M.A. in Classics

Available here, in addition to a statement of degree requirements, is the reading list for the degree and a supplementary reading list for historical background.


The M.A. in Classics requires ten courses (30 credits) in Greek and Latin at the graduate level, completion of an independent reading list, demonstration of proficiency in a modern foreign language, usually French or German, and comprehensive written and oral examinations.

Course Work

Six to eight courses a year are normally available to graduate students. A thesis or independent paper option is also available for three or six credits; requires departmental permission.

Modern Language

Proficiency is demonstrated by a one-hour translation test in which the use of a dictionary is allowed. This test does not form part of the comprehensive exams. It may be taken at a student's earliest convenience, the sooner the better.

Comprehensive Exams

These include a two-hour exam in Greek literature, a two-hour exam in Latin literature, and a one-hour oral exam.

Each written exam requires the translation of three passages and the composition of an essay about one of them; the essay asks a student to identify the passage in its literary context and the author in his historical context. Written exams are based on the reading list and on a student's course work. Use of a dictionary is not allowed.

The oral exam is open-ended, testing whether a student can keep a conversation going for an hour on the topic of classical literature in its historical context. A supplementary reading list suggests books on political, social, and literary history.

Summary of Requirements

  • 30 credits of coursework (may include three or six credit thesis)
  • Proficiency test in a modern foreign language
  • Two-hour written examination on Greek literature
  • Two-hour written examination on Latin literature
  • One-hour oral examination

Reading List

The list contains options as well as requirements. Each student will be expected, before taking comprehensive exams, to submit an individualized list. For print purposes see Reading List in pdf format.



  • Iliad 1, 6, 9, 16, 22, 24
  • Odyssey 1, 9-12
  • The whole of both poems in English

Hesiod, or Lyric, either of the following:

  • Hesiod, Works & Days 1-201 and Theogony 1-210
  • David Campbell, ed., Greek Lyric Poetry, selections of:
    • Archilochus (including Cologne fragmentAppendix)
    • Mimnermus
    • Sappho (1, 16, 31, 55, 104a, 105a, 105c, 130)
    • Anacreon (357, 358, 395, 417)
    • Solon


  • In Greek, one play from each dramatist:
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon or Prometheus Bound
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Rex or Antigone
    • Euripides, Medea or Bacchae
    • Aristophanes, Clouds or Frogs
  • In English, at least six plays from among:
    • Aeschylus, Oresteia
    • Sophocles, Ajax and Oedipus at Colonus
    • Euripides, AlcestisHecubaHelen, and Hippolytus
    • Aristophanes, AcharniansLysistrata, and Birds

Herodotus, Histories 1 or 6

Thucydides, History 6 or 7; the whole History in English

Plato, either of the following:

  • Republic 10
  • Apology and Crito
  • The whole Republic in English

Hellenistic Poetry, from Neil Hopkinson, A Hellenistic Anthology:

  • Theocritus, Idyll 11 (= HA ix)
  • Aratus, Phaenomena 1-18, 96-136 (= HA vi-vii)
  • Callimachus, Hymn 5 (= HA iii)
  • Funerary and Amatory Epigrams (= HA xxvi, 1-24)



In Latin, two plays from among:

  • Plautus, AululariaMostellaria, and Pseudolus
  • Terence, Adelphoe, and Phormio

In English, three other plays:

Catullus, Poems 1-16, 31-42, 44-46, 49-51, 58, 64, 76, 101

Lucretius, De rerum natura 1. 1-58 (Proem), 5.925-1420 (Anthropology)

Cicero, two from among:

  • Pro Caelio
  • Somnium Scipionis
  • David Stockton, Thirty-five Letters of Cicero

Caesar, Gallic War 1

Virgil, Aeneid 2, 4, 6, 8, 12; the whole Aeneid in English.

Horace, selected poems:

  • Odes 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.9, 1.15, 1.22, 1.37
  • Odes 2.3, 2.13, 2.14, 2.16
  • Odes 3.5, 3.11, 3.13, 3.21, 3.30 Odes 4.7
  • Satires 2.6

Elegy, selected poems:

  • Propertius 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.10, 3.1, 3.3, 4.1, 4.7
  • Tibullus 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.10, 2.5
  • Ovid, Amores 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, 1.9, 1.13, 2.19, 3.2

Ovid, selections from Metamorphoses:

  • 1.452-567 (Apollo and Daphne)
  • 3.138-253 (Actaeon)
  • 3.339-510 (Echo and Narcissus)
  • 4.55-166 (Pyramus and Thisbe)
  • 6.1-145 (Arachne)
  • 8.153-235 (Daedalus and Icarus)
  • 10.243-97 (Pygmalion)
  • 10.298-502 (Myrrha)
  • 11.410-748 (Ceyx and Alcyone)

Livy, Histories 1 or 21

Tacitus, Annals 15

Novel, either of the following:

  • Petronius, Satyricon 26-78 (Trimalchio)
  • Apuleius, Metamorphoses 4.28-6.24 (Cupid and Psyche)


As general background to the study of classical antiquity, we strongly recommend that you read some basic works on the political and social history of Greece and Rome, especially if you have never taken a course on those subjects. The books below are recent classics that we like, but there are many available; feel free to make substitutions.

For Greece

  • Robin Osborne, Greece in the Making, 1200-479 BC
  • Simon Hornblower, The Greek World, 479-323 BC
  • Loren J. Samons, ed. Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles
  • Greek social history: e.g. J.N. Davidson, Courtesans & Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

For Rome

  • Harriet Flower, Roman Republics
  • Colin Wells, The Roman Empire
  • Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution
  • Roman social history: e.g. Robert Knapp, Invisible Romans; Potter & Mattingly, Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire (esp. good on religion, demography, & spectacles); Michael Peachin, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Roman Social Relations; T. Wiseman, Catullus and His World

For literary history

  • Gian Biagio Conte, Latin Literature: A History
  • Tim Whitmarsh, Ancient Greek Literature