Classics

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"...Nor can I do better, in conclusion, than impress upon you the study of Greek literature, which not only elevates above the vulgar herd but leads not infrequently to positions of considerable emolument."

Thomas Gaisford, "Christmas Sermon"
Christ Church, Oxford

Classics (or Classical Studies), particularly within the Western University tradition, when used as a singular noun, means the study of the language, literature, history, art, and other aspects of Greek and Roman culture during the time frame known as classical antiquity. As a plural noun "classics" can refer to texts written in the ancient Mediterranean world. The study of classics is a primary subject for the humanities, and the people reading classics are sometimes called humanists.

Symmetrically, in the sinised world, the Chinese character 經 (jing in pinyin) refers to a set of texts written during Chinese antiquity and the study of the language, literature, history and philosophy of ancient China, mostly through this corpus of Chinese classical texts, can be described as studying classics. Chinese men of letters sharing Confucean values can also be paralleled with Western humanists.

Western Classics

The word is derived from the Latin classicus which literally means "belonging to the highest class of citizens". Furthermore, its meaning intimates "superiority, authority and even perfection". "Classicus occurs first in Aulus Gellius, a Roman author of the second century who in his miscellany Noctes Atticae (19, 8, 15) refers to classicus scriptor, non proletarius. He was ranking writers according to the classification of the Roman taxation classes.

This method was started when the Greeks were constantly ranking their cultural work. The word they used was canon; ancient Greek for a carpenter's rule. Moreover, early Christian Church Fathers used this term to classify authoritative texts of the New Testament. This rule further helped in the preservation of works since writing platforms of vellum and papyrus and methods of reproduction was not cheap. The title of canon placed on a work meant that it would be more easily preserved for future generations. In modern times, a Western canon was collated that defined the best of Western culture. At the Alexandrian Library, the ancient scholars coined another term for canonized authors, hoi enkrithentes; "the admitted" or "the included".

Classical studies incorporate a certain type of methodology. The Rule of the classical world and of Christian culture and society was Philo's rule:

Philo's rule dominated Greek culture, from Homer to Neo-Platonism and the Christian Fathers of late antiquity. The rule is: "μεταχαραττε το θειον νομισμα" ("metaxaratte to theion nomisma"). It is the law of strict continuity. We preserve and do not throw away words or ideas. Words and ideas may grow in meaning but must stay within the limits of the original meaning and concept that the word has.

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". At Oxford University Classics is known as Literae Humaniores, comprising the study of Ancient Greek and Latin language and literature, history and philosophy, sometimes called "Greats", after the nickname for the final examinations.

Classical Studies

The table below links to any article pertaining to Classical antiquity from pre-historical age to about c. 600-700 A.D. (if there are additional links to articles to make, please do so)


General Classical Topics
A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z
Classical definition of race
Classical definition of racism
Classical definition of racialism
Classical definition of republic
Cultural imprinting on politics
Greek philosophy
Hellenistic philosophy
The Kyklos
Literature
Philosophy of mixed government
Revolution within the form
Theatre and Drama
Classical Greece
A I Q
Acarnania
Achaians
Acharnae
Acropolis, Athens
Adamanthea
Aeolians
Agonothetes
Agora
Agora of the Competaliasts
Amphictyonic League
Ancient Greece
Anderhage Incentive
Antikythera mechanism
Apeiron
Aratrum
Areopagus
Arete (excellence)
Assus
Athenian democracy
Indo-Greek Kingdom
Ionians
Ionic order
B J R
Banausos
Boeotia
Boule
C K S
Chariot racing
Chlamys
Classical definition of effeminacy
Classical definition of republic
Classics
Corinthian order
Cretan/Spartan connection
Cumae alphabet
Kafkania pebble
Kalos Kagathos
Kechries
Kylix (drinking cup)
Sarissa
Selinunte
Skyros
Solonian Constitution
Sounion
Sphacteria
Synoecism
D L T
Damon and Pythias
Delian League
Dorian
Doric order
Labrys
Lampsacus
Laurium
League of Corinth
Lechaio
Lenaia
Logographer (legal)
Tegea
Theatre of Dionysus
Thebes tablets
Thirty Tyrants
Timeline of Ancient Greece
Trial of Socrates


E M U
Ecclesia (ancient Athens)
Eleusinian Mysteries
Elis
Elysium
Macedon
Marathon, Greece
Megara Hyblaea
Messene
Mycenaean period
F N V
Fiction set in Ancient Greece


Vergina
Vergina Sun
G O W
Glossary of ancient Greek political terms
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
Greco-Persian Wars
Greco-Roman
Greece
Greek Conquests in India
Greek comedy
Greek mythology
Greek religion
Greek theatre
Gytheio
Olen (poet)
H P X Y Z
Hecatomb
Hellenic calendar
Hellenistic civilization
Helot
Herma
Hetaera
Hylozoism
Panathenaic Games
Panhellenic Games
Pederasty
Pella
Peloponnesian League
Peloponnesian War
Peltast
Penteli
Peplos
Phocis
Phthia
Prytaneis
Pylos
Xenelasia
Classical Rome
A I Q
AUC
Ab urbe condita
Abacus
Acta Diurna
Adlecti
Admissionales
Adoption in Rome
Aedile
Aerarium
Agaunum
Alban Hills
Ancient Roman technology
Anderida
Apotheosis
Apparitores
Ara Pacis
Arch of Sergius
Aristides (Apologist)
Arrentine ware
Arval Brethren
Atellanæ Fabulæ
Augur
Auriga (slave)
Auspice
Aventine Hill
Ides of March
Imperial cult
Imperium
Incitatus
Ionic order
Quirinal Hill
Quirites
B J R
Bahram IV of Persia
Baths of Titus
Battle of Tapae
Byzantine Empire
Ides of March
Imperial cult
Imperium
Incitatus
Ionic order
Res Gestae Divi Augusti
Res publica
Rise of Rome
Roman Forum
Roman Senate
Roman abacus
Roman and Byzantine Greece
Roman arithmetic
Roman assemblies
Roman citizen
Roman commerce
Roman cursive
Roman departure from Britain
Roman eating and drinking
Roman embassies to China
Roman era
Roman naming convention
Roman numerals
Roman religion
Roman salute
Roman sites in the United Kingdom
Roman square capitals
Roman triumph
Roman usurper
Romanitas
Romano-British
Romans and Greeks
Romulus and Remus
Rubicon
Rustic capitals
C K S
Caelian Hill
Caesar (title)
Caesar cipher
Camillus
Campus Martius
Capitoline Hill
Carmen Arvale
Carmen Saeculare
Carmen Saliare
Carpe diem
Castellum in monte tauno
Catiline Orations
Chariot racing
Circus of Nero
Civic Crown
Classical Latin
Classical definition of republic
Classical education
Classics
Cloaca Maxima
Club
Cognomen
College of Pontiffs
Colonia
Concise List of Roman Emperors
Corinium Museum
Corinthian order
Crisis of the Third Century
Crucifixion
Culture of Rome
Cumaean Sibyl
Cupid and Psyche
Cursus honorum
SPQR
Sacred king
Samian ware
Senones
Sentinum
Settefinestre
Seven hills of Rome
Shapur III of Persia
Sibylline Books
Sibylline oracles
Silver Age of Latin literature
Pisonian conspiracy
Spolia opima
Stoicism
Stola
Subtractive notation
Sumptuary law
Suovetaurilia
D L T
Damnatio memoriae
Daqin
De arte alea
Delator
Delphic Sibyl
Dog Days
Dominate
Doric order
Labarum
Lacus Curtius
Lacus Juturnae
LacusCurtius
Lanista
Latifundia
Latin
Latin literature
Latin names of European countries
Latin names of European rivers
Latin names of islands
Latin names of mountains
Latin names of regions
List of Ancient Rome-related topics
List of Kings of Rome
List of Latin phrases
List of Latin proverbs
List of Republican Roman Consuls
List of Roman Emperors
List of Roman cognomina
List of Roman nomina
List of Roman place names in Britain
List of Roman praenomina
List of Roman sites
List of Roman usurpers
List of censors
List of early imperial Roman consuls
List of late imperial Roman consuls
Liternum
Lucania
Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum
Lupercal
Tablinum
Tarpeian Rock
Taurobolium
Testudo
Fall of the Roman Empire
Three Taverns
Tiburtine Sibyl
Timeline of Ancient Rome
Tironian notes
Toga
Trajan's Column
Tribune of the Plebs
E M U
Edict of Milan
Edict on Maximum Prices
Enyo
Epicureanism
Equestrian (Roman)
Esquiline Hill
Etruscan mythology
Magistratus ordinarii / extraordinarii
Mamertine Prison
Marica
Masada
Mile
Mithraism
Mithridatic Wars
Mos maiorum
Municipium
Murmillo
Ulpius
F N V
Fasces
Fasti
Fiction set in Ancient Rome
First Triumvirate
Flamen
Forma Urbis Romae
Forum Boarium
Forum Holitorium
Founding of Rome
Fratres Arvales
Naumachia
Nobiles
Notitia Dignitatum
Novus homo
Vatican Hill
Venatio
Veni, vidi, vici
Vestal Virgin
Victory titles
Vigiles
Vigintisexviri
Viminal Hill
Vulgar Latin
G O W
Gaius Servilius Ahala
Galli
Gallic Empire
Gallo-Roman culture
Gens
Germania
Gladiator
Golden Age of Latin Literature
Greco-Roman
Greco-Roman religion
Grumentum
Old Latin
Optimates
Western Roman Empire
H P X Y Z
Haruspex
Helvetia
Hepatoscopy
Herculians
Hibernia
History of Rome (Mommsen)
Horatius Cocles
Hygieia
Palatine Hill
Panegyric
Pater familias
Patrician
Plebeian Assembly
Plebs
Political institutions of Rome
Pomerium
Populares
Porta Capena
Praetorian Guard
Princeps
Principate
Promagistrate
Proscription
Ptolemy Philadelphus
Yazdegerd I of Persia
Year of the four emperors
Classical Scholars
A I Q
Frank Frost Abbott
Ada Adler
B J R
Martin Bernal
Milan Budimir
Werner Jaeger
Thomas Ruddiman
David Ruhnken
C K S
Isaac Casaubon
John H. Collins
Ljiljana Crepajac
Thomas Hewitt Key
John Edwin Sandys
Dero A. Saunders
Joseph Justus Scaliger
Julius Caesar Scaliger
Trumbull Stickney
D L T
Arnold Drakenborch
Denis Lambin
George Cornewall Lewis
Justus Lipsius
Stanley Lombardo
George Long
Connop Thirlwall
Thomas Tyrwhitt
E M U
John Pentland Mahaffy
Roger Marbeck
Arnaldo Momigliano
Theodor Mommsen
Guillaume Morel
Friedrich Münzer
F N V
Henry Nettleship
Eirik Vandvik
Phillip Vellacott
Jean-Baptiste Gaspard d'Ansse de Villoison
Gregory Vlastos
G O W
Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve
A. D. Godley
James Bradstreet Greenough
George Grote
Erich S. Gruen
Alfred Gudeman
Johann Caspar von Orelli
Roberto Weiss
Friedrich August Wolf
Daniel Albert Wyttenbach
H P X Y Z
Edith Hamilton
Victor Davis Hanson
Daniel Heinsius
Rudolf Hirzel
Franz Passow
Petrus Hoffman Peerlkamp
Caspar Peucer

Related Topics

Bibliography

  • "Classicism in Literature", René Wellek, Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas, ed. by Philip P. Wiener, Charles Scribner's Sons, NY, l968, l973.
  • The Oldest Dead White European Males, And Other Reflections on the Classics, Bernard Knox, W. W. Norton & Co., NY, London, l993.

Western Classical Reference Library

  • Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities, ed. by Harry Thurston Peck, Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1st pub. 1896, 2nd ed. 1897, reprinted l962. (1701 pages)
  • The New Century Classical Handbook, ed. by Catherine B. Avery, Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., Ny, l962. (1162 pages)
  • The Oxford Classical Dictionary, N. G. L. Hammond and H. H. Scullard, 2nd ed., Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1970. (1176 pages)
  • The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson, Oxford University Press, NY, l989. (615 pages)
  • Loeb Classical Library

Misc. Bibliography

  • Brush Up Your Classics, Michael Macrone, Gramercy Books, NY, l991. (Guide to famous words, phrases and stories of Greek classics.)

References