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Location: Gorman G
Classics: A Guide to Research at the Blakley Library
"It is not that I consider the literary productions of the ancients irreproachable. I think only that they have special qualities that can serve marvelously to counterbalance our particular defects. They prop us up on the side where we lean." --Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
"Classics" may be considered singularly or plurally. The classics are the surviving literary works produced by the educated men of ancient Greece and Rome. This literature set the forms, themes, and concerns of thought for all subsequent generations in the West. Following the fall of the Roman empire, however, virtually all of this writing had to be recovered by the excavation or location of copies and fragments. Reconciling this evidence was very problematic. Thus the establishment of what the classical authors actually wrote or taught became the concern of the field of "Classics", which was inaugurated in the Renaissance and continues to the present day.
The study of classical literature remains the core of the discipline, both for its use as documentary evidence in the analysis of ancient Mediterranean societies and for its own sake. Content from approximately ten to twelve thousand works written in a variant of ancient Greek or Latin is currently extant, ranging from fragments to, more rarely, whole texts. Secondary sources in classics tend to focus on a particular author or set of authors; alternately, a genre, theme, or general subject may be explored. Most of these are written in English, German, French, or Italian.
Supporting disciplines deal with the forensic recovery and examination of artifactual or other physical evidence from the Greco-Roman world. Additionally, virtually all of the modern arts and sciences locate their philosophical and historical roots in the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. A classicist can expect to deal with, if not master, the scholarship and the techniques of some or all of these disciplines.