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.

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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.

Readings in Greek

  • Homer: Iliad 1, 9, 16, 22, 24; Odyssey 9–12
  • Hesiod: Theogony
  • Homeric Hymns: 5 (To Aphrodite)
  • Greek Lyric:
    • Archilochus frr. 6, 7, 60, Cologne Fragment
    • Sappho frr. 1, 16, 31
    • Tyrtaeus fr. 9
    • Solon frr. 1, 19
  • Pindar: Olympian 1
  • Aeschylus: Agamemnon
  • Sophocles: Oedipus Rex
  • Euripides: Medea
  • Aristophanes: Clouds
  • Herodotus: Histories 1
  • Thucydides: Selections in B. Nagy, Thucydides Reader
  • Gorgias: 11 (Helen)
  • Plato: Apology
  • Lysias: 1 (On the Murder of Eratosthenes)
  • Apollonius of Rhodes: Argonautica 3
  • Theocritus: Idylls 11 (Polyphemus to Galatea)
  • Lucian: Alexander the False Prophet
  • Plutarch: Alexander

Readings in Latin

  • Plautus: Pseudolus
  • Terence: Adelphoe
  • Catullus: All
  • Lucretius: De Rerum Natura 1.1-482, 3
  • Cicero: In Catilinam 1, Stockton’s Thirty-Five Letters
  • Caesar: Civil War 1
  • Sallust: Bellum Catilinae
  • Vergil: Eclogues 1; Aeneid 1, 2, 4, 6, 12
  • Horace: Odes 1; Satires 1
  • Tibullus: Elegies 1
  • Propertius: Elegies 1
  • Ovid: Amores 1; Metamorphoses 1
  • Livy: Ab Urbe Condita 1
  • Augustus: Res Gestae
  • Tacitus: Annales 14
  • Pliny: Epistles 6.16, 20; 10.96, 97
  • Juvenal: Satires 1, 3
  • Apuleius: Metamorphoses 4.28–6.24 (Cupid and Psyche)

Supplementary Reading List

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