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.