Classical Studies


Where did all this western civilization come from?


For the bulk of western history, Ancient Greece and Rome were where it was at. They had democracy. Cue patriotic music. They had an unprecedented amount of religious freedom—which, to be fair, meant they didn't burn people arbitrarily. They also had all of those cool statues and columns and whatnot. There's a reason half of Washington D.C. looks like it should be in Athens.

These days, we have a more balanced view of the world. There are plenty of important places and times. World history doesn't begin and end with two Mediterranean powers. Still, you have to give it up for Greece and Rome. At least every four years during the Olympics.

Classical studies is all about these two titans of civilizations. Learn what made them tick. Did they wrestle all the time or set aside certain portions of the day? How did they invent philosophy but never get around to inventing pants? Did they really fight monsters in nothing more than Speedos?

Why would you even want to think about this stuff? Rome fell in 454 A.D., and Greece was already ancient by that time, so what's the point? You might as well learn about Steve the Caveman and how he invented fire and the wheel.

Firstly, lay off Steve. He's a cool guy. Secondly, you'd be amazed at the societal effects Greece and Rome still have on us today.

We already mentioned democracy, which is still regarded by anyone who can vote as the best -cracy out there by far. Then there's the fact that Aristotle basically invented the concept of school, so if you ever want to invent a time machine to strangle him, you're going to need to know exactly when and where he lived.

Name an influential thinker, and chances are they came from one of these places. Western civilization has those thinkers to thank for concepts that we can't even really imagine living without. Stuff like triangles. Yeah, that basic.

Even the stories they told are still around. You didn't think 300 was dreamed up in Hollywood, did you? Even movies that don't feature people in skirts and sandals are often adaptations of these ancient tales. You've probably seen at least one adaptation of the Trojan War and had no idea that's what you were watching.

This is all about learning the basics of our civilization. Why we think the way we think. Where concepts came from that we take for granted. If western civilization were Batman, you'd be learning why he decided to run around in that black rubber suit. Sadly, civilization is not Batman. So we will never know.

Famous People who majored in Classical Studies

  • Sigmund Freud, pioneer in psychology and famous "dream interpreter"
  • W.E.B. DuBois, civil rights activist and first African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard
  • J.K. Rowling, architect of our dreams
  • Jerry Brown, current governor of California
  • Toni Morrison, famous novelist

Percentage of US students who major in Classical Studies:


Stats obtained from this source.