The Classics Department offers courses emphasizing the cultural heritage of antiquity as seen through the writings of those men of genius — Homer, Plato, Cicero, Vergil — who created the patterns which Western thought has since followed. Although the emphasis in the early forms must be on basic elements of learning the language, the courses soon advance to the reading of history, poetry, oratory, and philosophy in Latin and Greek. Alongside their work in the ancient languages, students consider the wider history and culture of the classical world, with an eye toward assessing the nature of their legacy for the modern world.St. Mark’s offers a special Classics Diploma to qualified students. To earn this diploma, a student must complete three years of one classical language and two years of the other. We accept credits in either language earned before a student’s entrance to St. Mark’s.


Latin I - Year

This course serves as an introduction to the Latin language and Roman culture. The course covers approximately the first half of Wheelock’s Latin Grammar.  In addition, students are exposed to a variety of adapted writings by classical authors.  The emphasis is on reading authentic Latin with a firm grasp of fundamental Latin grammar and vocabulary. Students explore Roman culture through a number of projects that focus on Greek and Roman mythology. The end of the year culminates in the production of a short play, created and performed cooperatively by the whole class.

Latin II - Year

This course completes Wheelock’s Latin Grammar, with a continued emphasis on reading and translating passages of authentic Latin. While students master the fundamentals of Latin grammar and syntax, they embark on a translation of adapted passages from Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita and Caesar’s Gallic Wars.  Students consider the tumultuous history of Rome from the legends of its founding through the end of the Republic.

Latin III - Year

This course serves as an introduction to two of the major genres of Latin literature, rhetorical prose and epic poetry.  In the fall, students study in detail the politics of the end of the Roman Republic while reading selections from Cicero and Sallust.  Building upon their foundation of syntactical forms and grammatical constructions, students master these skills within the context of the literature studied.  In addition, students will participate in a class-wide race through the cursus honorum, the Roman political “fast track.”  In the spring, the focus shifts to poetry and literary style.  Students study Roman culture and mythological tradition while reading selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  Upon completion of this course, students are prepared for the topics of Latin IV or, with departmental permission, may continue on to Latin IV AP.

Latin III Honors - Year

This course is a prerequisite for students who are planning to take the AP Latin course in their fourth year. Students explore the culture and history of Imperial Rome through the poetry of Horace, Ovid and Virgil. Students gain familiarity with a variety of metrical and literary devices and complete writing assignments (in English) of varying lengths on topics related to their readings.

Latin IV — Latin Literature - Fall

Also listed RL64:  Roman Philosophy and Religion

In this course students examine the history and development of Roman philosophy, tracing it back to its origins in Greek thought and following it forward as it fused with Christian ideology in the Medieval period. Although students will read a variety of texts both in the original and in translation, the core of this class focuses on Latin authors and includes passages from the Dialogues of Cicero and Seneca, Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, Ovid’s Fasti, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and St. Augustine’s Confessions.  As a final project, each student will research and write a paper on one aspect of Roman philosophy.  This course also fulfills one semester of the religion department requirement.

Roman Satire- Spring

In this course, students will consider the construction of Roman identity and the politics of the Roman Empire through readings drawn from works of Roman satire.  Passages selected from the Sermones of Horace and Juvenal form the basis of the coursework, though outside readings in translation and secondary source material broaden the approach to the genre, allowing students to explore the related literary tropes of irony, parody, burlesque and paradox.  The course will consider the history of the genre from ancient Greece through the modern era and trace the evolving relationship between the sometimes destructive humor that satire employs with the constructive social criticism it aims to foster.  A final project will require students to research and develop a persona through which they will compose and deliver their own work of satire.

Latin IVH Advanced Placement — Vergil - Year

The entire year is devoted to reading Vergil’s Aeneid, with an emphasis on studying the epic as a literary form.  Students learn how to translate literally, to analyze, to interpret, to read aloud with attention to pauses and phrasing, and to scan the dactylic hexameter verse.  This course is intended to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Examination in Vergil.

Latin V Special Topics in Latin Literature - Year

Depending on the interest of students and the discretion of the instructor, students may read passages from Catullus Virgil’s Georgics, Lucan’s Pharsalia and other Roman lyric and elegiac poetry.

Greek I - Year

This course serves as an introduction to the ancient Greek language and culture.  Students cover most of the grammar and syntax of Attic Greek in the first year.  Beginning early in the course, students hone their reading and translation skills on lightly adapted passages from Aesop, Herodotus, Menander, Plato, Xenophon, and the New Testament. Students will explore topics in Greek history and culture such as the Persian Wars, art and architecture, the Olympic Games, and the invention of democracy.

Greek II - Lysias and Plato - Year

This course completes the introduction of Greek grammar, with an emphasis on mastering the forms of the Greek verb. When students have completed their study of Attic grammar and syntax, they turn to the translation of elementary Greek prose.  Students look at selected writings from Xenophon’s Cyropaedeia and Anabasis and from Plato’s Crito and Apology as they trace the rise and fall of the Athenian Empire.

Greek III — Special Topics in Greek Literature- Year

Depending on the interest of the students and the discretion of the instructor, students may read and translate selections from the Greek New Testament, tragedies by Sophocles or Euripides, selections from Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey, or readings in Greek philosophy or history.


Heather Harwood


Jeanna M. Cook
Heather Harwood