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Classics & Classical Studies


Discover ancient languages and life.

With the Classics and Classical Studies majors at Whitman College, you’ll unlock the riches of the past through the study of the ancient languages, literatures, histories, arts, cultures and thought of Greek and Roman antiquity. In this rigorous and rewarding program, you can choose from the Classics major, which emphasizes mastering the Greek and Latin languages, or the Classical Studies major, which emphasizes learning about Greek and Roman culture. Either way, you’ll enjoy an exceptional academic experience as you learn how these ancient worlds still influence modern life.

3 Reasons to Study Classics & Classical Studies at Whitman

Get Personalized Attention

Whitman’s Classics Department is small and supportive. That means you’ll enjoy a collaborative and engaging learning experience with professors who can provide individualized support and guidance. And in this close-knit program, you’ll make lasting friendships with other committed Classics majors.

Connect the Dots

Classics and Classical Studies majors get to explore crossover courses from other fields, including History, Philosophy, Politics, and Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse. Those important connections will help you learn how your study of the past can apply to the problems of today.

Learn Skills That Matter

Classics students learn to develop complex arguments, research and analyze source materials, write fluently and share their ideas confidently. Those are skills that can set you apart when it comes to life after Whitman.

Interested in Classics & Classical Studies?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Alicia F., Classics major

“I chose Whitman because I wanted to be somewhere that felt like home. The campus culture and professors I met on my tour were so wonderful, and I've met amazing people with the same interests as me. The campus aesthetics, low student-faculty ratio and even Walla Walla as a whole contributed to my decision.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Classics & Classical Studies

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

Stone carving classical.
LAT 105/106

Elementary Latin

Through this year-long course, you’ll gain fundamental skills in reading, comprehending, and translating Latin prose and poetry. You’ll dive right into classical Latin literature by Catullus, Cicero, Ovid and Virgil, as well as Medieval and Renaissance Latin works.

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CLAS 130

Ancient Mythology

What role did myths play in the lives of ancient Greek, Roman and Mesopotamian people? How did oral traditions shape the form and content of myths? For both majors and non-majors, this course is a great introduction to the classical world. And it includes exercises designed to sharpen your own oral performance skills.

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Stone carving classical.
CLAS 205

Women and Nature in the Ancient World

Join us as we examine the relationship between gender and nature in the ancient Greco-Roman world, where women were often portrayed in roles that denoted a special relationship with nature. They were mothers, witches, nymphs and virgin-huntresses of the wild. We’ll explore representations of the feminine in the literature, art, rituals and social practices of antiquity.

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Greek architecture.
GREK 205

Intermediate Ancient Greek

Take your Ancient Greek language skills to the next level. Together we’ll explore important works by ancient Greek authors. Plus, we’ll brush up on important aspects of Greek grammar that will help you read more widely and understand more deeply.

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Greek amphitheater.
CLAS 224

Powerful Art/ifacts: Greek and Rome

In this course, you’ll explore the art, architecture, and archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome. We’ll cover key aspects of Greek and Roman society and history from the Bronze Age to the Roman Empire. Along the way, we’ll touch on topics like class and sociopolitical change, cultural identity, religious practices, and daily life as revealed by the archaeological record.

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Right hand side image of the Great Sphinx of Giza
CLAS 325

Inventing Egypt

In the 19th century, the Western world was gripped by “Egyptomania,” an obsession with all things ancient Egyptian. At the same time, Egyptians were struggling against European colonial intervention and vying for control over Egyptian archeology. This course will introduce you to the history of Europe’s “discovery” of ancient Egypt and the many ways in which it has interacted with Egyptian, European and American art, politics and pop culture. 

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Bust street.

Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Learn around the world. Spend time overseas in one of Whitman’s rigorous partner programs in Athens, Rome or St. Andrews, where you’ll have the chance to study artifacts of the ancient world firsthand. It’s an unforgettable way to explore the rich history and vibrant present of these regions.

Dig into the past. Students studying Classics at Whitman can participate in summer excavations in Greece and Italy and have access to the college’s rare books and manuscript collection, which includes ancient manuscripts and artifacts you can explore through your coursework.

Engage with experts. As a Classics or Classical Studies major, you might collaborate with Whitman faculty members on research projects, conduct independent research or learn from rising experts in the field through the Transforming Classics guest speaker series.

Your Questions Answered

Are you fascinated by ancient history and culture? Interested in exploring the roots of Western civilization? Like thinking about deep philosophical questions? Enjoy the challenges of learning other languages? A Classics major blends some of the best that other majors like History, Philosophy, Politics and modern languages have to offer. In the Classics program, you’ll interact with some of the greatest minds of the past as you learn skills that can lead to bright future.

In the Classical Studies major, you’ll learn one classical language (Greek or Latin) to the advanced level, alongside comprehensive coursework in ancient civilization and history. It’s designed to give you a broad understanding of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. 

If you want to take your language studies even further, the Classics major encourages you to develop proficiency in both Greek and Latin (at least three years of one language and two of the other), supported by additional coursework in ancient civilization and history, as well as the opportunity to pursue your own research with a senior thesis.

A Classics degree equips you with essential skills like critical thinking, analysis, research, and communication, making Classics majors well-suited for diverse career paths. This includes roles in education, law, museums, archives, publishing, journalism, business, finance, government, diplomacy, and more.

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