The Classics Department

The Woodward Classics Department continues the valuable traditions of a Classical Education that help students acquire a strong educational foundation, not only in their immediate subject areas, but also in learning and thinking in a wider sense. The program includes a Middle School curriculum of intensive first year Latin in grades 7 and 8. The Upper School curriculum includes Latin I, II, III and IV, as well as Classical Studies and Rhetoric.

Middle School Latin

Welcome to the world of ancient Rome, "Urbs Aeterna," the "eternal city" where civilization thrived and prospered for a thousand years. In this place, legal code developed, city planning evolved, engineering advanced and military strategy was perfected. Here the heart of philosophy beat fervently, and the soul of nuanced language soared. This is the mother lode of art, architecture and literature. Civilizations all over the Western World have been drinking from the creative fountainhead of Rome for centuries, as a result of which we are profoundly and permanently commingled.
The first year Latin curriculum that is covered over grades 7 and 8 strives to instill in students important skills that can serve them throughout their education. Students will become increasingly competent through a broader understanding of language and communication; an appreciation of the values of diligence and rigorous study habits; a deeper knowledge of the culture, religion and history of the ancient world; and an an ability to think critically and solve problems as their mastery grows.

Upper School Curriculum

Through the traditional learning of Latin and the formal study of Rhetoric and Classical Culture, the Classics Department endeavors to develop students’ mastery of thinking cogently, writing clearly, and speaking with conviction and impact. In Latin, students will develop an ability to read significant works of Roman authors in the original language. At the onset of their studies, girls will reap the benefits of studying a Classical language by gaining a richer appreciation of English grammar and vocabulary, a deeper understanding of artistic and literary references, and an awakened senses of Western culture’s indebtedness to the ancient world. In all levels of Latin, but increasingly in intermediate and advanced courses, girls read classical texts in the original language so that they may understand, analyze, and discuss some of the best works in western literary cannon.

Middle School Latin Classes

+ Middle School Latin 1A

Middle School Latin I introduces the study of Latin to Grade 7 students. Using Jenney’s First Year Latin, students will learn the classical pronunciation of the language and the syntactical similarities to and differences from English. As students progress through the first 25 chapters of the book, they will develop a solid sense of fundamental Latin grammar and vocabulary in order to translate and sight read exercises and simple Latin text. Students will begin to recognize English words that derive from Latin and acquire insight into the history and culture of the Roman people for a deepened relationship with the language.

+ Middle School Latin 1B

Middle School Latin IB begins with a thorough and rapid review of the previous year’s work in Latin IA. After the necessary forms, grammar, and vocabulary of Jenney’s First Year Latin are mastered, the class will read more difficult passages and extensive selections of original Latin prose from ancillary texts such as Ritchie's Fabulae Faciles and Martial’s Epigrams. Students will continue to study Roman history, religion, and culture in order to contextualize the Latin authors they will read in the Upper School. After this course, students are prepared for Upper School Latin II.

Upper School Classic Classes

+ Latin I

This course is suitable for students who have not completed the Middle School Latin curriculum. Students in this fast-paced course will complete Jenney’s First Year Latin, while building a fundamental knowledge of Roman history and culture. In this comprehensive introduction to the Latin language, students will not only learn its unique grammar principles, but will also develop a better understanding of English grammar through continuous comparison and examples. Through the rigorous requirements of learning Latin vocabulary, students will thereby also improve their English vocabulary, over 90% of which derives from Latin. Gradually students will combine the vocabulary and endings they learn to form a basis for translating and composing Latin sentences and longer pieces of prose. With every class students will be exposed to various religious, legal, governmental, scientific, engineering and social concepts of the Roman people, many of which have shaped our own.

+ Latin II

Latin II is an in-depth study of Julius Caesar’s Commentarii De Bello Gallico. As students prepare translations and sight read significant selections from this work, they will build knowledge of Latin syntax and vocabulary. Through their reading, students will analyze the character, behavior and intellectual talents of Julius Caesar, his military strategies and insight into human behavior. In order to contextualize this piece and its author further, the class examines the military, religious, political and social mores of the people of first century B.C. Rome.

+ Latin III

Cicero and Livy, both contemporaries of Julius Caesar, provide valuable and interesting contrast to the prose of Julius Caesar. Cicero writes impassioned and artfully crafted oratory in his arguments against the villain Catiline. Livy writes serious and thoughtful history in his coverage of Rome from its founding to the end of the Republic. As students further increase their vocabulary and facility in translation, they will read Martial and Pliny the Younger to gain yet another layer of understanding of the Latin language and the ancient Roman people. Students study the elements of oratory and rhetoric for a fuller appreciation of Cicero.

+ Latin IV Honors

This traditional Latin poetry class begins with an introduction to meter and figures of speech in works of various Roman poets such as Catullus, Ovid and Horace. Following this introduction, students will be prepared to translate passages of the Roman epic poem, Vergil’s Aeneid. Students will learn to recognize and appreciate literary devices in this work and to acquire expertise in scanning dactylic hexameter. At the same time, the class will discuss relevant history and culture to contextualize the poetry. This class also prepares students who wish to take the SAT II in Latin.

+ Advanced Latin

Latin V is a prose course teaching advanced vocabulary and morphology through varied works and passages. Students will translate Roman philosophy, history and other prose forms at a more demanding pace and in greater depth than in the previous study of the prose Caesar, Livy and Cicero in Latin II and III. This course will be offered depending upon the readiness and demand of the students. Prerequisites Latin I - IV

+ Rhetoric

Rhetoric is mandatory for all students and is traditionally scheduled for Grade 10. This course is designed to teach students a command of language that will help them develop expertise in making effective presentations. Students will analyze, compose, and deliver speeches as they learn the elements of speech writing and delivery. Topics covered will include logical construction of argument, employment of rhetorical devices and presentation strategies.

+ Classical Studies

This course explores the philosophical, political, religious, cultural and psychological character of the ancient Greeks and Romans. By studying their history, art and literature, students will acquire knowledge of the profound influence and the foundations upon which Civilization has advanced. Students read works by Aeschylus, Aristotle, Plato, Euripides, Aristophanes, Sophocles, Terence and Lucretius, as well as other authors as time allows.