What actually is Classics?

Cogito ergo sum better than you


Telling people that you study Classics at university usually receives one of two responses. First, the intellectually challenged amongst us snigger at their totally original ‘dead language’ joke and the more cultured souls comment on what an interesting choice it is. In what other degree could you combine language, history, philosophy, art and archaeology and still retain the superior status of a single honours student.

You had the sarcastic comments hurled at you throughout school when you chose to pursue the Classical languages as opposed to the mainstream German and Spanish modules. When you arrive at uni, this hasn’t changed.

Classics has increasingly become the subject to be mocked by the feckless students who shout, “CAECILIUS EST IN HORTO?” Yes he is, we all know he is, we don’t even try to force out a faint laugh anymore. We just allow you to bathe in your own subhuman hilarity.

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There is nothing a Classics student loathes to hear more than “isn’t Latin dead?” I’m not sure, are your brain cells? Classics is the reason you’re all here at university in the first place. Plato’s Academy was the first institution of higher education in the Western world. No Socratic method would have meant no student loan and how else are you supposed to afford this 18-21-year-old life.

We don’t study the Penguin Classics either. If we read Jane Eyre then surely I would have said English Literature? Classics is also completely unrelated to a music degree. You would be amazed at the amount of people who assume you are studying Beethoven and ask which instrument you specialise in. Why has the most traditional university subject become so widely rejected by our generation?

My favourite response by far was the assumption that I was studying Latin dance for three years. Please enlighten yourselves, read The Aeneid.

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It’s the big time Charlies who want you to ‘message them for guestlist’ that rile us the most. While they struggle through an events management course, they’ll still joke “you gonna talk to the pope?” The unbelievable originality of these uneducated fiends only spurs us on to study Classics even more, what better comeback than one composed in Latin.

There is an unfair stereotype often attached to Classics students, we don’t make sacrifices to Dionysus in Lloyds on a Friday but our socials are raucous. Where else do you think ‘I’M SPARTACUS’ came from?

You’re not a real Classics student unless you spent two weeks of your lower sixth summer getting loose at Bryanston Greek Camp where all the Euripidean fanatics from every corner of the country gather for an intensive language course. We chanted along to the Bacchae while sipping Morrison’s lambrini grateful for the GCSE choices we made. I bet none of your other humanities friends got to experience a summer quite so liberating.