The Classics Department

The Middlesex Classics Department aspires to make the long and rich tradition of classical scholarship useful and appealing to students of all backgrounds. Ancient Greece and Rome exerted a formative influence on the emerging United States of America, and their language and literature are rich resources for understanding our cultural identity. These subjects are naturally interdisciplinary, intersecting vitally with the study of history, philosophy, literature, rhetoric, art, mathematics and science. Equally, we regard the classical disciplines as inherently multicultural and diverse, in view of the vast geographic and cultural range they span. By their broad representation of human experience the classical literatures provoke a wealth of questions, and impel us to examine their values and assumptions, whether to confirm or contest our own cultural biases.

We aim to provide a sound and comprehensive knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, such as to facilitate both fluency in Latin or Greek and versatility in the pursuit of other languages. Etymological study should open a vista on the tradition of and connections between the Indo-European languages. We hope to foster appreciation of the expressive richness and power of language in the various literary genres, again, broadly enough to contribute to literary analysis in whatever language. Students should acquire an understanding of the history and culture of the ancient Mediterranean and its influence through subsequent centuries. Middlesex courses should equip students for further classical study in college as desired; should foster curiosity, critical thinking, and self-confidence; and through membership in a close-knit department should affirm the pleasures of intellectual camaraderie.


Latin Courses: 2019-2020

LATIN 10. Latin. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. This introductory course is designed to present the essentials of Latin grammar in a streamlined and economical fashion. Our text, written and revised by Middlesex teachers, helps students absorb linguistic forms by emphasizing the logic and simplicity of Latin structure. Grammatical presentations are reinforced by practical exercises in translation, and readings in mythology and history are introduced as early as possible.

LATIN 20. Latin Literature. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Latin 10 or its equivalent. This course provides a comprehensive review of Latin grammar andsyntax, in preparation for the transition to authentic Roman literature. Readings may include excerpts from Livy’s History of Rome (adapted), Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, and Ovid’s Art of Love.

LATIN 30. Advanced Latin Literature. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Latin 20 or its equivalent. This course will explore some of the principal genres of Roman literature. It may include orations by Cicero, historical writings by Sallust, letters of the younger Pliny and poetry by Ovid. The study of literature is supplemented by continued attention to grammar and syntax, and by regular practice at sight translation.

The following Latin courses are open to students who have completed Latin 30 or its equivalent.

LATIN 41. Satire. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. This course focuses on satire as it is presented and perceived by some of Rome’s great literary figures. Authors include Horace, Juvenal, and Petronius.

LATIN 42. Roman Comedy. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Students will read selections from Plautus’ Curculio, and study the art of comedy in part through some modern descendants, examining how Plautus’s situational comedy and caricatures have filtered down to our own day. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

LATIN 43. Lovers and Heroines. Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Students in this course read selections from both the epic and elegiac traditions, and focus on the various roles women play in Latin poetry. Selections from Vergil, Ovid, Tibullus, Sulpicia and Propertius provide students with an opportunity to translate a variety of poetic styles and explore the range of ways in which women are portrayed: as lovers, as warriors, and as leaders.

LATIN 44. Philosophy and Friendship: Roman Letters. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. This course will explore the rich tradition of written correspondence in Latin by a wide range of classical and post-classical authors, including Cicero, Horace, Pliny, Seneca, and Petrarch. Students will examine individual letters in their historical and societal contexts, and explore the linguistic differences between classical and vulgate Latin. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

LATIN 45. Vergil, Poet Laureate of Augustus. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Written on commission to commemorate Augustus’s victory over Antony and Cleopatra, the Aeneid has as much to say about inner struggle and conflict as about war and glory. We shall study his messages about “arms and man” – and woman. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

LATIN 46. Ad hominem: the not-so-subtle art of invective. Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. This course will mine the extensive Roman literature of personal attack, drawing from prosecutorial rhetoric, historical narrative, lyric poetry and graffiti, from the Republic through the later Empire. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

LATIN 47. Imperial Literature. Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. The empire of Rome under the Julio-Claudian and Flavian emperors stretched from the shores of the Atlantic to the headwaters of the Euphrates, holding much of the known world in its sway; yet the imperial capital, though gathering to itself tribute from the corners of the earth, was roiled in turn by intrigue, sedition, persecutions, assassinations, conflagrations and the infamous decadence of the emperors and their household.  In this course, students will examine the philosophical and historical works of Seneca and Tacitus, two authors who rose to prominence during this tumultuous period and who best illuminate its pleasures and its discontents.  THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

LATIN 60. Advanced Placement Caesar and Vergil. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department. The new AP syllabus pairs readings from Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War and Vergil’s Aeneid, for a detailed examination of some different conceptions of war and peace, heroism and endurance, courage and mercy. The readings are Roman but the concepts are timeless.

LATIN 61. Advanced Studies in Latin Poetry. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department. In this advanced-level course, students will read representative selections from the works of Catullus and Horace, the two most influential lyric poets of classical Rome. Of central concern will be the nature and origin of the genre of Latin lyric and these two poets’ engagement with (or disengagement from) the political and social upheavals of their day. The innovative meters of ancient lyric, as well as its intertextuality, manuscript traditions and abiding influence on modern poetry will also be covered in detail.  THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

LATIN 62. Advanced Studies in Latin Literature. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department. This advanced-level course will consider the nature and function of friendship by examining Cicero’s treatise De Amicitia and selected poems of Rome’s most distinguished lyricists, Catullus and Horace. The course will challenge the students to define “friendship” and to understand the complexity of this relationship both for themselves and for the Romans. Students will evaluate the philosophic tradition of discussing friendship and consider how this personal relationship compares with other forms of social affiliation among the Romans and their attitudes regarding public and private life. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.


Greek Courses: 2019-2020

GREEK 10. Greek. Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. This course introduces the syntax and grammar of Attic Greek. Emphasis is placed from the beginning on the acquisition of vocabulary, composition of sentences, translation of passages, and mastery of inflected forms. In the latter half of the course, selections from Homer, Herodotus, and Xenophon are read in conjunction with grammatical topics.

GREEK 20. Greek Literature. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Greek 10 or its equivalent. This continuation of Greek 10 encompasses the review and completion of Attic Greek grammar in order to focus as soon as possible on literature. Students will read selections from Homer’s Iliad for the remainder of the course, learning Homeric dialect and its relationship to Attic Greek.

GREEK 30. Advanced Greek Literature. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Greek 20 or its equivalent. The third-year course in Greek continues the exploration of Greek literature, with greater emphasis on the prose and poetry of classical Athens. Works by authors such as Plato, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles and Euripides will be studied in the context of Athenian history and culture; contemporary issues of justice, education, civil unrest, piety and gender will also be discussed.

GREEK 40. Advanced Topics in Greek Literature. Year. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Greek 30 or its equivalent. This advanced literature course focuses on Platonic philosophy, specifically the foundational contributions made by the works of Plato to political philosophy and literary criticism. Excerpts from Plato’s Republic, Phaedrus and/or Gorgias will be studied, as well as passages from Euripides, Aristophanes and other poets. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.