Majors in Classics or Classic Civilization

The Major in Classics or Classical Civilization

The Temple at DelphiClassical Studies explores ancient Greek and Roman culture across the Mediterranean basin, from the second millennium B.C.E. to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. The organizing idea of the field is not a single method or a discipline, but the study of Greco-Roman antiquity (and its influence up to the present day) in all its richness and diversity, its familiarity and its strangeness. Classical Studies encompasses languages and literatures, archaeology, epigraphy, history, art history, politics, law, science, philosophy, religion, and mythology. In this respect, it is the original and most wide-ranging of interdisciplinary fields. It can thus stand alone as a dynamic and challenging field of study or can complement almost any other major in a liberal arts program.

 

The Department of Classical Studies offers two major programs: Classics and Classical Civilization. The Classics major combines work in both Greek and Latin with course work in English on the history, literature, society, and material culture of the ancient world. The Classical Civilization major requires the study of either Greek or Latin, together with course work in English on different aspects of the ancient world. Classes in Greek and Latin are conducted in English and encourage close analysis of the ancient texts, with emphasis on their literary and historical values. Students interested in studying classical archaeology can do so within either the Classics or Classical Civilization majors. Students wishing to pursue graduate work in Classics should plan to take course work in both Greek and Latin at the 300 level and to begin the study of German, French, or Italian.

 

The Department of Classical Studies offers students the opportunity to explore the ancient world through an integrated, cohesive program of courses worked out by the student and her advisor (a faculty member of her choice or the department chair). Individual programs are tailored to meet students’ specific interests, such as classical literature, archaeology, ancient theatre, ancient philosophy, law, political theory, ancient religion, material culture, and the classical tradition.

 

The goals of both the Classics and Classical Civilization Major are as follows:

  • Students will have the ability to read and interpret texts in Greek and/or Latin and in English translation, such as those written by Plato, Euripides, Herodotus, Cicero, Vergil and Catullus.

  • Students will be critical readers of primary and secondary sources and will communicate ideas clearly and effectively in oral and written form.

  • Students will work with a range of texts (history, philosophy, poetry) and types of artifacts (art, architecture, and other material remains) to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the historical context in which they were produced.

  • Students will understand the diversity of cultures in the ancient Mediterranean and their interactions.

The department reserves the right to place a new student in the course for which she seems best prepared regardless of the number of units she has offered for admission. The department requires its own placement questionnaire for entering students interested in enrolling in Latin courses other than LAT 101/102.

Requirements for the Majors in Classics and Classical Civilization

Classics: Ten units are required for the major in Classics, in two groups.

Group 1: Language: Students majoring in Classics must do work in both Greek and Latin, totaling six units. At least two of these units must be at the 300 level, and no more than two 100 level courses will count toward the language requirement of the major.

Group 2: Courses in Classical Civilization: In addition, Classics majors must complete four courses in Classical Civilization (or approved courses from related departments), chosen in consultation with and with the approval of their faculty Major Advisor to create a coherent but broad program of study; at least two of those four courses in Group 2 must be in Classical Civilization and no more than one can be at the 100-level.

Classical Civilization: Nine units are required for the major in Classical Civilization, in two groups.

Group 1: Language: Students majoring in Classical Civilization must complete four units in either Greek or Latin (or two 300-level units).

Group 2: Courses in Classical Civilization or further courses in Greek or Latin (or approved courses from related departments), including one unit each in at least two of the following three areas: literature; material culture; history and society. At least two of the nine units must be at the 300 level, one of which must be in CLCV or Greek or Latin. Courses in ancient history, ancient art, ancient philosophy, and classical civilization are recommended as valuable related work.

Honors in Classics and Classical Civilization

The Department of Classical Studies offers honors programs in both Classics and Classical Civilization. The only route to honors in either major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100-level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.

Teacher Certification

Students interested in obtaining certification to teach Latin and classical humanities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should consult the department chair and the chair of the Department of Education.

Advanced Placement Policies and Language Requirement

Satisfying the language requirement:

For students entering the fall of 2020 or later:

A. By completing two units of language study at the second-year college level (through the Wellesley course Greek 202 or Latin 201); or

B. By receiving an AP score of 5 or an IB Higher Level Score of 5 or above and by either taking one unit of work taught in that language above the second-year level or completing two semesters of introductory work in a different language; or

C. By taking a placement questionnaire, the results of which may satisfy the requirement or may indicate that the student must take at least one additional course in the language at Wellesley; or

D. Students who are native speakers or very advanced learners of languages other than English may fulfill the language requirement by permission of the appropriate department or program (in cases of speakers of languages not taught at Wellesley, by presenting documentation to the Academic Review Board of proficiency in that language).

For students who entered prior to the fall of 2020:

A. By completing two units of language study at the second-year college level (through the Wellesley course Greek 202 or Latin 201); or

B. In cases where the student can demonstrate to the appropriate department or program through a placement test (or questionnaire) that she has adequate preparation, by completing one unit of work taught in the foreign language above the course numbered 202 (the appropriate department or program will determine the appropriate placement for these students); or

C. By course work done at another institution, subject to approval by the appropriate department or program (this requirement may not be met by independent work); approval will typically include a placement test, and may include a requirement that the student take an additional course in the language at Wellesley; or

D. By passing one of the language tests of the College Entrance Examination Board, either the SAT II at a score of at least 690, or the Advanced Placement Examination at a score of 5; or by passing a Higher Level IB language exam with a score of 5, 6 or 7.

E. In cases of students who are native speakers or very advanced learners of languages other than English, by permission of the appropriate department or program (in cases of speakers of languages not taught at Wellesley, by presenting documentation to the Academic Review Board of proficiency in that language).
 

AP courses will not be counted toward either major offered by the Classical Studies department. All students who wish to elect a 200-level or higher Latin course must take Wellesley’s Latin placement questionnaire and/or confer with department faculty. The department reserves the right to place a new student in the language course for which she seems best prepared regardless of her AP score or the number of units she has offered for admission.

Study Abroad

Qualified students are encouraged to spend a semester, usually in the junior year, on study abroad. Excellent programs are available in Rome and Athens. Visit our study abroad webpage for more information.

 

Special Opportunities

Limited departmental funds are available to support special opportunities for Classics-related research and travel.

Related Courses

For Credit Toward the Classics Major and the Classical Civilization Major:

ANTH 103 / CLCV 103 Introduction to Archaeology
ARTH 203 Iraq's Antiquities, Then and Now
ARTH 241 Egyptian Art and Archaeology
ARTH 243 Rome: Building an Empire 
ARTH 290 Pompeii
ARTH 343 Seminar: Roman Monuments: Memory and Metamorphosis
ARTH 373 Seminar. Antiquities Today
HEBR 201 Intermediate Hebrew
HIST 200  Roots of the Western Tradition
HIST 228  Swords and Scandals: Ancient History in Films, Documentaries, and Online
HIST 229  Alexander the Great: Psychopath or Philosopher King
HIST 230  Greek History from the Bronze Age to the Death of Philip II of Macedon
HIST 231  History of Rome
PHIL 201  Ancient Greek Philosophy
PHIL 310  Seminar. Ancient and Medieval Philosophy  
REL 104   Study of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
REL 105   Study of the New Testament
REL 243   Women in the Biblical World
REL 244   Jerusalem: The Holy City