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.

2017-2018 Courses

Latin

Beginning Latin

Open , Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, with a view to 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

This course will offer students who have established a foundation of Latin skills a chance to read poetic and prose works from a pair of famed authors of the Late Roman Republic: the poems of Catullus and Cicero's Pro Caelio. Poet and politician reveal very different attitudes about some of the same controversial figures in Roman life during this period. Catullus is famed for immortalizing his mistress, "Lesbia," in the groundbreaking genre of Roman neoteric poetry. This woman is traditionally identified as the notorious Clodia whom Cicero, in his exemplary legal oration, the Pro Caelio, blames for attacking his client. Through the study of these two authors, the conventions of Roman rhetoric and poetry will be introduced. To establish context, the class will explore the literature and history of the Late Roman Republic with particular emphasis on the tumultuous years from the death of Sulla (78 BCE) to the death of Caesar (44 BCE). Excerpts of other authors will be examined, including Lucretius, Caesar, and Sallust. There will be two formal translation exercises per semester, and students will develop a special topic in conference for a paper or presentation. Additional conference hours and grammar review will be included, as necessary.

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Advanced Latin

Advanced , Seminar—Year

This course will explore the literature, history, and politics of the Late Roman Republic, with particular emphasis on the tumultuous years from the death of Sulla (78 BCE) to the death of Caesar (44 BCE). Closely examining works of Catullus, Lucretius, Cicero, Caesar, and Sallust, we will consider how the violent struggle for political power resulted in the demise of republican government and the centralization of authority in the hands of one individual. Class discussions and writing assignments will assess the relationship between intellectual views and political action during this critical moment in Western history. Students will attend seminar meetings and, in addition, develop and refine their reading comprehension skills by reading selections of the seminar texts in Latin for their conference work. Reading assignments will be read in their entirety in English. Additional conference hours and grammar review will be included, as necessary. Conference projects can also include science and linguistics. With the permission of the instructor, qualified students will participate in the Intermediate Latin seminar and complete additional readings in Latin for class and conference work.

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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. We will also examine the etymological relationship of Greek to English and discuss the development of Greek culture during the Classical era. There will be several short quizzes and two longer translation exercises. Students will also choose a special author or topic for a conference project. 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.

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Intermediate Greek

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This course has two aims: to develop the student’s ability to read Greek intelligently and fluently and to give the student a general understanding of Greek history and literature. The authors to be read will be determined at the time of registration.

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Advanced Greek

Advanced , Seminar—Year

This course has two aims: to extend the student’s ability to read classical Greek and to deepen the student’s appreciation of the literary traditions of the Greeks. The authors to be read will be determined at the time of registration.

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The Greco-Roman World: Its Origins, Crises, Turning Points, and Final Transformations

Open , Seminar—Year

This course invites the serious student to penetrate the tides of time in order to uncover what really lies behind the making of ancient Greece and Rome from their earliest times to their final transformations. The aimed-for result is a more deeply informed understanding of their direct contribution to us; namely, the classical tradition that still shapes our thinking and exercises our imagination. The methodologies employed will be derived as much from the fields of anthropology and sociology as from those of political science, economics, archaeology, and religious studies. The particular topics pursued will be set through joint decision by class members and the teacher but anchored always in the reality of what these two gifted peoples experienced—or believed to be their experience. To further this goal, all conferences will be in small groups, and all papers will be written as joint productions rather than as individual conclusions. A model for this procedure will be established in the first two weeks of the fall semester through the class’s multidisciplinary reading, in translation, of important selections from Homer’s Iliad.

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