Classics

Laurel Brook, Tomson 368
507-786-3383

wp.stolaf.edu/classics

Long ago the Greeks and Romans conceived the idea of the liberal arts and made them the basis of higher education. Today the Department of Classics keeps that classical tradition alive at St. Olaf by offering courses in the languages, literature, and culture of Greece and Rome. The study of Graeco-Roman civilization in its ancient Mediterranean context gives students perspective on their own place in history while increasing their understanding of the world into which Christianity was born.

Many students satisfy the foreign language requirement with three semesters of ancient Greek or Latin.  (Modern Greek is not offered at St. Olaf.)  Greek is especially helpful for pre-seminary and pre-medicine students, Latin for pre-law students,   Either language makes a good match with the Great Conversation program.

In addition to Greek and Latin courses, the department offers a variety of Level I and Level II classics courses that require no knowledge of Greek or Latin and fulfill general education requirements.  

Students often combine a major in Greek, Latin, or classics with another major in the humanities, natural sciences, or fine arts.  A classical background enriches one’s experiences in college and in later life, while the verbal and analytical skills acquired by learning classical languages are of lasting benefit in whatever career one chooses.

Overview of the Majors

Three different majors in classical language are available to St. Olaf students: Greek, Latin, and classics. The classics major combines Greek and Latin and is the most rigorous. All three majors have as their objectives competence in classical language at an advanced level, skill in translating and analyzing classical literature of different genres, and familiarity with classical civilization. Potential Latin teachers may complete a Latin education major. Ancient studies and medieval studies, two interdisciplinary majors administered by the Department of Classics, are described elsewhere in this catalog.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Greek Major

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Latin Major

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Classics Major

Distinction

See Academic Honors

To attain distinction in classics, a student must demonstrate talent with classical languages and literature, skill in conducting research on a classical topic, and broad knowledge of classical civilization. Specific guidelines are available from the Department of Classics. Classics majors who wish to pursue distinction should notify the department chair no later than January 1 of their senior year.

Special Programs

For more than forty years the Department of Classics has offered students the opportunity to study abroad during January. CLASS 251 Classical Studies in Greece (abroad) alternates with CLASS 253 Classical Studies in Italy (abroad). Both courses focus on ancient history and art.  Students who have taken Greek, Latin, or other courses in ancient studies receive priority in the selection process.    

St. Olaf has a 75-year-old Latin Education program, approved by the Minnesota Board of Teaching and accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. EDUC 349 Teaching of Latin, K-12 is a special methods course designed for students who are completing a Latin major with K-12 teaching license.

Students may choose to use their classical language courses as the foundation for a Latin, Greek, or classics major or as the core of an interdisciplinary major in ancient studies or medieval studies.

Recommendations for Graduate Study

A doctorate in classics requires a reading knowledge of German and French (or Italian) as well as advanced proficiency in both Latin and ancient Greek.

Recent St. Olaf graduates have been accepted into M.A., M.A.T., and Ph.D. programs in classics at Indiana University, Penn State, the University of Arizona, UCLA, the University of Colorado, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas, and the University of Virginia. Others have been accepted into graduate programs in classical archeology at the University of British Columbia, the University of Bristol, and the University of Vienna, and into medieval studies programs at the University of Limerick, the University of Oslo, and the University of Southampton.

Requirements for the Greek Major

Seven Greek courses 17.00
One classics course1.00
One ancient Greek history course1.00
Total Credits9
1

Students who begin Greek at GREEK 231 or higher have the option of taking six courses in Greek

Requirements for the Latin Major

Seven Latin courses 17.00
One classics course1.00
One ancient Roman history course1.00
Total Credits9
1

Students who begin Latin at LATIN 231 or higher have the option of taking six courses in Latin

Requirements for the Classics Major

Six Latin or Greek courses 16.00
Three courses in the other language3.00
One classics course1.00
One ancient history course1.00
Total Credits11
1

Students who begin one of the languages at the 231 level or higher have the option of taking five courses in that language

Requirements for the Latin Major with K-12 Teaching License

Seven Latin courses 17.00
One ancient Roman history course1.00
EDUC 349Teaching of Latin, K-121.00
All other requirements of the K-12 teaching licensure program in Latin
1

Students who begin Latin at LATIN 231 or higher have the option of taking six courses in Latin

Greek Courses

GREEK 111: Beginning Greek I

In this two-course sequence students learn the basics of ancient Greek. By studying the language's vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, they not only gain appreciation for its intricacies and nuances but also learn more about their own language and about language in general. Completion of both semesters equips students to translate almost any ancient Greek text with the aid of a dictionary. Offered annually in the fall semester.

GREEK 112: Beginning Greek II

In this two-course sequence students learn the basics of ancient Greek. By studying the language's vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, they not only gain appreciation for its intricacies and nuances but also learn more about their own language and about language in general. Completion of both semesters equips students to translate almost any ancient Greek text with the aid of a dictionary. Offered annually in the spring semester.
Prerequisite: GREEK 111 or equivalent.

GREEK 231: Intermediate Greek

Third-semester Greek students translate selections from Plato's dialogues (Apology, Crito, Phaedo) while reviewing vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. Topics for class discussion include the life and death of Socrates and the significance of the dialogues as works of literature. Offered annually in the fall semester. Counts toward linguistic studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GREEK 112 or equivalent.

GREEK 253: New Testament Greek

The New Testament is the most famous and most widely translated Greek text from antiquity. Students have the opportunity to read one or more of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, or selected Pauline letters in the original language. Questions about the transmission of the text and about its theological implications provoke lively discussions. Offered annually in the spring semester. Counts toward ancient studies major. Counts toward linguistic studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GREEK 231 or equivalent.

GREEK 294: Academic Internship

GREEK 298: Independent Study

GREEK 370: Topics in Greek Literature

Students translate selections from one or more genres of ancient Greek literature while exploring a specific topic or theme chosen by the instructor. Close study of the text is combined with discussion of broader literary, historical, and cultural questions. Sample topics: "Tales of Odysseus," "Hellenistic Greek," "Famous Speeches in Ancient Greek Texts." Offered periodically.
Prerequisite: GREEK 231 or equivalent.

GREEK 372: Greek Philosophers

It has been said that all philosophy is a mere footnote to Plato and Aristotle. In this course students translate selected works by the two renowned philosophers and their predecessors, examining the forces that influenced them and the impact that Greek philosophy had on subsequent ages. Offered alternate years.
Prerequisite: GREEK 231 or equivalent.

GREEK 373: Greek Historians

Readings in Greek from the works of Herodotus, the "Father of History," and Thucydides, the first "scientific" historian, provide the backdrop for studying the development of Greek historiography. Students analyze the historians' distinctive methods and writing styles and compare them with those of modern historians. Offered alternate years.
Prerequisite: GREEK 231 or equivalent.

GREEK 374: Greek Drama

Like the genre that it describes, the word drama is itself of Greek origin. From the treasure-trove left to us by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Menander, students translate one or two complete plays and discuss the evolution of the Greek theater, staging, and modern interpretations. Offered alternate years.
Prerequisite: GREEK 231 or equivalent.

GREEK 375: Homer and Greek Epic

The primary texts for this course are Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the earliest recorded literature of Western civilization. Besides translating lengthy passages from one or both of these remarkable poems, students probe the characteristics of epic poetry and investigate current topics in Homeric scholarship. Offered alternate years. Counts toward linguistic studies concentration.
Prerequisite: GREEK 231 or equivalent.

GREEK 394: Academic Inernship

GREEK 398: Independent Research

Latin Courses

LATIN 111: Beginning Latin I

In this two-course sequence students learn the basics of classical Latin. By studying the language's vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, they not only gain appreciation for its intricacies and nuances but also learn more about their own language and about language in general. Completion of both semesters equips students to translate almost any classical Latin text with the aid of a dictionary. Offered annually in the fall semester.

LATIN 112: Beginning Latin II

In this two-course sequence students learn the basics of classical Latin. By studying the language's vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, they not only gain appreciation for its intricacies and nuances but also learn more about their own language and about language in general. Completion of both semesters equips students to translate almost any classical Latin text with the aid of a dictionary. Offered annually in the spring semester.
Prerequisite: LATIN 111 or equivalent.

LATIN 231: Intermediate Latin

Third-semester Latin students translate large portions of two orations (First Catilinarian, Pro Caelio) by Cicero and selections from Catullus' poetry while reviewing vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. Topics for class discussion include life in late Republican Rome and the stylistic features of the literature. Offered annually in the fall semester. Counts toward linguistic studies concentration.
Prerequisite: LATIN 112 or equivalent.

LATIN 235: Medieval Latin

Latin has been spoken in one form or another for more than two thousand years. This course focuses on authors and texts dating roughly from 300 to 1500 CE and emphasizes the role of Latin as the language of the Church and of the intelligentsia during the Middle Ages. Offered alternate years in the spring semester. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors and linguistic studies concentration.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 252: Vergil and Latin Epic

Lord Tennyson called Vergil the "wielder of the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man." Students encounter that stately measure when they translate selections from Vergil's three major poems (Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid). They also engage in spirited discussion of Homer's influence on Vergil and of Vergil's influence on the literature, art, and music of Western civilization. Offered alternate years in the spring semester. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 294: Academic Internship

LATIN 298: Independent Study

LATIN 370: Topics in Latin Literature

Students translate selections from one or more genres of ancient Latin literature while exploring a specific topic or theme chosen by the instructor. Close study of the text is combined with discussion of broader literary, historical, and cultural questions. Sample topics :"Ovid," "Latin Epistolography," "Augustan Elegy." Offered periodically. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 371: Latin Lyric

Lyric poems -- short, occasional pieces composed in various meters, often concerned with love and longing -- are the focus of this Latin course. Students translate the vivacious verse of Catullus, Horace, Tibullus, and Ovid and learn to recognize the features that make lyric a distinctive genre of Latin poetry. Offered periodically. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 372: Latin Historians

The writings of Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus provide breathtaking views of ancient Rome and memorable vignettes from the city's colorful history. Extended passages from the historians' works, read in Latin, form the basis for a survey of Roman historiography and of historical writing in general. Offered periodically. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 373: Lucretius and Latin Poetry

Lucretius might best be described as a philosophical poet. His De Rerum Natura ("On the Nature of the Universe") presents the theories and teachings of Greek philosophers like Democritus and Epicurus, but with a Roman flavor. Students translate substantial sections of this fascinating poem. Offered periodically. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 374: Cicero and Latin Prose

Rome's greatest orator, Cicero, was also its greatest prose stylist and the author most responsible for supplying Latin with philosophical vocabulary. Selections from his philosophical, rhetorical, and oratorical works show the range of his talents and help demonstrate the development of Latin prose style. Offered periodically. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 375: Latin Drama

Strange things happened on the ancient Roman stage; this course gives students firsthand proof of that. The comedies of Plautus and Terence and the tragedies of Seneca make entertaining reading. Students translate selected plays and discuss the evolution of the Roman theater, staging, and modern interpretations. Offered periodically. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 377: Latin Satire

The Romans claimed that satire was a literary genre of their own creation. Students are able to weigh the merits of that claim as they translate selections from the wry and witty texts of prominent Roman satirists such as Horace, Petronius, Martial, and Juvenal. Offered periodically. Counts toward ancient studies and medieval studies majors.
Prerequisite: LATIN 231 or equivalent.

LATIN 394: Academic Internship

LATIN 398: Independent Research

Classics Courses Requiring No Knowledge of Greek or Latin

CLASS 123: The Roman Animal

This course examines the complex and shifting relationship between human and non-human animals in the ancient Roman world. Through literary sources and artistic evidence, students explore the Roman view of animals and their use of them for food, entertainment, and companionship. The class discusses Roman attitudes toward the non-human animal "other" and the ethical implications of such attitudes, both in antiquity and today. All selections from Greek and Latin literature are read in English translation. Offered periodically during Interim. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 124: The Many Faces of Homer

This course entails a careful reading of the Iliad and Odyssey - two of the earliest and most influential epics of human history - with attention to their Greek historical and cultural contexts. The course then explores some of the many reincarnations of Homer's epics in later generations, from Monteverdi's opera Return of Ulysses to David's painting Anger of Achilles to the Coen brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Offered periodically during Interim. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 126: Ancient Comedy: A Funny Thing Happened

This course introduces students to the wild and wacky world of ancient Greek and Roman comedy. It traces the development of the genre with discussion of how the plays were produced in antiquity and what influence they wielded on the drama of later centuries. Students read works by Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, and Terence and stage selected scenes. Offered periodically during Interim. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 129: The Neverending Myth: Ovid's Metamorphoses

Ovid was the most witty and popular Roman poet of his time, and his 12,000-line Metamorphoseshas influenced more European literature and art than any other classical Latin text. By analyzing two modern English translations and studying other poems, stories, and artwork based on the Metamorphoses, students gain an understanding of the nature of Ovid's storytelling and the power that it has exerted on our cultural tradition. Offered periodically during Interim. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 241: Greek and Roman Myth

For the Greeks and Romans myth was a cultural reality, just as it is for us. Students in this course read the famous tales told by the poets Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Vergil, and Ovid, and ponder the deeper truths contained in their works of fiction. The class also explores the use of classical myth in later literature and its manifestations in art, music, and drama from ancient to modern times. Offered annually. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 243: The Golden Age of Greece

This course takes students on an exciting journey back to the 5th century BCE, as the Athenians emerge triumphant from the Persian Wars and develop the "Golden Age" of Greece. Studying the history, literature, and art of ancient Athens reveals how distinctive that city-state was and how lasting its contributions to Western civilization have been. Offered alternate years. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 244: The Golden Age of Rome

What made the last years of the Roman Republic and the early years of the Roman Empire "golden"? Students learn the answer by reading some of the finest Latin literature ever written, from epic to satire. They also do research with historical source materials. The course emphasizes the many ways in which ancient Rome has influenced and continues to influence Western culture. Offered alternate years. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 251: Classical Studies in Greece (abroad)

This course introduces students to the history and art of ancient Greece. It covers more than two thousand years of Greek civilization, from the Bronze Age through the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic periods. The itinerary takes students to every major region of Greece, with extended stays in Athens, Crete, the Peloponnese, and Thessaloniki. When not visiting museums and archaeological sites, students have the opportunity to experience modern Greek culture as well. Offered during Interim in alternate years. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 253: Classical Studies in Italy (abroad)

This course introduces students to the history and art of ancient Italy, focusing on the city of Rome and the Bay of Naples area. It covers more than 1000 years of civiliation, beginning with the Etruscans and ending with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The itinerary includes extended stays in Civitavecchia, Rome, and Pompeii. When not visiting museums and archaeological sites, students have the opportunity to experience modern Italian culture as well. Offered during Interim in alternate years. Counts toward ancient studies, classics, Greek, and Latin majors.

CLASS 294: Academic Internship

CLASS 298: Independent Study

CLASS 394: Academic Internship

CLASS 396: Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor.

CLASS 398: Independent Research

Chair, 2016-2017

Anne H. Groton

Professor of Classics

Greek and Roman drama; classical languages and literature

Christopher M. Brunelle

Assistant Professor of Classics

Latin poetry; classical languages and literature

James M. May

Professor of Classics

Greek and Roman rhetoric; classical languages and literature; Latin education

Steve T. Reece

Professor of Classics

Greek and Roman epic; classical languages and literature

Lisa A. Whitlatch

Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics

ancient animals; classical languages and literature