At Luther, students may major in
Classics is the study of Greek and Roman civilizations through an examination of Greek and Latin languages, literature, ancient history, and archaeology. It also includes the subfields of historiography, papyrology, art history, mythology, numismatics (coins), literary criticism, marine archaeology, and a host of others. In short, Classics embodies every discipline that can be mustered to reconstruct and learn from the extraordinary flowering of the civilizations of Greece and Rome—a time when the Greeks invented democracy, built temples that endure to this day, and initiated the fields of Western poetry, history, philosophy, drama, and comedy.
The Romans contributed their own legacy, not only in the fields of history, literature, philosophy, and a law code that inspires our own, but also in the fields of technology and engineering on a grand scale. And yet the Greeks and Romans, like us, had their share of social ills—violence, political corruption, imperialistic ambitions, religious persecution, discrimination, widespread poverty, and slavery, among others. A millennium of human experience—the best and worst—is reflected in such great historical figures as the poets Homer, Sappho, the Spartan general Leonidas, Plato, Socrates, Demosthenes, Alexander the Great, Cicero, Julius Caesar, the tragic Mark Antony Cleopatra, the renowned scientist Hypatia, and the early Church Fathers.
The Greeks and Romans may be distant in time and space, but they are our cousins in nearly every other way. With the vast literature and material culture that the Greeks and Romans have handed down to us, we have a deep well of human experience from which to draw as we chart our own future. As the American philosopher George Santayana put it, “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Classics here at Luther is not only alive and well, but vibrant and thriving. It was the first degree offered at Luther and it remains one of the strongest fields of a traditional Liberal Arts education. We offer both majors and minors in Classics (Greek and Latin) and Classical Studies (language and civilization courses), and a major in Biblical Languages (Greek and/or Hebrew). Our faculty are at the forefront of their respective fields in terms of teaching, research, and publishing, and our students are eager and active. They participate in national conferences, engage in archaeological fieldwork, attend seminars, and seek out summer internships and field-schools.
Most of our Classics students are double-majors, with their other major in a completely different discipline such as anthropology, religion, history, economics, or biology. Our graduates find work in business or government jobs, or go on to further their education at law schools, seminaries, and graduate programs both in the United States and abroad.
The Latin courses within the Classics Department are fantastic. The faculty are full of knowledge about all aspects of the language, whether it's how the language connects to art, history or religion of the time. There is never a moment where you're learning solely vocabulary and grammar; it's a holistic view of culture.
—Sarah Owens ‘17