Ombretta Frau, Chair

Geoffrey Sumi, Professor of Classics

Denise Falk, Academic Department Coordinator

112 Ciruti Center

Overview and Contact Information

Ancient Greek is very much alive, not just in the medical and technical terms that pervade modern life, but in the numerous works that still speak to audiences today. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Greek tragedies, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and, of course, the New Testament are just some of the names on Greek's list of "Greatest Hits."

These works, of course, can be read in translation, and the department offers a wide array of courses approaching the culture and history of Greek antiquity through readings entirely in English. But juxtapose any two translations of a work in Ancient Greek and you will quickly realize how much the translator stands between you and the original. For this reason, our language program is designed to allow students to read Homer's Iliad in Greek as soon as possible—and to help them learn to use the tools needed for learning Greek on their own.  Beyond the first year, we offer a range of courses at all levels.

The Greek major (or minor) complements well the study of philosophy, religion, politics, English, ancient art history, and archaeology, and in some cases Greek is necessary for advanced study in these areas. It is also excellent preparation for law school, while some of our majors have completed their pre-med course work and gone on to medical school. Most important, the study of Greek (Latin, too) provides a strong foundation in the liberal arts, one that challenges students to think deeply about difficult questions and to value the power of language.

In addition to Greek the department offers majors in Latin, classics, and ancient studies. Classics combines the study of both ancient languages with courses in ancient history, art, philosophy, politics, or religion. Ancient studies approaches Greek and Roman civilizations from an interdisciplinary perspective with less emphasis on the ancient languages. There are also minors related to each of these majors.

Study Abroad

The department encourages study abroad. In recent years, students in the department have spent part of their junior year at Oxford, Saint Andrews, and other institutions in Great Britain. College Year in Athens also offers a one-semester program in Greece. Students who anticipate taking an advanced degree in archaeology, ancient art history, ancient history, or classics can apply to summer sessions of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

See Also

Learning Goals

Learning goals for students of classics and ancient studies are:

  • To analyze critically ancient Greek and Roman texts, in their original languages and in translation, within their literary, philosophical, and historical contexts.

  • To understand major monuments and artifacts within their historical and cultural settings; to develop a visual literacy of ancient art and sharpen the ability to see and express what one sees.

  • To imagine fully and creatively ancient cultural communities when relying on limited written and material remains.

  • To deepen the understanding of current problems by studying the responses of ancient Greeks and Romans to questions about the human condition, including, how to live well, and how to govern. 

  • To write and speak more confidently and effectively, and to develop well-reasoned arguments using primary evidence and/or secondary material, including print and digital resources.

  • To expand intellectual breadth through studying the ancient Greek and Roman worlds through different disciplines and modes of inquiry.


This area of study is administered by the Department of Classics and Italian. Advisors for Greek:

Paula Debnar, Professor of Classics on the Alumnae Foundation, Teaching Spring Only

Geoffrey Sumi, Professor of Classics, Teaching Fall Only

Bruce Arnold, Associate Professor of Classics

Catherine Baker, Visiting Lecturer in Classics

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 32 credits:

At least 12 credits at the 300 level in the language of concentration12
20 additional credits in approved courses at the 200 level or above. These may be courses in Latin or Greek and/or a variety of courses in art history, classics (in English), history, philosophy, politics, or religion. 120
Total Credits32

These courses should be selected after consulting with the student's advisor.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 16 credits:

12 credits above the 100 level in the Greek language12
At least 4 credits at the 300 level in the Greek language4
Total Credits16

Course Offerings

GREEK-101 Elementary Greek: Homer's Iliad

Spring. Credits: 4

This course introduces the ancient Greek language and epic meter through the study of the Iliad. The grammar of the Iliad, originally an oral poem, is relatively uncomplicated, so that by the middle of the first semester students will begin to read the poem in Greek. By the end of the year they will have read a portion of Iliad, Book I.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
P. Debnar

GREEK-102 Elementary Greek: Homer's Iliad

Fall. Credits: 4

An continuation of Greek 101, introducing the ancient Greek language and epic meter through the study of the Iliad. By the end of the year students will have read a portion of Iliad, Book I.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
G. Sumi
Prereq: GREEK-101.

GREEK-250 Intermediate Greek Tutorial

Fall and Spring. Credits: 2 - 4

May include further readings in Homer, Herodotus, pastoral poetry, the dialogues of Plato, the Greek novel, or other authors, topics, or genres.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
B. Arnold
Instructor permission required.
Notes: Repeatable for credit. Meets Humanities requirement if taken for 4 credits

GREEK-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

GREEK-350 Advanced Greek Tutorial

Spring. Credits: 2 - 4

Studies in Greek lyric and tragedy, pastoral poetry, the dialogues of Plato, the Greek novel, the use of myth in literature, or other authors, topics, or genres.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
P. Debnar
Instructor permission required.
Prereq: GREEK-222 or above.
Notes: Repeatable for credit. Can meet the Humanities requirement, but only if taken for 4 credits.

GREEK-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.