The Department of Classical Studies focuses on everything about ancient Greece and Rome. We study archaeology, art, history, languages, literature, myth, philosophy, and religion. At Western you’ll find specialists in fields like Athenian tragedy, Greek athletics, medieval Latin manuscripts, and Roman clothing, but everyone here is excited to talk about any aspect of ancient Greece or Rome.
For much of the twentieth century, the Department of Classics (as it was then named) was focused almost completely on studying the texts of ancient Greece and Rome in the original Greek and Latin. We offered just one course in English. In 1970, the department changed its name to the Department of Classical Studies and broadened its focus from languages and texts to a more comprehensive vision of the study of classical cultures, offering a variety of courses entirely in English. In this change, Western was at the forefront of a movement that has transformed the discipline of Classical Studies across North America and around the world.
Today, we continue to teach Latin and Greek to a small group of dedicated students who want to read Cicero, Homer, Plato, Sappho, and Virgil in the original, but the great majority of our courses don’t require any knowledge of Greek or Latin. Instead, we make accessible to everyone the study of these wonderful, strange, and familiar cultures that have been so influential for more than two thousand years. We help students to understand the achievements of Greece and Rome, and also to contextualize those achievements with an eye toward the injustices of ancient societies and the abuses that the inheritors of the classical tradition have too often perpetrated. Ours is a complicated, challenging, and delightful field of study, and I hope you’ll join us for a course or two, for our public lecture series, or for a degree program. I love learning about ancient Greece and Rome, and I love it here at Western. I hope you will too.
Chair, Department of Classical Studies