Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses



Professors Griffiths (Chair), and R. Sinos; Associate Professor van den Berg*; Assistant Professor Zanker; Visiting Professor D. Sinos; Visiting Assistant Professor Olsen.

* On leave 2017-18.

The Majors in Classical Languages (Classics, Greek and Latin).  The major program is designed to afford access to the achievements of Greek and Roman antiquity through mastery of the ancient languages. The Department offers majors in Greek, in Latin, and in Classics, which is a combination of the two languages in any proportion as long as no fewer than two semester courses are taken in either. All three majors consist of eight semester courses, of which seven must be in the ancient languages. The eighth may be a Classical Civilization course, PHIL 217, or a course in some related field approved in advance by the Department. CLAS 121, and courses numbered 111 may not be counted toward the major. LATI 202-316 will normally be introductory to higher courses in Latin, and GREE 212-318 will serve the same function in Greek.

The statement of requisites given in the course descriptions below is intended only to indicate the degree of preparation necessary for each course, and exceptions will be made in special cases. For students beginning the study of Greek the following sequences of courses are normal: Either 111, 212, 215 or 217, 318; or 111, 215 or 217, 212 or 318.

Major in Classical Civilization.  The major program is designed to afford access to the achievements of at least one of the two primary cultural groups of Greco-Roman antiquity through significant coursework in one language and a core group of courses in classical civilization.

The major in classical civilization consists of eight courses:

Four language courses, all in the same language (either Greek or Latin); one 400-level course or an alternative course that serves as a capstone experience (see below).  LATI 202–316 will normally be introductory to higher courses in Latin, and GREE 212–318 will serve the same function in Greek.  Language courses numbered 111 will count toward the major.

Four classical civilization courses, at least one of which must focus primarily on the civilization of the language courses (e.g., Roman History, Roman Civilization, or a similar course if the language is Latin; Greek History, Greek Civilization, or a similar course if the language is Greek).  A 400-level course can also fulfill the capstone experience (see above).

It is also possible to fulfill one of the classical civilization course requirements by taking a course in ancient Greek or Latin, whichever is not the language of the four-course language requirement.  Students who wish to take additional language courses in the second language are encouraged to consider the major in classics.

Courses that are related or cross-listed with classics and taught in another department will count towards the classical civilization course requirement (e.g., PHIL 217, EUST-121).

Honors Programs in the Classical Languages.  The program of every Honors candidate in Greek, Latin, or Classics must include those courses numbered 441 and 442 in either Greek or Latin. It will also include, beyond the eight-course program described above, the courses numbered 498 and 499. The normal expectation will be that in the senior year two courses at the 441/442 level be taken along with the 498/499 sequence. Admission to the 498 course is contingent on approval by the Department of a thesis prospectus. Translations of work already translated will not normally be acceptable nor will comparative studies with chief emphasis on modern works. Admission to the 499 course is contingent on the submission of a satisfactory chapter of at least 2,000 words and a detailed prospectus for the remaining sections to be defended at a colloquium within the first week of the second semester with the Department and any outside reader chosen.

In addition, Honors candidates must in the first semester of their senior year write an examination on a Greek or Latin text of approximately 50 pages (in the Oxford Classical Text or Teubner format) read independently, i.e., not as a part of work in a course, and selected with the approval of the Department. The award of Honors will be determined by the quality of the candidate’s work in the Senior Departmental Honors courses, thesis, and performance in the comprehensive work and language examination. The Department will cooperate with other departments in giving combined majors with Honors.

Honors Program in Classical Civilization.  The requirements for an honors thesis are the same as for the language majors, except that students need to take only one of the 441/442 level language courses or an equivalent course that would serve as a capstone experience, instead of taking both 441/442 language courses.  For the honors thesis students may consider, in addition to the options for the language majors, a project that addresses either the classical tradition more generally or another relevant project.

Comprehensive Requirement for the Language Majors.  Majors in Greek, Latin, and Classics will fulfill the Department’s comprehensive requirement in one of two ways.

     (1) Students ordinarily complete the requirement through course work that provides a chronological survey of the cultures of the major.

— For the Greek major, one course: CLAS 123 (Greek Civilization), CLAS 132 (Greek History), CLAS 134 (Archaeology of Greece), or CLAS 138 (Greek Drama).

— For the Latin major, one course: CLAS 124 (Roman Civilization) or CLAS 135 (History of the Roman Empire), or CLAS 136 (History of Rome).

— For the Classics major, two courses: one from the courses fulfilling the Greek major’s requirement, and one from the courses fulfilling the Latin major’s requirement.

     (2) When circumstances prevent the satisfaction of this requirement through course work, students may take an examination consisting of essay questions on the literary and historical interpretation of major authors. It will be given in the fifth week of the first semester of the senior year.

Comprehensive Requirement for the Classical Civilization Major.  Majors in Classical Civilization ordinarily complete one civilization course relating to the language they had studied.

 — For students specializing in Greek: CLAS 123 (Greek Civilization), CLAS 132 (Greek History), CLAS 134 (Archaeology of Greece), or CLAS 138 (Greek Drama).

 — For students specializing in Latin: CLAS 124 (Roman Civilization) or CLAS 135 (History of the Roman Empire), or CLAS 136 (History of Rome).



Greek Mythology and Religion

A survey of the myths of the gods and heroes of ancient Greece, with a view to their original context in Greek art and literature as well as their place in Greek religion. We will give particular attention to myths that live on in Western art and literature, in order to become familiar with the stories which were part of the repertory of later artists and authors. Three class hours per week.

Limited to 75 students. Fall semester. Professor R. Sinos.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023


Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123)  We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did oral and mythological traditions develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts?  Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides.  The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation. Three class hours per week.

Omitted 2017-18.


Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2023


Roman Civilization

A study of Roman civilization from its origins to the Empire, with emphasis on major Roman writers. The material will be interpreted in the light of Roman influence upon later Western civilization. The reading will be almost entirely from Latin literature, but no knowledge of the ancient language is required. Three class hours per week.

Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Zanker.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022


Sport and Spectacle in Ancient Greece and Rome

(Offered as CLAS 126 and THDA 126)  Olympics. Greek drama. Gladiators. When we think of ancient Greece and Rome, athletic competition and public performance loom large. In this course, students will learn about archaic Greek musical and athletic competitions, Classical Athenian dramatic festivals, and the gladiatorial spectacles of imperial Rome. We will examine the representation of performance and athletics in art and literature, using primary sources to explore contemporary attitudes towards these events and to understand their role within society. We will pay attention to the politics and aesthetics of “sport and spectacle,” using a set of ancient case studies as a springboard to broader conversations about the social import of performance, competition, and entertainment. 

Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Olsen.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018


Archaeology of Greece

Excavations in Greece continue to uncover a rich variety of material remains that are altering and improving our understanding of ancient Greek life. By tracing the architecture, sculpture, and other finds from major sanctuaries, habitations, and burial places, this course will explore the ways in which archaeological evidence illuminates economic, political, philosophical, and religious developments in Greece from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic Period. Three class hours per week.

Spring semester. Professor R. Sinos.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2018, Spring 2022


History of the Roman Empire

This course considers the Roman Empire at its height, tracing the political, social, and religious changes that shaped Rome from the death of Julius Caesar through the fifth century CE.  We will seek to understand the longevity of this extraordinary empire as well as the roots of its eventual decline.  Using literary, historiographical, and archaeological sources, we will see how Rome's once unitary society was challenged and transformed by the diverse cultures and religions of its empire. 

Omitted 2017-18.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015


History of Rome

This course examines the political and social systems and struggles that marked Rome's growth from a small city-state to a world empire. Through various sources (Roman works in translation and material evidence) we will focus on the development of the republican form of government and its transformation into an empire. We will study also the daily life of the people and the impact of Christianity on the Roman Empire. Three class hours per week.

Omitted 2017-18.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023


Re-Imagining the Classics

(Offered as CLAS-154 and THDA-154)  How can we look back to classic plays that were written one or two millennia ago and use them as the basis for a new piece of art that will be relevant and inspiring to a contemporary audience?

This course will explore how artists from various media--theater, film, TV, dance, music, painting--have interpreted and re-authored classical texts. We will discuss western classics as well as canonical texts from Japan, India, Africa and Latin America.

Are there any shared fundamental human elements among these very different continents and cultures? What made these texts enter the eternal dramatic canon of our civilization? Why are artists from various disciplines constantly attracted to re-authoring these classics? How can we build upon these works of the past to create something new, personal and relevant to our time?

The course will examine these questions using a variety of audio-visual examples, dramatic and critical texts, and studio exercises.  Students will also re-author a classical text as a contemporary piece, in various artistic media.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Eliraz.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017

390, 490

Special Topics

Fall and spring semesters. Members of the Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023

498, 499

Senior Departmental Honors

Spring semester. Members of the Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

Classical Civilization


Greek History

A chronological survey of ancient Greece from the Bronze Age to the age of Alexander, with attention to the wars that punctuated and to large extent defined the different phases of Greek history.  We will use primary sources, including not only the fundamental histories of Herodotus and Thucydides but also other texts and monuments, to examine a range of perspectives of war and its effects.

Omitted 2017-18.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2016, Spring 2021


Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re and Medea; and Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex.

Omitted 2017-18.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

Related Courses

EUST-121 Readings in the European Tradition I (Course not offered this year.)PHIL-217 Ancient Greek Philosophy (Course not offered this year.)