Welcome to the Classics Department!
We live in a rapidly changing, globally networked world. The problems we face in the twenty-first century—disparities of wealth and opportunity, environmental degradation, political deadlock—are as urgent as any in human history. How will studying classical antiquity help you live in a world like this? How will it help you change it for the better?
The study of ancient Greece and Rome at Princeton is about engaging with the past to reimagine the world today. It’s about learning to grapple with the foundational texts and artifacts of the Western world on their own terms. It’s about coming to see how classical antiquity has shaped and continues to shape the present, from the inspiration that America’s Founding Fathers took from the Roman Republic, to the enduring value of authors like Homer and Virgil, to the prominent position of the Hippocratic Oath in contemporary medicine, to the lively popularity of figures from Greek and Roman mythology.
Students of Classics build a wide range of intellectual and practical skills: how to make sense of and learn from foreign languages and distant cultures; how to appreciate and engage with works and ideas that have inspired people for millennia; how to analyze an argument, to interrogate a long-standing assumption, to see the ancient roots of contemporary concepts; how to develop, communicate, and defend your own ideas. Studying Classics, you have the opportunity to join in a centuries-long conversation about value, justice, and the human condition – what Socrates famously called the examined life.
Our concentrators have gone on to flourish in a range of professional fields, including law, medicine, publishing, public affairs, finance, teaching, and non-profit work. Those interested in becoming professional classicists have gone on to the premier graduate programs and been awarded national and international fellowships, before taking up prestigious positions across the world. Evidence is growing that a degree in Classics is a valuable asset. Nationwide studies have shown that majors in Classics are among the most successful in law school and gain admission to medical school at a higher rate than majors in the biological sciences; they have some of the highest GRE scores of all graduates. Our alumni routinely report that their training has given them an advantage in their applications to professional schools and in the workforce more generally.
Princeton University Career Services also provides information on what to do with a Classics major. The American Philological Association offers a comprehensive overview of the benefits of a major in Classics after graduation.
You will find more information about our tracks and courses, and about the activities of our current students, faculty, and alumni on the pages of this website. If you would like to pursue a concentration or a certificate in Classics, we encourage you to be in contact with our Departmental Representative, Professor Brooke Holmes, to discuss your program of study.