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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

Election of two new Professors in the Faculty of Classics

27 March 2024

The Faculty is delighted to announce the election of Professor Josephine (Jo) Crawley Quinn to the Professorship of Ancient History and Professor Serafina Cuomo to the A. G. Leventis Professorship of Greek Culture . Jo will join the Faculty on 1 January 2025 and will be the first woman to hold the Professorship of Ancient...

Craven Seminar 2024

26 March 2024

The programme for the Craven Seminar 2024, ‘Interface Interpretation: exegesis as encounter in Greco-Roman literature’ , is now available online . This will be an in-person event. Please click here to register.

Classical Equalities Lecture 25 April 2024 at 17.00 in G19

4 March 2024

Jane Draycott will be giving this year’s Classical Equalities lecture, on ‘ Prostheses in Classical Antiquity: Everything You Never Knew You Wanted To Know’. Jane Draycott is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Glasgow. Her research investigates science, technology, and medicine in the ancient world. She has...

Soundmarks Project

12 February 2024

Soundmarks, an art/archaeology collaboration between Rose Ferraby, Cambridge Archaeologist, and Rob St John using sound and visual art launches at DIG in York. In 2019 the pair created work exploring and animating the sub-surface landscape of Aldborough Roman Town in North Yorkshire, UK. Soundmarks Aldborough was re-shown...