Majors in Classics and Classical Studies work toward two capstone experiences—the comprehensive exam and senior seminar.

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam is taken during December or January of senior year and represents the culmination of each student’s language study and general coursework. It consists of a language translation component that allows students to demonstrate their progress and command of the ancient languages they have studied, as well as essay and oral components that offer students the opportunity to discuss more broadly important themes and ideas of the Classical literary tradition.

A departmental reading list forms the basis of the essay and oral components of the exam, while the translation exam draws on sight passages as well as texts that have been read in the original as part of the student’s coursework.

Senior Seminar

A course titled “The History of Classical Literature” (CLAS 0701) helps prepare students for the comprehensive exam. In addition, majors also take a senior seminar (CLAS 0420), usually in the spring of their senior year. The topics vary from year to year but are focused on a Classical field, genre, or period. The seminar culminates in a research paper that builds not only upon what was studied in the class itself but also upon the student’s overall Classics curriculum at Middlebury.

Recent seminar topics:

  • Humanism of Herodotus
  • Medea: 2,500 Years of a Tragic Heroine
  • Roman Epic
  • Greek Religion

Optional Senior Thesis

Though a senior thesis is not required, students may choose to write one. It provides an excellent opportunity for a student to work in depth on a topic of personal interest under the guidance of a faculty member.

Past senior theses:

  • A Commentary on Lucan, Bellum Civile VI.775-820
  • The Roman Law of Adoption: The Use of Private Law in the Augustan Succession