical Studies

For more than 2,000 years, classical civilization has influenced the institutions, languages, literature, and arts of many nations. Indeed, the ancient Greeks and Romans created much of the political and intellectual questioning still with us today. To take only one example, the U. S. Constitution rested in part on the founding fathers’ deep respect for the literature and history of ancient Greece and Rome. The study of classics therefore provides access to the thoughts, achievements, and ways of life of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but also treats material relevant to the study of many cultures across the ages.

It is also true that some elements of the Classical world are abhorrent, such as the institution of slavery, to take an obvious example. The study of Classics, then, does not entail mindless admiration for the “greats” of the past; on the contrary, it fosters critical investigation of that past in all of its glory and all of its problems. We also seek to acknowledge and confront the abuse of the classical tradition by those who have enlisted it to promote racism and elitism.  Through our courses, students will engage with some of the most profound thinkers and writers of human history, but they will also learn about the contributions of the “forgotten” voices from the past, of slaves, of women, of conquered foreigners, and of other marginalized peoples.

Majoring In Classical Studies

The Department of Classical Studies offers majors or minors in Classical Civilization, Ancient Greek, Latin, and Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as joint concentrations in Classics and Archaeology, Classics & Religion and Classics & Philosophy. The Department also offers minors in Modern Greek and in Myth Studies.

A major in Classical Civilization provides a superb foundation for students interested in comparative literature, archaeology, linguistics, philosophy, religion, and a wide range of other humanistic disciplines. Majors in Ancient Greek and Latin can go on to pursue graduate study in Classics, as well as teaching careers at the secondary level. However, most of our majors use their classical studies degree as a foundation for careers in other fields, such as law, business, medicine, or communications. The classical studies major teaches students to read, write, and think clearly and enables them to deal from a critical perspective with the ethical and moral issues raised by a professional career.

A Classical Civilization major provides an introduction to classical civilization through courses in Greek and Roman literature in translation, history, philosophy religion, art, and archaeology. The major focuses on courses exploring the cultural legacy of Greece and Rome through readings of classical writers in English translation. Students majoring in classical civilization may, but are not required to, supplement these courses in translation through courses in the Greek and Latin languages. Students who desire a deeper understanding of Greek and Roman literature and culture may choose a major o r minor in Ancient Greek or Latin, reading texts in the original language. Students may also choose a major that combines the studies of Ancient Greek and Latin.

Ancient Greek or Latin majors are for students who desire a deeper understanding of Greek and Roman literature and culture by reading texts in the original language. Students may also choose a major that combines the studies of Ancient Greek and Latin. 

A Classics and Archaeology major is recommended for students with interests in the study of classical literature and society in conjunction with the study of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East via material remains many of which are available to study in Boston museums.

A Classics and Religion joint major or a Myth Studies minor is especially recommended for students with a particular interest in myth.

A Classics and Philosophy major is recommended for students especially interested in ancient philosophy.

A Modern Greek minor examines modern Greek language and culture in light of the ancient tradition and the development of Greek language and culture since antiquity.

Students in any major who intend to go on to graduate study in classical philology, ancient history, or classical archaeology should take as much ancient Greek and Latin as possible.

Courses may be credited toward major only if a grade of C or higher is earned. Students are advised to choose a concentration before the beginning of their junior year. For more information, please click here.


CAS Foreign Language Requirement for Classics Concentrators:

Taking language courses early in your degree, ideally in your Freshman year, can help maintain flexibility when fulfilling your requirements or when considering study abroad opportunities. When you are planning out your language learning at BU, remember that many language sequences begin only in the Fall semester and that different levels of a language cannot be taken at the same time.

All three of our language offerings, Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, and Latin, may be used to fulfill the CAS foreign language requirement. Students who choose to complete the foreign language requirement using a classical language or modern Greek may not count 100-level courses in that language toward major or minor concentrations in Classical Civilization, the classical languages, Modern Greek, Classics & Religion, or Classics & Philosophy.