With NATO formally inviting Finland and Sweden to join its alliance after Turkey dropped its objections, classics and history professor Barry Strauss comments that history is full of alliances that amounted to little.Read More
Department of Classics
Classics is the original interdisciplinary academic field at the heart both of European/western civilization and today’s Liberal Arts education. We teach and research the languages (Greek, Latin), literature, history, philosophy, science, art, and material culture that survive from the worlds of ancient Greece, Rome, and Late Antiquity. Through archaeology and art history we investigate and analyze the material record and environment of these civilizations and their neighbors – accessing a past beyond the texts of the elite and their mostly male voices to explore fully this world from top to bottom.
News from Classics
Toni Alimi’s book project, “Slaves of God,” delves deep into the Augustine cannon, explaining the philosopher’s reasons for justifying slavery.Read More
A new Cornell study suggests that solving societal problems such as climate change could require dismantling rigid academic boundaries, so that researchers from varying disciplines could work together collaboratively.Read More
Cornell’s Earth Source Heat borehole project already had a fitting English motto: “Onward and Downward.” Now, the project has Latin and Greek mottos courtesy of Prof. Daniel Gallagher: Energeia Geothermica: Perge deorsum!Read More
The “Sculpture Shoppe” exhibition displays selections from Cornell’s plaster cast collection of Greco-Roman sculptures alongside – and sometimes within – contemporary artists’ responses to cast culture and classical art.Read More
Stephen Sansom, a Postdoctoral Associate in Classics, took the stage with his bandmates on May 5 for “MUSE–AK: a Mall Performance of Ancient Greek Song.” This wonderful contribution to the Sculpture Shoppe exhibition made a fitting conclusion for Stephen's time at Cornell. He will begin his new posi...Read More
"These faculty members and graduate teaching assistants have made tremendous contributions for the benefit of our students, guiding their educational paths and molding their experiences."Read More
What is Classics?
Classics is about learning Latin and Greek
Neither language is spoken today, but hundreds of world-historical masterpieces were written in those two languages. Ancient Greek is the key that unlocks Homer, philosophy, tragedy, comedy, history, particle physics, and half the Bible. Latin is the key that unlocks epic poetry, stage drama, fables, rhetoric, law, and the reawakening of the West in the Renaissance. The two languages together allow you to observe, like a firsthand witness, the downhill slide of Rome’s thousand-year civilization from an American-style democracy to an authoritarian empire. Studying them, and the voices of the women and men who spoke them, reveals more than just the mindset of a people that built the Coliseum and the catacombs. Those voices also reveal the foundations of the modern world order—from secular humanism to religious orthodoxy. They’re also a lot of fun!
Classics beyond the classroom
Classics doesn’t just involve learning your Latin principal parts (important though they are!). Our students and faculty engage with the Greco-Roman world in multiple ways, whether speaking “living Latin” in Rome, taking part in archaeological digs or traveling seminars to Europe, curating exhibitions, or putting on performances of ancient plays. From experiments with ancient technology to the use of myth in contemporary art, we celebrate and explore the enduring relevance and reinvention of the Classical past within the 21st century.