Noble and Greenough School is a rigorous academic community dedicated to inspiring leadership for the public good. Through mentoring relationships, we motivate students to achieve their highest potential and to lead lives characterized by service to others.

Classical Languages

Curriculum, General Classroom, People, Academics

The Classics, the study of the history and languages of ancient Greece and Rome, have long been the cornerstone of education. The expansion of vocabulary and the study of both simple and complex grammatical structures develop students’ core knowledge of and proficiency with language. As students advance through the curriculum, close examination of seminal texts brings to life the cultural richness of the past and broadens our understanding of the modern world. Moreover, the discipline, logic, and insight necessary to master classical languages reinforce and further the lifelong skill of precise analysis.

Latin I | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Classes I, II, III, IV and V
Prerequisites: None

Students learn all the fundamentals of Latin grammar and acquire a basic Latin vocabulary as they move steadily through Book I of the Ecce Romani textbook series. Although the amount of material covered in the class requires a brisk pace, time is set aside for the study of the culture, religion, and everyday life of the Romans.

Latin II | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Classes I, II, III, IV
Prerequisites: Class V Latin, Latin I or their equivalents

Latin II focuses on the Ecce Romani series through Book II. Using thematic readings, students encounter advanced grammatical concepts, including participles, indirect discourse, and the uses of the subjunctive. The setting of the readings is first-century Rome. Cultural topics range from the baths and the Colosseum to crime and education.


Latin III | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Classes I, II, III, IV
Prerequisites: Latin II and permission of the department

This intensive, literature-based course is aimed at developing students’ ability to read Latin literature. Students will begin by focusing on the iconic prose stylist, Cicero, including his famous orations against the notorious conspirator, Catiline. The witty, emotional, and philosophical lyrical verses of the poets Horace and Catullus will be the subject of the second half of the year.

This course completes the language requirement for graduation.

Latin IV/V | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: I, II, III
Prerequisites: Latin III

Students in the course will continue to strengthen their understanding of grammar and syntax and will further expand their vocabulary as they become more proficient readers of Latin. The subject matter in this course alternates each year. One year’s curriculum is devoted entirely to Vergil’s timeless epic, the Aeneid. Here, students will work their way through the most memorable selections of the work, engaging in questions of duty, love, war, and leadership. The other year’s literature focuses on culturally rich authors such as Pliny, Ovid, Petronius, and Plautus—each shedding light on what it means to be Roman. Most of all, students will start to approach Latin literature as something to be analyzed as well as something to be savored.

NOT OFFERED IN 2017-2018

Latin IV Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: I, II, III, IV
Prerequisites: Latin III Honors and permission of the department

In this fast-paced and intensive course, students will continue to hone their reading and translating skills with Latin literature through encounters with Ovid's poetry and Caesar's prose. Both writers model the best that Latin poetry and prose have to offer, and the fascinating Roman history of the late republican and early imperial periods provides a keystone for this course. In addition, students will gain an appreciation of both poetic and rhetorical style. Assignments will include a thorough grammatical review and sight readings, as well as vocabulary and reading quizzes to facilitate students' increasing comfort with the Latin language. This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum.

Advanced Placement (AP) Latin V | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: Latin IV H and permission of the Department

This class concentrates on reading the work of two masters of Latin literature, Caesar and Vergil. Emphasis is placed on reading fluency and the appreciation of the writing styles of both authors. Further, the course will cover the significance of Caesar and Vergil in the Late Republic and Augustan Rome. Students will develop the ability to consider both linguistic detail and critical interpretation in class discussion, reading extensively from Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and from Books I, II, IV, and VI of Vergil’s Aeneid. Students in good standing are encouraged to take the Advanced Placement Examination.

Latin VI: The Classics Come Alive | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: I, II
Prerequisites: AP Latin or Latin V

Time to dig in! After years of studying pristine prose and nuanced poetry, students can now use their linguistic and cultural skills to have a hands-on experience, interacting and grappling with Rome as the Romans did, and to hear the language’s echoes in the Renaissance and modern worlds. Students will encounter graffiti, coins, monuments, political intrigue, and other aspects of Roman life from an on-the-ground perspective. We will use our advanced knowledge of Latin to approach archaeology, culture, and historical memory. In addition, students will devote time to exploring and expanding their knowledge of Latin through self-guided project-based learning, reading, composing, and even speaking the language.

NOT OFFERED IN 2017-2018

History of Ancient Greece: Athens and Sparta - Wisdom, Drama, and War | Fall Only
Full Credit
Open to: I, II

This is the story of two fifth century BCE city-states that emerged as forces in their world of the Mediterranean, developing unique innovations and influencing our own world today. Athens was an intellectual hotbed, creating history, philosophy, drama, new art forms, and democracy. Sparta was its conservative, pragmatic opposite, forming an egalitarian state with a war-machine like no other. Starting with the heroic stands against the Persians and continuing through the tragedy that was the Peloponnesian War, students will investigate how the Athenians and Spartans defined themselves, first against the “other,” then against one another. Examining the art and architecture of this period and reading authors such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Sophocles in translation, we will wrestle with the questions of their day—questions such as the following: What is true happiness? What is the best form of government? What happens when religion and state come into conflict? These questions still resonate as loudly today as they did 2500 years ago.

History of Ancient Rome: Pompeii - Life in the Early Roman Empire | Spring Only
Full Credit
Open to: I, II

The Roman Empire in the first century CE mixed sophistication with brutality and had the capacity to lurch abruptly from civilization and progress to terror, tyranny, and greed. The eruption of Vesuvius buried Pompeii, leaving its architecture, art, and amphitheaters frozen in time. This course examines the time period between 91 BCE to 79 CE and affords students the opportunity to uncover the stories of Romans, including powerful emperors, decadent aristocrats, fierce gladiators, ambitious freedmen, and other everyday citizens. With a focus on the archaeological evidence unearthed from the city and with an investigation of texts such as Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars and Joanne Berry’s The Complete Pompeii, students will investigate the daily life in this town within the broader context of an empire ruled by powerful and ruthless emperors. Questions of imperialism, dictatorship, class, private and public lives, and, in an increasingly multicultural population, the concept of being “Roman” will guide our study of this endlessly fascinating time period and enduring city.



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