Latin

The Sarah Lawrence College classics program emphasizes the study of the languages and literature of Ancient Greece and Rome. Greek and Latin constitute an essential component of any humanistic education, enabling students to examine the foundations of Western culture and explore timeless questions concerning the nature of the world, the place of human beings in it, and the components of a life well lived. In studying the literature, history, philosophy, and society of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, students come to appreciate them for themselves, examine the continuity between the ancient and modern worlds, and, perhaps, discover “a place to stand”—an objective vantage point for assessing modern culture.

In their first year of study, students acquire proficiency in vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, with the aim of reading accurately and with increasing insight. Selected passages of ancient works are read in the original languages almost immediately. Intermediate and advanced courses develop students’ critical and analytical abilities while exploring ancient works in their literary, historical, and cultural context. Conference projects provide opportunities for specialized work in areas of interest in classical antiquity. Recent conference projects include close readings of Homer’s Iliad, Aristophanes’ Clouds, Pindar’s Odes, Plato’s Republic, Cicero’s de Amicitia, the poetry of Catullus, and Virgil’s Aeneid, as well as studies of modern theories of myth, Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy (in connection with the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides), the social implications of Roman domestic architecture, and a comparison of Euripides’ Hippolytus with Racine’s Phèdre.

Greek and Latin will be especially beneficial for students interested in related disciplines, including religion, philosophy, art history, archaeology, history, political science, English, comparative literature, and medieval studies, as well as education, law, medicine, and business. Greek and Latin can also prove valuable to all those who wish to enrich their imagination in the creative pursuits of writing, dance, music, visual arts, and acting.

2018-2019 Courses

Latin

Beginning Latin

Open , Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary—with a view toward reading the language as soon as possible. Close reading of Vergil’s Aeneid in English will accompany intensive language study in the fall. By midsemester, students will be translating authentic excerpts of Latin poetry and prose. During the spring semester, while continuing to develop and refine their knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary, students will read selections of the Aeneid in Latin.

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Intermediate Latin

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

Permission of the instructor is required.

This course has two aims: 1) to develop the student’s ability to read Latin intelligently and fluently, and 2) to give the student a general understanding of Roman history and Latin literature. The course should prove particularly useful as background to students contemplating graduate study in any branch of Western literature. The authors to be read will be determined at the time of registration.

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Advanced Latin

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Permission of the instructor is required.

This course has two aims: 1) to extend the student’s ability to read classical Latin, and 2) to deepen the student’s appreciation of the literary traditions of the Romans. The authors to be read will be determined at the time of registration.

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“A Talent for Every Noble Thing”: Art, Architecture in Italy, 1300-1600

Open , Seminar—Year

This course involves an in-depth survey of the major monuments of Italian art and architecture from 1300 to 1600. Equal emphasis will be given to the histories and societies of major city-states such as Pisa, Siena, Florence, Venice, and Rome; the canon of art works by artists such as Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo; readings of major critics and historians of Italian art; and the broader intellectual trends, social realities, and movements that provide a context for our understanding of the artists’ and, to a lesser extent, the critics’ creations. Thus, unified Italian church designs will be juxtaposed with gender-segregated social practice, theories of genius with concepts of handicraft, pagan ideals with Christian rituals, creative expression with religious orthodoxy, and popes with monks, dukes, financiers, and “humanist” intellectuals. The first semester will focus on a close reading of texts surrounding the first polemical “humanist” pamphlets about art in early modern history—Alberti’s On Painting and On Architecture—and will include works by Erwin Panofsky, Ernst Gombrich, and Michael Baxandall. The second semester will engage the development of the “High” Renaissance and the intellectual and aesthetic debates surrounding Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael as philosophers, naturalists, geniuses, models, and marginalized outcasts. Class papers will deal with developing a vocabulary for compositional analysis, critical issues in Italian intellectual and social history (particularly, gender studies), and varied interpretive strategies applied to works of visual art and culture. Conference projects may involve selected topics in religion, history, and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance and art and architecture in Europe and the “New World” from 1300 to the present.

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Beginning Greek

Open , Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Ancient Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, with the aim of reading authentic excerpts of Ancient Greek poetry and prose as soon as possible. Students will also read and discuss several dialogues of Plato in English. During the spring semester, while continuing to refine their grammar and reading skills, students will read extended selections of Plato’s Apology in the original Greek. Conference projects may also include science and linguistics.

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Defeating Despotism: Essential Strategies From Ancient Greek and Roman Epic Poetry

Open , Small seminar—Fall

With the permission of the instructor, qualified students may opt to take this course as Intermediate or Advanced Greek and will do conference work in Greek at the appropriate level. Greek conferences will meet twice each week either individually or in small groups to suit each student’s needs/abilities. In conference, students will develop their comprehension of ancient Greek by close reading of selected texts.

Fearing tyranny, the framers of the US Constitution in the 18th century drew vital lessons from Ancient Greek democracy (508-322 BCE) and the Roman Republic (509-27 BCE). Before and during the Greeks’ and Romans’ radical and unprecedented experiments in broader political participation, Ancient Greek and Roman epic poetry shaped cultural attitudes regarding the use and abuse of power. As the modern world drifts backward in the 21st century toward various forms of dictatorship and authoritarian populism, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Vergil’s Aeneid can help arm us against the tyrants we might serve and the tyrants we might become. Students will read all three epics in their entirety in English translation.

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