Department of Classics

Program in Ancient Philosophy

Ancient philosophical texts are themselves the main attraction for most of us who work in this area of Classics. But the distinctive tools and perspective of philosophy also provide an especially fruitful basis for research and teaching in other areas of classical studies. Just consider how familiarity with Plato and Aristotle affords distinctive insight into Greek epic, tragedy, oratory, and politics; or the interplay of Epicurean and Stoic thought with Roman culture in Lucretius and Seneca, not tom mention Cicero, Horace, and many others.

Studying ancient philosophy can also have pragmatic benefits. The UT Classics graduate program is designed to help you develop both general and specialized knowledge in classical studies because both are essential for teaching and research alike. Most Classics Departments in this country expect their faculty to teach introductory courses on general topics and undergraduate courses in one or both languages; so developing suitable breadth is essential. Most also look for special expertise, which is often a major factor in decisions on hiring. Specialized work in an interdisciplinary field like ancient philosophy has the special advantage of preparing you not only for specialist positions but also for generalist positions in Departments interested in building or strengthening ties with other programs. In this era of multidisciplinarity, that can be a real boon.

Given the importance of the generalist factor, your primary goal in designing a program of coursework should be to develop a broad foundation in classical studies. A top priority is of course solidifying your command of Greek and Latin. But you can do so with some broader goals in view:

  • Literature: besides both survey sequences, select courses that cover an array of authors, periods, and genres; also look for variety in approaches, topics, and methods.
  • History and archaeology: watch for courses that complement or intersect with your special intersts or other coursework, and for courses that draw on major sub-disciplines like epigraphy or papyrology.
  • Related fields: faculty here in Art History, Linguistics, and Religious Studies regularly offer courses that can inform our work.

Integrating your general training with specialized work in ancient philosophy is comparatively straightforward here. Course offerings include seminars in ancient philosophy almost every semester, sometimes also reading courses (GK or LAT 385); seminars are often cross-listed in both Departments. Factors to consider in selecting seminars include:

  • Figures: a range of courses, typically including at least one seminar each on Plato and Aristotle.
  • Areas: again some range beyond your favorite areas or issues; not only ethics or epistemology, for example.
  • Faculty: range yet again, so you end up working with different faculty; this is important to your progress through the program as well as the dissertation committee and all sorts of applications.

If you're not familiar with ancient philosophy as a discipline, or you'd simply like an overview of the field, you can audit or enroll in the undergraduate survey offered every semester by the Philosophy Department (PH 329K, cross-listed CC 348). If you do so, make sure it is taught by one of the specialists here, as it usually is. More generally, if you have little or no background in other areas of philosophy, you might find it helpful to explore some core issues and ideas; courses that are especially useful in this reagard include 329L (early modern philosophy: Descartes to Kant), 321K (theory of knowledge), 323K (metaphysics), 325K (ethics), and 313 or 313K (introductory logic).

M.A. Requirements

Requirements are the largely same as for Classical Languages and broadly flexible. Joint Program students typically include 2 or 3 ancient philosophy courses in their MA coursework.

1. Coursework
33 hours (11 courses), including 18 hours in a Major area (6 or more courses) and 6 hours in a Minor (2 or more courses). The Major may be Greek, or Latin, or both; and the Minor either the other language or Philosophy. In choosing courses, keep an eye on the distribution requirements for the PhD (see below). Ancient philosophy seminars are often cross-listed, which permits students to register under either Greek or Philosophy numbers; which is better will depend mainly on your invidiual program and previous coursework. You should also take at least one of the literature survey courses, ideally both, and preferably Greek first (12 hours total).

2. Exams
Three exams: Greek or Latin translation, Greek or Latin literature (written portion), and one modern language (German, French, or Italian).

3. Research Portfolio
In consultation with Joint Program faculty you will designate one of the seminars you take as a "portfolio seminar" and include the paper in your Research Portfolio (see further below under PhD).

Ph.D. Requirements

Requirements for the Joint Program are largely the same as for the program in Classical Languages (full details there). There are three differences: #4-6 below.

1. Foreign languages (same as Classical Languages): German and Italian or French.

2. Translation exams (same): both Greek and Latin, based on the Classics reading lists.

3. Literature exams (same): both Greek and Latin, taken in tandem with the literature survey courses.

4. History exam: only one half, typically the Greek portion.

5. Ancient Philosophy exam (in lieu of the other half of the History exam): The exam has two parts as in the Literature exams, each based on the ancient philosophy reading list. One involves commenting on excerpts from works on the reading list; the other involves essay questions about the same material. Past exams are available for review from the Director.

6. Coursework in Philosophy: Two graduate or advanced undergraduate courses in philosophy (PHL 321 or above) outside the area of ancient philosophy. These should cover either history of philosophy (normally "early modern" European or Anglo-American analytic) or core areas like ethics, epistemology, or metaphysics. Coursework completed at other institutions may be counted toward this requirement.

7. Research Portfolio: Three seminar papers and a cover statement: one paper from MA coursework, one post-MA, one either. These should typically include 1 or 2 (but not 3) papers in ancient philosophy.

8. Dissertation and Defense: As the culmination of your training, the basis for future research, and the focus of attention in your search for a position in Classics, this project should be carefully designed in close consultation with at least two members of the Joint Program. In addition to formulating a topic, you'll select a director (or two co-directors) to supervise your work, and form a Dissertation Committee, comprising a total of five members. Typically two or three members are Joint Program faculty.