skip to content
 

Aims and Objectives

  1. To introduce the systematic study of language in general and modern descriptive and theoretical linguistics as applied to Greek and Latin.
  2. To introduce the historical study of language in general and its application to the Classical languages in particular.
  3. To introduce the variety of available evidence relating to the classical languages and their use.
  4. To evaluate the language of various genres and authors.

 

Scope and structure of the examination paper 2022–23

Candidates will be expected to show knowledge of Greek or Latin or both. The paper will be divided into four sections as follows:

  • Varieties of Greek and Latin
  • The Language of Latin Literature
  • The Language of Greek Literature
  • Greek and Latin through Time

Each section will contain four questions, resulting in 16 questions in total. Candidates for the Classical Tripos will be expected to answer three questions from three different sections.

Subject to Directors of Studies’ approval, supervisions will be organised centrally to complement the lectures.

 

Course descriptions

TOPICS IN GREEK AND LATIN PHILOLOGY AND LINGUISTICS

DR N ZAIR ET AL.

(16 L: Michaelmas;
16 L: Lent)

 

TOPIC 1: Varieties of Greek and Latin

PROF. J CLACKSON
(8 L: Michaelmas)

Different varieties of Greek and Latin can be associated with different groups of speakers. For Greek, we have a large amount of evidence for different regional dialects; for Latin we have many sources which attest to the existence of sociolects, varieties associated with specific social classes. There is good reason to believe that there were also marked differences between the way men and women, the old and young, natives and foreigners spoke Greek and Latin. These lectures will be an introduction to the range of variation in Greek and Latin, presenting the methodology used in modern dialectology and sociolinguistics.

Introductory reading: James Clackson, Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Cambridge 2015); Stephen Colvin, A Brief History of Ancient Greek (Malden/ Oxford 2014); Janet Holmes An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (4th ed. London 2013); Ronald Wardhaugh & Janet Fuller, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (7th ed., Malden / Oxford 2015).

 

TOPIC 2: The Language of Latin Literature

DR N ZAIR
(8 L: Michaelmas)

This topic is concerned with the description and analysis of some of the different literary forms of Latin. Starting from the earliest literature written in Latin down to the Classical period, we will examine topics including the development of a Roman poetic register and different genres; the presence and meaning of Greek features (words, morphology, syntax) in Latin literature; developments in the verbal system of Latin; to what extent everyday speech has an influence on literary texts - and to what extent we can use texts as evidence for everyday speech; linguistic aspects of metre and scansion; the use (and abuse) of archaisms. The lectures will include in-depth analyses of the language of individual authors and texts, many of which will be taken from the Part IA and Part IB schedules, and all of which will be distributed in class.

Suggested introductory reading:

James Clackson and Geoffrey Horrocks, The Blackwell History of The Latin Language (2007) 183-228

James Clackson (ed.) Blackwell Companion to the Latin Language (2011)

Eleanor Dickey and Anna Chahoud (eds.) Colloquial and Literary Latin (2010)

 

TOPIC 3: The Language of Greek Literature

DR R THOMPSON
(6 L: Lent, weeks 1-3)

This topic is concerned with the description and analysis of some of the different literary forms of Greek. We shall address the following questions (among others): What marks off the language of literature from the language of speech? How are linguistic features employed to distinguish different literary genres, and how do those differences originate? How do authors use dialectal differences or archaic forms in literary compositions? How can we separate out colloquial and literary features of language? The lectures will include in-depth analyses of the language of individual authors and texts, many of which will be taken from the Part IA and Part IB schedules, and all of which will be distributed in class.

Suggested introductory reading:

Geoffrey Horrocks Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers (2nd ed. 2010) 44–72

Egbert Bakker (ed.) A Companion to the Greek Language (Blackwell, 2010) 355–482

Anastasios-Foivos Christidis (ed.) A History of Ancient Greek (corrected ed., Cambridge, 2010) 963–1053

 

TOPIC 4: Greek and Latin Through Time

DR N ZAIR
(8 L: Lent, weeks 4-7)

An introduction to language change, with particular reference to the pre-history and history of Latin and Greek. The course will concentrate closely on the phonological development of the languages, in particular the principal historical Greek and Latin sound changes, such as loss of /h/ and /w/ in Greek, labiovelars, changes in the Greek vowel system, rhotacism and vowel weakening in Latin.

Introductory reading:

Lyle Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, Edinburgh: University Press 2013 (3rd ed.)

Robert McColl Miller, Trask’s Historical Linguistics, Routledge 2015 (3rd ed.)

Leonard R. Palmer, The Greek Language, Bristol Classical Press 1995 (many printings)

Leonard R. Palmer. The Latin Language, Bristol Classical Press 1990 (many printings)

Latest news

Regius Professorship of Greek

16 January 2023

The Faculty is delighted to announce that Professor Tim Whitmarsh FBA has been elected Regius Professor of Greek from 1 April 2023. He is currently the A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the University. Looking ahead to his new role, Professor Whitmarsh commented: ’I am thrilled and honoured to be taking up this...

Mary Beard receives THE Outstanding Achievement Award

18 November 2022

Professor Mary Beard received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2022 Times Higher Education Awards . The citation hailed how she had “broken through the ivory tower’s walls and brought her unique enthusiasm for her subject – and crucially, what it can teach us about contemporary life and politics – to the world”...

University Assistant Professorship in Classics

15 November 2022

The Faculty of Classics is seeking to appoint an Assistant Professor in Classics (Ancient Greek History and/or Archaeology) from 1 September 2023. The role is open to those, at any stage in their career, with a primary research interest in Archaic/Classical/Hellenistic Greek History and/or Archaeology. We welcome...

Brian Leech Memorial Fund

10 November 2022

The Faculty of Classics is delighted to announce the establishment of the Brian Leech Memorial Fund. The Fund comes about thanks to a generous donation by Emma Gleave, and is made in memory of her late father, Brian Leech. Brian Leech had a long and successful career as both barrister and judge. He also greatly enjoyed classical studies – with a life-long passion for ancient Greek and Latin languages.