Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy

Inscriptions provide an invaluable amount of information on the ancient world. The Classics Department of the University of Chicago offers graduate students both an introduction to epigraphy and advanced courses that will allow them to fully master the techniques of the discipline. Through courses, seminars, workshops, and conferences, students will familiarize themselves with the employment of inscriptions. They will be strongly encouraged to criss-cross the several fields of classics, in order to perceive how inscriptions can contribute to the understanding of literary texts, papyri or archaeological evidence, and the other way round. They will be able to specialize on themes where epigraphy is a privileged mode of approach of the ancient civilizations.

Some of the key themes on which inscriptions can offer information are:

  • History, institutions and religion. It is, for instance, thanks to inscriptions that we can get a detailed knowledge of political or economic institutions of the Greek states (cities or kingdoms) or of civic or popular religion in the ancient world in general. In some privileged cases, inscriptions give us also a hint to private beliefs or behaviors.
  • Local cultures. For whole regions of the ancient world, epigraphy represents the bulk of written sources. This is the case, for instance, for Asia Minor or the Black Sea. Thanks to inscriptions, it is now possible to get a better understanding of the local cultures of these regions and of their interaction with the dominating Graeco-Roman one.
  • Language. Epigraphy provides a unique mode of apprehension of ancient languages. This is the case, for instance, for the Greek language, where inscriptions provide the bulk of our information on dialects and their evolution. Inscriptions also provide a unique source of information on the pre-Greek languages of Asia Minor (see above also).
  • Literature. Most of the ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions are in prose. Their style can provide some useful parallels to the most famous pieces of literature. But there is also a significant corpus of metric inscriptions, in Greek or in Latin. They illustrate the literary aspirations of large categories of populations of the ancient world.


Basic introductions to Greek and Latin Epigraphy are regularly offered as well as more specialized seminars.


Classics Faculty:

  • Clifford Ando is the author of Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (2000) and The Matter of the Gods: Religion and the Roman Empire (2008) and is interested in issues of law, administration, and cultural change in the Roman Empire.
  • Alain Bresson is the author of Recueil des inscriptions de la Pérée rhodienne (1991), La cité marchande (2000), and L'économie de la Grèce des cités (2 vols, 2007-8) and is an expert on the Hellenistic world, epigraphy, and the ancient economy.
  • Christopher Faraone has published widely on Greek religion and magic, most recently Ancient Greek Love Magic (1999), is co-editor (with D. Dodd) of Initiation in Ancient Greek Rituals and Narratives: New Critical Perspectives (2003) and is currently at work on two book-projects, "Incantation as Song Genre in Archaic Greece", and "Text, Image and Medium in Ancient Greek Amulets"?
  • Jonathan M. Hall is the author of Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity(1997), Hellenicity: Between Ethnicity and Culture (2002), and A History of the Archaic Greek World, ca. 1200-479 BCE (2007). His interests include the social and cultural history of early Greece and the relationship between texts and material culture.

Associated Faculty: