Ancient and Classical Studies, Academics | Earlham College Skip to Content

Ancient and Classical Studies:
Beyond the Relics — Wrestling with Ethical Issues

Overview   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses  

 

The Ancient and Classical Studies major examines the language, literature, art, history, and culture of ancient societies, particularly those of ancient Greece and Rome. We do not merely study the relics of peoples and ideas long dead, for to a deep degree we have inherited from these ancient peoples the living, nourishing roots of the cultures we today claim as our own. As Bernard Knox, a contemporary classicist, has recently remarked, "We do not neglect the present, but realize that our main emphasis must fall on the great traditions of art, thought, and literature which have formed the minds and hearts of predecessors, and which, interpreted afresh in each generation, can bring us new understanding of ourselves and the world we live in."

In addition to introductory and intermediate language courses in Classical Latin, we offer many courses in the literature, art, and culture of Greece, Rome, and other ancient societies. Our courses range from historical surveys of the ancient Mediterranean world and cross-cultural overviews of particular modes of thought and expression (such as Damn the Gods: Classical Myth in Antiquity, or Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World) to very specific topics (such as Erotic Roman poetry, the Persian Wars, or Pompeii). The vast majority of courses are available to students who have not studied Latin, but students who have are encouraged to find ways to bring their linguistic skills to course assignments.

Highlights

Our Ancient and Classical Studies Program helps students dig into the roots of modern cultures as they explore the language, literature, art, history, and culture of ancient societies, particularly in ancient Greece and Rome. Students in this major have a unique opportunity to spend a May term in Greece, where they travel throughout the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese and surrounding islands, studying the art and archaeology of Greece at some of the most important historical sites of the region.

Introductory and intermediate courses in Greek and Latin are also offered by this Department.


The Department offers May Term courses in Roman Warfare and Medical Terminology. Additionally, students have the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Greece through the Arcadia Athens Center.

Our Faculty

Stephen Heiny
Research Professor of Classics

Maxwell Paule
Assistant Professor of Ancient and Classical Studies

Susan Wise
Professor of Ancient and Classical Studies

Cynthia Grinspan
Administrative Assistant
Plan of Study

General Education Requirements

The Department offers two courses that fulfill the Language component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement, ANCS 112 and 113; two courses that fulfill the International component of the Perspectives on Diversity requirement, ANCS 241 and 245; ten courses that fulfill the Writing Intensive Requirement, ANCS 155, 241, 350, 351, 356, 357, 358, 359, 360 and 482; and three courses that meet the Theoretical/Historical component of The Arts Requirement, ANCS 350, 351 and 358. The Department also offers Earlham Seminars.

The Major

Eight of the following courses — at least one from section A and one from section B

  • Section A (Writing)
    • PHIL 155 Ancient Greek Philosophy
    • ANCS 350 Words and Works in Rome
    • ANCS 351 Words and Works in Ancient Greece
    • ANCS 356 Homeric Banquet
    • ANCS 371 Herodotus and the Persian War
  • Section B (Research)
    • ANCS 222 Greece and Rome in Film
    • ANCS 315 Pompeii: Life & Death
    • ANCS 346 Ovid's Metamorphoses
    • ANCS 357 Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World
    • ANCS 358 Greek and Roman Drama
  • Section C (Assorted)
    • ANCS 130 Damn the Gods
    • ANCS 241 Ancient Mediterranean History
    • ANCS 399 Topics in Ancient Culture

Three Latin Courses, or demonstration of 300-level proficiency by passing ANCS 342

  • ANCS 112 Classical Latin I
  • ANCS 113 Classical Latin II
  • ANCS 342 Reading Latin

Two Capstone Courses

  • ANCS 486 Senior Research
  • ANCS 488 Senior Capstone Experience

 

The Minor

Language Courses

  • ANCS 112 Classical Latin I and ANCS 113 Classical Latin II

OR

  • ANCS 342 Reading Latin

Additional Courses

  • Three ANCS courses at the 200-level or above
Courses

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
  • (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (ES) = Earlham Seminar
  • (IE) = Immersive Experience
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

*ANCS 112 CLASSICAL LATIN I (5 credits)
Introduction to classical Latin, with an emphasis on reading original texts by important Roman authors such as Cicero, Ovid and Virgil. Focuses on the grammar, vocabulary and structure of the Latin language, but also provides a general introduction to Roman history and culture. Occasionally offered in an "intensive" format covering 112 and 113 during a single semester. (D-L)

*ANCS 113 CLASSICAL LATIN II (5 credits)
A continuation of Latin I. Prerequisite: ANCS 112 or demonstrated equivalent. (D-L)

*ANCS 130 DAMN THE GODS (3 credits)
In spite of the terrible behavior demonstrated by the Greek and Roman gods, they remained the focus of religious attention for millennia. By closely analyzing these mythological narratives, students will consider what these myths have to say about Greek and Roman religion, and about Greco-Roman conceptualizations of the world around them. (D-I)

*ANCS 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)

*ANCS 155 ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
An examination of Greek philosophy beginning with the Presocratic period and emphasizing the works of Plato and Aristotle. Reading is mainly in the primary sources. Also listed as PHIL 155. (WI)

*ANCS 222 GREECE AND ROME IN FILM (4 credits)
Did you know that Disney's Beauty and the Beast is based on a Latin novel written almost 2,000 years ago? Or that Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club bears a striking resemblance to Sophocles' Oedipus Rex? Each week, students will read a selection of ancient literature and pair it with a screening of modern film to assess the continued influence that ancient narratives still exert across multiple genres. (D-I, RCH)

*ANCS 241 ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN HISTORY (3 credits)
In antiquity, the Mediterranean Sea united rather than divided cultures. This course surveys ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean basin, paying particular attention to the cultural interactions that shaped and transformed the earliest history of this region. The course focuses upon four key centers of civilization: the kingdoms of the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Among the topics we will consider: Hittite and Mycenaean relationships during the Bronze Age, Greek colonization and interaction with Egyptians, Phoenicians, Italians, and Near Eastern cultures during the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., the Persian empire and its clash with the Greeks in the 5th century, and Roman expansionism during the Roman Republic. Reading includes primary texts in English. Also listed as HIST 241. (WI, D-I)

*ANCS 245 ANCIENT MYTHS, MODERN MEANINGS (3 credits)
Myths — the stories told repeatedly from one generation to the next — represent one of the most enduring ways that humans have sought to explain themselves and the world around them. This course introduces the student to some ancient myths whose popularity continues into the present day, and explores the meanings that people have discovered in them. Our interest is not just in the importance of the myths for the ancient cultures that created them, but in ways in which these stories continue to help us to understand ourselves. (D-I)

ANCS 270 THAT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM (3 credits)
In an iconic scene in Indiana Jones: Last Crusade, Indiana Jones mutters the famous phrase, “That belongs in a museum!” when a relic is forcibly taken from him. Though the scene is Hollywood fiction, it does serve to highlight real tensions surrounding antiquities. Simultaneously viewed as objects of material, cultural, and aesthetic value, ancient objects occupy a nebulous space in the modern world. Using both archaeological and museological perspectives, this course is designed to introduce students to the types of artifacts that survive from antiquity and to explore some of the special challenges associated with antiquities collections. Also listed as MUSE 270.

ANCS 315 POMPELI: LIFE & DEATH (3 credits)
On August 24, AD 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted, burying several Roman towns in the region of Campania, Italy, with a thick layer of volcanic ash and pumice. This event was a great tragedy for the people who lived in the area, causing vast destruction and considerable loss of life. For modern scholars, though, the event has proved an unusual blessing. Encapsulated within the volcanic debris is an unparalleled glimpse into the lives of the ancient inhabitants. This course, will explore the archaeological remains of Pompeii in order to learn about Roman life and culture in the early part of the Roman Empire. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. (D-I, RCH)

ANCS 342 READING LATIN (3 credits)
Students who have completed Latin I and II or the equivalent may take this course to continue language learning. Choice of texts depends on a student's level of proficiency and interest. In past years, students have read works of Catullus, Cicero, Horace, Virgil and Ovid. Prerequisites: ANCS 112 and 113 or demonstrated equivalent.

ANCS 343 TOPICS IN ANCIENT LITERATURE (3 credits)
Explores specific topics of ancient literature in greater depth. Topic offerings depend upon interest and staff availability. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor.

*ANCS 346 OVID'S METAMORPHOSES (3 credits)
Ovid’s fifteen book epic, Metamorphoses, has been described as many things: a mythological handbook, pointed political commentary, an extended experiment with literary genre, and simply a self-involved display of Ovid’s overinflated sense of genius. Students in this course will read the translated work in its entirety, along with relevant scholarship, in an effort to better understand this enigmatic epic. The course will culminate in a final research project. (RCH)

*ANCS 350 WORDS AND WORKS IN ROME (3 credits)
In the last decade or so, scholars of Classical Greece and Rome have begun to recognize the importance of integrating both literary and artistic evidence in order to gain a clearer picture of the ancient past. Drawing upon this understanding, this course focuses on the literary and artistic works from successive periods in the history of ancient Rome in an attempt to discover the character or spirit of each age. Our sources include a wide range of texts (epic and lyric poetry, drama, history) and artifacts (architecture, sculpture, painting, daily objects). As we examine these "words" and "works" we seek to uncover the attitudes, values, and ways of seeing and thinking about the world that make each period of Roman history unique. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor. Also listed as HIST 350. (A-TH, RCH, WI)

*ANCS 351 WORDS AND WORKS IN ANCIENT GREECE (3 credits)
Examines works of art, including archaeological evidence, and artful words of poets, dramatists and historians to discover the spirit of various periods in ancient Greece. Explores such "works" as the sculptures at Olympia and Delphi, and the temples on the Acropolis, and the "words" of such important authors as Pindar, Euripides, Thucydides and Plato, paying particular attention to how these cultural achievements reflect changing contemporary historical and intellectual trends. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor. (A-TH, RCH, WI)

*ANCS 356 HOMERIC BANQUET (3 credits)
A study of the three epic masterpieces of Greek and Roman antiquity: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid. Focuses primarily on interpretation of the three texts with videotapes and occasional lectures to supply background materials and context. Knowledge of a classical language is not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar, an Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. (WI)

*ANCS 357 GENDER AND SEXUALITY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD (3 credits)
This course explores ways in which the ancient Greeks constructed notions of gender and sexuality. Students examine a wide range of primary evidence (such as drama, poetry, philosophy, scientific or medical treatises, court documents, art, architecture, and daily artifacts) in order to uncover Greek attitudes and practices. By confronting the assumptions of a culture that was in many ways radically different from our own, we address some of the fundamental ways that ideas about gender and sexuality inform and shape societal expectations and institutions, from personal identity and forms of self expression to the legal, medical, and political mechanisms that govern society. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Also listed as WGSS 357. (WI)

*ANCS 358 GREEK AND ROMAN DRAMA (3 credits)
A study of tragedies and comedies from the Greek and Roman traditions. A typical reading list would include such works as Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, Euripides' Medea, Aristophanes' Frogs, Plautus' Menaechmi, and Seneca's Medea and Oedipus. Also studies the staging of drama and considers works of criticism including Aristotle's Poetics. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor. Also listed as THEA 358. (A-TH, RCH, WI)

*ANCS 360 WORDS AND WORKS IN ROME (3 credits)
In the last decade or so, scholars of Classical Greece and Rome have begun to recognize the importance of integrating both literary and artistic evidence in order to gain a clearer picture of the ancient past. Drawing upon this understanding, this course focuses on the literary and artistic works from successive periods in the history of ancient Rome in an attempt to discover the character or spirit of each age. Our sources include a wide range of texts (epic and lyric poetry, drama, history) and artifacts (architecture, sculpture, painting, daily objects). As we examine these "words" and "works" we seek to uncover the attitudes, values, and ways of seeing and thinking about the world that make each period of Roman history unique. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor. Also listed as HIST 350. (A-TH, WI)

*ANCS 371 HERODOTUS AND THE PERSIAN WAR (3 credits)
The defiant bravery of king Leonidas as he and his famous band of 300 Spartan soldiers held the pass at Thermopylae against the might of the Persian Empire is a familiar one, celebrated in popular memory as an act that transcends history to become legend. Did it really happen that way? Or is this image largely a product of the imagination of Greece’s first historian, Herodotus, considered by many to be “the father of history”? This course explores the way that Herodotus immortalized the conflict between the Greeks and Persians during the 5th century B.C. Students trace the forces that shaped this famous clash of cultures, and look at Herodotus’ account in conjunction with other archaeological and historical evidence in order to talk about how history is created. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Also listed as HIST 371. (D-I, RCH)

ANCS 399 TOPICS IN ANCIENT CULTURE (3 credits)
Explores specific topics of ancient culture in greater depth. Topic offerings depend upon interest and staff availability. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor.

ANCS 481 INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES AND OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES (1-3 credits)

*ANCS 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study. Topic offerings depend upon interest and staff availability. Past topics have included the Peloponnesian War, Greek Art History and Ancient Pompeii. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor. (WI)

ANCS 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (1-3 credits)

ANCS 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.

ANCS 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor. Culminates in a comprehensive report prepared in the style of a thesis or research paper.

ANCS 486 SENIOR RESEARCH (1 credit)
Ancient and Classical Studies majors are required to enroll in this course in the fall of their Senior year. Students identify a topic and conduct extensive research in preparation for writing their senior thesis.

ANCS 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE (3 credits)
Senior thesis writing and revision.