By CAMERON ASHLEY
All students should take a classics course.
Since coming to college, I have always felt that classics is underappreciated. I am a double major in classics and communication and digital studies. I usually hear things like “I’ve never heard of that combination before” and I am always asked “Classics? What is that?” My automated reply is always “the study of Greek and Roman culture, history, and language.” Classics is not as popular as other disciplines; however, there is a lot of value in studying antiquity. It is a common saying that history repeats itself. If that is true, which I believe it is, then studying classics has unlimited knowledge.
Famous classicist Mary Beard said in an article in Time magazine, “I wouldn’t work on Rome if I didn’t think it had something to do with the present. Why would you spend your life buried in the past?” Beard recognizes that much of our culture and way of living now is based off of the classics’ impact.
Much of what we have in politics, entertainment and everyday life has its origins with the Romans and Greeks. A common example is democracy, which we took from the Greeks. However, you can see Greek influence by just looking at the buildings on campus, nearly every one of them has columns. Even the newly installed amphitheater comes from the Greeks.
Since being at college, I’ve taken several classics courses. For beginners, I recommend Greek or Roman Civilization. These are the foundational courses that teach you everything about the basics of Greek or Roman life from things to politics to history. Personally, my favorite class has been Greek and Roman Mythology in Literature and Art. This class is probably what most people who are even minimally interested in classics would like. A lot of people are interested in Greek and Roman myths so this would ultimately be a fun class for anyone. I personally enjoyed this class because of the lessons about Greek and Roman gods and goddesses but also the discussions of the heroes within classics.
If none of these academic examples could convince you that classics is cool, then perhaps entertainment examples would. Countless numbers of movies and shows have been based off of Greek mythology and the Greco-Roman world. Movies like Troy, 300, and Clash of the Titans all come from the classical world. As a classicist, when watching the show, Supernatural, I can understand what they are saying when they exorcise a demon, reading out a Latin spell. I can also tell when they mispronounce a word. Through movies, shows and pop culture, audiences can explore a riveting (though not entirely factual) history of the classics, and portrays the subject in a way that viewers are able to apply and understand just how great of an impact the classics holds in the modern era.
For me, classics has really inspired me in many different aspects of my life, especially in academics. Studying classics has led me to be able to consider all different perspectives in life and take things with a grain of salt. The different philosophers and ideas they have allow you to open your mind.
Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in Greek and Roman mythology. In third grade, we learned about columns, democracy and the gods. I was fascinated. Then, in the fourth grade, I bought the entire set of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I named my pets after Greco-Roman history as well things as well. My dog’s name is Percy, short for Perseus and my fish is named Pompey, after a great Roman general. I’ve always had an unexplainable connection to this world, and so I knew I was always knew I was going to major in classics.
In short, classics is an underrated area of study, yet it is an important one. Not everyone has the special connection to antiquity that I do but I still believe it should be appreciated. Classics is in nearly everything we do, see, and experience. If we wish to get better for the future, we should take a glimpse of the past