Classics for life

Majoring in Classical Studies is an excellent way to develop analytical abilities, learn to make careful arguments and express them lucidly, as well as come to a solid understanding of some of the greatest monuments of human thought and art. But why study ancient cultures and languages that are no longer spoken? Because many intellectual problems and concepts of the ancients are timeless - the nature of fate, identity and gender, the individual and society, responsibility of the individual, the best form of government, definitions of justice and law, the meaning of heroism, the function of sport and spectacle in society, the origins of imperialism, and so forth. Many works and thoughts of the Greeks and Romans provide focus and historical perspective to questions which are heatedly debated in our time. The successes and failures of the ancients have played an important part in forming the world in which we live, and their masterpieces and social experiences still help a critical mind to find its place in today's world.

Perhaps most importantly, reading the documents and literature of the Greeks and Romans, or looking at their monuments and works of art, teaches us to understand and appreciate the fact that people in other cultures think differently, follow different models, and approach the world from different premises.

We learn to see ourselves and our society in historical and human perspectives. Since the study of ancient literature and art has been central to education in the Western tradition for so long, and has often been a site for controversy, it gives special access to the entire history of Western civilization, as well as insights into that tradition's interactions with many other cultures. Thus this kind of study is an ideal way to focus a liberal arts education. Working in an inherently interdisciplinary field, students of the Greeks and Romans both participate in an old tradition and are informed by the newest methods and concerns of the humanities and social sciences.

A survey of SAT results revealed that students who took Latin scored, on average, 150 points above the national verbal score, 30 points ahead of those who studied French or German, 70 points ahead of those who studied Spanish, and 25 points ahead of those who studied Hebrew.

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