The Classics department is, strictly speaking, a "language" department offering elementary and advanced courses in Latin and Greek for the successful fulfillment of The Hill School language requirement.
Moreover, the department is keenly aware that these two languages constitute the verbal repository and mirror of two important civilizations that have had a profound influence upon our own Western culture. To guide the student to experience language in its cultural context is the primary mission of the department. Through our extensive technological resources and our long-standing tradition of academic excellence, courses at all levels are tailored to bring into sharp relief the debt we owe to our past.

At the beginning levels, importance is placed on developing the habits of accurate analysis and understanding the fundamentals of morphology, syntax, and vocabulary. As the student progresses through readings, increasingly less adapted until original texts can be read, the emphasis shifts to a cultural assessment of historical and social contexts together with an appreciation of literary styles and themes. We endeavor to develop skills of clear thinking, memory, analysis, understanding, and self-expression. Ideally these skills lead ultimately to the plausible and justified interpretations of classical literature and to an awareness of their relevance to the human condition in our own time.

National Latin and Greek Examinations

Every spring, Hill School Classics students who score exceptionally well on the National Latin and Greek Examinations are recognized by the School for their outstanding achievements. View past results.

Classics Courses:

Latin 1

Through the use of Wheelock’s Latin, an innovative text which takes a schematic as well as a reading approach to second language learning, students will become familiar with a large segment of derivative Latin vocabulary, while they master basic components of Latin grammar. Original Latin appears in translation exercises and aspects of Roman culture are presented in special contexts as a prelude for the later encounter with authors such as Cicero, Vergil, Catullus and Horace. All students will take the National Latin Examination.

Latin 1 (Honors)

This course covers all the material prescribed for the regular Latin 1 course, but moves through the material at a more rapid rate. Students who apply for this course must take a placement examination administered through the Director of Studies. Scores on that examination will determine admission. Students in Honors Latin 1 will complete at least 2 more units than students in regular Latin 1 and will read more connected Latin prose. All students will take the National Latin Examination.

Latin 2

After a comprehensive review of the grammar and vocabulary covered in first year Latin, students in Latin 2 complete the study of grammar while also extending their mastery of Latin vocabulary. They will translate passages of connected prose, excerpted thematically from various prose authors and collected in the reader which accompanies Wheelock’s Latin. Students will have increased exposure to the literary, historical, artistic and cultural contexts of the passages they are studying. All students will take the National Latin Examination.

Latin 2/Greek 1 (Honors)


Open to students with interest in and talent for learning a second language, as well as with distinguished performance in Latin 1, this course presents the fundamental grammar and vocabulary of ancient Attic Greek in conjunction with instruction in Latin 2. Students have the opportunity to integrate the study of the language, history and literature of the Greek and Roman worlds. Emphasis is placed on the integrated study of both languages and cultures. After a review of first year Latin, students progress through additional grammar and vocabulary, translating selected passages from Livy and Caesar. As much as possible of basic Attic Greek will be covered. All students will take the National Greek Examination and National Latin Examination.

Latin 3

Students read selections from five Roman poets—Catullus, Vergil, Horace, Tibullus and Ovid. Students apply their knowledge of morphology, syntax and vocabulary to what they read and gain an appreciation for the enduring works of these poets. With the continued development of their reading and translation skills, students become familiar with various meters, and become increasingly sensitive to word-order and poetic style. In the spring term, the class translates and analyzes Cicero’s speech Pro Archia or De Amicitia. The techniques and elements of rhetoric as well as the historical and literary context of these speeches become the focus. All students will take the National Latin Examination, and will be prepared to take the SAT Subject Test in Latin.

Greek 2 (Honors)

This course reviews the fundamentals of Greek 1 as learned in the Honors Latin 2/Greek 1 course, completes the study of the grammar, and exposes the student to a wide variety of selections from the literature of the Golden Age of Athens. In tragedy, students will read from Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, in history from Thucydides, in rhetoric from Demosthenes and Lysias, and in philosophy from Plato’s Apology and Crito. This course is intended to expose the student to a wide range of Greek literature, art and architecture as corollaries of the primary language study. Students will take the National Greek Examination.

Greek 3 (Honors)

This course is open to those students who have completed two years of Greek. For those students studying Latin simultaneously, this course will satisfy the school's Religious Studies and Philosophy graduation requirement. As such, the course material will focus on religious and philosophic texts and themes, ranging from bronze-age Greece to early Christianity. The course will examine the relationship between the human and the divine, views on death and the afterlife, the problem of evil, similarities and differences in religious ritual, questions of ethics and morality (including relativist and absolutist views), and the relationship between private moral and political authority. Besides developing skills of close reading in Greek prose and poetry, the course will also demand of students skills in critical thinking, as they assimilate prominent secondary scholarship, take part in expository writing, and participate meaningfully in class discussion. Students will take The National Greek Examination in the spring term.

Greek 4 (Honors)

This course is open to students who have completed three years of Greek. The course material will expand upon the literature and themes developed and introduced in Greek 3 Honors. Students will continue to develop skills of close reading in Greek prose and poetry, while reading secondary scholarship and writing extensively. Students will take The National Greek Examination on Greek Prose and Tragedy in the spring term.

Latin AP Caesar and Virgil


This course is open to students who have demonstrated superior ability in their Latin study of at least two years. Students will translate, interpret and analyze selections from Caesar’s commentary, the Gallic Wars, and Vergil’s epic poem, the Aeneid. All students in the course will complete the syllabus prescribed by the Princeton Educational Testing Service and will take the Advanced Placement Examination in Caesar and Vergil. In Caesar, students will read in Latin selections from Books 1, 4, 5, and 6: in Vergil, selections from Books 1, 2, 4 and 6. While becoming familiar with the other books in English as well as with prominent secondary scholarship, students develop their skills of translation, interpretation, grammatical and syntactical analysis, and will take the AP examination, the National Latin Examination and the SAT Subject Test in Latin.

Advanced Latin Seminar (Honors)


This course is open to students who have completed three full years of Latin with distinction in their study. The content of this course will vary depending upon student and faculty interest, likely containing some mixture of Latin prose and poetry. The course will place a heavy demand upon a student’s knowledge of Latin vocabulary, grammar and syntax. The texts to be studied will be translated, interpreted, and analyzed, with extensive readings from secondary literature. Material concerning Roman culture, society, and politics will also be integrated into the course. Students will take the National Latin Examination and the SAT Subject Test in Latin.

Advanced Latin and Greek Seminar (Honors)


Open to students who have completed both the Advanced Latin Seminar Honors and Greek 3 Honors courses, this course will include readings in Greek and Latin poetry and prose in a variety of literary genres. The goal of the course is to maintain proficiency in the skills of translation and explication, while exploring the ways in which Greek and Roman authors developed some of the major themes of Classical literature and responded to one another. With the input of students, the instructor will select Greek and Latin works that invite comparison with one another, e.g. Greek lyric poetry and Latin love elegy; epic warfare in Homer and Vergil; philosophical views of the afterlife in Plato and Lucretius; the tragic hero in Sophocles and Seneca, and so on. In addition to readings in the original languages, students will also read extensively in secondary scholarship and will assimilate their understanding of the texts and scholarship through regular written assignments.