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Overview In 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote to the renowned scientist Joseph Priestly, "To read the Latin and Greek authors in their original is a sublime luxury.... I thank on my knees him who directed my early education for having in my possession this rich source of delight." Accordingly, in his plan for the University of Virginia, Jefferson established the School of Ancient Languages as one of its ten divisions. The Department of Classics carries on the same mission today.
Mr. Jefferson, who valued the useful no less than the sublime, knew that the classics provide both. Greek and Latin languages, literature, and culture formed the core of education until the middle of the nineteenth century, and for good reason. First, the Greek and Latin languages are themselves a training in clear thought and forceful style. Second, many of the most important ideas, principles, methods of investigation and analysis, and modes of government in use today occurred first to the Greeks and the Romans, and found their most memorable expression in that culture; and to understand where our civilization is today it is necessary to know where it has been. Third, Greco-Roman antiquity can be approached both as like ourselves, the recognizable ancestor of modern civilization, and as a civilization quite markedly "other" than ourselves, instructive because of its difference. Fourth, ever since the Renaissance, when the word "interdisciplinary" had not even been thought of, a classical education has been an education that stretches the mind by combining literature, history, philosophy, art, architecture, government, and religion. For these reasons and many others, students today major in classics or take Latin or Greek or civilization courses to complement their other studies. Our majors find it a useful preparation for fields as diverse as business, law, medicine, or a career in the arts, in addition to the more obvious careers in teaching at the high school or college level.
Faculty The interests of the faculty include the varied aspects of Greek and Roman literature, Greek religion, and Greek and Roman history. The faculty has published texts and commentaries on major classical, medieval, and renaissance Latin authors, Greek authors, interpretive works on Ovid, Homer, and other ancient writers, and studies of Greek religion and mythology.
Since classics is an interdisciplinary program, the classics faculty is joined by faculty from other departments, such as archaeology, ancient history and political theory, ancient religions, and philosophy. A total of sixteen faculty members work with students to provide a thorough and wide-ranging view of ancient culture and its effects on our lives.
Students Approximately thirty students are majoring in the classics program. Many of them combine a major in classics with another major, an option which makes them exceptionally strong candidates for selective graduate schools and educational posts. With the exception of intermediate Latin, most language courses are taught by a faculty member. Also, since the department offers both masterís and doctoral programs, undergraduates with advanced skills can take upper-level coursework at the graduate level. The interaction among undergraduates, graduates, and faculty provides an atmosphere exceptionally conducive to the learning process.
Senior Classical League The senior classical league is an organization of students who are interested in the ancient world; the league sponsors scholarly and social activities.
Study Abroad Several students have taken a semester in the third year to study classics in Cambridge, England. Others have participated in the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome or the American School at Athens.
Anne Marye Owen Prize The best student each year in GREE 101-102 and the best first-year enrolled in the fall 300-level Latin course receive the Anne Marye Owen Prize, which carries a substantial cash award.
Requirements for Major in Greek Requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Greek as the subject of specialization: 18 credits above the 101-102 level in Greek; six credits Latin; additional courses, including HIEU 203 and CLAS 201, totaling at least twelve credits in related subjects approved by the faculty advisor.
Requirements for Minor in Greek 12 credits above 101-102 level in Greek and CLAS 201.
Requirements for Major in Latin Requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Latin as the subject of specialization: eighteen credits of Latin language courses above the level of LATI 103; GREE 101-102 or its equivalent; and additional courses, including CLAS 202, HIEU 204, totaling at least twelve credits in related subjects approved by the faculty advisor.
Requirements for Minor in Latin Twelve credits above the level of LATI 103 and CLAS 202.
Placement All first-year students who present secondary-school credits in Latin and who wish to take one of the first or second year courses in Latin is placed on the basis of scores from the College Entrance Examination Board Achievement Test. Those who enter without having taken this test are required to take it during orientation week.
Distinguished Major Program Majors with overall GPA of 3.4 or higher may apply for this program to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Requirements include 3 credits either at the graduate level or at the 400 level; 3 credits of graduate (500-level) courses; and 6 research credits, the first half of which the student spends exploring a research topic under the guidance of a faculty member in the spring semester of the third year; the remaining three credits are spent in the fall of the fourth year completing the research and writing a thesis.
Foreign Language Requirement The foreign language requirement may be completed in Latin by passing LATI 202, and in Greek by passing GREE 202 or GREE 224, except that persons offering CEEB Achievement Test scores of 650 or above in either language are exempt entirely from further study to complete their language requirement. A grade of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Vergil exam earns credit for LATI 202 and exemption from the language requirement. A grade of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Latin literature exam earns credit for a 300-level course and exemption from the language requirement.
Additional Information For more information, contact Jenny Clay, Chair, Department of Classics, 401 Cabell Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (804) 924-3008.
Continue to: Course Descriptions
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