Courses and Requirements
The goal of Hamilton's Classics Department is to offer students an inclusive view of the ancient world and its relation to contemporary society through a focus on classical languages or classical studies.
Classics is the study of the languages and civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as of related civilizations, both ancient and modern. The department offers courses in ancient Greek and Latin and also in classical studies, where no knowledge of Latin or Greek is required. Students wishing to concentrate or minor in classics may take one of two directions.
A concentration in classical languages, which emphasizes work in Latin and Greek as keys to understanding the ancient world, requires a minimum of ten full-credit courses. Four of those courses, at least two of which must be numbered 300 or above, should be in one of the two languages; and three of them, at least one of which must be numbered 300 or above, should be in the other. Two courses in classical studies, in addition to CLASC-550, the Senior Project, are also required. (With the approval of the department, exemptions to these requirements may be made for students who come to Hamilton with substantial preparation in Latin or Greek.) Students concentrating in classical languages are also required to complete at least one course each year in Greek or Latin. Because the language concentration requires substantial accomplishment in both Greek and Latin, prospective concentrators entering the College with no knowledge of those languages should make an immediate start with the prerequisite 100- and 200-level courses.
A concentration in classical studies, which offers a study of ancient Greece and Rome with emphasis on only one of the languages, requires a minimum of ten full-credit courses. Six of those courses should be in classical studies, at least four of them numbered 200 or above and at least one numbered 300 or above. Two courses in either Greek or Latin are required, one of which must be numbered 300 or above, along with CLASC-550, the Senior Project. (With the approval of the department, certain courses in Greek or Latin may be substituted for classical studies courses). In addition, students concentrating in classical studies must complete at least one course each year in classical studies, Greek or Latin.
Junior and Senior concentrators in Classics may NOT elect the credit/no credit option for Classics, Greek or Latin courses. Courses taken in the department as credit/no credit BEFORE the declaration of concentration may count toward the concentration requirements ONLY with the permission of the department Chair.
Hamilton is a member of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (the Centro) and of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Many students have also attended other programs in Rome and Athens. Concentrators and other students trained in Latin or Greek are encouraged to spend one or two semesters of their junior year in a program in Greece or Rome or in another suitable program abroad. Interested students should note that admission to the Intercollegiate Center and the American School is competitive and that preparation in Latin or Greek, and sometimes both, is an important factor in determining admission.
Hamilton’s distinguished tradition in classics ensures that funds are available from numerous awards earmarked for classics students, especially for students who continue with Greek or Latin, or who choose to do graduate work in Greek.
Students who have earned an A- (3.67) average in the concentration may receive honors by earning a grade of A- in the Senior Seminar. A description of the program may be obtained from any member of the classics faculty.
A minor in classical languages requires at least two courses numbered 300 or above in Latin or Greek, as well as two courses in classical studies, one of which must be numbered 200 or above. Because the language minor requires advanced work in either Latin or Greek, interested students entering the College without either of those languages should make an early start with the prerequisite 100- and 200-level courses.
A minor in classical studies requires a minimum of five classical studies courses, three of which must be numbered 200 or above, with at least one numbered 300 or above, and one year of college Latin or Greek or a grade of B or higher in a 200- or 300-level course in Latin or Greek.
Beginning with the class of 2020, students concentrating in Classics will satisfy the Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies Requirement by completing coursework in any of the following courses: CLASC-205 (Pompeii), CLASC-280 (Ancient Comedy), CLASC-325 (Sexuality and Gender in Greece and Rome), CLASC-335 (Re-imagining the Classics), CLASC-372 (Unraveling Cleopatra), or CLASC-374 (Ancient Egypt).
An introduction to ancient mythology through readings from sources such as Gilgamesh, Egyptian mythology, Homer, Hesiod, Greek tragedy, Herodotus, Livy, Ovid and contemporary mythmakers. Origins, creation myths, divinities and heroes, and mystery religions. Open to first-year students only. Maximum enrollment, 16.
The Civilizations of Greece and the Near East.
An introduction to the legacy of ancient Greece and the Near East through the study of history, literature, philosophy and art. (Same as History 115.)
An introduction to the history and culture of ancient Rome. Stress on social history and basic skills in the study of history. (Same as History 120.)
Socrates, Cleopatra and the Caesars.
An introduction to classical studies and the ancient Mediterranean world that focuses on some pivotal figures. Consideration of the multiple facets of ancient Mediterranean society and culture, including multiculturalism, race, class and gender. Attention to literature, art, religion, philosophy and history. Readings from ancient and modern sources, and films dealing with the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Not open to students who have taken Classics 100.
The Classics on Film.
A study of films reflecting ancient Greek and Roman themes, including westerns (such as Unforgiven and The Searchers), works of science fiction (such as Star Wars and Blade Runner), detective stories (such as The Maltese Falcon), and films explicitly based on Greek and Roman sources (such as Spartacus and O Brother, Where Art Thou). Classical texts will be juxtaposed with their film representations, there will be readings from modern writers on film and the classics, and attention will be given to the way in which films about the ancient world reflect the times in which they were made. (Same as Cinema and Media Studies 135.)
Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World.
An introduction to the roles of women in the ancient world through various sources: history, art and archaeology, law, literature and medicine. Covers the period from Egypt to early and classical Greece and down to the Roman empire, and traces the shifts in attitudes during these periods. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 140.)
History of Ancient Western Philosophy.
A study of the philosophical classics from early Greek times to the Renaissance. Emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. (Same as Philosophy 201.) Clark.
Putting down roots: Environmental Approaches to Classical Antiquity.
This course introduces students to the literature and theories used to interpret the complex relationship between the ancient Greeks and Romans and their environments. discussion topics include: the problem of defining nature cross-culturally; environmental determinism in classical thought and its legacy in modern racism; deforestation and its impact upon ancient imaginations; natural disasters; the unsustainable practices of ancient imperialism; the fall of the Roman Empire and its causes; and the impact of Christianity and Islam upon classical conceptions of nature. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as Environmental Studies 203.) James Taylor.
Provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the field of classical studies, focused through the Roman site of Pompeii and the eruption of Vesuvius in 70 CE. Through Pompeii, its destruction, and its remarkable level of preservation, we will study the art, architecture, archaeology, literature, philosophy, religion, history, daily life, sexuality, food, and social structures of Rome, as well as the place of Rome in the modern imagination. Students will gain a comprehensive overview of the many approaches and sub-disciplines represented within classical studies. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) James Taylor.
Augustus and the Beginning of Empire.
Cleopatra and Antony have been defeated. Rome as a republic has ended. Now Rome embarks on a new phase of its history under Octavian Augustus. This course examines the “Golden” age of Rome when it was no longer a republic but not quite an empire. We will explore literary and artistic achievements which developed to support Augustus’s agenda and cemented the Julio-Claudians as a dynasty.
Cicero and the End of the Roman Republic.
Corruption. Domestic Terrorism. Bribery. Voter Suppression. Civil War. A country of immigrants struggles to maintain traditional forms of democracy as it grapples with solidifying its power on the world stage. Sound familiar? This course explores the end of the ancient Roman Republic and the period’s foremost statesman, Marcus Cicero. Texts include Cicero’s speeches, letters and philosophical works. While we will examine Cicero’s interactions with prominent political actors of the time, we will also explore his family relationships with his wife, his children and his brother.
Greek and Roman Medicine.
A study of the medical theories and practices of ancient Greece and Rome, their later influence, and their relationship with the literature, philosophy and culture of their surrounding societies. We will explore the development of medicine as a discipline in classical antiquity; analyze the evidence that survives for these medical traditions, with particular attention to the Hippocratic Corpus and the work of Galen; and consider points of intersection between issues raised in ancient texts and the concerns of modern medical practitioners. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 18. Koenig.
Spectacle and Stage in Ancient Rome.
The ancient Romans had a flair for the dramatic, creating spaces and staging performances that matched the grandness of their empire. Gladiatorial games, theatrical productions, chariot races, and other festivals played an integral role in the civic, religious, and cultural life of the ancient Romans. You will learn about various spectacles presented during the Roman Republic and Empire to provide a framework for our discussion of ‘spectacle,’ and we will consider the legacy of Roman spectacles in our own societies.
Sites of Divine Encounter.
How did Christians, Jews, and others in antiquity imagine God/gods were active in their lives? What is the relationship between space and this divine-human encounter? This site-based class will consider these questions through attention to ancient texts and material culture, studying divine-human interaction at sites where it was thought to occur and the practices that facilitated it. We will explore, for example, a sacred tree in Athens, healing sanctuaries in Asia Minor, ancient city acropoleis, the earliest Christian churches, and underground temples to chthonic gods. (Same as Religious Studies 221 and Art History 221.) Sarah Griffis.
Atoms, Gods and Monsters: Lucretius and His Legacy.
This course investigates the enduring influence of Lucretius’ poetry and philosophy in Western culture and religious thought. Lucretius was a Roman poet whose On the Nature of Things expounds Epicurean physics, cosmology, and ethics. Lucretius teaches that atomistic physics govern the universe and all its phenomena. This radical atheistic materialism challenged the religious, social, and political values of Rome while pushing the boundaries of science and poetry. Lucretius’ controversial influence spans atomic physics to evolutionary biology to Botticelli to Thomas Jefferson to Frankenstein.
Greek Archaeology: A Look At the Past.
A study of major archaeological excavations and material remains of ancient Greece from the Bronze Age through the Hellenistic Period, with particular attention to the relationship between material remains and political and cultural history. Examines the exchange of archaeological and artistic influences with contemporary cultures of Europe, Africa and Asia. Feltovich.
An examination and discussion of the myths of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, with particular focus on the reception of these myths in the literature, art, intellectual traditions and social issues of contemporary societies and analysis of how these myths continue to enrich our culture today. (Same as Religious Studies 240.) The Department.
The Classical Tradition in American Political Life: Cicero, Hamilton, Jefferson and the Making of the Republic.
A study of ancient Greek and Roman influences on the creation of the United States, with special attention to the influence of Cicero and the rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Readings include biographies of and writings by all three figures. (American Politics) (Same as Government 242.)
Heroism Ancient and Modern.
An examination of ancient and modern views of the hero. Consideration of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil's Aeneid, modern works such as Voltaire's Candide and films such as Shane, The Maltese Falcon, Blade Runner, Joan the Maid and the Star Wars series.
Power and Corruption in Ancient Rome.
An examination of personal and political corruption in ancient Rome, with particular attention to the manner in which it is depicted by writers such as Sallust, Livy, Horace, Tacitus and Juvenal. Some attention to depictions of corruption in modern America, especially to Robert Caro's portrayals of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson.
Greece, Rome, and the Mediterranean.
Traditionally we have studied ancient Greece and Rome in isolation from the surrounding world, as places that shaped the beginnings of “western” civilization. This course takes a broader view. We shall explore the ancient Mediterranean as a place of dynamic interaction from the Levant though Egypt, North Africa, Greece, Italy, and the islands in between. Far from standing in isolation, the arts of ancient Greece and Rome participated in these transnational cultural networks. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Art History 262.) Maximum enrollment, 18. McEnroe.
Readings of Greek and Roman comedies in English translation: Aristophanes, Plautus, Terence, Lucian, Apuleius, mime. Discussions of why and for whom comedy is funny, comedic perspective, theories of humor, roles of women and slaves in comedy, cultural values, themes and plots, history of comedy, staging and theatrical technique. May also include class production of a play. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as Theatre 280.)
The Byzantine Empire.
For more than 1000 years following the breakup of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, preserved the legacy of imperial Rome in the medieval Mediterranean. This lecture-discussion course will explore the history of the Byzantine Empire, from the reign of Constantine the Great (ca. 330) to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Religious, social, and political developments will be considered, along with medieval Greek contributions to the economy and culture of the wider Mediterranean world. (Same as History 286.)
Violent Femmes: Women in Athenian Drama.
Athenian tragedy abounds with women who use violence to challenge and disrupt hierarchical and institutional norms. Clytemnestra kills her husband and his concubine. Medea murders her children. We will consider these violent femmes in their dramatic context in relation to the historical reality of women living during this period in order to acquire a deeper understanding of the representation of women on the Athenian stage. We will read several tragedies and one comedy, as well as selections from contemporary scholars. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, one course in Classics or Greek or Latin or Women’s and Gender Studies.
The Romans on Film.
Critical examination of films such as Spartacus, Julius Caesar, The Last Temptation of Christ, Ben Hur, I Claudius, Fellini Satyricon, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Gladiator. Readings from ancient writers such as Plutarch, Tacitus and Suetonius, as well as from selected modern sources. Prerequisite, one course in Latin, Greek or classical studies.
Sexuality and Gender in Greece and Rome.
This course examines issues of sex, sexuality, and gender in the ancient societies of Greece and Rome through the study of literature, art, sociology, and science. We will investigate the representation of gender cross-culturally over time to learn what we know, and what we can’t know, about the lives of ancient men and women, their interaction, communication and their roles in culture and society. Particular attention will be given to the lives of women, whose voices are often underrepresented in Greek and Roman literature and historical records. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, 1 course in Classics or Women's Studies. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 325.) Maximum enrollment, 18. Shelley Haley.
Martyrdom in Antiquity.
The word “martyrdom” is a site of live debate about ethics, from religious extremist martyrs to the label “martyr complex.” Who is willing to suffer, and for what? Is that willingness justifiable, pathological, or terrorism? Must one die, or is it enough to suffer?. Christians in antiquity also asked these questions in response to persecution under the Roman Empire, as well as in the centuries after. Others in antiquity too considered the difference between suicide and noble, voluntary death. We will analyze the phenomenon of martyrdom in antiquity through a variety of textual attestation. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course at the 200-level or above in RELST, CLASC or MDRST. (Same as Religious Studies 330 and Medieval and Renaissance Studies 330.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Sarah Griffis.
Re-Imagining the Classics.
Investigates how, and why, ancient Greek and Roman literature and art has influenced the history of literature, art and ideas since antiquity, with special emphasis upon comparing post-classical texts, artwork and performances with their classical sources of inspiration and provocation. Topics and readings vary according to the focus of the course in a given semester. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, one course in Latin, Greek or classical studies, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 18. Weiner.
Ethics and Politics in Ancient Greece and Rome.
A study of Greek and Roman attitudes toward the question of private and public behavior, concentrating on such topics as the meaning of success, the use of power, the function of language in political life, the relationship between the individual and the state, and the role of the state in regulating behavior. Contemporary applications. Readings from Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Sallust and Tacitus. Prerequisite, one course in Latin, Greek, classical studies, political theory, philosophy or consent of instructor.
Cleopatra was a witness to and a shaper of the history of ancient Egypt and the late Roman Republic. To posterity the historical Cleopatra is an enigma, but her image in film, literature, art and popular culture is ever present. Through authors such as Horace, Plutarch, Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw and through cinematic treatments from the 1940s-1970s, explores how the historical figure of Cleopatra became both the signifier and embodiment of sexual and racial politics across historical periods. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, one course in classical studies or Africana studies. (Same as Africana Studies 372 and Women's and Gender Studies 372.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
A study of the history of ancient Egypt and of its interaction with other ancient African kingdoms, including Nubia, Kush and Punt. Examination of Egypt’s prehistory, language, social and gender relations, and cultural development. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One Classical Studies or Africana Studies course. (Same as Africana Studies 374.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Topics to be arranged. Open only to senior concentrators. Maximum enrollment, 12. Jesse Weiner.
Elementary Greek I.
An introduction to the language and culture of Greece and the ancient Mediterranean. Thorough grounding in the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of ancient Greek. Reading and discussion of elementary passages from classical or New Testament Greek that cast light on ancient Mediterranean society and culture. For those with no previous knowledge of Greek. (Proseminar.) Three class meetings a week, in addition to a drill session. Maximum enrollment, 16. Feltovich.
Elementary Greek II.
Continuation of Greek 110. Further study of grammar, syntax and vocabulary, accompanied by reading and discussion of passages from classical or New Testament Greek that cast light on ancient Mediterranean society and culture. For students who have completed Greek 110 or those who have had some Greek but require review. (Proseminar.) Three class meetings a week, in addition to a drill session. Maximum enrollment, 16. Feltovich.
Intermediate Greek: The World of Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean.
Reading and discussion, with grammar review, of intermediate-level passages from classical, Hellenistic or New Testament Greek selected to illuminate the history, society and culture of Greece and the ancient Mediterranean. Readings from the New Testament and from writers such as Xenophon and Lucian. Prerequisite, knowledge of elementary Greek. Jesse Weiner.
Homer and the Greek Hero.
Reading from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in the original Greek. Consideration of the Greek concept of heroism and the role of epic poetry, with attention to the society and culture of the Homeric world. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Greek course.
The Greek Historians.
The story of ancient Greece as told in the words of the Greeks themselves. Readings, in the original Greek, from Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon. Attention to the wider issues of ancient Mediterranean society and culture. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Greek course.
Readings, in the original Greek, from the tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides and from the comic playwrights Aristophanes and Menander. Attention to matters such as the role of women and slaves, social and cultural values, and theories of tragedy and comedy. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Greek course. J Weiner.
Topics in Ancient Greek Society and Culture.
Reading and discussion of original Greek texts that cast light on the history, society and culture of Greece and the ancient Mediterranean. Authors and topics vary; may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Greek course. Jesse Weiner.
Elementary Latin I.
An introduction to the language and culture of ancient Rome. Thorough grounding in Latin grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Reading and discussion of elementary passages that cast light on the society and culture of ancient Rome and its empire. No knowledge of Latin required. (Proseminar.) Three class meetings a week, in addition to a drill session. The Department.
Elementary Latin II.
Continuation of Latin 110. Further study of grammar, syntax and vocabulary, accompanied by reading and discussion of passages that cast light on the society and culture of ancient Rome and its empire. For students who have completed Latin 110 or those who have had some Latin but require review. Three class meetings a week, in addition to a drill session. Haley.
Intermediate Latin: The World of Ancient Rome.
Reading and discussion, with grammar review, of intermediate-level Latin passages selected to illuminate the history, society and culture of ancient Rome and its empire. Readings from writers such as Caesar, Cicero, Sallust, Catullus, Ovid and Martial. Prerequisite, knowledge of elementary Latin. Haley.
The Roman Hero.
Readings, in the original Latin, from Vergil’s Aeneid and other Roman epics. Consideration of the nature of heroism and epic poetry, with attention to the history, society and culture of the Roman world. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Latin course. The Department.
The Roman Historians.
The story of ancient Rome and its empire as told in the words of the Romans themselves. Readings, in the original Latin, from Sallust, Livy, Tacitus and other historians. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Latin course.
The Literature of Love and Desire.
Readings, in the original Latin, from the love poetry of Catullus, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid. Attention to Greek influences on Roman love poetry, to its Roman context and to the Roman influence of subsequent notions of love and erotic poetry. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Latin course. A Koenig.
Letters, Society and History.
Readings, in the original Latin, from the letters of such writers as Cicero, Pliny and Seneca. Attention to the ways in which those letters cast light on Roman society and the movement of history. Prerequisite, knowledge of intermediate Latin.
Topics in Roman Society and Culture.
Reading and discussion of original Latin texts that cast light on the history, society and culture of Rome and the ancient Mediterranean. Authors and topics vary; may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite, any 200 or 300 level Latin course. The Department.
(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)