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Latin
scriptrixLatin was the language not only of the Romans, but of much literature and other writing until the sixteenth century. Without Latin no one can properly study the evidence for European history up to that time.

Ancient Greek
Greek is the oldest European language still spoken for which records survive. Many modern genres (e.g. tragedy, comedy, history, lyric) were founded by the Greeks.

Ancient culture
We offer a high-powered training in Latin and Greek language to make them gateways to the whole of the ancient world. So much in ancient culture stimulates thought about matters which are acutely relevant today. Here are some examples.

  • Are there divine forces that control the universe? Are they just? What if they are positively malevolent towards humanity? What then can humans hope to achieve?
    These are just some of the questions that arise from the study of Greek tragedy.
  • Will we be remembered after we have died? Is it worth making sacrifices in life to ensure that our name lives on after us?
    These are some of the key issues in Homer's magnificent epic, the Iliad.
  • Can imperialism be justified? Are the sacrifices of a few worth while for the greater good of the many?
    These are two of the questions one might ask after reading Vergil's Aeneid.
  • Is there a fixed objective standard of goodness and justice?
    The great Greek philosopher Plato thought so. Or do we simply define goodness and justice as it suits us?
  • How should democracy function? How should local government relate to central government?
    Where better to start studying these important questions than with the Greeks, who first introduced democracy ('rule by the people'), and the Romans, who managed to govern their empire only because of the help of local authorities.

Don’t imagine that the world of the Greeks and the Romans occupied only a very restricted space and time-span. The Romans came to dominate the whole of western Europe. And a well-trained classicist is able to read Greek literature written between 700 BC and AD 600 - that's 1,300 years, longer than from today to Alfred the Great!

The Classical Tradition

And Classicists don’t just study and teach the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean. What makes Classics special is in no small part the classical tradition – how Greco-Roman antiquity has continued to remain a significant point of reference and departure throughout the centuries, from late antiquity to the present day – in virtually every cultural sphere, including art and architecture, language and literature, and politics and thought.

Latest news

New gift to further support Joyce Reynolds Awards

15 June 2021

The Faculty is enormously grateful to Karen and Peter Ventress for their generous gift to further support our efforts to encourage more diversity among students studying Classics at Cambridge. Karen and Peter have made a gift of £40k to fund a further studentship under the banner of the Joyce Reynolds Awards . The Awards...

Laurence Professorship of Classical Archaeology

14 June 2021

The Board of Electors to the Laurence Professorship of Classical Archaeology invite applications from those whose work falls within the general field of the Professorship to take up appointment on 1 October 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. Further information is available at: http://www.hr.admin.cam.ac.uk/...

It is with immense sadness that the Faculty reports that Elizabeth (Lisa) French passed away yesterday in Cambridge, 10 June 2021. She was 90.

11 June 2021

Lisa read Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge (1949-1952). In 1961 she was awarded her doctorate from University College London on The Development of Mycenaean Terracotta Figurines . She became a leading expert of Mycenaean pottery and figurines, forging a distinguished career in the archaeology of the Bronze Age Aegean...

Student led teaching awards 2021

24 May 2021

The Faculty is proud to announce that Torsten Meissner and Mark Darling have been recognised for the excellence of their teaching by the Student Union in this year's Student-Led Teaching Awards. Dr Meissner has won the second prize (Highly Commended) in the category "Lecturer". Dr Darling has won the second prize (Highly...