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Classics Courses


The study of Greek and Roman works, in their original languages, gives students a unique window into understanding two ancient cultures and identifying their ripples, reflections, and distinctions in the modern world. Starting from a linguistic-based study of Latin and classical Greek, students become independent thinkers, cultivating strong habits of mind and intellectual discipline. Students learn to be precise and logical readers—skilled in close, textual analysis—and interpreters. Because students develop the skills of close textual analysis with works that have been debated for centuries, they begin to understand both the scholarly value of their own interpretations and how the lenses of different eras affect the way a work is viewed. Class discussions are far-ranging, drawing connections across various disciplines such as English, history, mythology, archaeology, and philosophy. Students who choose to study Latin and Greek become more than just masters of vocabulary, language and syntax—they gain a centuries-long perspective on modern civilization and languages, and develop a strong foundation for future study in many fields. Completion of level 3 or 2/3 in Latin satisfies the language diploma requirement. The advanced Latin course, Latin Literature (AP), prepares students for the Advanced Placement Latin examination. Advanced courses in Latin authors are equivalent to intermediate level college courses.

Note: A student who enters in Class II and does not qualify to enter at least Level 2 in a language offered at Milton will be placed in a foreign language at the level that is most appropriate for the student’s growth and development and will be expected to take two years of that language (ancient or modern).

Latin 1
This introduction to the Latin language presents the basics of grammar and vocabulary, as well as background in Roman history, culture and mythology. Because students start Latin with different backgrounds in English grammar, we devote considerable time to examining the way English works. In addition, students learn to look for English cognates of the Latin words they study, thus strengthening their vocabulary in both languages. Students are introduced to all five declensions; the six indicative tenses and the infinitives (active and passive) of all conjugations; relative, personal, demonstrative and reflexive pronouns, the indirect statement, and the comparative system of adjectives and adverbs. Successful completion of this course qualifies students for Latin 2. Highly motivated and proficient students may request permission to enroll in the accelerated course, Latin 2/3.

Latin 2
Following a systematic review of Latin morphology and sentence structure, students in Latin 2 complete their study of forms and syntax while developing reading skills using adapted selections, primarily from Cicero. Starting in the spring, the course provides students with their first opportunity to read, in the native language, words written two millennia ago by authors who have influenced the development of Western literature and history. Some original Latin texts may serve as a starting point for exploring Greco-Roman mythology, culture and important periods of Latin history. This course prepares students to read Latin prose.

Latin 3
A reading course with some grammar and composition, Latin 3 focuses on developing students’ reading skills. Students build vocabulary by identifying learned roots, prefixes and English derivatives. Prose readings include selections from Caesar’s commentaries and the works of Cicero, which we examine for rhetorical literary style as well as for content and political implications. Excerpts from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Amores introduce meter and familiarize students with mythological stories. Successful completion of this course qualifies students for Latin 4. Highly motivated and proficient students may request permission to enroll in the Advanced Placement course, Latin Literature.

Latin 2/3 (Accelerated)
This course combines all the grammar and authors studied in Latin 2 and 3. The class meets five times per week and assumes a solid foundation in level 1 Latin. Successful completion of this course qualifies students for Latin 4. Highly motivated and proficient students may request permission to enroll in the Advanced Placement course, Latin Literature. (Enrollment by permission of the department chair.)

Latin 4: Literature of the Golden Age
Students in this course develop their reading skills as they translate and engage with selections from first century B.C.E. authors. Readings are drawn from Cicero’s speeches and/or letters, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Vergil’s Aeneid and other works of prose and poetry that are representative of the late Republican and Augustan age. These works introduce students to some of the most popular classical myths, to themes of love and the hero, and to the historical context that shaped the works. Students strengthen grammar skills, and increase reading speed and comprehension. They learn to scan dactylic hexameter and elegiac verse. This course introduces students to great works of Latin literature and prepares students for the Advanced Placement course, Latin Literature.

Latin Literature (AP)
This reading course focuses on Vergil’s Aeneid and the selections of Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War that are included on the Advanced Placement examination. Students consider the major themes of the works within their literary and historical contexts. Designed for highly motivated students, this rigorous course presents elements of Roman history, politics, mythology and the classical literary tradition. Through close textual study, students encounter literary criticism as a tool for understanding classical literature. (Permission of the department chair required; prepares students for the AP Latin examination.)

Advanced Classics

Roman Elegy and Lyric, and Roman History are both half courses. Each meets twice per week throughout the year and may be taken independently or concurrently. Roman Philosophical Writings and Selected Readings are semester courses, meeting four times per week for half the year. Unless permission is given by the department, students must complete Latin Literature (AP) before enrolling in other advanced Latin courses with the exception of Intensive Classical Greek, for which a level 4 language is co-requisite. Note: When there is a need, and staffing permits, Roman Philosophical Writings or Selected Readings may be offered as a half course.

Advanced Latin: Roman Elegy and Lyric
(Half Course)
This course focuses on reading and understanding Latin poetry in its literary and historical contexts. Reading works by poets such as Catullus, Horace, Sulpicia and Ovid, students trace the development of meter, diction and poetic motifs. The class also explores how Roman poets adapted the conventions of love poetry to present an image of the Roman state under Augustus that is more personal than Vergil’s vision. Some important topics studied are first person narrative, gender and poetic allusion. (Prerequisite: Latin Literature (AP) or permission of the department chair.)

Advanced Latin: Roman Historians
(Half Course)
How did the Romans view their history? How did they want to be remembered? This course provides a look at Roman history through the eyes of some of Rome’s better-known historians. A close reading of selected texts in Latin serves as a basis for examining questions of historiography and prose style. Principal selections are drawn from Livy, Tacitus and Sallust. (Prerequisite: Latin Literature (AP) or permission of the department chair.)

Advanced Latin: Roman Philosophical Writings
(Semester 1)
What role did the Roman gods have in shaping the world around us? What does it mean to live “a good life”? In this course, students read selections from Lucretius, Cicero, Horace and Seneca and examine their works for philosophical insight and poetic craft in their historical context. Students are introduced to important Greek influences on Roman philosophy. (Prerequisite: Latin Literature (AP) or permission of the department chair.)

Advanced Latin: Selected Readings
(Semester 2)
This course permits students to pursue their own interests in Latin and Greek literature at an advanced level. Working together with members of the department, students select authors and texts to read. Past classes have read comedy, satire, oratory and history. (Prerequisite: Latin Literature (AP) and one other Advanced Latin course or permission of the department chair.)

Intensive Classical Greek
This course covers the basic grammar and vocabulary of Attic Greek. Adapted texts from Homer, Plato, Herodotus, and Aristophanes serve as a basis for the study of Greek culture and its legacy. Students also choose particular aspects of the Greek world to explore in independent and collaborative projects in the fall and spring. Some topics include: democracy, art, drama, law, history and philosophy. (Prerequisite: current enrollment in or completion of level 4 of a language at Milton.)

Advanced Greek: Plato
In this course, we continue the study of Greek grammar and syntax while reviewing the foundation built in the previous year. Students are introduced to Greek prose through a careful reading of selections from Plato’s Symposium, a text that serves as a basis for students’ study of 5th century Athenian culture and identity. In addition to the Symposium, students study related passages from other Platonic works and from other authors and poets. Over the course of the year, students explore topics in mythology, history, philosophy, drama, gender and sexuality.

Advanced Greek: Selected Readings
This course covers selected readings from Classical Greek writers such as Euripides, Herodotus, Homer and Xenophon. Students also choose particular aspects of the Greek world to explore in independent and collaborative projects in the fall and spring. (Prerequisite: Advanced Greek: Plato.)