Ancient Studies


Are you interested in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, in how they relate to one another or to ancient India?

Program Overview

Does the prospect of courses in ancient art, literature, history, philosophy, and religion appeal to you? If so, then you should consider a major (or minor) in ancient studies, a program that approaches these ancient civilizations from an interdisciplinary and inclusive perspective. Currently, majors may choose from among three concentrations: art historical/archaeological, historical, or literary/mythological. With the help of an advisor, you can select courses from among a range of offerings in the departments of classics and Italian, art history, Asian studies, philosophy, politics, and religion.

Community Voices

Spotlight on Ancient Studies students and alums

Emily Isakson 鈥19


Gina Ciralli 鈥14 Project coordinator, 鈥淚nside Out,鈥 Philadelphia Museum of Art

Courses and Requirements

Learning Goals

Learning goals for students of classics and ancient studies are:

  • To analyze critically ancient Greek and Roman texts, in their original languages and in translation, within their literary, philosophical, and historical contexts.

  • To understand major monuments and artifacts within their historical and cultural settings; to develop a visual literacy of ancient art and sharpen the ability to see and express what one sees.

  • To imagine fully and creatively ancient cultural communities when relying on limited written and material remains.

  • To deepen the understanding of current problems by studying the responses of ancient Greeks and Romans to questions about the human condition, including, how to live well, and how to govern. 

  • To write and speak more confidently and effectively, and to develop well-reasoned arguments using primary evidence and/or secondary material, including print and digital resources.

  • To expand intellectual breadth through studying the ancient Greek and Roman worlds through different disciplines and modes of inquiry.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 32 credits:

At least one 4 credit course at or above the level of GREEK-102 or LATIN-1024
At least one 4 credit art historical or archaeological course focusing on the ancient Mediterranean4
At least one 4 credit literary or mythical course focusing on the ancient Mediterranean or India4
At least two 4 credit historical courses: 8
One course on the ancient Greek world
One course on the ancient Roman world
At least two 4 credit 300-level courses:8
One of which is a designated capstone/research seminar
One of which is in the chosen concentration
One additional 4 credit course at the 200 level or above4
Total Credits32

Additional Specifications

  • At least three (4 credit) courses (12 credits total) must be within the chosen concentration
  • Students intending to pursue graduate studies are encouraged to minor in a related area (e.g., art history, classics, history, one of the ancient languages, philosophy, or religion)

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 20 credits:

Two 4 credit courses, each from different areas of concentration8
At least one 4 credit course at the 300 level4
8 credits from relevant 4 credit courses in art history, classics, history, Asian studies, philosophy, religion, or politics8
Total Credits20

Related Courses

Art History
ARTH-290RAIssues in Art History: 'Roman Art and Archaeology'4
ARTH-290VAIssues in Art History: 'Ancient Greek Vases and Vase Painting'4
CLASS-205Cleopatra: The Not Humble Woman4
CLASS-211Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek and Roman Myth4
CLASS-212Greek Tragedy, American Drama, and Film4
CLASS-226Bread and Circuses: The Politics of Public Entertainment in Ancient Rome4
CLASS-227Ancient Greece4
CLASS-228Ancient Rome4
CLASS-229The Tyrant and Gladiator: Bad Roman Emperors from Caligula to Commodus4
CLASS-239HETopics in Classics: "The Hellenistic World from Alexander to Cleopatra'4
CLASS-239RATopics in Classics: 'Roman Art and Archaeology'4
CLASS-239VATopics in Classics: 'Ancient Greek Vases and Vase Painting'4
CLASS-242Sicily: Crossroads of the Mediterranean4
CLASS-253The Spartans: Myth and History4
CLASS-260Knowing God4
CLASS-262Kingdoms Human and Divine4
CLASS-295Independent Study1-4
CLASS-395Independent Study1-8
GREEK-101Elementary Greek: Homer's Iliad4
GREEK-102Elementary Greek: Homer's Iliad4
GREEK-250Intermediate Greek Tutorial2-4
GREEK-350Advanced Greek Tutorial2-4
HIST-226Bread and Circuses: The Politics of Public Entertainment in Ancient Rome4
HIST-227Ancient Greece4
HIST-228Ancient Rome4
HIST-229The Tyrant and the Gladiator: Bad Roman Emperors from Caligula to Commodus4
HIST-253HETopics in History: 'The Hellenistic World from Alexander to Cleopatra'4
HIST-253SPTopics in History: 'The Spartans: Myth and History'4
LATIN-101Elementary Latin I4
LATIN-102Elementary Latin II4
LATIN-201Intermediate Latin I4
LATIN-202Cicero and the Enemies of the Roman Republic4
LATIN-209Vergil: Aeneid4
LATIN-213Myth, Memory, and History: Writing the Past in the Roman Republic4
LATIN-302Cicero and the Enemies of the Roman Republic4
LATIN-307The Slender Muse4
LATIN-309Vergil: Aeneid4
LATIN-310Ovid: Metamorphoses4
LATIN-313Myth, Memory, and History: Writing the Past in the Roman Republic4
PHIL-201Philosophical Foundations of Western Thought: The Greek Period4
RELIG-225KGTopics in Religion: 'Knowing God'4
RELIG-225KHTopics in Religion: 'Kingdoms Human and Divine'4

Contact Us

The Department of Classics and Italian oversees programs in ancient studies, classics, Italian, Greek and Latin.

Denise Falk
  • Academic Department Coordinator

Next Steps

Apply to Mount Holyoke

Mount Holyoke seeks intellectually curious applicants who understand the value of a liberal arts education and are driven by a love of learning. As a women's college that is gender diverse, we welcome applications from female, trans and non-binary students.

Financing your education

Everyone鈥檚 financial situation is unique, and we鈥檙e here to make sure cost does not get in the way of an exceptional education.