Our Curriculum

The undergraduate program in Classical Studies at Boston University comprises Latin and Ancient and Modern Greek; Greek and Roman history, literature, and culture; and the classical tradition. Our students become engaged with some of the most profound and exciting thinkers and writers of all time. In our exploration of the founding cultures of the Western world, we research issues of enduring importance in ethics, politics, art, literature, and history. Concentrators can go on to pursue graduate study in Greek and Latin or careers in secondary teaching. Study of the classics also provides an ideal foundation for students interested in comparative literature, archaeology, linguistics, mythology and religion, philosophy, history, and a wide range of other disciplines in the humanities, as well as forming a solid foundation for law school or medical school.

The emphasis of each concentration in our department varies to suit the interests and objectives of the individual student. To that end, the department cooperates with other departments at Boston University to enhance the range of courses that may be counted toward its concentrations and to support a variety of interdisciplinary programs. With permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, a wide range of courses from related departments can cross-apply to a major’s curriculum

Students are encouraged to combine ancient and modern studies — within the College of Arts and Sciences, students may design a course of study that meets their intellectual needs more broadly than do most other programs of concentration.

Majoring in the Classics

The Department of Classical Studies offers concentrations in Classical Civilization, Ancient Greek, Latin, and Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as joint concentrations in Classics & Religion and Classics & Philosophy. Courses may be credited toward concentration 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.

Classical Civilization

A major in classical civilization, also referred to as a classical studies or classics major, provides an ideal foundation for students interested in comparative literature, archaeology, linguistics, and a wide range of humanistic disciplines. A major in classical studies also provides a superb foundation for students who wish to enter schools of law, business, medicine, or communications. The classical studies major teaches students to read and think clearly and enables them to deal from a critical perspective with the ethical and moral issues raised by a professional career.

Languages

CAS Foreign Language Requirement for Classics Concentrators:

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.

Title: House of the Faun

The Latin language furnished the ancient Romans with a superb means of communication and an effective conduit for their ideas and literature, as well as providing the basis for all “Romance” languages (including Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian).  As the language of Western Christian church for over 1,000 years and the source for most legal and much other technical vocabulary, and as the basis of at least 30 percent of English vocabulary, Latin continues to influence language, literature, and society throughout the contemporary world.

The Department of Classical Studies offers Latin courses at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, and graduate level, as well as majors and minors in Latin and Ancient Greek & Latin.  In addition, students of Latin may consider studying abroad in Rome at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies. Students who have studied the language before should take the online placement exam to determine their appropriate level of study.

Authors covered in our Latin program have included Caesar, Vergil, Ovid, Catullus, Juvenal, Martial, Plautus, Horace, Lucretius, Tacitus, Seneca, Cicero, and many others, spanning from early monarchy to late empire.

Olythus: Pebble Mosaic

The Greek language forms the oldest, written literary tradition in the West, beginning with the poems of Homer in the eighth century BC.  The ancient Hellenes used the Greek language to create most of the literary genres of literature, founding traditions in epic, lyric, tragedy, comedy, history, oratory, and the novel that would influence every future Western culture.  While the Roman empire of the West collapsed, that in the East survived and continued to serve as a home for the production of Greek literature and thought reflecting ancient models and new modes of thought. Along with Latin, Greek provides a good portion of the scientific and technical vocabulary of the modern world. 

The Department of Classical Studies offers Greek courses at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, and graduate level, as well as majors and minors in Ancient Greek and Ancient Greek & Latin.  Students who have studied the language before should take the online placement exam to determine their appropriate level of study.

Authors covered in our Greek program have included historiographers Herodotus and Thucydides, mythologists Homer and Hesiod, tragedians Sophocles and Euripides, the comedian Aristophanes, and rhetoricians Lysias and Plato, among others, from the time of the Trojan War, through Athens’ Golden Age and Hellenism, and on into the Roman occupation.

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The Modern Greek language represents the contemporary form of a language with the longest continuous history in the Western World. Greek was spoken in the Balkans by at least ca. 2000 B.C. and the Hellenic language continues to be spoken there today, preserving a good deal of its ancient vocabulary and thus providing a tangible connection with Greek antiquity.  Influenced by various forces including the Orthodox Church, foreign occupation, and movements to restore ancient forms and vocabulary, modern Greek nevertheless developed its own vibrant literature and history, producing great novelists, poets, and filmmakers.

The Department of Classical Studies offers Modern Greek courses at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced level, as well as a minor in Modern Greek Studies and opportunities to study Greek in Greece.  Students who have studied the language before should take the online placement exam to determine their appropriate level of study.