The classics major focuses on studies in Greek and Latin language and literature, and on the classical civilization of which they are a part.
It is possible to do major work in Greek or Latin with a minor in the other language, or to do an equal amount of work in both languages. The department recommends the latter option for students intending to do graduate work in classics.
The range of senior thesis topics open to majors is very broad: philological or literary analyses of classical epic, drama, or philosophy; explorations of problems in Greek or Roman history and historiography; and investigations into the nature and function of Greek or Roman mythology. Classics majors are strongly urged to consider applying to the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (ICCS), administered by Duke University and of which Reed College is a member. ICCS offers the opportunity for intensive study of the archaeology, history, and art of Rome, and of Greek and Latin literature. Reed usually sends one to four junior Classics majors there each year.
In addition to serving majors, the department provides elective courses for students in other departments who wish to satisfy foreign language requirements, to study Greek or Roman history, or to take courses in general literature dealing with the classical tradition, in which a knowledge of the languages is not required.
A classics major not only prepares students for continuing work in the discipline, but for graduate study of such allied subjects as history, archaeology, art history, philosophy, medieval studies, and linguistics, and for the professional study of law and theology. It is also excellent preparation for graduate work in English and comparative literature.