JBS Graduation Requirement: Level I and Level II of a single language.
T.S. Eliot observed that “we are all, so far as we inherit the civilization of Europe, still citizens of the Roman Empire.” The Latin program proves this observation by studying the language and, through it, the culture of the Romans.
To understand how the language works is essential. In this way the student can not only read the writings of great Roman authors, but also appreciate how basic is Latin to modern English. Most English words have classical roots, so the study of Latin leads to a wider English vocabulary. Furthermore, the greater part of English literature has been written by those who were classically educated, and for readers who were presumed to have some knowledge of Latin.
Many Latin readings show that most of our ideas political and personal, our fears and aspirations, are not new. To paraphrase Eliot, it is through the experience of the dead that we can make sense of the living, but first we must learn their language.
Honors credit is offered at both Levels IV and V upon the satisfactory completion of two assigned projects, together with at least a B- for the semester grade. Those students who complete Latin V, whether Honors or not, have the opportunity to write the Latin AP exam.
Because increased emphasis is placed in the depth of learning a foreign language, the department recommends the six-¬year sequence of study, i.e. through Level V, in Latin.
It is not necessary to be enrolled in Latin in order to take Greek; in fact, many successful students have no background at all in Latin. They follow the introductory courses (available in grades 10 - 12) because they are inquisitive about the Greek World, and not only its language but also its culture, history and geography. Meeting twice weekly, the Greek courses are considered electives that can supplement, and not replace, an existing language choice.
The Classics department also offers two elective courses. The History of Classical Art is an introductory and illustrated course available in grades 9 - 12. On the other hand, the senior elective Foundations of Western Literature introduces the pillars of Greco-Roman literature and encourages their intelligent reading through lectures and class discussion. Since all the works in this course are read in translation, it is NOT necessary to have studied either Latin or Greek.
Most years the department sponsors a trip to Italy (Rome and Naples) during the spring vacation. The next such trip is scheduled for 2015 but not for 2016. The popularity of this trip restricts it to students currently enrolled in Latin III, IV or V, or Greek I or II.