Classics encompasses the ancient world in all its rich variety. Students will study Greek and Roman history, ancient language, art, literature and philosophy. The Classics Minor at USU requires completion of a total of 21 hours in variable combinations drawn from core courses in the Classics Program, Department of History and other departments across the university.
A broad introduction to the ancient world. Students take classes in Greek and Roman history, as well as classical philosophy, art, politics and language. This is essential preparation for anyone interested in studying life and art during the Greco-Roman period.
Focus on classical Latin. Along with classes in Roman history and civilization, students learn basic Latin grammar and syntax as they read works by Caesar, Vergil, Ovid, Catullus, Livy, Cicero, Plautus and a wide range of other Roman authors. Understanding Latin is an important tool for all students of pre-modern history.
Focus on classical (Attic) Greek. Along with courses on ancient Greek history and culture, students read the works of authors like Plato, Homer, Euripides, Sophocles and Xenophon. Ancient Greek is essential preparation for advanced work in classics, early Christianity and other historical fields.
The study of Latin with a focus on the best and latest pedagogy. Students read and study texts they're likely to teach (Vergil, Cicero, Catullus, Ovid) and then hone skills and strategies for bringing alive Roman culture and literature in today's classroom. This degree is a must for all future Latin teachers.
Any of our Classics Minors will equip students with a depth of understanding invaluable in their own classrooms, whether they teach English, history, philosophy, literature, civilization, art, mythology or modern languages. Understanding the traditions behind their chosen discipline allows teachers to answer a much wider range of questions and make more meaningful presentations of their subject matter. State-wide, the Classics Minor helps fulfill the increasing need for high school Latin teachers.
Law and Medicine
As western law is steeped in Roman jurisprudence, so is legal vocabulary built on Latin. Such terms as habeas corpus, nolo contendere, prima facie, corpus delicti and amicus curiae are part of the everyday Latin vocabulary of practicing lawyers. Furthermore, understanding the classical tradition provides valuable background for the future attorney. This is also true of careers in Medicine and Pharmacy, where for over a thousand years doctors and pharmacists used Latin and Greek. Today, knowing these languages can provide a pre-med student or nurse in training with a winning advantage in increasingly competitive medical school studies.
Greek, Hebrew and Latin are were the primary languages of early Judaeo-Christian thought and tradition. Every serious student of the New Testament will eventually study Greek if only to read and study the New Testament in its original form. Understanding ancient philosophy and history is also a valuable tool for ministers.
The ability to communicate with an extensive vocabulary and a thorough command of English is essential to success in journalism. Like little else, the ancient languages sharpen communication skills.
Art, Literature, and Drama
The classical tradition has long shaped and dominated western civilization. By taking any of our classics courses, students learn to appreciate more fully the historical and mythological foundations on which the fine arts rest today. In addition, an appreciation of classical art and literature mirrors Utah's cultural values, as evidenced by the state's world-recognized opera, ballet, art and drama.
This section is dedicated to all those prospective Classics students. There are those who have gone before you and have blazed many trails so that others might have an easier journey. Below are a few testimonials from former USU students who discuss their tribulations and triumphs after they studied Classics here.
Former Student Now in the Military
"While I did very well in Political Science, after graduation I decided not to pursue advanced degrees in that field. Instead, I chose to join the US Army where candidates are required to do very well on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery), or else they are removed from consideration. Therefore, I was under a lot of pressure to excel at both tests. The ASVAB wasn't too difficult and I ended up getting a very high score on that exam which maintained my contract. But I wasn't too worried about the ASVAB... the exam I was most anxious about was the DLAB, which tests an individual's ability to learn a language. The DLAB was one of the strangest tests I've ever taken.The DLAB creates an imaginary language with a series of complex pronunciations, grammar rules, and endings. The test taker is required to translate sentences and audibly listen for changes in sentence structure. The hardest part is, this imaginary language doesn't really resemble any language I'm familiar with (it kind of sounds like Klingon), and there are numerous rules and exceptions which tend to overwhelm the student.
Nevertheless, I was a former student of Latin. My mind had been trained to decipher complex grammar rules and endings and to understand sentence structure (this helped me the most). In the end, I surprised even myself and started to catch onto this imaginary Klingon tongue and translate the various sentences without too many problems. While I was taking the exam, I realized that it wasn't my second and third language (I know both Portuguese and Spanish) that helped me, but my experience as a student of Latin at Utah State University that helped me to make it through this very challenging test. After I finished (with time to spare!), I went to my supervisor who gave me the results. As it turns out, I scored one of the highest scores he'd seen. In fact, I qualified myself to learn any language, no matter the difficulty, at the military's expense.
After taking the DLAB I couldn't stop thinking about how grateful I was that I took Latin as an undergraduate. Latin taught me so much, and I am amazed how a little background in that language continues to benefit me years later. But more and more I realize that it isn't just a knowledge of Latin itself, but the way in which I learned it. Latin not only taught me about grammar, sentence structure, and history, it taught me how to think analytically and how to pay attention to subtleties in language. And this aspect of my education was made possible through the rigorous teaching method you employ at Utah State.
Latin has done much for me in my career path and I'm certain that it will continue benefiting me for years to come. Whenever incoming freshmen ask me what college classes they should take, I ALWAYS tell them that it really doesn't matter as long as they take Latin. These freshmen are usually puzzled by my response, but I quickly inform them that Latin will teach them how to think analytically, and this is a priceless gift.
Well, as far as I'm concerned, Latin isn't a dead language at all. It is very much alive in my life, as it continues to benefit me over and over again."
— a former student who wishes to remain nameless for national security reasons
University Scholar Address
Thank you, Dr. Fox, for that introduction. I’m excited to be here today and grateful for the opportunity to share with you my experiences thus far at Utah State University.
I grew up in Vernal, UT (you may know it as Dinosaurland), where USU’s presence is very tangible. I also happen to be the daughter of a True Blue Aggie. For myself, I knew from the first time I visited Logan, felt the bitter canyon wind, and walked around our beautiful campus that this is where I wanted to spend the next several years of my life.
And so I entered USU as a Presidential Scholar in Fall 2002. I knew that I wanted to study literature and had declared as an English major. I share the same problem, however, as dozens of other ambitious Aggies: I pore through the course catalog and am enticed by the vast, appealing number of classes to take and subjects to study. My own interests splay out across the humanities, with the greatest pull for my attention coming from the foreign language department. Within my first few semesters at USU, I dabbled a bit in Spanish and German, then registered for Dr. Mark Damen’s Latin 1010 course—almost on a whim.
Now, one year later, when I’m not in class, at work, asleep, or doing homework, chances are I can be found up Logan canyon roasting marshmallows over a campfire and discussing Latin syntax with a motley bunch of friends who find language nearly as fascinating as I do. Within Utah State’s Classics program I have found not only a second family and a home away from home, but a pleasant cohesion between my study of early British literature and my Latin emphasis Classics minor.
The solid foundation supporting my dual study is the wealth of mentorship I’ve found within the English Department, the Classics program, and Utah State’s Honors Program. That my English and Classics professors are able to advise me within the context of their own fields, as my mentors within the Honors Program encourage me toward undergraduate research, give me solid shoulders to stand upon as I make an initial foray into research within my field.
A Presidential Scholarship and mentorship within my field of study, then, are giving me a fantastic education. A student interested in dead languages and old manuscripts, however, faces the reality of limited cash flow as she looks toward graduate school. Fortunately, the second thing that tells me Utah State is the place to be is the vast amount of opportunity I’ve found to gain valuable skills as I work toward that elusive BA and prepare for grad school.
In my second year at Utah State, I was offered the chance to work as a Fellow for the Honors Program (the Honors version of an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow). Generous administrators and a director willing to see potential within my eagerness to learn and grow brought me to my current position—the Honors Program’s Student Advisor. This year, I am also working as a Rhetoric Associate. I work one-on-one with students in a Family and Consumer Science Education course, tutoring them and helping them become more confident in their writing and communication skills. Both positions utilize my own communication and writing skills and facilitate my willingness to work hard. As much as I believe in education for the sake of education, I very much appreciate a university that recognizes my need to support myself and gain practical experience to speed me on my way to grad school.
Now in my third year at Utah State University, as I reap the benefits of a Presidential Scholarship, mentorship within my field of study, and meaningful employment, I am grateful for generous donors who have made and continue to make such resources available to me. Each of these facets of my undergraduate experience makes me proud to be an Aggie.
— Katherine Shakespeare, University Scholar Address, 2004