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Classics

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Course overview

The study of Classics is concerned with the language, literature, history and thought of ancient Greece and Rome. Through the reading of literature in the original Greek and Latin and the examination of key aspects of ancient history, you will develop a thorough knowledge of the classical world and a critical approach to textual and material culture. If you have already studied either Greek or Latin at school, you can learn the other language as a beginner. Classics has been taught in Trinity College since its foundation just over 400 years ago, and Trinity College is unique in having Chairs in both Greek and Latin.

Is this the right course for you?

If you are interested in studying the languages, the poetic imagination, the depths of thought and the historical value of two civilisations that shaped the western world, you will enjoy this course.

Course content

Over the four years you will read texts in a wide variety of genres, including epic poetry, drama, philosophy, history and letter writing. Whether you are continuing your language studies or taking up one of the languages as a beginner, you will engage with ancient texts both as literature and as a gateway into culture and thought. Through the critical study of ancient history, myth and religion, you will acquire a comprehensive and interdisciplinary perspective on classical culture. For all of your language-based courses the groups will be small, stimulating lively discussion, analytic skills, and the development of independent thinking.

The Freshman years

In the Junior Freshman (first) year you will be introduced to the critical study of ancient history, culture and literature. The language-based courses you take depend on whether you have studied both Greek and Latin before or are taking one of the languages as a beginner. In your Senior Freshman (second) year you will continue the study of Greek and Latin language, literature and history. Courses are taught by lectures and small-group seminars. There are twelve to fourteen contact hours per week.

  • Greek and Roman history - an introductory survey of the Greek and Roman world, from the Greek Archaic age to the early Roman Empire. The course covers topics such as politics and power, Athenian democracy, the conquests of Alexander, the emergence of Rome as a major imperial power, colonisation, war and conflict.
  • Mythology and religion - an introduction to the major myths and religions of the classical world using both literary and artistic evidence. The course also explores theories of myth and the functions of myth within society.

Greek for non-beginners

  • Greek authors - text-based courses introduce you to the critical reading of Greek literature through a close examination and contextualisation of the oldest and most influential works in western literature: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Histories of Herodotus, the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, and the philosophical prose of Plato.
  • Greek language - this course allows you to practice your translation skills and to study the language of authors not covered in the text-based courses.

Latin for non-beginners

  • Latin authors - text-based courses introduce you to the critical reading of Latin literature through a close examination and contextualisation of Roman poetry and prose from the early republican to the imperial period: the comedies of Plautus and Terence, Cicero’s famous speech On Behalf of Caelius, Virgil’s Aeneid, the love poems of Catullus and Ovid, and the letters of Seneca and Pliny the Younger.
  • Latin language - this course allows you to practice your translation skills and to study the language of authors not covered in the text-based courses.

Greek or Latin for beginners

  • Elementary Greek or Latin - an intensive introduction to the language. By the end of the year you will be ready to read original texts and your command of the language will be at the same level as those who have studied Greek or Latin before entering university.

The Sophister years

In the Sophister (third and fourth) years you will progress to an in-depth study of topics in Greek and Roman literature, history and culture. You will refine your analysis of texts in their literary and cultural context through more specialised skills and methodologies, such as textual criticism, linguistics and literary theories. Greek topics may include Greek historians, Greek comedy, the Greek novel, and Hellenistic poetry. Latin topics may include Augustan poetry, Desire and the body, Latin historians, Satire, and Latin orators. In your Junior Sophister (third) year you will continue to study ancient history, while separate language classes provide additional assistance in improving your fluency and accuracy in reading and interpretation. In the Senior Sophister (fourth) year you will write a thesis on a subject of your choice. This is an opportunity to do research which will allow you to develop independent ideas and acquire critical skills, while investigating in great depth an area that particularly interests you.

Assessment

A combination of end-of-year examination and continuous assessment (e.g. essays, unseen translations and other language tests, textual commentaries, seminar presentations) and a thesis in the final year.

Study abroad

Trinity College has strong links with many classics departments abroad, including active participation in the Erasmus exchange programme with universities in Cyprus, France, Switzerland and Turkey, and students are able to avail of College-wide exchanges, for example, with North America and Australia. This allows students the option of spending a year abroad.

Career opportunities

Trinity College has a long tradition of Classics graduates who have continued onto postgraduate study and successful academic careers both in Europe and America. Recent graduates have also taken up careers in journalism, public relations, translation and teaching, and with employers such as the Sunday Independent, the European Commission and merchant banks.

Further information

www.tcd.ie/Classics

E-mail: classics@tcd.ie

Tel: +353 1 896 1208

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Specific Entry Requirements

Leaving CertificateHC3 Greek or Latin
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C Greek or Latin
Other EU examination systemsSee www.tcd.ie/Admissions/undergraduate/requirements/matriculation/other/

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