What is Classics?
Classics is the exploration of the ancient world of Greece and Rome, including its languages (Greek and Latin), literature, philosophy, science, religions, and politics. Until the nineteenth century, being educated meant knowing the classics, usually in the original languages; the New Testament, for example, was written in Greek. We study all aspects of the classical world, the most fascinating era of human history that invented “the humanities,” which can be both familiar to us and foreign at the same time.
Why study Classics?
In brief: for the intellectual thrill and the professional advantages.
Students who major in Classics are captivated by ancient religions, mythology, and the epic poems of Homer and Vergil; the origins of radical democracy at Athens; empire and republic at Rome; ancient medicine and Roman law; and philosophy (such as Plato and Aristotle’s), which in ethics and politics offer challenging alternatives to modern thought. Antiquity had different conceptions of gender, sexuality, the gods, and what it meant to be human and happy. We study all this through art, literature, and archaeology, either as a source of western culture, as an alternative to our modern way of life, or as fascinating variations of human potential.
The ancient languages are not required for the Classical Humanities major, but students can major in Greek and Latin if they choose, or in Ancient History and Classics. Visit https://classics.osu.edu/Undergraduate-Studies/major-requirements
It is smart to double-major. Many of our students are double-majors, usually in Classical Humanities and a scientific field (e.g., molecular genetics). These can be combined because of the relatively low number of credits that the Classical Humanities major requires. Challenge yourself by combining your two passions: science and the humanities.
A training in Classics is a tremendous asset for careers in publishing, education, culture industries, and entertainment, including film, literature, advertising, and gaming. J. K. Rowling, Mark Zuckerberg, Tom Hiddleston (“Loki”), and Jack Emmert (CEO of game-design companies) all studied Classics – to say nothing of Thomas Jefferson. Classics is a stepping stone for any other professional fields you can imagine.
Classics and law: knowing Latin is a great asset for the study of law. But more than any practical benefit, law schools favor applicants who have leaned ancient languages because they require memorizing rules and information and paying attention to details in texts, which is basically what lawyers do. A recent study shows that Classics majors have the highest LSAT scores.
Classics and medicine: Medical schools are increasingly looking for students with humanities exposure, because it helps them develop empathy and narrative competence. The foundation of Medical Humanities at Ohio State, in which the Department participates, is the teaching of empathy, ethics, and narrative competence as they relate to the study and practice of medicine.
Classics and linguistics: the study of language emerged from European scholars’ knowledge of Greek and Latin, so a great deal of terminology and concepts in linguistics relies on them. Historical linguistics began when scholars began to compare Greek and Latin to the languages of Asia.
Classics and early Christianity: Serious study of the New Testament must be done in the Greek, its original language. Students interested in an MDiv will also benefit from the Department’s courses on early Christianity in its pagan Graeco-Roman context.
Classics skills that make you stand out professionally
- If you can learn Greek or Latin well, employers will believe that you can do anything.
- Ancient oratory will teach you clear communication, persuasion, and the importance of ideas, all of which employers value.
- Develop both analytical and synthetic skills: the ability to combine diverse materials in pursuit of an overarching goal (classicists use literary, artistic, and archaeological material to solve historical problems).
- Tap into the original source material that is always relevant and renews itself, even as the circumstances of our own world change.
- Understand the commonalities that lie behind different cultures, often on a deep level.
- Stand out by invoking mythological paradigms and archetypes.
- Why does the Oracle in the Matrix smoke? Grasp iconic classical allusions, and infuse your work with your own.
- Classical knowledge will make you distinctive among applicants for a position, if you own and stand behind this distinction. Everyone else will have done the “expected” thing, so their resumes all look the same.
- Ancient philosophy is the supreme way to think outside the box.
Art and Archaeology
Courses in the art and archaeology of Greece and Rome enrich our students’ experience of the ancient world, as do our Study Abroad programs and archaeological fieldwork led by faculty in Classics and affiliated disciplines. In addition, many Ohio State Classics undergraduates have participated in summer and academic-year programs offered at such institutions as the American Academy in Rome, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, and College Year in Athens.