Classical Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study encompassing the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. We seek to understand the languages, literatures, histories, and visual and material cultures of the premodern Mediterranean world—from the Bronze Age to the dawn of the Middle Ages, from the Iliad and the Odyssey to Saint Augustine, and from Greece, Italy, France, and Spain to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Greek-speaking kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent. We approach these ancient societies from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including linguistics, art history, archaeology, anthropology, and philosophy, while also considering the long and complex legacies of ancient Greece and Rome in art, language, politics, and culture from antiquity to the present day.
Announcing the New Classical Studies Scholarship
The Classical Studies Scholarship recognizes academically outstanding students committed to classical studies. Scholarships cover up to full tuition for four years and are awarded based on need. Apply Now
The Classics Club is a student-run group that hosts gatherings where students can meet up and talk about anything related to the study of classics. Latin Table is a weekly occasion for students to converse informally in Latin in order to gain a better linguistic and affective understanding of the language. More about Student Work
Collecta in Classicis: Together in Classics
Collecta in Classicis: “Together in Classics,”* provides a space for scholars, teachers, and students to have a conversation about inclusivity in Classics, what that means, what it looks like, and why Classics is not always inclusive. We welcome scholars who have engaged critically with diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, physical ability, and more as it relates to their experience in the field of Classics, or in their study of the Classical World, or both. Furthermore, we hope to include voices of marginalized groups typically silenced either in the past, or even today, by the Classics. How we make Classics more inclusive and accessible, and what that means and looks like, are difficult questions. We hope to encourage productive dialogues that contribute, in individual steps, to the transformative work needed in order for the field of Classics to be reimagined. Collecta in Classicis is supported by the Inclusion Challenge through the Office of the Dean of the College. See below for a list of upcoming events in the series. These events are open to the campus community.
*A note on the name: The Latin title is representative of Classics, and having the words declined in the neuter, accusative, plural is representative of the inclusivity. The neuter excludes neither men nor women, while also including people identifying outside of masculine or feminine binaries. The plural is—quite literally—denoting that Classics is for and made up of all people.
MS Gr. class. c. 6 1421
Oxford Papyrology (2023)
Creative Commons 4.0 LicenseMonday, March 4, 2024 Rob Cioffi, Chuck Doran, and Jay Elliott Stevenson Library 4th Floor Reading Room1:30 pm – 2:30 pm EST/GMT-5 On the afternoon of August 24th, 79 CE, an unusual cloud in the shape of a pine tree could be seen across the Bay of Naples. As night turned to dawn on the morning of the 25th, Mt. Vesuvius was erupting with lethal force: buildings shook violently, the sea was absorbed back into itself, and black clouds rent by fire coursed through the sky. The eruption buried cities, killed tens of thousands, and terrified countless others. Yet, Vesuvius’ destruction was also, paradoxically, responsible for stunning acts of preservation. In Pompeii, the volcanic ash created a time capsule of Roman life in 79 CE, and in Herculaneum the deadly, hot gas preserved a whole library: nearly 1,000 ancient Greek and Latin book rolls that had been carbonized during the eruption. The only problem has been reading them. For 250 years scholars have tried to unravel the Herculaneum texts with varying degrees of success—and substantial loss of material.
On the morning of February 5th, 2024 CE, all that changed. The Vesuvius Challenge announced three winners, who, thanks to advanced imaging technologies and artificial intelligence, have used a non-destructive process to read a significant portion of a new Herculaneum text. It is very likely by the epicurean philosopher Philodemus. Their discovery has the potential to change the landscape of Greek literature. It has already become major news and has featured in stories on NPR and in the Guardian. This informal seminar will present these findings to the Bard community, lay out their groundbreaking significance for anyone interested in Greek literature and ancient philosophy, and discuss their potential further applications.
The one-night-only, six-hour-long opera Stranger Love by composer and Bard alumnus Dylan Mattingly ’14 and librettist Thomas Bartscherer, Bard’s Peter Sourian Senior Lecturer in the Humanities, has been selected as one of the best classical music performances of 2023 by the New York Times. The performance was conducted by Mattingly’s fellow Bard alumnus David Bloom ’13.
Stranger Love by Dylan Mattingly ’14 and Professor Thomas Bartscherer Among New York Times Best Classical Music Performances of 2023
The one-night-only, six-hour-long opera Stranger Love by composer and Bard alumnus Dylan Mattingly ’14 and librettist Thomas Bartscherer, Bard’s Peter Sourian Senior Lecturer in the Humanities, has been selected as one of the best classical music performances of 2023 by the New York Times. The performance was conducted by Mattingly’s fellow Bard alumnus David Bloom ’13. “For all its abstraction and timelessness — what is more ageless than the opera’s themes of love and beauty? — this work is absolutely of its time, slowing down emotion in a world that moves uncontrollably fast,” writes Joshua Barone. “The premiere run, at the Los Angeles Philharmonic in May, was just a single evening, but Stranger Love deserves a life far beyond that.”
James Romm, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics, has been awarded $50,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to fund his project Plato and the Tyrant: The Experiment that Wrecked a City and Shaped a Philosophic Masterpiece. The book will use Plato’s little-known letters to illuminate his interventions in the politics of the Greek city of Syracuse and his relationship to the ruler Dionysius the Younger. The grant will support his work over a 10-month term beginning in September.
Bard Professor James Romm Receives $50,000 NEH Public Scholar Grant in Support of His Project Plato and the Tyrant
James Romm, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard College, has been awarded $50,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to fund his project Plato and the Tyrant: The Experiment that Wrecked a City and Shaped a Philosophic Masterpiece. The book will use Plato’s little-known letters to illuminate his interventions in the politics of the Greek city of Syracuse and his relationship to the ruler Dionysius the Younger. The grant will support his work over a 10-month term beginning in September. Romm was previously a recipient for the NEH Public Scholar grant in 2018 for work on The Sacred Band: Three Hundred Theban Lovers in the Last Days of Greek Freedom, a book about the last decades of ancient Greek freedom leading up to Alexander the Great’s destruction of Thebes.
“The Public Scholar program helps situate the humanities just where they ought to be—in the large world of public discourse, rather than behind university walls,” Prof. Romm said. “I’m honored to be recognized for making the ancient Greeks a part of that discourse. Never have the lessons they taught about tyranny, rule of law, and the meaning of citizenship been more relevant to our lives than they are at this moment.”
Plato is regarded as one of the world’s most influential thinkers, yet his life and personality remain opaque, partially because he did not include himself in his dialogues but used the mask of Socrates to develop his ideas. Plato and the Tyrant will bring his first-person voice to the forefront through quotes from the Platonic letters, documents sometimes regarded as forgeries but, as the book will argue, almost certainly genuine writings of Plato. The five Syracusan letters, addressed by Plato to Dionysius or to other political leaders of Syacuse, help tell the story of Plato’s interventions in that city. In addition, large segments of the Republic, especially the doctrine of the philosopher-king, can best be understood as reflections of Plato’s encounters with Dionysius, the foremost autocrat in the Greek world of his day.
Plato and the Tyrant follows not only the final two decades of Plato's life (367-347 BC) but the rise and fall, during that period, of a ruler who was at times Plato's student and at other times his nemesis, Dionysius the Younger, who at age 30 came to power in Syracuse in 367 as the sheltered heir of his father, also named Dionysius. The uncle of the younger Dionysius, Dion—a zealous adherent, and possibly lover, of Plato— wished to reshape his nephew’s character through philosophic instruction in the hope of setting Syracuse's regime on a healthier path. At Dion's urging, Plato journeyed to Syracuse just after the Younger's accession, a visit that set in motion a series of disasters for Dion, Dionysius, Plato, and the entire city. Plato and the Tyrant will ultimately examine the question of Plato's relationship to autocracy, a question that resonates strongly with current concerns in global and domestic politics.