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Classical Studies: Introduction


Welcome to the Classical Studies Research Guide. Here you will find general information about locating resources on Classical Studies both in the MSU Libraries and beyond. 

Note the many tabs at the top of the page.  Click on the appropriate tab for more information.

Classical and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Minor

Classical Studies Professional Organizations

American Classical League : The American Classical League was founded in 1919 for the purpose of fostering the study of classical languages in the United States and Canada. Membership is open to any person who is committed to the preservation and advancement of our classical inheritance from Greece and Rome.  The League includes teachers of Latin, Greek, and Classics on elementary, secondary, and college levels. The League is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2009.

Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) : North America's oldest and largest organization devoted to the world of archaeology with over 200,000 members belonging to more than 100 local AIA societies in the United States, Canada, and overseas, united by a shared passion for archaeology and its role in furthering human knowledge.

AIA Central Michigan (East Lansing)

Classical Association of the Middle West and South : CAMWS was founded at the University of Chicago in 1905 and incorporated in the State of Missouri on July 13, 1948.  Its members (c. 1500) are primarily college and university professors, K-12 teachers, and graduate students whose specialty is Classics:  Classical languages (Greek and Latin) and the world of ancient Greece and Rome. CAMWS publishes a quarterly, The Classical Journal (ISSN 0009-8353; circulation c. 2300), and a Newsletter (published three times a year).  The Annual Meeting of CAMWS takes place in the spring, traditionally the week after Easter.

Society for Classical Studies  : founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association (APA) by "professors, friends, and patrons of linguistic science," the APA is now the principal learned society in North America for the study of ancient Greek and Roman languages, literatures, and civilizations.

Associations Unlimited.  Looking for more associations?  MSU faculty and staff can search this database.  There are currently 81 listed under Classical Studies.  Link still works as of January 9, 2017.


The civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome were remarkable for the scope of their intellectual achievements, ambition and power. Their impact on the formation and development of the languages, societies, and ideologies of Europe in subsequent eras has ensured their continuing relevance to the modern world. Classics is the study of these civilizations, of their languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, science, art, and archaeology. It is the traditional basis of a liberal education, providing a vital part of the knowledge of the past which is necessary to understand (and change) the present....   Source : Cornell University Classics Department.

The study of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome is the origin of the liberal arts and a sound foundation for investigating the modern world. Philosophy, democracy, history, political science, and drama originate in classical Athens. Physics traces its origins to the Greek scientific revolution in Ionia. The founding fathers created three balanced branches of government after the philosophical ideal in the Histories of Polybius. Western law claims descent from Justinian's Code, and medicine owes its physician's oath to the Greek doctor, Hippocrates, and its scientific method to the Roman doctor, Galen. Shakespeare's plays adapt the Roman dramas of Plautus and Seneca. The plans of our great modern capitals — Paris, Berlin, London, St. Petersburg and Washington — all imitate the triumphal avenues of Augustan Rome.  Source: Eastern Carolina University, Classical Studies.

Classics Wikipedia entry.

Ancient Egypt Wikipedia entry.

Ancient Greece Wikipedia entry.

Hellentistic Civilization Wikipedia entry.

Carthaginian Republic Wikipedia entry.

Ancient Rome Wikipedia entry.

Roman Empire Wikipedia entry.

Byzantine Empire Wikipedia entry.

Why Classics? YouTube Clip

Classical Studies at Michigan State University

The Classics faculty of the Department of Romance and Classical Studies teaches courses and conducts specialized research in the languages, literatures, and social institutions of ancient Greece and Rome. The study of Greek and Roman civilization, an enduring intellectual tradition that extends over more than two millennia, remains a challenging and enriching experience in itself. Moreover, the attempt to understand and appreciate classical antiquity by means of a variety of modern methodologies and disciplines necessarily informs our understanding and appreciation of contemporary society and culture.

Carl A. Anderson (Ph.D., University of Michigan)
Special research and teaching interests : Greek literature, Greek comedy, ancient religion, Greek and Roman society.
Publications: Athena's Epithets: Their Stuctural Significance in Plays of Aristophanes (Teubner 1995); articles in American Journal of Philology, Transactions of the American Philological Association, Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigrafik.
Note: on leave Spring and Fall 2009
Campus address : Michigan State University, 215 Old Horticulture, East Lansing, MI 48824-1112
Phone : (517) 884-6306

Jon Frey (PhD, University of California, Berkeley).
Joint appointment in both Arts and Classics
Special research and teaching interests : Identity in Late Antiquity, Early Christianity in the Eastern Mediterranean, Late Roman Archaeology.
Often takes study abroad classes to Greece during the summer.
Campus Address: Michigan State University, 212 Old Horticulture, East Lansing, MI 48824-1112
Phone: (517) 355-0237
Web link : 

John Rauk (Ph.D., University of Michigan).
Special research and teaching interests : Latin literature, Homer, Augustan poetry, literary criticism, Roman law.
Publications: articles in Classical Philology, Transactions of the American Philological Association, Greek-Roman-Byzantine Studies, Phoenix.
Campus address : Michigan State University, 214 Old Horticulture, East Lansing, MI 48824-1112
E-mail :
Phone : (517) 884-6305
Web link :

William Blake Tyrrell (Ph.D., University of Washington)
Special research and teaching interests : Mythology, Greek tragedy, women in Greek and Roman society.
Publications: Amazons: A Study in Athenian Mythmaking (Baltimore & London, 1984), Athenian Myths & Institutions, with Frieda S. Brown (Oxford 1991), numerous scholarly articles.
Campus address : Michigan State University, 216 Old Horticulture, East Lansing, MI 48824-1112
E-mail :
Phone : (517) 884-6307
Web link:

Anna Kirkwood-Graham (Ph.D., University of Toronto).
Assistant Professor
Special research and teaching interests : Medieval Latin, Paleography.

Christopher Frilingos (Ph.D. Univ. of N. Carolina) (Appointment in Dept. of Religious Studies).
Associate Professor
Special research and teaching interests : Early Christianity; Pagans, Christians, and Jews: Religious Identity in the Ancient World
Campus address : Michigan State University, 116 Morrill Hall, East Lansing, Michigan 48824
Phone: (517) 432-0062
Web link :

Debra Nails (Ph.D. University of the Witwatersrand). (Appointment in Dept. of Philosophy)
Special research and teaching interests : Greek and Early Modern Philosophy, Ethics
Publications : Plato's Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception. Hellenic Studies Series 22 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006). Ed. with J. H. Lesher and Frisbee C. C. Sheffield. xii + 446 pp.; The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics (Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing, 2002), xlviii + 414 pp.; Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy. Philosophical Studies Series 63 (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995), xxii + 264 pp.
Campus address : Michigan State University, 518 South Kedzie Hall, East Lansing , MI 48824-1032
Phone: (517) 355-4490
Web link :

 Matthew Richard Zinman
Zinman and other James Madison College faculty introduce their students to Thucydides' the Peloponnesian War as a classic work on international relations.
Campus address : 321 S. Case Hall, E. Lansing, MI 48825-1210
E-mail :
Phone : (517) 353-9396

Christopher P. Long
Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University.
His extensive publications in Ancient Greek and Contemporary Continental Philosophy include three books: The Ethics of Ontology: Rethinking an Aristotelian Legacy (SUNY 2004), Aristotle On the Nature of Truth (Cambridge 2010), and an enhanced digital book entitled, Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy: Practicing a Politics of Reading (Cambridge 2014). The digital platform of the enhanced digital book enables readers to engage directly with the author in an online community.

Phone: 517-355-4597


Classical Studies Courses on DVD

All of these classes are available on DVD in the Digital and Multimedia Center.

Classical Mythology  / Elizabeth Vandiver.  Chantilly, VA : Teaching Co., c2000.  4 DVD videodiscs (ca. 720 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 2 course guidebooks (71 p. each ; 22 cm.)  BL782 .V36 2007 VideoDVD : In this set of 24 lectures, Professor Elizabeth Vandiver, University of Maryland, introduces the student to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. She also surveys some of the leading theoretical approaches to understanding myth in general and classical myth in particular....From Athena to Zeus, the characters and stories of classical mythology have been both unforgettable and profoundly influential. They have inspired and shaped everything from great art and literature, to our notions of sexuality and gender roles, to the themes of popular films and TV shows.....Classical Mythology is an introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you will study are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek Heroes, Theseus and Heracles (Hercules in the Roman version); and the most famous of all classical myths, the Trojan War.

Ancient Greek Civilization  / Jeremy McInerney. Chantilly, VA : Teaching Co., c1998.  4 videodiscs (ca. 720 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 2 course guidebooks in 1 (106 p., 22 cm.)  DF77 .M35 1998 VideoDVD : Taught By Professor Jeremy McInerney, Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley,
University of Pennsylvania.  Why do the ancient Greeks occupy such a prominent place in conceptions of Western culture and identity? What about them made generations of influential scholars and writers view Hellenic culture as the uniquely essential starting point for understanding the art and reflection that define the West? Does this view tell the whole story? Lectures on Greek history from the late Bronze Age to the time of Alexander the Great, concentrating on the period from 600 to 400 B.C.

The History of Ancient Rome  / Garrett G. Fagan.  Springfield, Va. : Teaching Co., [2003]  8 DVD videodiscs in 4 cases (ca. 1440 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 4 course guidebooks in 1 (iv, 234 p. ; 19 cm.) DG213 .F34 2003 VideoDVD : There are many reasons to study ancient Rome....Rome's span was vast. In the regional, restless, and shifting history of continental Europe, the Roman Empire stands as a towering monument to scale and stability. At its height, the Roman Empire, unified in politics and law, stretched from the sands of Syria to the moors of Scotland, and it stood for almost 700 years....Rome's influence is indelible. Europe and the world owe a huge cultural debt to Rome in so many fields of human endeavor, such as art, architecture, engineering, language, literature, law, and religion. In this course you see how a small village of shepherds and farmers rose to tower over the civilized world of its day and left an indelible mark on history....Rome's story is riveting. Professor Garrett G. Fagan draws on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, including recent historical and archaeological scholarship, to introduce the fascinating tale of Rome's rise and decline. You learn about all the famous events and personalities:

  • Horatius at the bridge
  • Hannibal crossing the Alps during Rome's life-or-death war with Carthage
  • Caesar assassinated before a statue of his archrival Pompey
  • Doomed lovers Antony and Cleopatra
  • Mad and venal emperors Nero and Caligula
  • The conversion of Constantine, and more.

From pre-Roman Italy through the long centuries of Republican and then Imperial rule, Professor Fagan interweaves narrative and analysis. Chronologically, the focus is on the years from 200 B.C.E. to 200 A.D., when Roman power was at its height....The narrative of the rise and fall of Rome is itself compelling, and Professor Fagan's richly detailed and often humorous discussions of Roman life are uniquely memorable. You study women and the family, slaves, cities, religious customs, the ubiquitous and beloved institution of public bathing, the deep cultural impact of Hellenism, and such famous Roman amusements as chariot racing and gladiatorial games.  Includes more than 200 illustrations, including maps, portraits, diagrams, and photographs of Roman ruins and artifacts.

Great Battles of the Ancient World / Garrett G. Fagan.  Chantilly, VA : Teaching Company, c2005. 4 DVD videodiscs (720 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 course guidebook (iv, 169 p. ; 19 cm.)  U29 .G74 2005 VideoDVD : Hollywood has gone to elaborate lengths to recreate the violence and mayhem of ancient warfare in movies such as Gladiator and Troy. But what were ancient battles really like? What weapons, tactics, armor, training, and logistics were used? And what were the crucial factors that could turn the tide of battle, giving one side victory and consigning the other to slaughter, capture, or, at best, escape to fight another day?...A professor of classics and history at The Pennsylvania State University and the teacher of our immensely popular course, The History of Ancient Rome, Dr. Garrett G. Fagan has devoted extensive study to ancient warfare. In these 24 lectures he takes you into the thick of combat in some of the most notable battles fought in the Mediterranean region from prehistoric times to the 4th century A.D.

The Foundations of Western Civilization / Thomas F. X. Noble.  Chantilly, VA : The Teaching Company., c2002.  8 DVD videodiscs (ca. 1440 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 course guidebook (iv, 304 p. ; 19 cm.) CB245 .N62 2002 VideoDVD : Award-winning scholar and teacher Thomas F. X. Noble of the University of Notre Dame (PH.D. Michigan State University) invites you to explore the vast and rich territory of Western civilization.  From the late stages of the Agricultural Revolution to the doorstep of the Scientific Revolution, this course covers western history from roughly 3000 B.C. to A.D. 1600, when the "foundations" of the modern West come into view. Beginning in the ancient Near East, moving to Greece and Rome, the course explores the shape and impact of large ancient empires, including those of Persia and Alexander the Great. It then considers Western Europe as it expands physically and culturally, and initiates the globalization of Western civilization with the Portuguese and Spanish voyages of exploration and discovery.  Illustrated with about 400 images, including maps, portraits, photographs, drawings, and on-screen graphics.

Free Classical Studies Courses

The Ancient Greeks - Coursera - A course offered by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Wesleyan University. This is a survey of ancient Greek history from the Bronze Age to the death of Socrates in 399 BCE. Along with studying the most important events and personalities, we will consider broader issues such as political and cultural values and methods of historical interpretation.

Greek and Roman Mythology - Class Central -  Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania.   Myths are traditional stories that have endured over a long time. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they a set of blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? This course will investigate these questions through a variety of topics, including the creation of the universe, the relationship between gods and mortals, human nature, religion, the family, sex, love, madness, and death.

HannibaliTunes – Patrick Hunt, Stanford  : Hannibal is a name that evoked fear among the ancient Romans for decades. His courage, cunning and intrepid march across the dangerous Alps in 218 BCE with his army and war elephants make for some of the most exciting passages found in ancient historical texts written by Polybius, Livy, and Appian. And they continue to inspire historians and archaeologists today. The mystery of his exact route is still a topic of debate, one that has consumed Patrick Hunt (Director of Stanford’s Alpine Archaeology Project) for more than a decade. This course examines Hannibal’s childhood and his young soldierly exploits in Spain. Then it follows him over the Pyrenees and into Gaul, the Alps, Italy, and beyond, examining his victories over the Romans, his brilliance as a military strategist, and his legacy after the Punic Wars. Along the way, students will learn about archaeologists’ efforts to retrace Hannibal’s journey through the Alps and the cutting-edge methods that they are using. Hunt has been on foot over every major Alpine pass and has now determined the most probable sites where archaeological evidence can be found to help solve the mystery. Presented by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.

History of Rome Podcasts. Broadcast from 2010 through 2013.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History -  iTunesDownload Course – Donald Kagan, Yale

Class Central - Look here to see if anyone is offering free online courses, via MOOC format, or in other ways. 

Coursera - Another source for online classes.

Breaking News

The first students at Michigan Agricultural College weren't offered classes in Latin and Greek. It was founded as a farmers college. The practical arts and sciences took precedence over Virgil and Homer.

There is a chance that future students at Michigan State University won't be able to take those courses either.

The university's classical studies major is one of more than two dozen degree programs facing elimination as MSU prepares for what its leaders believe will be even leaner economic times ahead.

Classical studies was once the backbone of American higher education. It is the only branch of the humanities mentioned in the Morrill Act of 1862, which established the nation's land grant universities (though Michigan Agricultural College, which became MSU, had been founded seven years earlier).

Even today, if the program should die, MSU would be the only Big Ten school without a classics major, even as it's the only one with a mascot plucked from ancient Greece.

Professors and students say the prospect of eliminating the program is not just a question of course content, but of educational values.

"I think there should be more to MSU than just classes in engineering and a flashy football team," said Julia Lathin, a senior classical studies major. "There are deeper traditions that should be kept alive. Just because something is old, doesn't mean it shouldn't be continued and be studied."

Karin Wurst, dean of MSU's College of Arts and Letters, said the program was targeted for elimination "due to the low number of graduates in the last several years" - there have been 16 since the major took its current form in 2006 - adding that classics content would be available through general education courses and in other departments.

Classics professor John Rauk said it's not that simple. Classics faculty members already teach large introductory courses which enroll many nonmajors, he said, and have offered to teach more if the major is allowed to survive.

If it's not, he said, it would be "an unnecessary loss."

Other overhead

Wurst disputes his assessment of the economics.

"There is always administrative overhead even if it is not in the forms of expensive labs etc.," she said.

"A room that is occupied by a very small class cannot be utilized for a larger class. ... Also, whether a professor teaches five or 50 students makes a difference."

But she declined to give a specific estimate of how much the university might save and said that the three tenured faculty in the program would retain their jobs.

Wurst also said she intends to keep offering instruction in Latin and Greek.

But Rauk said faculty members were told they could continue teaching those languages only if they did it on top of their normal course loads for no additional pay, which he, for one, isn't willing to do.

"Why should we work without pay to offer languages that are part of a program that the college is cutting for no reason," he said.

Program supporters

The decision on whether to do away with classical studies at MSU might not come for months.

In the meantime, the program has found supporters. The American Philological Society has written to MSU's administration. An online petition has garnered more than 1,600 signatures.

To let the program go would be "a big embarrassment for the university," said Paul Iversen, an MSU alumnus who is now a classics professor at Case Western Reserve.

"It would just immediately move Michigan State to the bottom of the pile in humanities," he said.

In one single stroke, it says a horrible thing about the sort of values and decision making that Michigan State is privileging."

"Cutting the classical studies major does not save any money," he said. "This paradox has not been explained, and it suggests that the administration's response to our budget problems may not be well thought out."

For the full article, see Matthew Miller, "MSU major in classical studies may be dropped; Dean: Too few grads may mean end of program", Lansing State Journal, November 27, 2009.

For more information, see Classics Under Threat at MSU by John Rauk

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