Close-up of a faded ancient text.
Program Overview


Explore the dynamic world of the Ancient Mediterranean.

Ancient Ideas, Modern Perspectives

From early pre-history to Late Antiquity, the study of classics explores the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome in the context of the wider Mediterranean basin, an area of religious, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity. In our courses, we seek to understand the complexities of ancient texts, artifacts, and art, using these resources as a mirror to think more deeply about ourselves and the modern institutions they helped to form.

An Intellectual Community of Colleagues and Friends

The Department of Classics at Oberlin is a community of world-class scholars and students who delight in learning about the Ancient world. We host evening lectures and translation marathons. We sponsor winter term trips to the Parthenon and summer archaeological fieldwork. By learning about the dynamic origins of Western societies while closely studying ancient sources, both texts and objects, our graduates pursue careers in law, library science, museum work, education, and beyond.

More than 11,000 buildings discovered in Egypt as part of the Karanis Housing Project
Meet the Oberlin team behind the project

Ancient Art at the Allen

The Allen Museum includes a wide-ranging collection of ancient works from Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, and Rome, as well as objects from Hittite, Sumerian, Persian, and Etruscan cultures.

A close up of an ancient sculpture.
8 hours and 59 minutes How long it took over twenty students to recite Homer’s Odyssey as part of the 29th Annual Bardic Reading

Undergraduate Research

Elliot Diaz

I really enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of my research. It’s exhilarating to take pieces of evidence from seminal works across different fields to craft something new.

Featured Courses

CLAS 201

Magic & Mystery

Long before Harry Potter, Greeks and Romans brewed potions, cursed their enemies using lead sheets, and protected themselves with amulets made of gems, gold, or even wolf teeth. This course explores ancient belief in the unseen world, delving into witches and ghosts, magical spells and objects, and the esoteric traditions of the ancient Mediterranean.

Taught by
Andrew (Drew) Wilburn
CLAS 219

Ancient Greek and Roman Sexuality

This course takes place at the intersection of ancient Mediterranean culture and modern Queer Theory.  We study a range of ancient texts and images that represent sex, sexual desire, and gender presentation, and we compare them to contemporary ideas of sexual identity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Taught by
Kirk Ormand
CLAS 209

The Ancient and Modern Novel

In this course we compare five modern novels to five of their ancient Greek and Latin predecessors. The course studies literary theories of the novel as a genre, including the novelistic body, novelistic time and space, and novelistic language.

Taught by
Benjamin (Ben) Lee
CLAS 308

Ancient Science

Learn the science behind the world views of the Greeks and Romans. What did they think of fossils? Earthquakes? Comets? This class surveys ancient scientific texts and ideas and allows students to engage with the material in an active manner (past students have made their own aqueducts and musical instruments).

Taught by
Chris Trinacty

Student Profiles

Athenian Women

Lexi Trikoulis ’20, a Classics and Creative Writing double major, received a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship for her project on women and magic in Classical Athens.

Lexi Trikoulis

Classicist and Athlete

JT Godfrey ’20 talks with Professor Chris Trinacty about life in the Classics Department and his work on Julius Caesar.

JT Godfrey

What does Classics at Oberlin look like?

Professor Wilburn speaking with students.

Professor Drew Wilburn leads discussion in Terrell Main Library Special Collections with students in his Roman Egypt seminar, where students explore the art, culture, and daily life of individuals in Roman-controlled Egypt.

Photo credit: Matthew Lester
Students work on a group exercise at the blackboard.

Winter Term Latin students learn about Cicero’s consulship and diagram sentences from his Catilinarians.

Photo credit: Mike Crupi
A student holds an open book while pointing something out on the blackboard.

Classics major Luciana Parr ’19 works through the intricacies of a Greek sentence.

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

Oberlin's Memorial Arch on a fall day.