Greek and Latin

Students who learn these ancient languages can pick up derivative languages such as French, Spanish, Italian, or Romanian with relative ease. But rigorous instruction in Greek and/or Latin also builds students’ linguistic tool bag so that they can begin studying other, unrelated languages with confidence. In our courses, students learn to read one specific language, but they also learn how languages work, from the inside out. It should be no surprise that the careers that students of Greek and Latin pursue are incredibly diverse: business, law, education, medicine, theology, information science, civil/foreign service, consulting, and publishing. Any field that requires high-level critical thinking, research, and communication is likely to have a few Classics majors in it. [Read more on careers in Classics.]

Greek and Latin are foundational languages for all cultures that have roots in the ancient Mediterranean. Romance languages are derivatives of Latin, and classical Greek evolved into Koine Greek (the language of the New Testament and much of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism) and eventually into modern Greek. Throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Levant, Greek and Latin remained critical components of the educational establishment for centuries. Knowledge of Greek and Latin gives immediate access to a shared cultural foundation and cultivates a global mindset. These languages are ancient but not out-of-date.

Introductory and Intermediate Greek/Latin

The first three semesters of our Greek and Latin programs are devoted primarily to grammatical instructions, the bones of the language. In the fourth semester (GREK 202 or LATN 202), students transition to reading an authentic Greek or Latin text in its original language.

The textbook for the Latin program, across all courses introductory courses, is Latin for the New Millennium. The textbook for the Greek program is Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek.

Interested in starting? See our current course offerings.

Latin Placement

If you took Latin in high school and are interested in placing into a Latin course beyond LATN 101, see this information about the placement system at the College of Charleston.

Upper-level ancient Greek/Latin

300-level courses are offered on variable topics, depending on the instructor. Professors tend to overlap their teaching with their research interests, which means that students get the experience of taking a course with an expert in the field in a small-class environment (often only 6-10 students). Here are some examples from recent years:

Lucian, A True Story (Dr. Jennifer Gerrish): Fly to the moon, escape the belly of the whale, and discover the island made out of cheese: readings from Lucian's A True Story. (Fall 2020)

Roman Satire (Dr. Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael: Survey of Roman satirical literature with emphasis on Horace and Juvenal. (Fall 2020)

Caesar, Gallic Wars (Dr. Jennifer Gerrish): Readings from Book 5 of Julius Caesar's Bellum Gallicum. In addition to refining their Latin skills and exploring the historical, political, and literary context of the BG, students also have the opportunity to participate in the development and publication of a commentary and translation of Bellum Gallicum 5. (Spring 2020)

Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica (Dr. Andrew Alwine): Read the story of Jason and Medea in the famous epic account of Apollonius. (Spring 2020)

Hannibal of Carthage (Dr. Jennifer Gerrish): Hannibal of Carthage, best known today for marching across the Alps with his elephant army, was the one foreign enemy to truly terrify the Romans. We will explore how three Roman authors (Nepos, Livy, and Silius Italicus) in three different genres (biography, history, and epic) reckoned with the memory of Hannibal. (Fall 2019)

Herodotus, Histories (Dr. Sam Flores): Read selections from Herodotus’ Histories, examining the development of Greek historiography and the interactions between Greeks and Persians in the generations leading up to the Persian Wars. (Fall 2019)

Theocritus’ Idylls (Dr. Jennifer Gerrish): Readings from Sicilian poet of the Hellenistic period who is often considered the creator of “pastoral” poetry. The title of his work led to the word, “idyllic.” (Spring 2019)

Plato’s Republic (Dr. Sam Flores): Selected readings from Plato’s Republic, perhaps the greatest work of philosophy of all time. (Fall 2018)

Ovid (Dr. Jim Lohmar): With readings from his Tristia and Fasti, this course examined Ovid's exilic poetry on its own terms, as highly biographical and brooding documents that cast a long, retrospective eye across his poetic career. (Fall 2018)

Triumviral Literature (Dr. Jennifer Gerrish): Less than two decades passed between the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE and the establishment of the Augustan principate, but these years were marked by swift and often violent change. In this course, students read selections of prose and poetry composed during this period, including Cicero’s Philippics, Sallust’s Conspiracy of Catiline, Vergil’s Eclogues, and Horace’s Epodes, tracing the transition from republic to empire. (Fall 2018)

Thucydides (Dr. Jennifer Gerrish): Selected readings from Thucydides’ magisterial History of the Peloponnesian War. (Spring 2018)

Apuleius (Dr. Sam Flores): Students read selections from Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, the only completely surviving Roman novel. It chronicles the adventures of a man named Lucius whose curiosity gets him turned into a donkey! The selections included the earliest extant version of the Tale of Cupid and Psyche. The course examined several themes in the novel, including magic, witchcraft, Roman religion, and Middle Platonist philosophy. (Spring 2018)

Vergil, Aeneid (Dr. Andrew Alwine) This course focused on Vergil’s sublime epic, the Aeneid. Students read selections of the work in Latin and the entire work in translation. (Spring 2018)

For a list of the courses offered by the Classics Department semester-by-semester, see the links below.

See our current course offerings.