Classics and Ancient History

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The classics of Greece and Rome, and ancient history, is an area of study concentrating on the history of Europe and the Near East, from the beginning of the unification of Egypt to the fall of the Roman Empire.

Like many other humanities-based areas of study, it often gets criticised for concentrating on what some would consider pointless information, and on data that is of no obvious relevance to the modern world. Those who support it will often state the importance of an open mind to more than just the things that are needed, citing the idea that it is exactly this sort of thing that separates us from other animals (that, and our preponderance for slaughtering one another).

The study of Classics and Ancient History has lost some of its popularity in recent times but few would suggest it was dying just yet. Many universities contain a department of Classics and Ancient History, and all divide the department in various ways. Standard courses that can be found within the department include:

Ancient History

The study of the history of the Ancient European civilisations, particularly Greece and Rome. Often combined with the Archaeology of Ancient Greece and/or Rome, and with other history-based subjects outside of the department.

Greek and Roman history writers include,

  • Sallust 86-35 BC. Political historian.
  • Thucydides 450 - 380 AD. Historian. 1
  • Herodotus fith century BC. Political historian.
  • Tacitus 56 – 117 AD. Historian.
  • Archaeology of the Ancient World

    Normaly divided into the archaeology of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, the subject is studied in conjunction with a related history course. Concentrates on learning standard archaeological techniques, and how to glean as much information from archaeological evidence (i.e. the physical remains of civilisations). Students often specialise in a specific area of archaeology, such as pottery or sculpture.

    Greek and Roman classical history writers include,

  • Xenophon of Ephesus 430 - 360 BC Historian, cavalry soldier and author.
  • Aristobulus of Cassandreia 375 - 301 BC Historian.2
  • Dionysis of Halicarnassus 60 - 6 BC Teacher and historian.
  • Philo of Biblos/Alexandria 20 BC - 30 AD Historian and philosopher.
  • Caius Plinius Secundus3 23 - 79 AD Roman historian and naturalist.
  • Caius Plinius Caecilius Secundus4 62 - 115 AD. Roman prolific writer of letters and reports.
  • Classical Civilisation [aka. Classical Studies]

    The study of the great European Classical-era civilisations of Greece and Rome. It differs primarily from Ancient History in its concentration on the literature [usually in translation] and culture of these civilisations, and not the military history and politics the Athenian Democracy and its officials. Thanks to the concentration on literature the study of Ancient Greece is often concentrated on, this appears at first to be at the expense of the other Greek city states, this is because Athens had more literature and more that has survived than the other city-states. Often combined with a language course in Latin or Ancient Greek.

    Greek and Roman classical writers of literature include,

  • Antimachus of Claros C 400 BC Poet and grammatical writer.
  • Tryphon 55 - 5 BC Writer of grammatical treatises and dictionary’s.
  • Titus Livius559 BC- 17 AD Roman historian and author.
  • Pamphilus of Alexandria 1st century AD Writer of dictionaries.
  • Plutarch 1st century AD Biographer historian and writer.
  • Classics

    Often confused with Classical Civilisation, Classics concentrates on the literature of Ancient Greece and Rome, particularly poetry [epic and otherwise] and histories. Often studied in the original language, a good understanding of Greek or Latin is usually a prerequisite for this area of study. Variants of this course exist in which a particular language - either Latin or Greek - is concentrated on, with study of the literature used as a means to acquire the language fully. These courses often fall under the Languages, rather than Classics and Ancient History area of study, however.

    Greek and Roman classical playwrights include,

  • Thespis of Icaria 6th century BC Author and the first actor.
  • Plato of Athens 4th century BC Playwright and poet.
  • Euripides 475 - 410 BC Playwright.
  • Aristophanes Playwright.
  • Terence 190-159 BC Roman playwright famous for the sub plot.
  • Plautus 250-184 BC Roman playwright.
  • Egyptology

    The study of Ancient Egypt, Egyptology can be either a general overview of Egyptian civilisation from its inception to its takeover by the Romans (and sometimes beyond), or can be further specialised into a concentrated study on a specific aspect of the civilisation, such as the leisure time, literature, religion, culture, archaeology or politics of Ancient Egypt. As such it is sometimes classed as an entire department in itself, and therefore separately from Classics and Ancient History.

    Aside from these topics there are also many subjects that do not fall under the body of Classics and Ancient History, but have close links with it nonetheless. Aside from obviously links with other History departments, the Classics and Ancient History departments often have strong links to Politics, Philosophy and Language departments. Politics thanks to the debt modern politics owes to Ancient Greece, in particular Athens and Rome. Philosophy thanks primarily to the importance of the early Greek Philosophers, and also to the later Roman philosophers; and Language departments thanks mainly to the importance of Latin in the formation of the modern Romance languages, and to both languages' scripts, most notably the Greek alphabet.

    1Writer of the History of the Peloponnesian Wars.2Travelled with Alexander the Great.3Pliny the Elder.4Pliny the Younger.5Livy

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