M.A. in Greek

Available here, in addition to a statement of degree requirements, is the reading list for the degree and a supplementary reading list for historical background.


The M.A. in Greek requires ten courses (30 credits) in Greek at the graduate level, completion of an independent reading list, demonstration of proficiency in a modern foreign language (usually French or German), and comprehensive written and oral examinations.

Course work

Two to four courses a year are normally available to graduate students. A thesis or independent paper option is also available, for three or six credits, but requires departmental permission.

Modern language

Proficiency is demonstrated by a one-hour translation test, in which the use of a dictionary is allowed. This test does not form part of the comprehensive exams. It may be taken at a student's earliest convenience, the sooner the better.

Comprehensive exams

These include a two-hour exam in Greek poetry, a two-hour exam in Greek prose, and an oral exam.

Each written exam requires the translation of three passages and the composition of an essay about one of them; the essay asks a student to identify the passage in its literary context and the author in his historical context. Written exams are based on the reading list and on a student's course work. Use of a dictionary is not allowed.

The oral exam is open-ended, testing whether a student can keep a conversation going for an hour on the topic of Greek literature in its historical context. A supplementary reading list suggests books on political, social, and literary history.

Summary of requirements

  • 30 credits of coursework (may include three or six credit thesis)
  • Proficiency test in a modern foreign language
  • Two-hour written examination on Greek poetry
  • Two-hour written examination on Greek prose
  • One-hour oral examination

Reading list

The list contains options as well as requirements. Each student will be expected, before taking comprehensive exams, to submit an individualized list. For print purposes see Reading List in pdf format.


  • Iliad 1, 6, 9, 16, 18, 22, 24
  • Odyssey 1, 9-12
  • The whole of both poems in English


  • Works and Days 1-201
  • Theogony 1-210
  • The whole Theogony in English

Lyric Poetry, from David Campbell, ed., Greek Lyric Poetry

  • Selections of:
    • Archilochus, including Cologne fragment (Appendix)
    • Mimnermus
    • Sappho (1, 16, 31, 55, 104a, 105a, 105c, 130)
    • Anacreon (357, 358, 395, 417)
    • Solon
    • Pindar Olympian 1 or Bacchilides Ode 5


  • In Greek, five plays from among:
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon and Prometheus Bound
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Rex and Antigone
    • Euripides, Medea and Bacchae
  • In English, five plays from among:
    • Aeschylus, Oresteia (trilogy)
    • Sophocles, Ajax and Oedipus at Colonus
    • Euripides, AlcestisHecuba, and Hippolytus


  • In Greek, two plays from among:
    • Aristophanes, Clouds and Frogs
    • Menander, Dyskolos
  • In English, five plays from among:
    • Aristophanes, AcharniansLysistrata, and Birds
    • Euripides, Helen
    • Menander, Dyskolos


  • Histories 1 or 6
  • The whole Histories in English


  • History 6-7 (Sicilian Expedition)
  • The whole History in English


  • Apology
  • Republic 10
  • The whole Republic in English


  • Oration 12


  • Poetics 1-18

Hellenistic Poetry, from Neil Hopkinson, A Hellenistic Anthology:

  • Theocritus, Idyll 11 (= HA ix)
  • Aratus, Phaenomena 1-18, 96-136 (= HA vi-vii)
  • Callimachus, Aetia fr.1 (= HA i)
  • Callimachus, Hymn 5 (= HA iii)
  • Funerary and Amatory Epigrams (= HA xxvi.1-24)
  • Moschus, Europa (= HA xix)

New Testament

  • Gospel of Luke

Supplementary reading list

As general background for the study of classical literature a student should read several books on Greek history. Many are available. This list contains suggestions, but feel free to make substitutions.

  • Robin Osborne, Greece in the Making, 1200-479 BC
  • Simon Hornblower, The Greek World, 479-323 BC
  • Loren J. Samons, ed. Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles
  • Greek social history: e.g. J.N. Davidson, Courtesans & Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

For literary history, the standard reference work is now the Cambridge History of Classical Literature, (Vol. I = Greece, Vol. II = Rome). The articles on individual authors are, in general, state of the art and the bibliographies are ample (up-to-date to 1982). Copies are available in the reference section in O'Neill Library.

For shorter articles and bibliography (to c. 1996) on authors, genres, historical figures, mythology, etc., see the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edition, available in the Classics Department office and in O'Neill Library.

Affordable in paperback and still useful for reference are H. J. Rose's Histories of Greek and Latin literature; for mythological references the most convenient guide is Edward Tripp, The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology.