Introduction to Princeton Classics

πάντες ἄνθρωποι τοῦ εἰδέναι ὀρέγονται φύσει.
All human beings naturally desire to know.
Aristotle
Metaphysics

Classical languages and literature have been taught at Princeton since the mid-18th century. They were formed into a serious academic discipline in the latter half of the 19th century, with the first fellowships and chairs in Greek and Latin; and their study was eventually incorporated into a Department of Classics by university president Woodrow Wilson early in the 20th century.

The department concentrates on Greek and Latin Languages and Literatures and Greek and Roman History, with close ties to the Program in the Ancient World, which links it to the Departments of History, Religion, and Art and Archaeology; the Program in Classical Philosophy, which links it to the Department of Philosophy; the Department of Comparative Literature; the Stanley J. Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies; the Program in Linguistics; and several interdepartmental committees.

Within the Department we cover the standard areas of Greek Literature and History of the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic ages, and of Latin Literature and Roman History from the third century BCE through the third CE. We are moreover particularly invested in the study of Late Antiquity and in later reception. Members of the faculty have strong interests and publication records in drama, epic, lyric poetry, the ancient novel, ancient critical theory, medicine, philosophy, historiography, linguistics, social history, material culture — to offer a far from exhaustive list — and a healthy concern for theory and interdisciplinarity. A panorama of our teaching and research can be discovered by looking into courses offered, individual faculty pages, and the annual reports on our activities to be found in the departmental newsletter.