Academic program

The Program in Classical and Medieval Studies combines a uniquely interdisciplinary study of cultural history with an emphasis on empowering students to read and assess texts in the relevant ancient languages.

The Bates program is distinctive in its scope, linking the study of classical antiquity with that of the Middle Ages. This broad chronology, coupled with a broad geographical and cultural range, encourages students in the program to examine the long track of history – to see how humans act and react with each other, with their environments, and with their pasts—and futures. Learning the languages of these ancient and medieval peoples is central to this inquiry, so students can engage more directly and authoritatively with primary sources. Grounded in these language skills, students in the program examine the past through a range of different lenses: art, architecture, drama, literature, philosophy, religion, and social and cultural history.

The program centers historical questions about power, oppression, and the constructed nature of culture, identity, and the past itself. As such, the program embraces the global context of ancient and medieval Mediterranean cultures, from northern Europe and Scandinavia to Central Asia, and from North and West Africa to the Indian Ocean. Many diverse cultures constituted ancient "Greece" and "Rome," including North Africa and the Near East as well as Crete and Sicily. The program’s definitions of the medieval period encompass the diverse cultures and societies of Africa, Europe, and West and Central Asia, including the civilization of Islam, the Byzantines, and the Latin and vernacular cultures of Western Europe, from the Visigoths and Vikings to Middle English poets and the builders of the great Gothic cathedrals, while considering throughout those who lived within these societies as minorities.

Students are encouraged to study abroad in selected programs in order to engage more directly with the material aspects of these diverse cultures. Courses taken in college-approved study abroad programs may be used in partial fulfillment of the major in classical and medieval studies. Students seeking to receive classical and medieval studies major credit for summer courses in ancient languages (ancient Greek or Latin) should obtain permission from the classical and medieval studies program committee before undertaking the course of study.

Generally speaking, the Bates classical and medieval studies program does not grant credit for online courses, including online language classes, to fulfill its requirements. If a student wishes to seek an exception to this rule, they should consult the program chair and gain the approval of the program committee before enrolling in such a course.

More information on the classical and medieval studies program is available on the website (

Major Requirements

Within the major students may elect to concentrate in either classical studies or medieval studies. The major requires twelve courses, and may include a Short Term course.

1) Two of the following courses:
CM/HI 101. Introduction to the Ancient World.
CM/HI 102. Medieval Worlds.
CM/EN 104. Introduction to Medieval English Literature.
CM/HI 108. Roman Civilization: The Republic.
CM/HI 109. Roman Civilization: The Empire.
CM/HI 112. Ancient Greek History.
CM/RE 238. Jews and Judaism in Antiquity.
AV/CM 251. The Age of the Cathedrals.
AV/CM 252. Art of the Middle Ages.

2) Four courses in Latin or four courses in ancient Greek, taken at Bates or through other approved programs.

3) Five additional courses selected from classical and medieval studies and the list below. First-year seminars taught by the faculty in classical and medieval studies may count toward the major, with the approval of the chair. Additional courses in ancient Greek and Latin beyond the four required courses may be counted toward these five.

The following courses, described under their departmental listings, also may be applied to the major (the first-year seminars require permission of the chair):

FYS 191. Love and Friendship in the Classical World.
FYS 345. Classical Myths and Contemporary Art.
FYS 518. Ancient Magic and its Practitioners.

4) CMS 457 or 458. Senior Thesis. Typically majors complete a one-semester thesis. Thesis advisors are chosen by the chair of the program in consultation with students, according to the topic of the thesis. Additional information is available on the website.

Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement examination scores of four or five in Latin may be used toward the college's graduation requirements and may be used to help place students in Latin courses, but may not count toward the major, minor, nor General Education Concentration requirements.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

Pass/fail grading may not be elected for the ancient language courses required for the major

Ancient Greek and Latin

The study of ancient Greek and Latin language is an important component of the major in classical and medieval studies. Ancient languages are the royal road to a complicated and vital past which, for better or worse, still haunts our present. In addition, the study of ancient Greek and Latin language has practical and professional benefits. Graduate programs in English and modern languages, for example, frequently require reading knowledge of either ancient Greek or Latin, and professional programs in law and medicine often favor applicants who have studied an ancient language. Studying either ancient Greek or Latin not only offers insight into English vocabulary but also leads to understanding how languages work and hence to improving one's own writing skills and logical thinking.

First-year students with backgrounds in ancient Greek and Latin should consult with faculty on arrival on campus to determine their course level for enrollment. Courses at the 200 and 300 levels have been created for second-, third-, and fourth-year students. Students who have had only one year of college-level ancient Greek or Latin at Bates or the equivalent at another institution should register for the 200-level course. All other students should register for the 300-level course. During some semesters, second-year students may meet separately from upper-division students. In other semesters, students meet collectively for two of three classes per week and divide into smaller groups to accommodate their individual needs. All courses focus on improving language skills (developing vocabulary, increasing reading comprehension, and learning meter if appropriate) as well as exploring the historical context of the author(s) studied.


A minor in ancient Greek or Latin requires a minimum of six courses in ancient Greek or Latin and one course in translation from among the following:

CM/HI 100. Introduction to the Ancient World.
CM/HI 102. Medieval Worlds.
CM/HI 108. Roman Civilization: The Republic.
CM/HI 112. Ancient Greek History.
AV/CM 251. The Age of the Cathedrals.
AV/CM 252. Art of the Middle Ages.

A student may petition to have up to three comparable courses, completed at institutions either in the United States or abroad, apply toward the minor. These may include one course in translation as well as language courses. Majors in classical and medieval studies may pursue a minor only in the ancient language not used to fulfill their major requirements.

Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced Placement courses may not be applied toward the minor.

“Advanced Placement scores of 4 or 5 in Latin may be used towards the graduation requirement of 32 hours and may be used for placement of students in language courses, but may not be used for major, minor, or GEC requirements.”