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This subject is covered by the List of basic topics in classical studies, an outline and navigation aid to assist learning and browsing the subject of classics on Wikipedia. It is part of Wikipedia's tables of contents system. Your help is needed to monitor, maintain, and complete the list. Please look it over, analyze it, and improve it. And place it on your watchlist. Thank you.
The Transhumanist   

This is a mess[edit]

It's not that there are any *serious* factual errors (although the section on archaeology is pretty humorous), but this article was obviously written in large part by a non-native speaker of English. There are numerous grammatical errors along with just plain odd choices of phrasing. How did this happen to such an important article? Charlie 03:10, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Canons treated similarly to Western "Classics" in other cultures[edit]

I've never heard of China being a part of the discipline of the Classics. Is this PC crap or what?

me neither. taking it off.

The Chinese have their own set of classics (some of which pre-date their western counterparts) that have been part of the traditional Confucian education for centuries. Some cursory research could have told you this, calling it "PC crap" and removing it is uncalled for. goaway110

Wait a second please. gbog

Nice to leave a date and time if you say that for when people come round cleaning up --BozMo(talk) 21:16, 7 May 2004 (UTC)

I don't see why reference shouldn't be made to cultural traditions outside the Western, Graeco-Roman tradition, but there's no point paying lipservice to global equality by mentioning the Chinese and then ignoring all the other great ancient civilisations. Perhaps we need to agree on whether the term 'Classics' specifically refers to the ancient Mediterranean world, or whether its definition varies depending on cultural context - specifically, how do people in other civilisations refer to those texts and narratives which play the role occupied in Western civilisation by 'the classics'? Do they use term 'classics'? If not, then there isn't really a place for including it here. If so, we perhaps need to consider expanding this article quite a lot. Peeper 15:24, 2 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree. This article, while totally justified in mentioning the Chinese Classics (as they are referred to in English by those studying them; the language is distinct and is called Classical Chinese), it should either flesh out that section and mention the classical cannons of other cultures (the Hindu Vedas come to mind) or leave it out with a disclaimer that this covers the Western Classics exclusively. I might get around to forming a tenative outline with this in mind and perhaps even expanding the sections. As Classics is a full-blown major at most (if not all credible) universities, I should think it should have a page of much higher caliber than this. --GuildNavigator84 01:44, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Let me know when your outline is ready. I'm interested at taking a look at it. (^'-')^ Covington 06:36, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

The study of classics encompasses the languages and linguistics, literature, mythology, history, philosophy, religion, science, art, and archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. It has absolutely nothing to do with the study of the ancient Chinese civilization and thus mention of such a civilization should be omitted. Classics majors learn Latin and Greek, not Chinese. There’s a reason for this, THEY DON’T STUDY CHINA. 15:42, 17 July 2006 (UTC)tabber

You are right. This is Wikipedia English, the western, English speaking world refers to ancient Greece and Rome when it mentions The Classics. Although there is a Oriental classics it would not be what people would conjure in their mind in the U.S., Canada, U.K., etc when you say "The Classisc". OG from LA

Having been on this page a few times, I think this the "Globalist or Western-only" controversy to be quite frankly unreasonable, unfair and highly Eurocentric: English, while indeed a European language in its origins, is now quite arguably the most important lingua franca in history, as can be seen by the massive numbers of Non-Western people who speak it in around the world, including such Non-Western countries as Nigeria, India, Kenya, Bangladesh, the Phillipines and Egypt, along with other cosmopolitian countries such as Singapore, South Africa, Belize and the special administrative region of Hong Kong in the PRC. Not to mention the masses of Anglophone immigrants to English-dominated and Western countries such as the United States, Canada or the UK. So, English is really a world lingua franca that originated in Europe; plus, Wikipedia has doctrines of NPOV and Worldwide View, the latter of which must of course especially be considered in this debate. Also, to be blunt, this dispute really should be phrased differently, and not so as to read something akin to "should the Chinese Classics be included with the Western Classics on this page or not?" but rather as "how can a page entitled simply "Classics" neither discuss nor do any meaningful service whatsoever to providing content about the classics of the world?". This is because there are plenty of classical languages, most in fact of which are not Western in origin, as Wikipedia's own page on them shows. To further back up my point, here's a list of some of them, and a work or two: Classical Quiché has the Popol Vuh, Classical Arabic has not only the Quran but also the Book of Optics (the latter of which is, by the way, is the basis of the scientific method in all its variations), Classical Sanskrit has the great epics of the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa and Pāṇini's Sanskrit Grammar, the first great work in linguistics that even influenced Noam Chomsky's Generative Grammar, Classical Quechua is the language of the great Apu Ullantay and the Tragic Death of Emperor Atawallpa, Middle Egyptian is the language of the Eloquent Peasant, the Book of the Dead, the Story of Sinuhe and the Rhinde Mathematical Papyrus, and Classical Sumerian is the Language of the earliest versions of the stories of the great hero-king Gilgamesh in the form of an epic cycle, several debate poems or essays, the Lament for Ur and the Biblically-important Sumerian Creation Myth. Therefore and given this, I strongly suggest and push for a definition of the Classics that includes not only the Western Canon of Classics, but also all the works that originate outside the Occident. Jamutaq (talk) 23:34, 11 December 2014 (UTC)


What is the word "sinised" in the first sentence of the second paragraph? I had never heard of it so I tried to look it up and was unsuccessful. 02:58 EST, 28 August 2005

I'm not sure, but I am wondering if the word 'sinicized' (or 'sinised' as was) is even appropriate. Doesn't it suggest that Chinese and related civilisations are the result of some kind of process applied to a pre-existing world? Would we say 'in the Europeanised world' if we meant 'in Europe'? I don't really like this sentence anyway as the word, however you spell it, is obscure and inaccessible, so I may try to reword altogether in a day or two to something more specific, depending on your comments. Peeper 10:07, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

I think this article really needs some work on balancing out the NPOV. The "Western Classics" section is entirely devoted to "classicism" as a study, rather than the works themselves. The only "Quote" is pretty snobbish. I guess I'm complaining that there should be more focus on the curriculum rather than the students preening themselves. Anyway, my contribution for right now is "sinocentric"; I agree with Peeper. The Dogandpony 17:22, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. The quote is terrible. I hope whoever put it there wasn't trying to sell the classics as a field of study! --GuildNavigator84 01:44, 23 March 2006 (UTC)


I believe the quotation in the current article is snobbish and doesn't fit the article in general. Wouldn't putting, instead, good quotes from the great Classical Authors (Homer, Vergil, Livy, Plato, Sophocles, Cicero and the list is long...) be a much better idea? Maybe even finding quotes of these authors about the Classics, or quotes of famous Modern authors regarding the Classics? Tal :) 15:13, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

The quote from Boris Johnson makes no sense: "It's economically illiterate. A degree in Classics or Philosophy can be as valuable as anything else.". What? Is this nonsense because its decontextualized, or is it simply nonsense? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:48, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
That quote must be taken out of context. I removed it. But who is Churchill talking about here? "I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honour, and Greek as a treat."--Dblk (talk) 09:12, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

Which Copleston?[edit]

Classical education was considered the best training for implanting the life of moral excellence arete, hence a good citizen. It furnished students with intellectual and aesthetic appreciation for "the best which has been thought and said in the world". Copleston, an Oxford classicist said that classical education "communicates to the mind...a high sense of honour, a disdain of death in a good cause, (and) a passionate devotion to the welfare of one's country". Cicero commented, "All literature, all philosophical treatises, all the voices of antiquity are full of examples for imitation, which would all lie unseen in darkness without the light of literature".

I'm not sure ... was it Edward Copleston? —Barbatus 14:29, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Those two quotes are now linked with "thus concurring with", yet they don't concur in any way, and nothing in the article explains why they do. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:51, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Classics In Nonwestern Universities?[edit]

Are there Classics in nonwestern universities? If so, would, say, Chinese universities study Confuncious's writings & his students, like for example, Mencius, instead? An answer on my talk page would nice, thanks!100110100 21:57, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

This what all those 'online resources' for! Use 'em. —Barbatus 22:05, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
?????????Thanks.100110100 04:36, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

famous classicists[edit]

I think this section is taking a fairly broad meaning of "classicist" as "anyone who has ever studied classics", rather than its more common meaning of "a scholar of classics". While Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche are good examples, since both were classicists who later gained renown in other fields, Toni Morrisson and Ted Turner are not, as neither would be recognized as a "classicist" by anyone in the field (indeed Turner doesn't even have an undergraduate degree in the subject). Would anyone object to me whittling this list down to only actual classicists? --Delirium 21:53, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it would be better to simply correct the term and change "classicist" into "classics students" or "people who studied classics" or "classics majors" etc, thus allowing us to keep some important names on the list without misleading the reader. Tal :) 08:37, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the substance of your previous to post. But with regard to your proposed alternatives I would suggest that if you use one of them it should not be "Classics majors". This term is an American term and carries very little meaning, positively confusing even, to British people and I suspect many other English speaking people. My own suggestion would be "Classics Graduates".
Do we want this to be a list only of people who have become famous for work outside of classics? If so, the name should make that clear. If not, we need to include people like Milman Parry. Lesnail 00:22, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Merger Proposal[edit]

Should List of basic classics topics be merged into Classics? Lists seem to generate great ire amongst certain Wikipedians. Here is the basic policy Wikipedia:Lists (stand-alone lists). Cheers!Wassupwestcoast 01:42, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

I believe that they should be merged. The list looks too much like an abstract conglomeration of events. bibliomaniac15 01:17, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
If you can fit it in there and not make it look cramped, I say go for the gusto! The two articles can live well as one. Just H 02:05, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Fully agree! Especially a list like basic classics, which could easily be woven into this article. Good luck! Amphytrite 02:10, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I'd say delete the list and move all links not currently contained in The Classical Studies category to that category (as it seems that the list is functioning as the de facto category). Do not merge these two articles. The list is far too long and far to discombobulated, and I fear it would only harm the Classics article. CaveatLectorTalk 02:47, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree with CaveatLector; there's no easy way to merge the list into Classics without turning the article into a list. Delete the list, and make sure all the articles on the list have a classics category of some sort. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:01, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I second that: kill the list, merge the links into Classics.--Barbatus 12:43, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't want to start cluttering up Classics, but the list is pretty standoffish all on its own. I say try to merge them, and if becomes messy just kill the list. --Mercrutio's been here. 14:58, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I would rather have a nicely organized list than a jumbled up category. However, I support merging the list (or at least most of it) into this article. The article needs expansion and the list has some extra information, which might at least spur editors on and also guide their expansions. Lesnail 16:02, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I feel that categories are much more streamlined than lists, and that throwing this list into the article would be really bad for the article itself. The article does need expansion, but that list is far too large and disorganized to do any good here. CaveatLectorTalk 16:11, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Categories really are lists. Just look at this page. That's a list, automatically generated from articles that are in Category:Classical studies. Many standalone lists can be replaced by categories, I think. --Akhilleus (talk) 16:22, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I'll agree with Akhilleus - foe what it's worth. --5telios 22:12, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the articles should be merged. Some of the topics are listed at Portal:Classical Civilisation as well. -- Flauto Dolce 00:46, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Merged List of basic classics topics to Classics[edit]

Performed merge of contents of list. The first proposal to merge in Nov 2006 generated no comments. The second proposal in Feb 2007 seemed uncontroversial with the concensus to merge. I've added a redirect on the old page. Now to clean-up. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 16:03, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

I actually feel the article looks terrible now. What purpose is this list serving? How is this an encyclopedic article on par with anything else in wikipedia? To me, it seems this list is cluttered and seems very out of place in the article. (Plus, I hardly see a consensus here, in fact, i see the veteran editors of classics articles very opposed to this merger with few others saying the list should be merged). I hate to just revert, so can we actually have a discussion here, where those who want this list in the article actually address the negative aspects of the merger? CaveatLectorTalk 16:15, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree, it looks bad. At the very least put the list at the bottom of the article. --D. Webb 22:57, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
I moved the Basic Topics further down, although I am inclined to think it's better left out of the article. If anything on that list really must be mentioned, then it is probably best to do it in the relevant section on sub-disciplines. This table, however, and in fact the list before it, does a remarkably poor job of informing the reader of the major topics dealt with. Items seem chosen randomly. Why is Ovid there but not Horace? Why is Cicero there but neither Tacitus or Livy? Why is Epicureanism there but not Pyrrhonism? Why are there no genres like Roman historiography or epic poetry or lyric poetry etc? I also think that the section on the history of classics should come after the section on sub-disciplines. --D. Webb 23:11, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
I should also mention that the links you are deleting as 'tangential' are not so by any stretch of the imagination. You cannot call 'Christianity', 'the vulgate', and 'mystery cults' 'tangential' to the topic of classics. Far from it, they are integral. CaveatLectorTalk 16:20, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
On this I strongly disagree. Most classicists, for example, would probably define classical literature with a reference to both language and time and then negatively with reference to Christianity, i.e. as the Greek and Latin literature written before, say, 500 BC which is not Christian (for an example of this, see K.J. Dover, Ancient Greek Literature (Oxford University Press)). --D. Webb 22:57, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Although I respect Dover (and I haven't read that anthology), you are mistaken here. Placing the cutoff at 500 BC cuts off ALL works of Latin, and all works of Greek that are neither Hesiod nor Homer. (it even negates PLATO). I'll have to ask you to double check that date in your reference, because from my training, 'Classics' and 'Classical Studies' has always been cut off around 500 C.E. (rather than B.C.E.). The Rise of Christianity comes slightly before the end of the period that we study as 'Classicists', but to claim that Classicists do not study works from authors such as Livy, Tacitus, or St. Augustine (the first two who lived in the era of christianity's birth, the last who was a major christiian writer, is simply not correct. CaveatLectorTalk 23:52, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, that was supposed to be 500 AD. Mea culpa. The point stands, however. Classicists study, classical, not Christian texts. St. Augustine is somewhat of an exception but still not mainstreem in classics by any means. --D. Webb 18:18, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
And I wasn't, of course suggesting that classicists don't study Livy or Tacitus. Cf my note on their absence from the Basic Topics table a few lines up. --D. Webb 18:28, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
I still don't see why you are excluding christianity from classical studies? It's actually very important, as it caused significant political remifications even before it was declared the state religion of Rome by Constantine. Irregardless, Christianity's full rise to prominence marks the end of what we call Antiquity, so we, as Classicists (note that I am one, btw), would be extremely remiss to discount it as a topic within our perview. (Oh, and i thought the case was that you meant CE. Just making sure :) ). CaveatLectorTalk 20:55, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
I am a classicist too. And I still disagee :) I'm not saying that Christianity and all things Christian are in no way related to classics. However, it is not integral to classical studies, it is 'tangential'. I mean, if you look at the course offerings in classics, both undergraduate and graduate courses offered, in, say, the top 50 classics departments in the US or even the top 100 departments in the world over the last 25 years or even 50 years, how many out of every 100 courses do yoy think will be devoted to the gospels or the letters of St. Paul or just anything that concerns mainly Christianity? If we look at every article in every major classics journal in the same period of time, how many out of every 100 articles will be mainly about Christian stuff? If we take account of conferances and symposia sponsored by classics department too, how many will be mainly about Christian stuff? Christianity just isn't a major topic in classics. Many anthologies of classical literature don't contain anything about Christianity, the ones that do seem to treat it as something marginal. How many entries in the OCD are primarily about Christianity? How many in the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature? Oliver Taplins Literature in the Greek World has about 3 pages about "Pagans and Christians" and that's it; Albin Lesky's 900+ page book on The History of Greek Literature doesn't have much more. --D. Webb 22:01, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
Points taken :) CaveatLectorTalk 22:28, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
The table, by the way, was a BRILLIANT idea, and the information actually seems cogent to the article now. Good job, Wassup!!CaveatLectorTalk 23:55, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Finished Merging and Cleaning-up[edit]

I've finished cleaning up and merging. WP is collaborative so add,alter and make better. Please. I'm off to other projects. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 17:35, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Basic Topics table[edit]

The topics seem strangely arbitrarily chosen. Quite a lot of important things are missing, authors such as Tacitus and Livy, genres such as lyric poetry or historiography, philosophical schools such as neoplatonism etc. I suggest we add all this and more (if we're going to keep the table), but to prevent the table from becoming colossal in size, I suggest we remove links to individual works (e.g. Ovid's Metamorphoses (why is that work here but nor the Amores or the Heroides or the Fasti or....), the De Rerum Natura etc.). Links to these can be found in the aticles on the relevant authors. And let's face it, we can't link to every piece of literature studied in classics. --D. Webb 18:28, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

While I like the table, I'm starting to see again why I feared the inclusion of this list into the article. So, I prepose a couple of ways to solve this: 1. We split the tables to cover major topics (i.e. Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Greek Lit., Roman Lit, etc). We then use this VERY condensed table as an infobox at the end of the article. 2. We move all the links to the Category Classical Studies and link to the category. We then take what's organized here and create infoboxes for each of the subfields I mentioned above and place them on the appropriate pages.
Either of these sound good to anyone? Any other ideas? CaveatLectorTalk 21:00, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
You're idea sounds good. It is the right path to take. In response to the above comment why the contents of the tables seem weird: well, you've hit the proverbial nail on the head as to the problem with the former list. I simply cut and pasted it into a table. Once in table format, many problems became readily apparent. Calling all classicists: be bold: add content, play with formats. Most of my ideas end up in the WP dustbin but it is the only way forward. Cheers!. Wassupwestcoast 00:26, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Both ideas seem sensible to me. --D. Webb 06:57, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

Merger Proposal Redux[edit]

On 02 March 2007 List of basic topics in classical studies was created. Since not a month ago List of basic classics topics was merged into Classics (09 Feb 2007 to be exact), and the info in the new list could easily fit into a properly exanded Classics article do we really need to divide our effort and resources to support two articles (with all the usual vandalism, nonsense, etc.)? I think not. Plus, Lists are prone to deletion because in the minds of certain WP they are not encyclopedic (I don't agree with this but they are hard to defend on AfD proposals). Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 02:41, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Please notice[edit]

The main discussion is on Talk:List of basic topics in classical studies, where Wassupwestcoast posted his first message concerning the creation of the page and asked for clarification. So that's where I answered. Please continue this discussion there. Thank you. The Transhumanist (AWB) 03:25, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Completing the writing of the article[edit]

From Wikipedia:Embedded list...

Lists within articles:

Most Wikipedia articles should consist of prose, and not just a list of links. Prose allows the presentation of detail and clarification of context, while a list of links does not. Prose flows, like one person speaking to another, and is best suited to articles, because their purpose is to explain. Therefore, lists of links, which are most useful for browsing subject areas, should usually have their own entries: see Wikipedia:Lists (stand-alone lists) for detail. In an article, significant items should be mentioned naturally within the text rather than merely listed. For example:

Prose List with no content
The 20th century architecture of New York City includes numerous icons of architecture, most notably its striking skyscrapers.

At the beginning of the century, the city was a center for the Beaux-Arts movement, with architects like Stanford White and Carrere and Hastings. New York's skyscrapers include the Flatiron Building (1902) where Fifth Avenue crosses Broadway at Madison Square, Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building (1913) a neo-Gothic "Cathedral of Commerce" overlooking City Hall, the Chrysler Building (1929) the purest expression of the Art Deco skyscraper and the Empire State Building (1931) are all skyscraper icons. Modernist architect Raymond Hood and after World War II Lever House began the clusters of 'glass boxes' that transformed the more classic previous skyline of the 1930s. When the World Trade Center towers were completed in 1973 many felt them to be sterile monstrosities, but most New Yorkers became fond of "The Twin Towers" and after the initial horror for the loss of life in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks there came great sadness for the loss of the buildings.

20th century architecture of New York City

Similarly, the Classical Greece and Classical Rome sections should be explanations, not link lists. The sublist on Greek philosophy is already half written, and fits rather awkwardly into a table as a list. The two topic chart sections would be far superior if replaced with headings and prose. The Transhumanist (AWB) 11:26, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

List of Latin Classics[edit]

There are several odd holes in this list. Some of this can be explained if the intent is to exclude all later Latin writers (e.g., Ausonius, Ammianus Marcellinus, Claudian), & all Christian ones (e.g. Tertullian, Augustine). However, the category of science writers is embarassing. I am very tempted to add Lucretius to that category – as well as Cicero to philosophy – but why is Frontinus excluded from architecture/engineering? Why is there no category for agricultural writers (which include Cato the Elder, Columella)? And how can the writers of an encyclopedia exclude Pliny the Elder? If no one speaks up, I may make these corrections myself. -- llywrch (talk) 05:03, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

There's no reason to hesitate, all the folks you mention should be here (even Claudian). I wouldn't call Lucretius a science writer, though--I would say he's a didactic poet, or a philosophical poet. And indeed, he's listed under "didactic poets". --Akhilleus (talk) 05:28, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
Well my point with Lucretius & Cicero was that several of these writers belong to multiple categories. Putting them in only one (even if it is the most appropriate) makes the Latin classics seem less extensive than they are. -- llywrch (talk) 18:40, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
That's true. I think this tells us that the format of the article isn't the best way to present this information. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:46, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

Hahahahaha. Sorry, the idea that Lucretius isn't a science writer made me laugh. Perhaps it's difficult to get the tone of his writing through translations, but the didactic element of De Rerum Natura is only structural. One can make good arguments for Lucretius not really believing in his own philosophical arguments, but less for his theories on particles. This isn't an instructional guide. This isn't Nicander. (talk) 09:14, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Some thoughts[edit]

Just some thoughts after reading the article:

  • The "Quotations" section doesn't seem add much encyclopedic value to the article (and I doubt whether Mark Twain's bon mots are referring the Greek and Lain classics).
  • The section "Famous Classicists" seems misnamed. I was expecting to find guys like Richard Porson ... Perhaps "Celebrities who studied classics"? I don't know.

Cheers.--K.C. Tang (talk) 03:46, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

I would agree with you for the most part. However, I think that it's difficult to classify most prominent classicists as "famous." Milman Parry is certainly well known in some circles, but virtually unknown elsewhere.
My bigger concern is that the section, as it now stands is closer to a trivia section than anything of substance.PoBoy321 (talk) 17:32, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Much more input from archaeology and other areas of anthropology is also needed[edit]

Will try to help round up some volunteers. Or help out.--Levalley (talk) 21:44, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

"Ancient" capitalisation[edit]

I've seen the article Outline_of_ancient_Greece does not have a capital A in its title, yet every article which mentions Ancient Greece, Rome, etc. have it capitalised. Which is correct? -- (talk) 05:54, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Teaching in UK schools[edit]

Does anyone know when/why/if Classics stopped being a separate subject at UK secondary schools? I'm 30, and when I was about 11/12 there was a Classics department and class at my school, but by the time I was 14/15 and would have had the chance to take it as an option, it had been abandoned. My elder sister took it as an option, and for my father it was mandatory. We all attended the same regular comprehensive school. My mother took it also, but she was at a grammar school, where I guess that it's more regarded. (talk) 16:27, 22 August 2009 (UTC)


Hello, I am very interested in the question of which books were preserved, and possible reasons why. I am also interested in questions of what is known, or thought, as to why particular sources were passed down to us, or were lost. (For instance I understand that Islamic philosophers and Jewish philosophers in tghe caliphate played an important role in the transmission of, particularly, Aristotle. Or at least so I have often heard.)

My particular question is whether anyone knows of any particular work on this area, or if, indeed there is a name for the study of this area.

My particular suggestion is that some incorporation of this study would make a very interesting additon to this article. The wealth of works lost is quite heartbreaking. I have just been reading Diogenes Laertius' life of Epicurus and he gives a long list of works by the philosopher which we introduces as merely the highlights of the oeuvre. Now there are only three letters and two collections of maxims extant.

Similarly, we have only a handful of Sophocles' work. On a more positive note, it does seem, for instance from reading Aristotle's Poetics, that many of the most admired plays by Sophocles and other tragedians are still in our possession, due perhaps to their enduring human interest ensuring their preservation, reinscription and dissemination over the centuries. Still, the absence from the canon of the first two plays of Aeschylus' Theban trilogy gives a somewhat bitter aftertaste to our enjoyment of the third.

These questions have fascinated me for some time, but it is only now that I have left university long behind me that they have struck me as so compelling. For they seem to be to offer a great source of reflection on the potential legacies of our own age.

In short, if anyone has any insights into this matter or can tell me of any respected sources on the area, I would be abundantly grateful if they offered their suggestions here. Even better, if someone could add such a section to this article, or even open a new article on this area, or indeed, (as has actually just crossed my mind!) simply inform me if such an article already exists on Wikipedia, I could not thank them enough. SF November 2009

Hello again. Anyone have any interest in this vital question, at all? I mean the question of whether there is a reason why we recieved the texts we did is surely an area of study. Did the Seven Against Thebes resonate more deeply with monk scribes than Laius? If so why? How much has the presnt writing its own history actualized the separation between wheat and chaff that has made up our present classical corpus. And how much is random? Surely there are people studying this. Surely. And it should be incorporated in this article. It is afterall the account of the material basis for all studies of classics - namely, the study of one text for a hundreds lost. Classics is only the study of the results of this process of preservation and loss. I am not asking for original research. I am only asking for research. But wiki, in fairness, is going to the dogs, so I fully appreciate the unfairness of my request. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:15, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

R. R. Bolgar, The Classical Heritage and its Beneficiaries, is a good place to start -- in answer to this seven-year-old question.

Sub-disciplines within the Classics[edit]

I feel that you could go more in depth in this section seeing as though it is only a few sentences. Share with us what cities within these new sub-disciplines being studied are now being brought up within the Classics. You mentioned parts of Northern Africa, but where? Htulkoff 9/19/11 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Htulkoff (talkcontribs) 23:09, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Classics Quotations[edit]

What on earth is the point of the quotations section? What does it inform anyone of and why does it matter?

I say delete.

Pandaros (talk) 01:34, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

"Famous classicists"?[edit]

This list starts with Milton and Berkeley and ends with Stephen Fry and Mary Beard.

Are the last two really "famous"? Or just people who are on television a lot recently?

Or is that _why_ they are in the list? (O tempora, o mores!) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:49, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Eytmology of word "classic" rather sketchy[edit]

This article is about the academic discipline "Classics", namely the study of Greek and Roman literature and civilization. This meaning only came into being at about 1800. Before that the term underwent many changes as described by the great German scholar, Ernst Robert Curtius in his (now classic?) book European Literature in the Latin Middle Ages (1947- 53), I believe this history ought to at least be alluded to here (as well as discussed more at length in the separate wikipedia article "classic") The first use of the word "classic" to refer to literary works dates to the Roman grammarian Aulus Gelius who lived in the second century AD under the Antonine emperors. Gellius did not use it to describe works of literary or artistic excellence, he used it in the context of a discussion on grammar to denote works by "model authors" that is authors whose works were suitable to used as models of correct grammar by teachers in schools of rhetoric.

[It] was not until very late, and then only in a single instance, that the name classicus appears: in Aulus Gellius (Noctes Atticae, XIX, 8, 15). This learned compiler of the Antonine period discusses a large number of grammatical problems. Are quadriga and arena to be used in the singular or the plural? The thing to do is to follow the usage of a model author “E cohorte illa dumtaxat antiquiore vel oratorum aliquis vel poetarum, id set classicus adsiduusque aliquis scriptor non proletarius” : “some one of the orators or poets, who at least belongs to an older band [cohort], that is a first-class and tax-paying author, not a proletarian.” According to the Servian constitution, citizens were divided into five classes based on property qualifications. Citizens of the first class were soon simply called simply classici. Cicero (Ac., II, 73) already uses the word metaphorically when he puts Democritus above Stoic philosophers whom he assigns to the fifth class. The proletarius, whom Gellius mentions by way of comparison, belongs to no tax class. When Sainte-Beuve, in 1850, discussed the question What is a Classic?, he paraphrased this passage in Gellius: “un écrivain du valeur et de marque, un écrivain qui compte, qui a du bien au soleil, et qui n’est pas confondu dans la foule des prolétaires.” ["a writer of worth and distinction, a writer who counts, a person of means, and who stands out from the common herd [i.e, proletarians]." What a tidbit for a Marxist sociology of literature!

The passage from Gellius is instructive. It shows that, in Antiquity, the concept of the model author was oriented upon a grammatical criterion, the criterion of correct speech. The history of modern languages should investigate when and where the absolutely isolated usage which we find in Gellius made its way into modern culture. That such a basic concept of our culture as Classicism, and one which has been so debated and so misused, should go back to a late Roman writer who is known today only to specialists, is more than an interesting philological curiosity. It illustrates what we have already been able to establish more than once—the sway of chance in the history of our literary terminology. What would modern aesthetics have done for a single general concept that should embrace Raphael, Mozart, and Goethe, if Gellius had never lived? Imposing systems which have harassed centuries would never have arisen if the Servian tax classification had never been made. There could not well have been any argument over classicism, if the word classicus had been understood. But because it was not understood, it was surrounded by a mysterious nimbus, which suggests the polished marble of the Apollo Belvedere. We can no longer do without the concept of the classical and we need not give it up. But neither will we renounce our right to illuminate our aesthetic categories historically. This is a widening of our horizon for which we are grateful to the “Historicism” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The concept of the classical has, so we see, a very humble and prosaic origin. In the last two hundred years it has become unduly and immeasurably inflated. It was a step as full of consequences as it was dubious when, about 1800, Greco-Roman Antiquity en bloc was pronounced “classical.” Any impartial estimate of Antiquity, not only historically, but also aesthetically, was thereby obstructed for more than a century. Those who love Antiquity in all its periods and styles (a love which is certainly less common than might be supposed) are precisely those who will feel its apotheosis as the “classical” to be empty and misleading pedantry. The glorified and glorifying grammar-school Humanism, which even today still tends to scale the heights of edification, is at the opposite pole from the real and bold Humanism of liberal minds. —Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature in the Latin Middle Ages (Princeton, Bollingen, 1953), pp. 249-250.

By the way, what is now called a "classical education" used to be called a humanistic education, and those who studied and taught it humanists. Until about 1800 It was the only game in town because modern authors were not studied, since it was presumed they wrote in modern languages that modern people could already understand. Mballen (talk) 16:35, 7 September 2016 (UTC) Mballen (talk) 03:20, 8 September 2016 (UTC)

Date of modern meaning of Classics too early?[edit]

The introduction maintains that the modern use of the word "classics" dates from the 16th century (i.e., the 1500s), but Ernst Robert Curtius, as quoted above, puts the date for its use in the modern sense at 1800. In fact, what we call the classics were in the 16th century referred to as studia humanitatis, q.v. When the studia humanitatis was revived in the Renaissance, aided by the invention of the printing press, education meant education in Latin and Greek language and literature. During the 17th century people began to advocate the use of modern languages and literature, namely French. This was the time of the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes (quarrel between the ancients and the moderns) over which was better: ancient or modern learning and literature. Humanistic learning continued unabated but in the popular mind, at least, with the spread of periodicals whose audiences included women (who normally were excluded from classical learning), the moderns prevailed. It was really a quarrel over the idea of progress versus that of authority. The authoritarians, who included the French Academy, strove with considerable success to keep modern French literature modeled as closely as possible on ancient models, as then understood, but new genres, such as the fairy tale and the novel gained acceptance. By the 18th c. French had joined and in many cases superseded Latin as the language of learning, entertainment, and, especially diplomacy, while ancient literature also began to be printed in translation for mass audiences, including women. During the French Enlightenment, It became fashionable to deride pedantry and antiquarianism. Many educators began to look away from the traditional humanistic studies in favor of practical education in modern languages and the crafts, under the influence of Rousseau. In reaction to this, around 1800 educational reformers, first in Germany (with Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer's neo-humanismus) (1808), and then in England (Matthew Arnold), advocated a return to the study of Greek and Latin language culture as exemplary in themselves. It was felt that exposure to Greek and Latin history and culture (along with Christian religious studies) would give children (boys, in actual fact), a broad outlook that would enable them to transcend the narrowness of their own particular time and place; and an exposure to the best the human mind was capable of, which the Greeks in particular were considered to exemplify, would contribute to their fullest moral and spiritual development. It was at this time that the Classics in our modern sense, "surrounded" in Cutius's words, "by a mysterious nimbus, which suggests the polished marble of the Apollo Belvedere," came into being. Mballen (talk) 03:20, 8 September 2016 (UTC) Mballen (talk) 03:27, 8 September 2016 (UTC)