Study Classics, Classics Schools
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Have you ever spent time wondering about ancient cultures such as the Greeks and Romans? Do you read books on their mythology, their history, or their philosophy? If so, you are well on your way to becoming a classics major. Classics, one of the most popular disciplines within the humanities, is the study of ancient texts written by Greek and Roman writers – including philosophers, poets, playwrights, politicians, and historians. These texts are known for their depth, their complexity, and their almost overwhelming beauty, and for hundreds of years there have been people who dedicated their lives to understanding such texts and the people who created them. Students in classics departments, read, analyze, and debate a wide variety of ancient writings and learn about the context within which they were made.
- Passion for reading, especially mythology, philosophy, history, and great literature
- Knowledge of grammar and linguistic skills
- Genuine fascination with ancient cultures, especially those of Greece and Rome
In recent years, classics departments in Europe and the United States have expanded their Focus to include ancient texts from other parts of the world such as China, India, and the Middle East. Multicultural classics departments, which examine ancient societies from all over the world, are becoming increasingly common, but the typical classics major still concentrates on the Greeks and/or Romans.
Many classics majors, especially at top universities, learn both Ancient Greek and Latin so that they can read ancient texts in the original language. However, some students in this area specialize and focus on one or the other of these languages. In addition, different classics departments focus on different aspects of classical literature: some may emphasize philosophy, while others emphasize ancient poetry or political history. Depending on your specific interests, different departments may be a better or worse fit for you, so it’s worth doing some research ahead of time.
Classics has a reputation for being a “useless” major, since it does not lead directly to any specific job. However, those who dismiss classics as useless do not understand the field. Although it is true that the most valuable advantages of majoring in classics are personal growth and spiritual insight, classics majors also learn many skills that are immediately applicable to a wide range of jobs. Like all humanities majors, they get extensive practice in analytic writing, and learn how to write persuasive, informative, and colorful prose. In almost any white-collar job, these skills will be critical for success. The ability to understand and analyze complex theoretical structures also has numerous career applications.
Most people who major in classics do so out of passion and curiosity rather than in pursuit of a specific career goal. After graduation, however, they find themselves working in a wide variety of fields. Many go on to law school, where their knowledge of history, analytical skills, ability to reason and persuasively, and background in Latin are all extremely useful. Classics majors often work as teachers as well, particularly teachers of literature and history.