Jeffrey S. Carnes
332 H.B. Crouse
Jeffrey S. Carnes, Matthieu H. van der Meer
Why Study Classics?
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
Students approaching Classical Studies for the first time may wonder how the study of languages and cultures from antiquity is relevant in the digital era; why study Classics?
First, Classics provides students with many fascinating intellectual opportunities. Because the range of Greek and Latin literature is so diverse, students interested in history, drama, poetry, political science, or philosophy, will find ample material to stimulate their curiosity. Moreover, students will develop the ability to read some of the most influential works of western literature in their original languages, and learn about cultures that are radically different from our own, yet at the same time provide the foundation of many modern ideas and institutions.
Since Classical Studies have traditionally played a central role in education they have left an indelible mark on the intellectual, political, and artistic development of Western Civilization. Countless authors, as diverse in time and place as Dante and Derek Walcott, have looked for inspiration to the classical tradition; political theorists and statesmen, including Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, developed their political ideals through a close reading of ancient historians such as Polybius and Thucydides. Understanding the reception of classical texts and the ways subsequent generations adapted and modified classical ideals will grant students a greater degree of proficiency in civic and cultural history, and help them better understand the cultural politics of their own world.
While not all Classics students wish to become classical scholars, a major in Classics is among the most impressive degrees to have when applying for a job in other fields. The work ethic required for success in the languages, the intellectually challenging nature of the grammar and syntax of Greek and Latin, and the interdisciplinary nature of the field are only a few reasons why Classics majors are highly respected and sought-after job candidates. Furthermore, because of the historical role of Classics in education many terms and concepts in various fields are derived from Greek or Latin. For these reasons, Classics majors often find employment in Law, Medical Sciences, Government/Politics, Writing and Journalism, and Education.
Why study Classics? To find a challenging and immensely rewarding field of study, and to explore the familiar yet foreign country that is our past.