Classics > Courses > Undergraduate > Classics I > Finals paper descriptions philology

Philology and Linguistics

Greek Historical Linguistics:
The subject consists of two main parts: (a) specific topics to be explored through texts and
(b) the general history of the Greek language with special reference to the development of
the literary languages. There are three text-based topics (and you will have to answer
questions on two of these in the Finals paper): (i) the dialects of Greek poetry, which will
involve looking in detail at the language of Homer and some lyric poets; (ii) Greek dialect
inscriptions, which will offer an introduction to some of the many local varieties of Greek; (iii)
Linear B, which will provide an opportunity to read some texts in Mycenaean Greek,
preserved on clay tablets from the second millennium BC, our earliest evidence for the
language. The general history of Greek will cover topics such as the Indo-European origins
of Greek, varieties of Greek, the influence of neighbouring languages, the history of writing in
Greece, the linguistic traditions of poetry, the development of formal prose and scientific
language, the emergence of the koine (common language), etc. Each of the text-based
topics will be taught in six two-hour classes; there will be eight lectures on the history of
Greek.

Latin Historical Linguistics
The subject consists of two main parts: (a) specific topics to be explored through texts and
(b) the general history of the Latin language, with special reference to the development of the
literary language. There are four text-based topics (and you will have to answer questions on
two of these in the finals paper): (i) Oscan and Umbrian, which will offer an introduction to
two languages of ancient Italy, quite distinct from Latin though related to it, that are known
from inscriptions; (ii) Archaic Latin, which will deal with some of the earliest records of Latin,
mainly inscriptions; (iii) the language of Plautus, which will involve looking in detail at various
characteristic elements (archaic, colloquial, poetic, etc.); (iv) Imperial and Late Latin, which
will examine the language of mainly sub-literary and non-literary texts (including papyri) from
the first century AD onwards. The general history of Latin will cover topics such as the Indo-
European origins of Latin, other languages of ancient Italy, the spread of Latin within Italy
and beyond, the influence of Greek, the emergence of a poetic language, the creation of the
classical standard, 'vulgar' Latin, post-classical developments, the rise of the Romance
languages, etc. Each of the text-based topics will be taught in six two-hour classes; there will
be eight lectures on the history of Latin.

General Linguistics and Comparative Philology
This subject consists of three parts, of which you choose two:


Part 1: the linguistic description of Latin or Greek (you choose one), especially the
application to the classical languages of modern descriptive insights and techniques. Topics
will include: grammatical categories (such as tense, aspect, voice, mood); ordering of
elements within a phrase or sentence; structures of complex sentences; pragmatic and
sociolinguistic functions of linguistic variables such as, for example, the different ways of
expressing commands.
University teaching: six 2-hour classes in each language.


Part 2: modern linguistic theory in more general terms, including topics in contemporary
phonological and grammatical theory.
University teaching: four 2-hour classes. Note that courses of lectures in General Linguistics
are also offered by the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics.


Part 3: the reconstruction of Indo-European. This course deals with problems affecting parts
of the sound-system and the grammar (especially the verb) of the parent language and their
reflections in the (pre-) history of Latin and Greek. Note: Part 3 follows on from the Mods
special subject in Comparative Philology. You may take it up without having done the subject
in Mods, but you will then have some ground to make up.
University teaching: eight two-hour classes.

Comparative Philology: Indo-European, Greek and Latin
This paper provides an introduction to the study of the origins of Greek and Latin and their
development from a common ancestor, Indo-European (which is also the ancestor of
English). The lectures and classes cover the methods of historical and comparative
linguistics, the reconstruction of the (unattested) Indo-European proto-language, the
numerous changes in sounds and forms that resulted in the Greek and Latin languages as
we know them, and some of the ways in which these languages continued to change down
to the classical period. Selected passages of Homer and some archaic Latin inscriptions are
examined in detail with regard to points of linguistic interest, to show how an understanding
of the prehistory of Greek and Latin, and of the processes of change, can illuminate early
records of the language.

Thesis in Philology and Linguistics
Any candidate may offer a thesis in Philology and Linguistics. This subject may not be
combined with any of I.14, II.199, III.16 or IV.5 (a thesis in Greek and Roman History,
Philosophy, Greek and Latin Literature or Greek and Roman Archaeology).

Second Classical Language
VI.1 Verse
Either a) Homer, Iliad 24
Euripides, Bacchae
Or b) Virgil, Aeneid 6
Ovid, Metamorphoses 8
VI.2. Prose
Either a) Plato, Symposium 189c - end
Herodotus 1.1-94
Or b) Cicero, In Catilinam I, Pro Archia
Seneca, Epistles 28, 47, 53, 56, 57, 63, 77, 108, 114, 122.


Each of subjects VI.1 and VI.2 will be examined in one three-hour paper. In each paper
candidates will be required (i) to translate and comment on two passages, one from each of
the prescribed texts in the language they offer, and (ii) to translate into English one unseen
passage from the language they offer.