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Classics is a unique, interdisciplinary endeavor that is dedicated to the study of all aspects of the Greek and Roman world. It incorporates study of the language, history, and culture of a vast array of peoples from parts of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Given this geographical breadth and diversity, Classics involves the study of stories and histories that reflect every aspect of the human experience and condition.
At Groton, students begin their study of Latin and Greek at the intersection of mythology, history, and grammar. The Classics faculty take great care to provide compelling and interesting texts that promote acquisition, understanding, and discourse at all levels of language study—from beginner to advanced.
Latin and Greek serve as the foundation of many languages, including English, and are useful aids for learning and appreciating them. At the same time, the development of vigorous critical and computational thinking skills, along with the honing of analytical and communication skills, underpin our study of Latin and Greek. The benefits of this type of intellectual training enhances not only the development of language skills, but also the ability to analyze texts and grapple with timeless, human questions. The study of Latin and Greek provides a perspective into many different cultures and prepares students for all manners and modes of learning and problem solving, both at Groton and beyond.
Classical studies specialize in close reading and mental discipline while opening out onto a wide range of subjects from a readily grasped core.
NOTE: Students who begin a classical language must complete at least two years of that language. In particular, Upper Schoolers who begin Greek should plan their future schedules accordingly.
Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This class will explore several Bronze Age civilizations including the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Minoans, the Myceneans, and the Hittites. Classes will combine illustrated lectures with discussions of the major artistic and architectural periods of each civilization. Students will explore some of the big questions of this period (who were the Sea People, was the Trojan War real) and more modern debates concerning the archaeology of these civilizations (the illegal antiquities trade, repatriation of Egyptian artifacts). No prior knowledge is required for this class.
Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This course will read a selection of stories from Greco-Roman mythology and examine the different ways that those stories were told in antiquity and have been reimagined and repurposed in the years since, with a particular focus on recent reinterpretations. We will examine examples from literature, art, music, movies, and theater, considering the choices that authors and artists make in telling these stories through their own lenses and how those retellings affect our readings of the original myths. One unit will focus on examples of possible PTSD in myth and to what extent some of those sufferings from PTSD in the modern world, particularly veterans and the incarcerated, can better understand their trauma through myth. Students will finish the term by presenting their own creative retelling of an ancient myth. All readings and papers will be in English, and no prior knowledge is required.
In this course, students read selections from Books 1, 2, 4 and 6 of Vergil's Aeneid and from Books 1, 4, 5 and 6 of Caesar's Gallic Wars, as required for the Advanced Placement Examination. In addition to translating, discussing and analyzing these passages, students also read in English Books 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 of the Aeneid and Books 1, 6 and 7 of Caesar's Gallic Wars. This course is designated as an Advanced Placement course and thus a full-year commitment for all students. The AP Exam is required for this course.
Open to Sixth Formers. Greek Archaeology will explore the architecture, sculpture, and painting of Ancient Greece. The class will combine illustrated lectures with discussions of the major artistic and architectural periods of each civilization. Students will explore various topics and problems concerning Greek Archaeology (Parthenon Frieze, the appropriation of Greek archaeology by various political groups, the location of Alexander's tomb). No prior knowledge of Classics is required for this class. Enrollment limited to six students.
Open to Sixth Formers. This course is an introduction to the archaeological method, followed by the study of early Greece and Crete. Sites studied will include Troy, Knossos, Mycenae, and Pylos. The principal text used will be Hitchcock and Preziosi, Archaeology of the Aegean. Classes will combine illustrated lectures with oral presentations by each student, who will also be asked to pursue one or two topics in greater depth in research papers. Enrollment limited to six students.
Open to Sixth and Fifth Formers. Roman Archaeology will explore Roman architecture and engineering, sculpture, paintings, and material culture from the 7th c. BCE to the twilight of the Roman Empire and the beginnings of Byzantium. The class will combine illustrated lectures with discussions of the major artistic and architectural periods of Rome. Attention will be given to many cultures within the Roman Empire as well as the daily life of people in the Roman Empire. No prior knowledge of Classics is required for this class. Enrollment is limited to 10 students.
In Greek 2 students review and expand upon the grammar and syntax they studied during the first year through the close reading of Greek literature. Readings include selections from Xenophon’s Anabasis in the first half of the year followed by selections from Homer’s Iliad.
Greek 3 is a reading course. In recent years works read have included Sophocles’ Antigone and Oedipus Rex, Plato’s Apology and Phaedo and selections from Homer’s Odyssey. Readings may vary from year to year and are chosen at the discretion of the instructor and Classics Department.
The Latin 1 curriculum covers the essential grammar and basic syntax of the language within a year. On a daily basis, students translate practice sentences and longer, narrative passages designed to reinforce grammatical topics and to help develop fluency in the language. Discussion of various topics associated with these readings serves to expand the students’ awareness of a wide range of Roman realities.
Latin 2 begins with a quick, thorough review of the essential grammar and syntax covered during the first year of study. In conjunction with this review, students also translate Latin from the Libellus, an episodic survey of Roman history featuring adapted excerpts from Livy and other Roman authors, before moving on to selections from Catullus' Carmina, Caesar’s Gallic Wars and his Civil war in the Spring Term. This course aims to make students proficient readers of Latin while providing a good overview of Roman history and literature through the lens of both Romans and other peoples within the Roman Empire.
Latin 3 aims to develop further students’ proficiency in the language while introducing them to representative works of Latin prose and poetry. Students study prose in the first half of the year, typically selections from the works of Cicero and Sallust, and poetry in the second half of the year with selections from Vergil’s Aeneid.
Latin 4 offers students the opportunity to continue to read, analyze, and discuss representative works of Latin prose and poetry. In recent years this course has focused on selections from a range of Roman authors including Ovid's Metamorphoses, Catullus' Carmina, Horace's Odes, and Vergil's Aeneid. Readings may vary from year to year and are chosen at the discretion of the instructor and the Classics Department. Sixth Formers take this course on a term-by-term basis.
The literature studied in Latin 5 may vary at the discretion of the instructor and Classics Department. In recent years, course topics have included the lyric poetry of Catullus and Horace, the philosophical writings of Cicero, the didactic poetry of Lucretius, comedies of Plautus, and selections from the works of Ovid, Seneca, Apuleius and other Latin authors. These courses are offered on a term-by-term basis to Sixth Formers; all others must elect Latin 5 for the full year.
The literature studied in Latin 5 may vary at the discretion of the instructor and Classics Department. In recent years, course topics have included the lyric poetry of Catullus and Horace, the philosophical writings of Cicero, the didactic poetry of Lucretius, comedies of Plautus, and selections from the works of Ovid, Seneca, Apuleius and other Latin authors.
These courses are offered on a term-by-term basis to Sixth Formers; all others must elect Latin 5 for the full year.
Amy Martin-Nelson is a member of the Classics Department faculty and teaches Latin I, Latin III, and AP Latin. She began her teaching career at the Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and came to Groton from All Saints’ Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas.
Amy has trained as a classical archaeologist and has excavated in Carthage, Tunisia, and Arras, France. She has a BA in classical archaeology from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an MA in Latin from University of Georgia.
Mary Frances Bannard joined the teaching faculty at Groton in 2016. She did her undergraduate work at Middlebury College and the University of Virginia, and earned an MA in Classics from Bryn Mawr College, where she wrote her thesis on culinary metaphors in imperial Roman satire. Before coming to Groton, she taught middle and high school Classics and served as a grade level dean at the Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont, PA; she has also taught Latin at Nashoba Brooks School in Concord, MA.
At Groton, Mary Frances runs a Third Form girls' dorm and teaches in the Classics Department. She also assistant coaches girls cross country, helps with technical theater, and teaches the occasional yoga class. She lives on campus with her husband, Preston, also a member of the Classics faculty, their three daughters, and two dogs.
Preston Bannard, son of two former Groton faculty members and a graduate of the Form of 2001, returned to the Circle for a third time in 2014 as a member of the Classics Department faculty. Preston is particularly interested in Greek and Roman history and historiography, as well as epic poetry. He came to Groton after receiving an AB from Princeton and an MA from the University of Virginia, and teaching for seven years at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Preston lives on campus with his wife, Mary Frances, who also teaches Classics and runs a Third Form girls dorm; their three daughters; and two dogs. In addition to teaching, he coaches basketball and baseball.
Kate Dennison began her teaching career at Kimball Union Academy and joined the Groton faculty as a Classics instructor in 1985, after earning a master’s in Latin at the University of Michigan. At Groton, she met her husband, Science Department Head Stephen Belsky. Following a sabbatical, Kate returned to campus as director of Academic Support, but within a few years had added teaching and coaching back into her schedule. She now coaches the thirds girls field hockey team and is assistant coach of the girls varsity basketball team.
In addition to her master's degree, Kate holds a BA from Wheaton College and an MSW from Boston University. She says her greatest appreciation for Groton surfaced in the last few years, when all three of her children—twins Molly ‘12 and David ’12 and brother Jared ’15—became students. Kate describes the experiences they have had—in the classroom, on the sports fields, in the theater, in the choir, and beyond—and the relationships they've built with adults and peers as “invaluable” to them and affirming to her.
Classics Department Head Scott Giampetruzzi is broadly interested in the history and literature of Greece and Rome and has devoted his attention more recently to the development of distinctively Roman views on philosophical thought in the literature of the late Republic and early Principate. He holds the Sherrard Billings Chair of Classics, established in memory of Reverend Sherrard Billings, one of the three original masters when the School was founded.
Scott arrived at Groton School in 2003, where he has taught Latin and Greek at all levels and coached soccer, baseball, and lacrosse. He became the head of an Upper School boys’ dorm in 2009, and before that, he was affiliated with a second form boys’ dorm for six years. Scott has a BA from Colby College and an MA from Fordham University. He resides in Giampetruzzi’s Dorm with his wife, Kathleen, and his son, Gus, and already is looking forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Dean of Students and Residential Life, Classics, History and Social Science
Mike O’Donnell came to Groton as dean of students in July 2012. In addition to his work in the Deans’ Office, he teaches Latin and US History, and coaches girls cross country.
Prior to joining the faculty at Groton, Mike taught history and Latin at Ransom Everglades School in Miami, was associate dean of students and director of residential life at St. Mark’s School, and taught Latin at the Fessenden School. He attended Noble and Greenough School and holds an AB in Classics from Dartmouth College and an MA in Latin and Greek from Boston College.
Prior to his arrival on the Circle, David Ross taught for eight years at Yale University and for 27 years at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). During that time he wrote four books on Latin poets. A member of the Groton faculty since 2001, David teaches Classics. He frequently can be seen watching birds and other wildlife on the many acres surrounding Groton School. A boarding school product himself, David attended Hotchkiss School. He has a BA from Yale and a MA and PhD from Harvard.