Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Ancient Studies

Director, 2014-15: Anne H. Groton, Greek and Roman drama

Founded by the Department of Classics in 1971, ancient studies is one of St. Olaf’s oldest interdisciplinary programs. In scope it spans the more than two millennia between Greece’s Bronze Age and the fall of the Roman Empire. Combining art, history, language, literature, philosophy, and religion, it encourages students to take a broad look at classical culture, examining it from multiple perspectives.

The ancient studies program has no courses of its own; instead it relies on courses offered by individual departments. Students who major in ancient studies choose electives from among the various departmental courses that deal primarily or entirely with the world of ancient Greece and Rome. Many of these courses also satisfy general education requirements. The required courses in Greek or Latin can simultaneously fulfill the college’s foreign language requirement.

It is common for St. Olaf students to combine an ancient studies major with a B.A. major like art history, English, history, philosophy, political science, or religion. Even mathematics or natural science majors often complete a second major in ancient studies. The major provides a useful background in the humanities for students interested in virtually any career.


The objectives of the major are competence in ancient Greek or Latin at the intermediate level, familiarity with ancient Greek and Roman civilization, and in-depth knowledge of one subject area within the major.

Any student interested in an ancient studies major should draw up a contract with the program’s director. The contract may be changed at any time up to second semester of the senior year.



Students majoring in ancient studies must complete the fourth semester (or higher) of ancient Greek or Latin, one ancient history course, a classics course, four electives chosen from various departments, and an independent research.

The following courses have been approved for the major (seminars and topics courses are acceptable only when they focus on the ancient world):

Art 275: Topics in Art History
Classics 241: Greek and Roman Myth
Classics 243: The Golden Age of Greece
Classics 244: The Golden Age of Rome
Great Conversation 113: The Tradition Beginning: The Greeks and the Hebrews
Greek 253: New Testament Greek (or any other Greek course beyond 231)
History 101: Ancient Warfare
History 190:
Europe from the Ancients to the Renaissance
History 201:
Major Seminar: Ancient History
History 203: Ancient: Greece
History 204: Ancient: Rome
History 205: Ancient: Near East
History 299:
Topics in History
History 302:
Greek Civilization
History 303:
Roman Civilization
Latin 252: Vergil and Latin Epic (or any other Latin course beyond 231)
Philosophy 235:
Ancient Western Philosophy
Philosophy 374: Seminar in the History of Philosophy
Political Science 299: Topics in Political Science
Religion 221: Jesus in Scripture and Tradition
Religion 222: The Biblical God
Religion 223: Paul: His Letters, His Gospel
Religion 273: Hebrew Prophets in History and Christian Tradition
Religion 276: Ethics of Jesus
Religion 302: History of Christian Thought I
Religion 320: Top: Interpreting Sacred Texts
Religion 391: Biblical Seminar
Religion 392: Sem: Studies in Religion Seminar
Religion 399: Thematic Seminar
Theater 270: History of Theater up to 1700
298: Independent Study
398: Independent Research

Those who fulfill the major's language requirement with Latin may use one Greek course as an elective; those who fulfill the major's language requirement with Greek may use one Latin course as an elective.

Interim or summer courses such as:

Classics 121: "Western" Greeks and Eastern "Barbarians" in Antiquity
Classics 126: Ancient Comedy: A Funny Thing Happened
Classics 128: The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Rise of Christianity
Classics 129: The Neverending Myth: Ovid's Metamorphoses
Classics 251: Classical Studies in Greece (abroad)
Great Conversation 115: The Tradition Continuing: The Romans and the Christians
History 202: Mediterranean Archaeology Field School
Religion 271: Bible in Context: History, Geography, and Culture in Israel and Palestine (abroad)
Religion 272: Sacred Places in Greece and Turkey

and other courses offered occasionally or only once (including courses at Carleton College) may also be used as electives.

See the director for information on courses offered in a particular year.


To attain distinction in ancient studies, a student must demonstrate talent with ancient Greek or Latin, skill in conducting research on an ancient topic, and broad knowledge of ancient Western civilization. Specific guidelines are available from the director of ancient studies. Ancient studies majors who wish to pursue distinction should notify the director of the program no later than January 1 of their senior year.