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Classics

How similar is classics to English literature? I’m quite interested in classics but don’t want to take it as a subject. Any suggestions on how to learn more about it proactively?
I don't know much about classics, but the major difference between classics and English literature that comes to mind is that classics involves learning Latin and Greek where literature does not. Personally, they seem quite different, also because a literature course will read texts from range of historical and modern time periods.

@PinkMobilePhone, do you have any suggestions? :colondollar:
(edited 1 year ago)
Are we talking about Classics at university level, or Classical Civilisation as an A-Level or GCSE?

Classical Civilisation as a GCSE doesn't require any language learning.

There are two options for paper 1 are myth & religion, and women in the ancient world. The majority of people by far study myth & religion, which involves learning about the gods, the labours of Heracles/Hercules, the labours of Theseus, Greek and Roman temples, sacrifices, religion, festivals, death & burial, a little touch on Augustus, the foundation of Rome, and some of the sculptures and so on that are considered symbols of power.
There's no actual literary books to have to read cover to cover, although it helps to read snippets of texts to enhance your learning of the material, for example passages from the Aeneid, but it's not absolutely essential to read the literature.

Then for paper 2, you have a choice of war and warfare, Roman city life, or the Homeric world.
I've not looked at Roman city life so I can't tell you much about what that entails. War and warfare is very definitely not literature orientated, it's all about ancient wars that took place, armour, weapons, warships, etc.
Homeric world covers the Mycenean culture a lot, but there's definitely more literature involved as Homer was an epic poet who wrote the Odyssey and the Iliad, so you do study the Odyssey, although only parts of it.

A-Level again has a few pathways, and again there's no language learning, but you do study a lot more literature. You study several plays - both tragedies and comedies. I studied both the Odyssey and the Aeneid (Greek and Roman epic poetry). But it's certainly not all literature. You also study tons of art & architecture, with lots of material culture like statues, pottery, and so on. You learn about ancient theatres and who could perform in them. I also recall learning about some warfare. Religion as well, and culture.
So it basically expands on the GCSE,. I'd say it's probably 50% literature and 50% other stuff, but the literature is full of mythology so it had religious ties, as well as often being a source of propoganda, so it ties in politically too.

Now then, onto degrees.
Classics has a heavy focus on language learning. Latin is the usual choice but you could go for ancient Greek.
Classical Civilisation or Classical Studies are both pretty much the same apart from the name, and both do not have compulsory languages modules, they are optional.
At degree level, it really depends where you study and which modules you take as to how much focus there is on literature. You'd be hard pressed to go through an entire Classics related degree without encountering epic poetry, plays, or poetry at some point, but there are many other aspects to the subject too. Philosophy, medicine, art, religion, culture, politics, slavery, the role of women, and so on all play a huge role. After all, you're studying entire civilisations, they didn't just sit around and compose literature all day long.

So yes there's literature, but in many other ways it's very different to English Lit.
Reply 3
Original post by penguingirl18
I don't know much about classics, but the major difference between classics and English literature that comes to mind is that classics involves learning Latin and Greek where literature does not. Personally, they seem quite different, also because a literature course will read texts from range of historical and modern time periods.

@PinkMobilePhone, do you have any suggestions? :colondollar:


Thanks for the help and the useful tag!
Reply 4
Original post by PinkMobilePhone
Are we talking about Classics at university level, or Classical Civilisation as an A-Level or GCSE?

Classical Civilisation as a GCSE doesn't require any language learning.

There are two options for paper 1 are myth & religion, and women in the ancient world. The majority of people by far study myth & religion, which involves learning about the gods, the labours of Heracles/Hercules, the labours of Theseus, Greek and Roman temples, sacrifices, religion, festivals, death & burial, a little touch on Augustus, the foundation of Rome, and some of the sculptures and so on that are considered symbols of power.
There's no actual literary books to have to read cover to cover, although it helps to read snippets of texts to enhance your learning of the material, for example passages from the Aeneid, but it's not absolutely essential to read the literature.

Then for paper 2, you have a choice of war and warfare, Roman city life, or the Homeric world.
I've not looked at Roman city life so I can't tell you much about what that entails. War and warfare is very definitely not literature orientated, it's all about ancient wars that took place, armour, weapons, warships, etc.
Homeric world covers the Mycenean culture a lot, but there's definitely more literature involved as Homer was an epic poet who wrote the Odyssey and the Iliad, so you do study the Odyssey, although only parts of it.

A-Level again has a few pathways, and again there's no language learning, but you do study a lot more literature. You study several plays - both tragedies and comedies. I studied both the Odyssey and the Aeneid (Greek and Roman epic poetry). But it's certainly not all literature. You also study tons of art & architecture, with lots of material culture like statues, pottery, and so on. You learn about ancient theatres and who could perform in them. I also recall learning about some warfare. Religion as well, and culture.
So it basically expands on the GCSE,. I'd say it's probably 50% literature and 50% other stuff, but the literature is full of mythology so it had religious ties, as well as often being a source of propoganda, so it ties in politically too.

Now then, onto degrees.
Classics has a heavy focus on language learning. Latin is the usual choice but you could go for ancient Greek.
Classical Civilisation or Classical Studies are both pretty much the same apart from the name, and both do not have compulsory languages modules, they are optional.
At degree level, it really depends where you study and which modules you take as to how much focus there is on literature. You'd be hard pressed to go through an entire Classics related degree without encountering epic poetry, plays, or poetry at some point, but there are many other aspects to the subject too. Philosophy, medicine, art, religion, culture, politics, slavery, the role of women, and so on all play a huge role. After all, you're studying entire civilisations, they didn't just sit around and compose literature all day long.

So yes there's literature, but in many other ways it's very different to English Lit.


Thanks a lot for all the info. It’s most useful!

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