What is "Classics"?

When we refer to the discipline of "Classics" we commonly mean the study of the civilizations of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Dealing with the world of the ancient Mediterranean basin--and beyond--this study is necessarily interdisciplinary. It embraces history, archaeology, art history; investigation of the Latin and Greek languages, of the development of literary genres and themes and traditions; study of the evolution of philosophy, religion, science, and the history of ideas.

The word "Classics" of course does more than simply denote a traditional academic discipline. "Classics" is often an evaluative term: To call something "classic" or a "classic" is to attribute to that thing a lasting or even timeless value or excellence. Through the course of most of European or "Western" history, just such a value has been seen in the achievements of the Greeks and Romans.

While the members of the UNL Department of Classics and Religious Studies recognize and appreciate the value that tradition has assigned to Greco-Roman culture, we are committed to a critical evaluation of that culture and of the tradition that has fostered and handed on its position as "classic." Through this critical approach we hope to reach a better understanding of the simultaneously reassuringly familiar and shockingly alien world of the ancient Romans and Greeks. But more importantly, we may learn much about our own society by examining the ways various of its parts seek justification and validation through the "eternal" standard of the classic.

The Major in Classics

The classics major offers a wide range of courses in the civilization and culture of the ancient Mediterranean world. It is an interdisciplinary major with a core of required courses supplemented by electives from other programs. Depending on your chosen emphasis, this major is designed to provide you with an excellent background to pursue graduate work in classics, classical archaeology, ancient history, religious studies, literary scholarship, and other human disciplines. In addition, the broad and humane education offered by the major serves as excellent preparation for careers in law, medicine, journalism, religion, business and education. The study of classical antiquity trains you to organize large collections of diverse empirical data. Because the subjects of classical study are deeply informative of familiar western traditions, yet temporally and geographically alien to the contemporary student, this major is especially suited to sharpen your ability to recognize and respect otherness and diversity. It will help develop your reflective powers and a sense of perspective on the wider human condition. You will be invited to think about familiar things in unfamiliar ways. The ability to work with ancient texts, languages and artifacts encourages the natural development of a disciplined and rigorous attention to detail, a respect for objectivity, and restraint from excess.