Ancient Classics is the study of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome in all their aspects: language, literature, history, philosophy, art, and archaeology.

At  Maynooth University, these topics may be approached through our hugely popular course on Greek and Roman Civilization or through the study of the ancient languages of Greek and Latin. The same three subjects are also available at postgraduate level. For more detail on how to study Ancient Classics at Maynooth, please see Our Courses. Students tend to do better in courses that they enjoy, and over the years many students have found studying Classics to be an interesting and memorable experience. The Department has an excellent reputation for both teaching and research, and its small size means that each student is able to get plenty of individual attention. Here at Maynooth University, Greek and Roman Civilization, Greek or Latin can be studied alongside many other subjects in the Faculty of Arts, Philosophy and Celtic Studies.

What does a degree in Greek and Roman Civilization at Maynooth include?

This degree is composed mainly of modules on the literature and history of Greek and Roman societies and does not include Greek or Latin language. Among the authors studied are such “classics” as Homer, Virgil, Sophocles, Plato, Thucydides, Tacitus, and Cicero. In reading these authors in English translation, we gain some familiarity with the major literary genres which the ancients gave to the modern world - including epic drama and lyric poetry, as well as history and philosophy.  In addition, the periods of time covered are some of the most important and influential in western history: classical Athens with its flourishing democracy and empire; Alexander the Great, with his astonishing conquests and long-term influence; late Republican Rome and the subsequent age of Augustus; and the height of the Roman empire, which dominated the whole Mediterranean world. The degree also includes modules on Greek myth, philosophy, ancient anthropology, Roman slavery, and women in antiquity. In all, the degree offers a wide-ranging and balanced education in many aspects of Greek and Roman civilization.

Interested in studying Ancient Greek?

What have the Greeks done for us? Mythology, architecture, poetry, philosophy, mathematics, biology, psychology, history, politics—all these are Greek words, and in some cases, essentially Greek inventions. Mythical and historical figures like Achilles, Odysseus, Pericles, Sophocles, Socrates, Plato, Alexander the Great continue to inspire the contemporary imagination, from the movie Troy to Seamus Heaney’s “Theban” plays to Mark Zuckerberg’s private reading. Simply stated, the Greeks laid the foundations for European culture, and to study ancient Greek is therefore not to study a “dead” language: it opens a window onto an impressively rich period of human history, one that continues to resonate today. Even as a non-spoken language, ancient Greek is incredibly beautiful, flexible and expressive. If you are interested in languages and poetry, then Greek is a must!

Interested in studying Latin?

For two thousand years Latin was the premier language of the European continent. From Latin came Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian, while after the Norman Conquest of England, Latin-French words have come to make up some 60% of modern English vocabulary. This makes Latin of great advantage and interest to students of English, modern Romance languages, and of Indo-European languages in general, while the study of Latin grammar and syntax provides a perfect foundation for other language learning. Because of its long and extensive use, Latin has had vast influence on literature, politics and religion. As a result, it makes an excellent companion to other studies, especially English, history, philosophy and theology.