Upper School
US Curriculum


The Classics Department challenges students to read and critically engage with works of Latin and Ancient Greek in the original languages, to immerse themselves in the cultures of Greece, Rome, and the ancient Mediterranean (including myth, literature, history, and art), and to explore interdisciplinary connections between the ancient and modern worlds.
iuncti iuvamus

At Hackley our Latin motto iuncti iuvamus – “United we help one another” – drives our approach to Classics within and beyond the classroom.  We purposefully teach ancient languages in a way that emphasizes collaboration and intellectual community. Technological tools are often used to support learning collaboratively, from Quizlet and Gimkit to tools for advanced lexical analysis and research. The department also provides opportunities for students to connect with the broader Classics community beyond the Hilltop, e.g. by engaging in nationally recognized academic contests, by inviting visiting speakers to campus and more.  

Core Skills

Since Latin and Greek significantly shaped English and other widely spoken modern languages, students develop essential skills in language, close reading, and critical analysis through their study of Classics. In our entry-level Latin courses, students immediately begin to see their vocabulary increase (both English and Latin) as they explore word origins, prefixes, and suffixes. In our intermediate and advanced courses, students not only develop proficiency and speed in comprehending unadapted ancient texts, but also the ability to analyze them critically. As students study art and artifacts from the ancient world or participate in our very own archaeological dig site on campus, they also learn how to evaluate different kinds of evidence.  

Tradition and Innovation

Classics has a long and distinguished tradition at Hackley. Our first head of school, Theodore C. Williams published translations of Tibullus’ Elegies and Vergil’s Aeneid. Even as we have innovated over the years, we continue to support a large and thriving community of Classics students today. Many of our students choose to continue their studies well beyond the school’s language requirement, whether by studying Greek in their junior or senior year, designing an independent study with a faculty member on a topic which interests them, engaging in our student-run Classics club, or continuing to study Classics after Hackley. 

Upper School Classics

List of 7 items.

  • Latin I

    5 meetings per eight-day cycle/3 credits

    This course presents basic Latin vocabulary and grammatical structures, such as declensions, conjugations, dependent clauses, the indicative mood, noun/adjective agreement, constructions of time and place, and the active and passive voices. In addition to grammar and vocabulary, students are introduced to Roman history of the late Republican and early Imperial periods through the life of the poet Horace, whose poetry students will study in Latin 3. Considerable attention is paid to English derivatives from Latin vocabulary, myth, Roman culture, geography, art and archaeology. Emphasis is placed not only on reading but also on speaking Latin. Students will use extensive online resources, including vocabulary flashcards, drills and other materials, which complement the textbook.
  • Latin II

    5 meetings per eight-day cycle/3 credits

    This course reviews the conjugations, declensions and grammar learned in Latin I and then presents the subjunctive mood and subjunctive constructions, such as result clauses, indirect questions and purpose clauses. Students encounter the ablative absolute, indirect statement and other dependent clause constructions. They begin to tackle authentic Latin in the form of excerpts from Horace’s poetry.

    Online resources remain an integral component of this course. The Oxford Latin Course, College Edition is an accelerated version of the series used in the Middle School Latin classes; this consistency of approach will ease the combination of rising ninth graders with new students to Hackley in the Latin 3 class.
  • Latin III

    5 meetings per eight-day cycle/3 credits

    This course focuses primarily on the literature of the late Republican and early Imperial periods of Roman history. Following a comprehensive review of Latin grammar, students read excerpts from Caesar’s Commentarii, Cicero’s orations (studying rhetorical techniques, periodic sentence structure and contemporary Roman history), Vergil’s Aeneid, and Catullus, as well as Horace and Ovid as time permits. Students will study the character of Julius Caesar and his role in the final years of the Roman Republic. Particular attention will be paid to rhetorical and poetic devices, such as hyperbole, anaphora and tricolon, poetic meter and poetic forms.
  • Latin IV

    5 meetings per eight-day cycle/3 credits

    Latin IV focuses on cementing grammar concepts and vocabulary through authentic Latin. Students will build on the reading from Latin III—Cicero, Caesar and Vergil—and will explore the poetry of Ovid, Catullus and Horace, as well. Students will expand upon their knowledge of archaeological techniques by participating in a variety of online resources (such as MOOCs), as well as practicing on-site excavation at our own Hackley dig site. Students will practice writing literary critical essays, expand their knowledge of late Republican and early Imperial history and experience passage-based multiple choice questions; this will prepare students to meet the challenges of AP Latin: Vergil and Caesar.
  • AP Latin: Vergil and Caesar

    5 meetings per eight-day cycle/3 credits
    Prerequisite: Latin IV with a B average and recommendation of the Latin IV instructor or a B+ average in Latin III and recommendation of the Latin III instructor
    Students will read selections from books 1-6 of Vergil’s Aeneid and from books 1-6 of Caesar’s de Bello Gallico, as directed by the AP syllabus. Through practice AP questions, writing literary critical essays and the honing of translation skills, students prepare for the AP examination in May.

    In addition to stylistic idiosyncrasies and specialized vocabulary, students learn to examine word choice, literary devices, meter, word painting and tone in their analysis. Such themes as Roman values, war and empire, leadership, views of non-Romans, history and memory, and human beings and the gods will be explored in the works of both authors. Students are encouraged to reduce their reliance on notes and vocabulary lists as they make the transition from translation to reading.
  • Greek

    5 meetings per eight-day cycle/3 credits
    Open to seniors (juniors will be considered with Department Head approval)

    Prerequisite: Latin II or higher with approval (initials on course selection sheet) of the Department Head; under certain circumstances, consideration will be given to other advanced language students. Students must submit requests to the Department Head to register.
    This is an intensive course in the elements of Classical Greek for students who have had success in other language courses. A strong command of grammatical terminology and the workings of an inflected language is mandatory. This course will prepare the student for further study at the college level.
  • Post-AP Latin Seminar: Reading and Research

    3 meetings per eight-day cycle/2 credits
    Prerequisite: AP Latin and/or permission of Department Chair
    This advanced reading course will immerse students in ongoing study of an author, genre or topic of their choice. Readings will be selected according to the interests of the students and will vary from year to year. The seminar is entirely discussion-based, and students will be expected to collaborate in a workshop setting.

    The course will culminate in a research paper or project in which students engage the broader community. The course provides students with the dual benefit of continuing to build their skills in Latin while also learning how to do scholarly research in the field of Classics.  
    May be repeated for credit.