Why study Classics?

Classics (or Ancient Classics) is the study of the origins of European civilisation, focusing particularly on the cultures of ancient Greek and Rome.

The study of Ancient Classics—including authors such as Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Ovid—has been a central part of humanities education and a shaping influence on Western culture since the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance and down to modern times.

Classics is available as a subject choice in the BA degree at NUI Galway, and you may choose to study it for one year only or to continue with Classics into second and third year as one of your two degree subjects.

Our First Arts course offers a general introduction for students who have no prior background in the discipline.

Classics as discipline is highly complementary with other subjects in the Arts programme, and especially English and Creative Writing, History, Philosophy, Archaeology, Celtic Civilisation and modern languages. This is for the following reasons:

1) The long view

Most Arts disciplines are focused primarily on the modern period, and even those that study recent centuries only skim the surface of human history. Classics will give you a broader perspective on human culture, creativity and intellectual life, going back to the beginnings of writing in Europe, a story spanning at least three millennia. You will learn about the origins of European literature, art, theatre, mythology, philosophy, science and political thought, and about the influence of Graeco-Roman culture down to modern times.

2) Geographical breadth

Classics is concerned with not only Greeks and Romans, but with all the peoples they interacted with: Egyptians, Persians, Hebrews, Etruscans, Celts, Germans and many more. This was a multi-ethnic, globalised world, stretching from Britain to India, including much of not only modern Europe but also of North Africa and the Middle East. You will learn how the Western tradition was shaped by this diversity of peoples and civilisations.

3) Variety of perspectives

Classics exposes you to an extraordinarily rich variety of approaches and methods, combining the study of literature and mythology; theatre; art and archaeology; political, social and cultural history; philosophy; and languages and linguistics. You will develop the skill of analysing many different kinds of evidence in order to form a coherent perspective on a culture.

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