The Classics Major

Chapin Hall
Chapin Hall. Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, 1912.

Students who major in Classics find it a rich and varied field in which every aspect of ancient Greek and Roman culture is considered worthy of study.  There are two routes through the Classics major: Route A emphasizes more coursework in Greek and Latin, while Route B emphasizes more Classical Studies courses (see below). Majors and prospective majors should consult with the department’s chair, who is the formal adviser for every Classics major, and with other faculty in the department to ensure a well-balanced and comprehensive selection of Classics courses appropriate to their individual interests. They may also benefit from advice on courses offered in other departments which would complement their particular interests in Classics.

Students considering Study Away either in the junior year or in the summer should consult with Classics faculty as early as possible, both to learn about programs and financial aid opportunities and for advice on choosing courses at Williams that will best prepare them for the programs that interest them. Students should especially consult about the implications of study away for the sequences of language courses. Students interested in Graduate Study or Teaching should also consult with Classics faculty as early as possible.

Route A

  1. Six courses in Greek and/or Latin, with at least two 400-level courses in one language.
  2. Three additional courses from the offerings in Greek, Latin, or Classical Studies or from approved courses in other departments and programs.

Route B

  1. One course each from any two of the following categories: literature (CLAS 101 or CLAS 102); visual and material culture (CLAS 209 or CLAS 210); history (CLAS 222 or CLAS 223).
  2. Four courses in Greek or Latin with at least one at the 400-level, or the four-course sequence CLLA 101, 102, 201, and 302.
  3. Three additional courses from the offerings in Classical Studies or from approved courses in other departments and programs.

Classics Colloquium

All Classics majors in residence are expected to participate fully in the life of the department through attendance at lectures and other departmental events.

Learning Objectives

Coursework in the Classics Department is designed with these learning objectives in mind:

• To contribute to the liberal education of our students, regardless of their major field of study.

• To prepare students who plan to pursue graduate work in Classics or related fields. Moreover, we aim to increase the capacity for disciplined inquiry in all our students, to develop their skills of analysis and synthesis, and to nurture their imaginative and critical faculties.

• In our language courses, to enable our students to increase their linguistic facility in Greek or Latin as they study important authors, topics, or periods, and to enable the development of related methodological skills.

• In our classical studies courses, to introduce our students to and familiarize them with the literature, history, mythology, art, archaeology, religion, and philosophy of ancient Greece, Rome, and the larger ancient Mediterranean world.

All of our offerings challenge students both to confront the foreignness of these ancient cultures and to explore the profound connections between them and our own. We aim to awaken our students’ sense of curiosity and wonder, to promote their thoughtfulness, and to encourage them to discover the satisfaction that comes from developing competence in difficult technical skills while acquiring knowledge both broad and deep, and likewise, to foster their capacity for historical, literary, and cultural analysis, which processes will find endless practical applications in their post-collegiate lives.


For more information about The Major, visit the links at right.