Saint Michael's Classics

Exercise your mind with rigor and precision as a Saint Michael's classics major, then flex your old-school thinking muscle in the modern world, as our students and graduates do each day as scholars, lawyers, librarians, businessmen and teachers. 

Excursions into classical literature and study travels to Europe help you discover that for excitement and substantial clues to the meaning of life, Ancient Greece and Rome are not only where it's been, but where it's at.

Your early Greek and Latin courses give you facility to read -- in the original -- timeless literature that challenges, expands and pleases your mind and soul. Other courses immerse you in Greek and Roman culture and civilization, sometimes through literature in translation. Many of these classes also help fulfill the college’s liberal arts requirements.

All classics majors take a full year of Latin and a full year of Greek (two semesters each), and then must take four additional reading courses in Latin and/or Greek. You could decide to concentrate on just one classical language for all those courses after your first-year sampling of both. By the time you graduate, nine of your ten courses will have been in a classical language, plus a choice of courses in translation, whether from the Humanities, History, Religious Studies or Philosophy Departments. 

One popular course, taught by religious studies scholar Jeffrey Trumbower, is Judaism in the Greco-Roman World. Our students also have read Saint Augustine in Latin with John Kenney, an internationally prominent Augustine scholar. Others have done one-on-one tutorial reading of St. Thomas Aquinas with one of our beloved resident Edmundite priests. 

Your senior experience is a seminar, with the goal that you’ll be able to pick up and read and understand Latin or Greek literature on sight, without the help of the commentaries and dictionaries upon which you might rely in earlier courses.

Sample Four Year Plan for Classics Majors

First Year
Fall    Spring
LA 101 Introduction to Latin LA 211 Intermediate Latin
GR 101 Elementary Greek
  Fall   Spring
GR 201 Intermediate Greek LA 310 Directed Readings in Latin Literature
Classics Elective
  Fall    Spring 
GR 310 Directed Readings in Greek Literature  LA 310 Directed Readings in Latin Literature
  Fall   Spring 
GR 310 Directed Readings in Greek Literature  LA 410 Senior Seminar in Latin 


This is just one of many possible sequences. If, for example, you spend a semester abroad or choose to double-major in another discipline, you will need to adjust your plan accordingly. You are required to take four courses in Directed Readings, but you will need to decide whether to take more Greek or more Latin or to distribute the courses equally at the upper level.

Your opportunities as a Classics student are only limited by your imagination.

As a result of the strength of our department and our students, Saint Michael's has many special collections and opportunities available to those interested in Classics.

First, we enjoy a long-term affiliation with the Rome Center, sponsored by Loyola University of Chicago. Students take courses at the Center and utilize fantastic opportunities to travel to classical sites within the city of Rome. One of our students was recently named a Politi International Fellow and received a $5,000 grant to support her research and study abroad: exploring Latin and Greek texts at St. Andrew's University in Scotland. You’ll also have access to an impressive special collection of 4,000 classics books, a gift from two nationally eminent scholars who admire our program. Summer courses are available in Rome studying Latin at classical sites, which you might take advantage of as several Saint Mike’s students have through the years.

A current student started a group that meets regularly to read the New Testament in Greek. Sometimes professors or the dean have lunchtime reading groups in classical languages. One of our seniors just completed an internship at WIRED magazine in Manhattan and now she’s pondering a career in editing. Two young men, one a recent graduate and one a current student, are novices with the Society of Saint Edmund (the resident founding order of priests on campus). One of those men started as a business major, switched to music and then discovered a love for classical philosophy along the way!

Some Classics graduates go into law or medicine. One recent graduate worked at a bindery for ancient Buddhist texts in California prior to attending a top library grad school. A graduate who ended up at dental school gratefully shared how he uses logical processes learned in Latin class to diagnose and analyze problems in his field. On the scholastic side, another recent graduate is specializing in Minoan civilization at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland; another is pursuing a graduate degree at Boston Colleges; still another recently completed a post-baccalaureate year at University of Pennsylvania (history graduate work in medieval studies).

The common theme is the solid foundation Classics helped them build.

To prepare directly for teaching classics in secondary school, you might double-major in education and Classics. (see Education Department link below for more details). However, some classics graduates with an interest in teaching go on to get a master’s of art in teaching either at Saint Michael’s or elsewhere. One program in Rhode Island enables you to live after graduation in community with others hoping to teach specifically in Catholic schools. We’ve trained future high school classics and Latin teachers, well-rounded businessmen and graduate students in classical languages, romance languages, ancient history, medieval history, philosophy and theology. 

Teach Latin or Greek in secondary schools. Move on to dental school. Bind ancient Buddhist texts. Do anything else where strong thinking skills are valued. Classics will prepare you for it.

To find out more about what our graduates are doing, visit our Classics Alumni Profiles.

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