Matthew J. Hartnett

Chair of the Department of Classical Languages
Lewis Perry Professor of Humanities
Matthew J. Hartnett

"Fish don't know they're wet. Without the perspective that studying another language affords, it's difficult to appreciate how profoundly our cultural assumptions color the way we see the world."


B.A. College of William & Mary

M.A. Columbia University

Ph.D. Columbia University


Mr. Hartnett was born and raised in rural Maine, where, improbably, an eccentric and profusely bearded Latin teacher from Indiana kindled in him a life-long passion for classical antiquity. After following that passion to Virginia, New York City and Greece, he returned to New England to begin his own teaching career. He has taught Latin, Greek and classical civilization; coached soccer, basketball and recreational golf; led several student trips to Italy and Greece; and worked as a landscaper. In 2006 he received the Matthew I. Wiencke Teaching Award from the Classical Association of New England.

Since arriving in 2010, Mr. Hartnett has taught all levels of Latin and Greek. His academic interests include ancient philosophy, representations of classical myths in art, and Greek and Roman daily life. Drawing on research in libraries and museums and visits to archaeological sites across Europe, he published By Roman Hands: Inscriptions and Graffiti for Students of Latin (Hackett, 2nd ed., 2012), a text he uses to bring students as close as possible to the everyday triumphs and tragedies of real Romans. He is currently working on a new textbook for learning ancient Greek.

On campus, Mr. Hartnett is a happy resident of Wheelwright Hall and the proud coach of the boys JV basketball team. When he is off campus he is sometimes traveling but more likely on a ladder restoring the frail mortal structure that is his 19th-century farmhouse in Maine or defiantly wielding a gas-powered implement against the creeping encroachment of nature.