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Department of Classics

Dartmouth College
6086 Reed Hall Room 201
Hanover, NH 03755

(603) 646-3394


Department Chair
Professor Roberta Stewart


Administrative Staff


Therese Perin-Deville (Administrator)


Leslie Barrow (Administrative Assistant)


Carol Bean-Carmody (Academic Assistant)


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HomeWhy Study >

Why Latin?

" you learn it you gain an understanding of the mechanics and structure of language streets ahead of any you will gain from the study of a modern tongue. Any other language - not just Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, but German, Russian, Arabic - becomes easier for a [student] with a grounding in Latin. A student can use Latin to grasp the bones and sinews of any language."
- Charlotte Higgins,

The Latin sequence at Dartmouth

  • LAT 1: Instruction in the rudiments of Latin grammar and syntax expands your vocabulary and helps you to articulate your ideas clearly and correctly.
  • LAT 3: In addition to review and expansion of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax you are introduced to original Latin by Roman authors. [Passing Latin 3 fulfills the College language requirement]
  • LAT 10: You strengthen your grasp of the fundamentals and build fluency in reading original Latin texts.
  • LAT 20+: Longer and more varied Latin texts are set in their various contexts: literary, historical, political, philosophical, religious. You acquire specialist knowledge in areas such as literary theory, philology, metrics, linguistics, and the influence of the classical tradition.
  • Latin doesn't just offer you mastery of English, however; it opens a window onto one of the most exciting, complex, and intellectually relevant cultures of our past. How does it do this? By exposing to you to some of the greatest writers of the literary, historical, philosophical, and oratorical traditions...
  • SPEECH: If political and media culture teaches us that rhetoric has never been more important, there can be no better grounding in linguistic competence than the study of Latin, no better grounding in spoken style than the study of Cicero, Rome's greatest orator and eloquent witness to the decline of the Republic.
  • SEX: Latin literature ranges from the high to the low, often in the same poem. Read Catullus and Martial to learn what poetry is (metrically complex — forget blank verse!) and what it can be used for (scathing insults, graphic sexual humor, and nauseating sycophancy).
  • POWER: How do you conduct yourself when you're rich, powerful, and well-educated? Take a leaf out of Seneca's book: one of the wealthiest men in the world, advisor to the emperor Nero, Stoic philosopher, and man of letters.
  • EPIC: Single greatest work of literature? An epic of war and love, gods and hell, travel and foundation, antiquity and modernity — every serious list of contenders has the Aeneid near the top. Come read a poem written with such profound care that it took Vergil twelve years to write at two lines a day.
  • SCIENCES AND RELIGION: The list could go on and on. For scientists there's Lucretius' poem on how atoms change your world; for historians (and gossip-mongers) there's Suetonius' scurrilous biography of the Roman emperors; and for students of religion there's Augustine, one of the defining figures of Christianity.

Why Latin? We'll leave the last word to writer and Latinist Charlotte Higgins:

"Latin doesn't help to turn out factory-made mini-consumers fit for a globalised 21st-century society. It helps create curious, intellectually rigorous kids with a rich interior world, people who have the tools to see our world as it really is because they have encountered and imaginatively experienced another that is so like, and so very unlike, our own."

Classics Courses by Term

Please go to the Registrar's office website for a list of course descriptions.

Please check this site often for up-to-date information on course meeting times and course availability.

If you have any questions about the Latin program, please contact any of the Professors.

Last Updated: 9/3/14