Latin

Geoff Sumi, Chair

Denise Falk, Academic Department Coordinator


112 Ciruti Center
413-538-2885
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/classics

Overview and Contact Information

Latin is alive and well in the many English words that have Latin roots and as the matriarch of the modern Romance languages—Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian. More important, it lives on in the influence it exerted on countless later writers and thinkers and, of course, in Latin works that modern audiences continue to find relevant. Among the most familiar names in Latin literature are those from its apex in the first century BCE and first century CE. Authors such as Cicero, Caesar, Catullus, Vergil, Horace, Livy, Ovid, and Tacitus mastered the genres of epic, lyric, and elegiac poetry, satire, oratory, and historiography.

The department offers courses in Latin at all levels, with those at the intermediate and advanced levels focusing on many of the authors mentioned above. Students will also find a wide array of courses (in English) approaching the culture and history of Roman antiquity from a variety of perspectives.

While the study of Latin is a foundation stone of the discipline of classics, the Latin major or minor is also excellent preparation for advanced study in English, religion, philosophy, and history. There are also many opportunities for teaching Latin at the middle and high school levels (see below on Teaching Licensure).

In addition to Latin, the department offers majors in classics, Greek, 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 a number of students in the department have spent part of their junior years at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (ICCS) in Rome. Some have pursued their studies at Oxford, Saint Andrews, and other institutions in Great Britain. Students who anticipate taking an advanced degree in archaeology, ancient art history, ancient history, or classics can also 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.

Faculty

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

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

Geoffrey Sumi, Professor of Classics

Bruce Arnold, Associate Professor of Classics

Mark Landon, 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 or 300 level. 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

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 16 credits:

12 credits above the 100 level in the Latin language12
At least 4 credits in the Latin language at the 300 level4
Total Credits16

Teacher Licensure

Students interested in pursuing licensure in the fields of Latin and classics can combine their course work in Latin and classics with a minor in education. In some instances course work in the major coincides with course work required for licensure; in other cases, it does not. For specific course requirements for licensure within the majors of Latin and classics, please consult your advisor or the chair of the classics department. Further information about the minor in education and the Teacher Licensure program is available in other sections of the catalog, or consult Ms. Lawrence in the psychology and education department.

Licensure also requires a formal application as well as passing scores on the Massachusetts Test of Educator Licensure (MTEL) in both the literacy component and the subject matter component. Copies of the test objectives for the MTEL are available in the classics department and in the Department of Psychology and Education.

Additional information about the Licensure Program, including application materials, can be found on the Teacher Licensure Program website.

Course Offerings

LATIN-101 Elementary Latin I

Fall. Credits: 4

Offers study and practice in the grammar and syntax of classical Latin.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
B. Arnold, M. Landon
Restrictions: This course is limited to first-years, sophomores, and juniors

LATIN-102 Elementary Latin II

Spring. Credits: 4

Offers study and practice in the grammar and syntax of classical Latin.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
G. Sumi
Prereq: LATIN-101.
Advisory: Students who have not completed LATIN-101 should consult the department.

LATIN-201 Intermediate Latin I

Fall. Credits: 4

Combines a thorough review of Latin grammar and syntax with an introduction to the life and literature of ancient Rome, based on the reading of selected passages of Roman prose and poetry.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
B. Arnold
Prereq: LATIN-102.

LATIN-212 Roma Ludens: Comedy and Satire in Ancient Rome

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Could Romans be funny? Perhaps surprisingly, in a culture where seriousness (gravitas) and sternness (severitas) were praiseworthy attributes, Romans enjoyed theatrical productions adapted from Greek comedies - from raucous and ribald farces to more subtle comedies of manners. They also believed that satire, poetry that poked fun at the vices and foibles of human nature, was a truly Roman genre. Moreover, both comic and satrical elements appear in a wide range of Roman literature. Authors may include Plautus, Terence, Horace, Ovid, Martial, Juvenal, and others.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
G. Sumi
Prereq: LATIN-201.

LATIN-213 Myth, Memory, and History: Writing the Past in the Roman Republic

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Livy and Sallust, the best known historians of the Roman Republic, viewed history writing as a moral enterprise, presenting events from the past as exemplary tales to inform and enlighten the lives of their readers. Their narratives thus are highly rhetorical, combining myth, memory, and history to reconstruct the past. Close reading of selections from Livy's Ab Urbe Condita and/or Sallust's monographs--the Bellum Catilinae and Bellum Jugurthinum--will lead to discussions about how Romans viewed their past and how they wrote about it.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
G. Sumi
Prereq: LATIN-201.

LATIN-250 Intermediate Latin Tutorial

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 2 - 4

Studies in various Roman authors or genres.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
The department
Instructor permission required.
Notes: Repeatable for credit. Can meet the Humanities requirement, but only if taken for 4 credits.

LATIN-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

LATIN-307 The Slender Muse

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

A study of the highly romantic poetry that launched a revolution in Latin literature, including such works as Catullus's epyllion on Peleus and Thetis and Vergil's Eclogues and Georgics, with attention to the new understanding of poetry shown in these poems and to their commentary on the social turmoil of the last phase of the Republic.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
B. Arnold
Prereq: Any Latin course above LATIN-201.

LATIN-309 Vergil: Aeneid

Spring. Credits: 4

A study of the Aeneid with attention both to its presentation of the classic conflict between Greek and Roman value systems and to its controversial portrayal of empire in the Augustan age.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
B. Arnold
Prereq: Two courses in Latin at the 200-level or any 300-level Latin course.

LATIN-310 Ovid: Metamorphoses

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

A study of Ovid's ambitious epic celebrating change and transformative forces, with attention to the challenges it poses to traditional Roman values and to conventional Roman notions of the work appropriate to a poet. In particular, consideration will be given to the way Ovid's poem subversively responds to Vergil's work.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
P. Debnar
Prereq: Two courses in Latin at the 200-level or any 300-level Latin course.

LATIN-312 Roma Ludens: Comedy and Satire in Ancient Rome

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Could Romans be funny? Perhaps surprisingly, in a culture where seriousness (gravitas) and sternness (severitas) were praiseworthy attributes, Romans enjoyed theatrical productions adapted from Greek comedies - from raucous and ribald farces to more subtle comedies of manners. They also believed that satire, poetry that poked fun at the vices and foibles of human nature, was a truly Roman genre. Moreover, both comic and satrical elements appear in a wide range of Roman literature. Authors may include Plautus, Terence, Horace, Ovid, Martial, Juvenal, and others.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
G. Sumi
Prereq: Two courses in Latin at the 200-level or any 300-level Latin course.

LATIN-313 Myth, Memory, and History: Writing the Past in the Roman Republic

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Livy and Sallust, the best known historians of the Roman Republic, viewed history writing as a moral enterprise, presenting events from the past as exemplary tales to inform and enlighten the lives of their readers. Their narratives thus are highly rhetorical, combining myth, memory, and history to reconstruct the past. Close reading of selections from Livy's Ab Urbe Condita and/or Sallust's monographs--the Bellum Catilinae and Bellum Jugurthinum--will lead to discussions about how Romans viewed their past and how they wrote about it.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
G. Sumi
Prereq: Two courses in Latin at the 200-level or any 300-level Latin course.

LATIN-323 Petronius' Satyricon and the Roman Novel

Fall. Credits: 4

Petronius' Satyricon is one of the few surviving novels from the ancient world. Formed from a pastiche of other literary genres, including epic, comedy, and satire, it is a vivid account of the adventures of three men as they travel throughout Italy. Though fiction, and only partially extant, its realistic portrayal of Roman life offers a glimpse into the social mores in the early empire. Petronius himself was a member of Nero's court and the Satyricon a product of Nero's promotion of the arts. By giving rise to the picaresque genre the Satyricon's influence continued to be felt far beyond its own day.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
G. Sumi
Prereq: 200-level Latin.

LATIN-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.