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Take Greek

Ancient Greek is the key to some of the world’s greatest intellectual treasures. By the third semester of our Greek program at the College of Charleston, you will have a solid foundation that will allow you to read a wide variety of texts that connect with multiple academic disciplines. A few of these are listed below.

The College of Charleston supports one of the strongest ancient Greek programs in the southeast, offering 2 sections of introductory ancient Greek in the fall. Prospective students are encouraged to contact Dr. Samuel Flores or Dr. Andrew Alwine for further information.

The study of ancient Greek is complementary to a wide variety of studies encountered at the College. Are you interested in…

  • math? Many of the pioneers of mathematics wrote in ancient Greek (Pythagoras, Euclid, Archimedes). 
  • philosophy? Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are often considered the founders of the western tradition of philosophy. Oh, and other Greek philosophers include Thales, Heraclitus, Diogenes, Epicurus, Zeno (the founder of Stoicism), and Marcus Aurelius.
  • science? The above philosophers are also considered forerunners of modern science. Their studies included early forms of physics, biology, astronomy, and geography, and environmental science.
  • Jewish history? Philo, Josephus, and many others wrote histories of the Jewish people in Greek.
  • early Christianity? All twenty-seven books of the New Testament were written in ancient Greek, and the majority of the early Church fathers followed suit (Justin the Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement, Athanasius, Basil the Great).
  • archaeology? A tremendous amount of information about Greek civilization is found within the textual evidence. Tying together archaeological data with an understanding of information found within textual sources is a dangerously effective combination.
  • drama? The three great founders of tragedy are Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, all of whom were Athenians living during the fifth century B.C. The first extant comic poet, Aristophanes, was also writing during this time.
  • history? The “founder of history,” Herodotus, wrote in Greek, as did the “founder of modern history,” Thucydides. The Greek historiographical tradition dominated the later development of the genre.
  • epic? The greatest of all epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are both in Greek. These are the starting points for the incredible literary output of Greek culture from the 8th century B.C. to the present.
  • medicine? Some of the earliest medical writings in history are in Greek (Hippocrates, Galen), which is why medical vocabulary is drawn heavily from Greek roots.
  • politics? The world’s first democracies flourished in Greece in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and provided the template for popular government in all future eras.
  • the novel? The earliest novels date back to the Greek period: Chariton's Callirhoe, Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe.
  • linguistics? The Greek alphabet was one of the first true “alphabet”s, with separate characters for both consonants and vowels. Studying Greek provides basic tools for studying the development of languages and relationships between languages.
  • law? The earliest law codes devised by popular (non-monarchical) governments date to the seventh century B.C. in Crete.
  • the liberal arts? The genesis of the liberal arts tradition was in the schools founded by Plato, Isocrates, and others in Athens during the fourth century B.C.
  • English literature? Authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, and Byron were steeped in classical learning, and the impact of Greek literature is apparent throughout their writings. Milton, for instance, wrote thousands of lines of Greek poetry as a preparation for composing in English.
  • mythology? Stories of Greek gods and heroes continue to be told and retold in television, cinema, and literature today.