The Sarah Lawrence College Classics program emphasizes the study of the languages and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Greek and Latin constitute an essential component of any humanistic education, enabling students to examine the foundations of Western culture and explore timeless questions concerning the nature of the world, the place of human beings in it, and the components of a life well lived. In studying the literature, history, philosophy, and society of the ancient Greeks and Romans, students come to appreciate them for themselves, examine the continuity between the ancient and modern worlds, and, perhaps, discover “a place to stand”—an objective vantage point for assessing modern culture.
In their first year of study, students acquire proficiency in vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, with the aim of reading accurately and with increasing insight. Selected passages of ancient works are read in the original languages almost immediately. Intermediate and advanced courses develop students’ critical and analytical abilities, while exploring ancient works in their literary, historical, and cultural context. Conference projects provide opportunities for specialized work in areas of interest in classical antiquity. Recent conference projects have included close readings of Homer’s Iliad, Aristophanes’ Clouds, Pindar’s Odes, Plato’s Republic, Cicero’s de Amicitia, the poetry of Catullus, and Virgil’s Aeneid, as well as studies of modern theories of myth, Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy in connection with the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the social implications of Roman domestic architecture, and a comparison of Euripides’ Hippolytus with Racine’s Phèdre.
Greek and Latin will be especially beneficial for students interested in related disciplines, including religion, philosophy, art history, archaeology, history, political science, English, comparative literature, and medieval studies, as well as education, law, medicine, and business. Greek and Latin can also prove valuable to all those who wish to enrich their imagination in the creative pursuits of writing, dance, music, visual arts, and acting.