| Department of Classics, Colgate University
The Classics Department offers both courses in Latin, Greek and Classical Studies, and courses in translation.
First-year students are eligible for Introductory, Intermediate or Advanced Latin or Greek, depending on their previous level of language attainment. Many students come to Colgate with a background in Latin and can immediately join our Intermediate Latin Prose course (Latin 201) in their first semester. Since Latin is the foundation of the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese), it provides an excellent basis for either beginning or continuing the study of these languages. In addition, mastery of its syntax enables a student to think more clearly and logically.
The same is true of ancient Greek, which has a further advantage in that many of its greatest productions, including the plays of Euripides, can be read by students who have completed only a year of study. Courses in both languages tend to be relatively small, which means that students and faculty can develop a close tutorial relationship.
The Department also offers courses on a very broad range of subjects relating to the ancient world that require no knowledge of the languages. A first-year student can choose from an extensive list of subjects that are offered on a rotating basis. These include Classical Mythology, Greek Art, Women in Antiquity, Greek and Roman Archaeology, Greek Tragedy, Greek and Roman Epic, Greek and Roman History, and many others. Such courses attract students from all kinds of backgrounds and with a variety of interests, but who all share in common an interest in the origins of the Western tradition.
That interest is shared by the university as a whole through the General Educational Core Program, which places considerable emphasis upon the legacy of Classical Antiquity. The Classics Department plays a major role in the Core, since a large part of the Western Traditions course is focused upon the ancient world.
Several opportunities also exist for students to study the Classics off-campus. This may involve a field trip to see a classically- inspired theatrical production on Broadway or study archaeological artifacts in museum collections in Syracuse or Philadelphia. The department also offers an extended study program in May to Italy (for students who have completed Latin 102 or a higher level course in Latin).
Classics concentrators tend to be highly motivated and self-selecting. Frequently a course in translation will lead a student to develop a passion to learn the languages of the texts first studied in English. There is no better time to let that passion reach its potential than at Colgate. What we in the Department seek to offer our students is not a fossilized piece of ‘dead’ knowledge that has no practical use outside the classroom, but analytical skills and ideas that will serve them in a variety of capacities throughout their lives.
Though we are always proud when our students go on to do graduate work in Classics, we are no less proud that they often elect to do a double major, combining Latin or Greek with subjects as diverse as Geology, Art History or English. Many of our most distinguished alumni have, moreover, used Classics as a springboard for careers in fields such as medicine and the law.
We are also fortunate in having a Classics Center, which contains a library of classical texts and basic reference works. It is available to students outside class times, both for study and for social activities related to the Classics.
In conclusion, the Classics Department at Colgate University offers its students an unforgettable encounter with a world that continues to shape and define our very notion of civilization itself.