Why Classical Languages?
Greek and Latin languages and literatures are fundamental to Western Civilization. Latin forms the basis of the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, and others). Knowledge of either ancient language, with their detailed and logical grammars, makes learning any other language easier. A good deal of English vocabulary derives from Greek and Latin, especially in science (e.g. "physics"), medicine ("dialysis"), technology ("telephone"), and law ("justice," "habeas corpus").
The literature of the Greeks and Romans is the starting point of Western thought. It is hard to imagine what our culture would be like without the philosophy of Plato and St. Augustine, the dramas of Sophocles and Seneca, the epics of Homer and Vergil, the courtroom arguments of Demosthenes and Cicero, the mathematical discoveries of Euclid and Archimedes, or the medical investigations of Hippocrates and Galen. Modern authors from Dante and Milton to Eliot and Walcott have regularly turned to the classical texts as building blocks for their own new houses. The modern world prizes critical acumen, clarity, and precision in speech and writing. These were the qualities of language and thought most extolled by the Greeks and Romans.
Placement Based on SAT/AP Test Scores
Students with high school Latin should take the SAT-II College Board Achievement Test or the Advanced Placement exams.
|Your SAT Score/Advanced Placement Score||Course You Should Enroll In|
|SAT Score below 530 / AP Exam 1 or 2||LATIN 101 Elementary Latin|
|SAT Score 530-630 / AP Exam 3||LATIN 203 Intermediate Latin|
|SAT Score 640-690 / AP Exam score 4||LATIN 204 Advanced Intermediate Latin|
|SAT Score above 690 / AP Exam score 5||LATIN 300-level or above. See note about AP Credit.|
AP Credit: A score of 4 or 5 gives the student credit for a Latin course taken (LATIN 25 Introduction to Literature). LATIN 25 will count toward the University requirement for 34 courses necessary for graduation, but it will not count toward the University language requirement, or for the Classical Studies or Classical Languages major.
Placement Based on High School Latin Coursework
Incoming students who have not taken the College Board Achievement test may rate themselves in the following way:
- 4 years of high school Latin should qualify the student at least for LATIN 204 Advanced Intermediate Latin;
- 3 years of high school Latin (with Latin taken in the senior year) should qualify the student at least for LATIN 203 Intermediate Latin; and
- 2 years of high school Latin or 3 years (with no Latin taken in the senior year) may not qualify the student for advanced placement.
Students are encouraged to aim high and enroll in a Latin course beyond their placement, especially if they score near the upper limits; if they find this level of Latin too challenging before the end of the drop-add period they will be allowed to drop back one level with no penalty. However, students should note that LATIN 203 and 204 are only offered once per academic year--typically in the fall and spring respectively--and plan accordingly.
Introductory language sequences in Latin are offered in the fall semesters only. Courses with an FL curriculum code meet Duke's language requirement for graduation.
There is no Advanced Placement test for Greek. We handle course placement for incoming students on an individual basis. Students who have studied ancient Greek in high school and are interested in continuing their study of the language should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies before registering for classes. We will help you identify the best fit for your academic background.
Introductory language sequences in Greek are offered in the fall semesters only. Courses with an FL curriculum code meet Duke's language requirement for graduation.