I am usually not one for hashtags, but this seemed both appropriate and necessary.
“Isn’t Latin a dead language?” “It’s all Greek to me!” “And what will you do with that?” These are some of the most common phrases I hear as a Classics major. For those who are unfamiliar, Classics is basically the study of the language, literature, and culture of the ancient Mediterranean. I had no idea this area of study even existed until I started college at UW Madison yet have been a Classicist from the first time I heard about Greek Mythology in third grade. What are the answers to the previous questions? I will try to the best of my ability to answer them.
“Isn’t Latin a dead language?” Yes, Latin is technically a dead language, but tell that to the Vatican. And every Romantic language. And every bone, tendon, and ligament in your body that has a Latin name. Just because it is no longer spoken does not mean it is dead. It is very much alive, well, and beautiful in its legacy.
“It’s all Greek to me!” Any time I mention that I am learning ancient Greek, some one — they may or may not even be in the conversation — will say this comment. Like clockwork. Although this gets quite repetitive, I can’t even be frustrated with people because from my experience of learning Greek, there is a reason that phrase has perpetuated. If you are looking for an easy language to pick up for fun, I would not suggest Greek. It is a language for the strong of heart.
“And what will you do with that?” This is a tough one. There are many options attached to this major (medical school, law school, graduate school, teaching, museum work, etc) and it obviously is a personal decision. However, these are not paths which I can picture myself pursuing. Right now I am trying to learn as much as I can — academically, personally, and spiritually — and improvising and figuring things out as I go. What will I do with my Classics major? Probably nothing. Most likely read Latin poetry on my spare time and share Greek myths with my future children. It may seem like a waste of time and money to some, but I can tell you with the utmost honesty that it has enriched my life in every aspect.
My favorite part about studying Classics is that along with every reading, lecture, or piece of artwork I learn about, is the opportunity to see the world as a unit. Many things have changed over time, yes; but I believe the similarities take the cake. The same tragedies of Sophocles still make us cry, the same humor of Aristophanes continues to make us giggle under our breath, and the same innate yearning for Truth Plato expresses still causes us to search today. The more I learn, the more I come to realize that universality is unavoidable. We each have a different way of understanding how we connect our life and those around us. Through different mediums we all come to a universal conclusion. Classics is my medium. What will I do with it? I will work to better understand the world better every day. I’d say its worth it.
“If you listen hard enough, you can hear everything breathing together; you can FEEL everything growing together. We’re all living together, even if most folks don’t act like it. We all have the same roots and we are all branches of the same tree.” -Avatar: The Last Airbender
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” -Saint Catherine of Siena