Welcome to the webpages of the Department of Classics at the University of Notre Dame!
Classics is the study of ancient Greece and Rome from the Bronze Age, when a distinctive Greek culture first emerges, to the waning of the Roman Empire. The Department of Classics at Notre Dame provides instruction in the ancient Greek and Latin languages, Greek and Roman literature, and in the history, culture, and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world. Students explore that world—from the Greece of Homer to the Athens of Plato, from the Rome of Cicero and Caesar to the Italy of Vergil to the Africa of Augustine—in a variety of options for the major and the minor. A broad survey of the literature, history, and culture of Greece and Rome is provided by the Classical Civilizations Major, which does not require Latin or Greek languages. The Major in Classics adds close study of those languages. The Department is also home to two Master’s programs, the MA in Classics and the MA in Early Christian Studies.
Why study Classics? To understand an influential and compelling aspect of world history and culture. The literature, history, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome have exercised immeasurable influence on intellectual and artistic imaginations for millennia. Thinkers and writers, rulers and rebels, poets and priests have continually returned to the richness of ancient Greece and Rome to sharpen their own ideas. And no wonder: the Greeks and Romans engaged with the central questions of civilization—democracy or autocracy, tradition or innovation, the honorable or the pragmatic, desire or principle, resistance or obedience—artfully, thoughtfully, and insightfully. Study Classics, and you will appreciate the shape of those debates—and your own place within them. A major or minor in Classics also perfectly complements the study of art history, archaeology, comparative and modern literatures, English, anthropology, history, and theology.
Why study Classics? Classical studies is interdisciplinary: it takes in literature, art, architecture, philosophy, and archaeology, and military, political, and social history. It thus provides students with an accessible model for thinking about how whole societies work. Study Classics, and you will learn how an oration was constructed, how the social class of speaker and audience affected their ideas, the philosophical and cultural sources of those ideas, the look of the public spaces where the speech was delivered, the kind of poetry orators read when they went home, the relation of that poetry to the issues of its day. Study Classics, and you will learn to have a totalizing historical imagination. A major or minor in Classics therefore contextualizes and enriches fields of study within and beyond the humanities.
Why learn Greek and Latin? Much can be learned from the texts of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds in translation. More still can be gained from reading them in Latin and Greek. Even short exposure to these languages provides powerful tools for analyzing the original texts, and indeed for understanding the nature of language itself. With advanced study students enjoy unmediated contact with the writers of Greco-Roman antiquity. Study Greek and Latin, and your appreciation of a phrase in a letter of St. Paul, of an effect in a passage of Vergil, of the structure of argument of Cicero, or of an important nuance in a dialogue of Plato will be an everyday experience.
Why study in the Department of Classics? To enjoy an unparalleled educational opportunity. All of our language classes and many of our culture classes are small. Faculty can give the students a degree of individual attention impossible in larger programs. Advanced courses have abundant opportunity for discussion, independent work, and collaborative projects. Take a Classics class, and the professor will know your name, your skills, and your interests when you need a letter of recommendation. The Department of Classics offers opportunities and support for travel and study abroad and in-depth advising for coordinating interests with program requirements.
Notre Dame’s Program in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies is also housed in the Department of Classics. For more information, please visit the program website.
Again, welcome! Please contact any of us with your questions!
Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Collegiate Professor of Classics
The Department of Classics welcomes your support in any number of ways. We value the time, talent, and treasure of our graduates and friends and welcome collaborative efforts to further our work. Make a gift here or connect with the department about other ways to get involved.