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Department of Classical Studies

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 CLASSICAL STUDIES have always been at the heart of a liberal education, because they afford unmatched perspectives from which to understand our own time. We offer courses in the history, religion, art, philosophy, legal systems, literature, mythology, social and cultural developments of antiquity. The curriculum covers 3,500 years of human experience in the Greco-Roman world, from the beginnings of Western civilization through the Christianization of Europe.

Three major programs are available. Students majoring in classical languages approach the ancient world primarily through its literature, read in the original language. Students majoring in classics integrate the ancient texts with other kinds of evidence. Students majoring in classical civilization receive the broadest introduction to the ancient world, and they read the primary sources in translation. Majors are encouraged to spend a semester at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome or a Maymester session in Greece or Rome led by one of our own professors.

Our Program is committed to the interdisciplinary study of Mediterranean antiquity, integrating the ancient texts with material and visual culture, both in our teaching and in our research.  Faculty members have recently published books on brothels and taverns in ancient Greece, on the effects of imperial government upon average citizens in Roman Egypt, and on Roman and Byzantine graves; they have led summer programs for students overseas; and one colleague directs the Kenchreai Excavations, a long-term archaeological project in southern Greece.


Maymester Courses in Greece
and Rome

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Uncovering Greek Religion: Cults, Festivals, and Sanctuaries in the Ancient World.

Travel to Greece to survey Greek religion: its deities, sanctuaries, and festivals. Examine the wide variety of pagan cults from prehistory to late Antiquity; the roots of early Christianity; and the influence of ancient pagan cults on modern Greece. Related topics include Athenian democracy; the impact of cults and festivals on warfare, the economy, athletics, and literature; and the role of women and other marginalized groups.

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Archaeology, History, and Culture in Greece: Kenchreai Field School.

Archaeological field school at the site of Kenchreai with seminars and excursions in southern Greece. Basic techniques in excavation, survey, and the analysis of architecture, artifacts, and bones. Explorations of churches, temples, houses, and tombs. Focus on Greece during the Roman Empire and late antiquity. Landscape settlement, cult practice, cultural and social diversity, and funerary ritual.

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History and Art of Ancient Rome: Maymester in Rome and Campania.

Visits to significant archeological sites, monuments and museum collections in Rome and locations throughout southern Italy.

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Recent News

  • January 6, 2017
    Barbara Tsakirgis has been recognized for her remarkable achievements as the 2017 recipient of the Martha and Artemis Joukowsky Distinguished Service Award from the Archaeological Institute of America
  • November 5, 2016
    Daniel Solomon received the Jacqueline Elliott Award for Service in Higher Education from the Tennessee Foreign Language Teachers Association
  • October 24, 2016
    Joseph Rife was a guest of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World of New York University, where he commenced a working group on Roman Aegean Networks in collaboration with Sebastian Heath (ISAW) and Sabine Ladstätter (ÖAI-Vienna).
  • October 18, 2016
    Ari Bryen's chapter, “Crimes Against the Person: Violence and Sexual Crimes” has appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Roman Law and Society
  • September 26, 2016
    Ari Bryen presented a paper entitled "Labeo’s iniuria: politics and violence in the age of Augustus" at the European Legal History workshop at Harvard Law School.
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Lectures and Events

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New Publications
by Our Faculty

Ari Bryen, Violence in Roman Egypt: A Study in Legal Interpretation

Bryan This study analyzes  over one hundred papyrus petitions in order to illustrate the impact of law and government upon a variety of ordinary Egyptians who lived under the Roman Empire.

Barbara Tsakirgis,  Houses of Ill Repute: The Archaeology of Brothels, Houses, and Taverns in the Greek World

Tsakirgis  This volume examines buildings that housed activities neither public nor private—brothels, taverns, and other homes of illicit activity. While others have studied houses or brothels, this volume is the first to look at both together.

Joseph Rife,  Isthmia IX: The Roman and Byzantine Graves and Human Remains.

Rife_Isthmia This study describes and interprets graves and human remains around the Isthmian Sanctuary, providing important evidence for both death and life in the Greek countryside during the twilight of antiquity.