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Learnin Classical Greek

Ancient History

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Aug 19, 2010, 9:01am Top

Well I have long threatened but I am finally taking the plunge - I signed up for a semester long online course with Lukeion that features a weekly "live classroom." The text is Athenaze vol I. The class seems to be aimed at homeschool kids (shudder!) but they are teaching classical Greek rather than the koine usually taught homeschool for New Testament translation, and it looks quite challenging at overview, although the actual first classroom session doesn't start till next Tuesday.

My friends think I'm crazy to want to read Homer in Greek -- my "long-term" goal -- but I suspect some of you board participants may understsand.

For those who have taken Greek and/or achieved competence, any suggestions? Study habits? Approach? Any ideas would be welcome. This is my first real attempt at any language beyond English. Also, anyone have any experience with Lukeion?

Aug 19, 2010, 11:59am Top

Classical Greek isn't as hard as many people make it out to be, as long as you are willing to devote the necessary time. The big stumbling block is the alphabet, but it usually takes only a couple of weeks to get it into your head.

As for Athenaze vol i, I'm not that impressed. However, in many schools and universities, it's the "Wheelock" for Classical Greek. My problem with it is the made-up story of the Greek family you follow. Each chapter opens with an episode in the continuing story, then Balme gives vocabulary and grammar. I've always liked grammar, vocabulary, then reading snippets of actual Greek as the order for a lesson. Also his made-up story leaves a lot to be desired. However, these books will work. Lots of people have learned Classical Greek using them.

However, if reading Homer is your aim, you might want to track down a copy of Pharr's Homeric Greek. It's rather old, but I like his rational. Homeric Greek is older and as different from Classical (Athenian 5th c. BCE) Greek as Classical is from Koine. Pharr believed if you started with Homeric Greek, you could then study Classical easily, seeing the changes to the language that had occurred and then do the same thing for Koine (if need be). In other words, study the natural progression of the language forward instead of backward (by learning Classical first).

Anyway, whatever you decide, you ought to devote at least an hour (if not two) every day to study. Make and use flash cards; study the paradigms and test yourself on them until you can decline any noun or conjugate any verb without thinking about it too much. Good luck. It's worth the struggle.

Aug 19, 2010, 2:21pm Top

I really didn't find Homeric Greek all that different from "Classical Greek". I mean there are a few forms here and there that change, and some things that I'm sure were just like "shorthand" for metrical usage, but if you know your vocab you can pretty much figure it all out.

Aug 19, 2010, 9:16pm Top

Hansen&Quinn FTW.

FWIW, you can download a PDF of the Pharr book from textkit, gratis: http://www.textkit.com/learn/ID/165/author_id/81/

Aug 20, 2010, 9:23am Top

Thanks to all of you!

Aug 20, 2010, 2:26pm Top

Hey Stan, I recommend the Bryn Mawr Commentaries series I suggested to Gene in the other thread. Like I said they don't look very cool, but are really helpful; most words you're not sure about have a reference in the back and, sure enough, they usually say "Ionic variant form" next to them :-)

I think the deeper into Greek you get, the more you'll start appreciating the ancient Greeks themselves. You'll probably notice pretty quickly too that lots of nouns can be "verbified" to an extent that we're not used to in English, and also the fact that there are a ton of words which need a whole phrase of explanation in English, but are just a single concise word in Greek!

After your introduction tothe language, I'd recommend picking up Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon (the hardcover version at Borders is amazing... but DO NOT get the paperback version from Amazon... it was so bad I had to return it!). There are also some useful online tools like the Perseus Project, which has full Greek and English texts of the Classics where you can click on a word to get the info on it (definition, conjugation/declination) but I still like the feel of leafing through the lexicon even if it takes longer.

Aug 22, 2010, 7:52am Top

I, too, have been wondering about studying classical Greek for many years (it certainly won't happen before 2012 now as I've got an MA to get through first that needs all my attention) and I'd love to hear how you get on. I do speak/read/write/understand a fair bit of modern Greek and one of my worries has always been that learning both at the same time might just confuse me; then again, it coudl make it easier, who knows?

One of the greatest delights I find about modern Greek is the very phonetic nature of its spelling - as long as you have the word written down with its accent in the right place, you can't fail to pronounce it correctly. I know ancient Greek has many more accents and I imagine that, as in Latin, pronunciation is largely a matter of speculation anyway, so I wonder if that makes it more difficult? Has anyone else learnt both? And if so, how did you find they compare?

I do hope you'll come back ffom time to time, gapr83, and let us know how it's going.

Aug 22, 2010, 10:19am Top

I've done Greek and Latin at the same time (technically still am, I guess). Latin is a lot easier just because so much of the vocab translates directly into English in some way or another. It's almost like, after you've got the grammar down, you don't necessarily need to spend a bunch of time on vocab, because such a large percentage of Latin is either in English already, or else is part of scientific words you may know.

Greek on the other hand has always felt a lot more "foreign" to me. I mean the alphabet is obviously different so it feels like you're translating some secret code or something, and the grammar is a LOT more complex (in my opinion) than Latin's. But it really is a beautiful language, and though I'm no expert by any means, I still like to translate it rather than read someone else's translation because to me it feels like there's really no way to translate it straight into English without losing something important because like I said, the words tend to cram in so much meaning that there's no way you can effectively present an ancient Greek thought completely in English.

Now, if you know modern Greek, you might have an easier time with some things (I don't, so I don't know, but I'd assume it's like learning Latin after being familiar with French or Spanish). My professor though has an interesting anecdote about how once when he was in Greece he got lost climbing some mountain, and when hours later he stumbled upon some Greek shepherds, he exclaimed to them "ύδωρ! ύδωρ!" and they didn't understand what he was asking for (water!). Apparently the modern Greek word is "νερό" So I guess it isn't always the same :-)

Aug 22, 2010, 2:55pm Top

#9 That brings to mind that lovely character, Bunny (or Bunnios, as he becomes called) in Captain Corelli's Mandolin. This Oxbridge educated British agent is dropped behind lines to help organise the Greek resistance and can't understand why none of the locals can understand his English-accented classical Greek. Throw into the mix all the complications of Demotic and Katharevousa too and you'd think they were working to keep the rest of us from ever getting it right.

Edited: Aug 22, 2010, 11:36pm Top

I have to agree on Hansen and Quinn. It's fucking relentless--a terrifying thrashing. No pity. No let up. As I recall you've got almost the whole verbal system in half a dozen chapters. If you make it through, you have been baptized by fire, and you will go on to real proficiency.

The advantage is that you see that Greek isn't something to be trifled with--that you can't get anywhere without real commitment. If you want to learn it for real, you've got to study it for real, and that involves a lot more than the alphabet. (For starters, you've got to learn the six principle parts of 100-200 verbs and know them cold or you will be forever stopping to consult a dictionary every time you see the future of phero, etc.) Weeding people out sounds cruel, but it's really kind. There's no point wasting semesters or years if you aren't going to follow through. The sad fact is that you need years before you can really read anything in Greek. So the sooner you know you don't have the drive, the better.

Aug 23, 2010, 12:53am Top

The Greek verb is a beast, for sure. But the more you see, the more you realize what is going on. I mean, I can't claim to know everything with 100% proficiency, but I definitely know how to figure things out. For instance, once you've seen a sufficient amount of verbs, you can be pretty damn certain what principle part you're looking at, no matter how crazy it is. And for the few that are just so irregular that there's no way to "figure it out", they tend to be ones that are used regularly enough that you know what they are anyway.

Actually one of the things I love about Greek is how you never really "stop learning" with it. My prof never bothered to mention "contract verbs" to us until recently, for instance; up until last semester, I was just under the assumption that certain verbs just had these bizarre forms for whatever reason. Then my prof explained the whole process whereby if a verb's stem ends in a certain letter, it can "interact" with the ending and there is a systematic way in which the sound changes to accommodate it. I'm sure that's confusing as hell to anyone who doesn't know Greek, but you'll come across it sooner or later, Garp ;-D

Edited: Aug 23, 2010, 2:25pm Top

My best tip is to use the Greek Verb tester at Eton College (http://www.etoncollege.com/GreekProject.aspx, mirrored directly on the Cambridge Schools Classics Project at www.cambridgescp.com/ws2_tlc/greek/verbs_max.html). Only the regular Attic verb, the contracted verbs and one -μι verb, τίθημι, are covered (sadly no irregular verbs or εἰμί), but it's a great way of giving yourself a Greek workout.

I have to agree with Feicht that the biggest difficulty with Greek is the unfamiliarity of the lexicon. We have a lot of words from Greek, it's true, but still the size of the vocabulary is huge and most you can't guess from related words in English.

The Captain Corelli episode is funny enough, though the truth is that the classically-trained SOE agents did pick up demotic (modern) Greek very easily.

As for your prof's ὑδωρ/νερό anecdote, Feicht, it reminds me of the Hindi/Urdu teacher (was it Ralph Russell?) who asked for pani (H/U 'water') to the puzzlement of a village headman who went off and came back with a handful of a grass called p'hani locally. (The modern Indic languages, like Eastern Armenian, maintain a phonemic distinction in aspiration, just as Classical Greek did between π and φ (p and p'h).)

Feicht, I have to disagree with you - the full Liddell and Scott is too much for a beginner. If you must have a good dictionary, I recommend the Abridged Greek Lexicon (abridged from Liddell and Scott 120 years ago, but designed for students and so including irregular parts of the verb as separate headwords which is really useful) or the Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary. Of course, if you have an iPhone, you can download Lexiphanes for a couple of dollars (it contains Jones's revision of Liddell and Scott and Georg Autenrieth's Homeric Dictionary for Schools and Colleges, useful even if Autenrieth is not as good as Cunliffe's Homeric Lexicon).

Aug 23, 2010, 10:15am Top

Well the L&S dictionary is hefty, sure, but I dunno, something about leafing through it looking for a word makes me giddy... am I insane? hahaha

Aug 23, 2010, 2:22pm Top

No, I agree, Feicht, LSJ is like Lane's Arabic lexicon: fascinating and I do love to browse through it, but it's all too often meaningless and terrifyingly incomprehensible to the absolute beginner.

Aug 23, 2010, 11:44pm Top

I actually own a somewhat old hardcover edition of L&S along with a handful of other books on Greek definitions & grammar that I have picked up at used bookstores et al over the years in anticipation of this blind attempt at Greek mastery. Time will tell which of these resources will be the most useful. I'm most concerned about my own weaknesses here, in spite of the many tools available to me for support.

Aug 24, 2010, 12:20am Top

Sounds like you're in the same boat as me. I've got some textbooks, but have put off starting greek for years. I'm starting up again now, so if you feel your motivation slipping, msg me and i'll send encouraging words ;)

Aug 24, 2010, 12:27am Top

Yeah Stan, if you ever need some help (maybe having a "layman" answer a few questions) I'd be glad to at least try to give you a hand.

Aug 24, 2010, 6:39am Top

Thanks binders & feicht --- I need all the help I can get

Aug 24, 2010, 3:39pm Top

Is anyone familiar with Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary?

Aug 24, 2010, 4:16pm Top

Had my first actual class today (I previously viewed two recorded 1 1/4 hr. segments on mastering the alphabet & an orientation).

I am still shaking, whimpering and sobbing ... NOT!

But I am a little scared. The class is very intensive, very difficult, very fast-paced -- and all but two of us are in high school.

At least in high school I could just shrug my shoulders, give up and do a bong-hit. Now I have to live up to my own expectations.

I can tell already that simply cramming a few hours a week before the test (my winning college formula!) will not fly here. So I am going to have to schedule time for this (outside of the 12 hours a day I spend running my own business) and I am going to have to work pretty hard or I will be humbled real fast!

Aug 24, 2010, 5:59pm Top

20> Good luck Garp, I admire your determination.

Aug 24, 2010, 6:32pm Top

I hope you post questions, if you have them. My Greek's super rusty, but I took a heck of a lot of it. I'm sure others are better prepared.

Aug 24, 2010, 8:38pm Top

Sounds like you've got a ready-made support group going here, Stan. Don't hesitate to ask for help :-)

Aug 24, 2010, 10:55pm Top

you'll also have the satisfaction of looking back even after a couple of weeks and seeing how far you've come. and of reciting luo mechanically in your sleep

Edited: Aug 25, 2010, 2:34am Top

Yeah! It was insane in my Greek 101 class: on the last day of class, we basically all recited in five minutes every single thing we had done for the previous 18 or whatever weeks! And Binders: I know EXACTLY what you mean about luo! I actually do sometimes thing of it right before I doze off, haha! Present! luo, lueis, luei, luomen, luete, luousin! Future! luso, luseis, lusei, lusomen, lusete, lusousin! Aorist! elusa, elusas, elusen, elusamen........ Ehhhh yeah you get the idea hahaha

EDIT: It was actually kind of hard writing that in the Latin alphabet ;-D For some reason my typing program won't let me use Greek at the moment...

Aug 25, 2010, 2:55am Top

Oh! It's also hard reading it in the Roman alphabet -- I thought "luo" was a typo or some foreign term :)

Aug 25, 2010, 12:31pm Top

For me the big jangle is the principle parts... luo luso elusa leluka lelumai eluthen

Aug 25, 2010, 12:53pm Top

I have to admit I'm a bit sloppy when it comes to that. I haven't necessarily "memorized" any aside from the crazy ones... I just kind of know what they look like :-D Well except for luo... that's one you just know no matter what haha. But still I think that just generally knowing what form you're looking at is more important than melting your brain by cramming in hundreds of principle parts in groups of five or six (...or seven... haha). Most of the time it's not too difficult to tell what verb it is, after you've seen enough of them. But then I guess we all learn differently. My prof seems to think learning vocab isn't even that important, and that's why dictionaries were invented.... I happen to disagree with that part ;-D

Aug 25, 2010, 4:04pm Top

I just spent some time trying to find a good list of them. Came up empty. There are some lists for NT Greek, but not otherwise.

Aug 25, 2010, 7:03pm Top

Here's a list of all the verbs in the chapter vocabularies of Hansen & Quinn, if that helps :)

(There are occasional typos...you might find digamma for nu occasionally: my keyboard has digamma on the "v" key and nu on the "n", and I just can't seem to stop myself typing the former...)

κελεύω, κελεύσω, ἐκέλευσα, κεκέλευκα, κεκέλευσμαι, ἐκελεύσθην
λύω, λύσω, ἔλυσα, λέλυκα, λέλυμαι, ἐλύθην
παιδεύω, παιδεύσω, ἐπαίδευσα, πεπαίδευκα, πεπαίδευμαι, ἐπαιδεύθην
πέμπω, πέμψω, ἔπεμψα, πέπομφα, πέπεμμαι, ἐπέμφθην
γράφω, γράψω, ἔγραψα, γέγραφα, γέγραμμαι, ἐγράφην
θύω, θύσω, ἔθυσα, τέθυκα, τέθυμαι, ἐτύθην
παύω, παύσω, ἔπαυσα, πέπαυκα, πέπαυμαι, ἐπαύθην
φυλάττω, φυλάξω, ἐφύλαξα, πεφύλαχα, πεφύλαγμαι, ἐφυλάχθην
διδάσκω, διδάξω, ἐδίδαξα, δεδίδαχα, δεδίδαγμαι, ἐδιδάχθην
ἐθέλω, ἐθελήσω, ἠθέλησα, ἠθέληκα, -, -
θάπτω, θάψω, ἔθαψα, -, τέθαμμαι, ἐτάφην
τάττω, τάξω, ἔταξα, τέταχα, τέταγμαι, ἐτάχθην
ἄρχω, ἄρξω, ἦρξα, ἦρχα, ἦργμαι, ἤρχθην
βλάπτω, βλάψω, ἔβλαψα, βέβλαφα, βέβλαμμαι, ἐβλάβην or ἐβλάφθην
πείθω, πείσω, ἔπεισα, πέπεικα, πέπεισμαι, ἐπείσθην
πράττω, πράξω, ἔπραξα, πέπραχα (trans.) or πέπραγα (intrans.), πέπραγμαι, ἐπράχθην
δουλεύω, δουλεύσω, ἐδούλευσα, δεδούλευκα, -, -
κωλύω, κωλύσω, ἐκωλύσα, κεκώλυκα, κεκώλυμαι, ἐκωλύθην
πολιτεύω, πολιτεύσω, ἐπολίτευσα, πεπολίτευκα, πεπολίτευμαι, ἐπολιτεύθην
χορεύω, χορεύσω, ἐχόρευσα, κεχόρευκα, κεχόρευμαι, ἐχορεύθην
σῴζω, σώσω, ἔσωσα, σέσωκα, σέσωσμαι or σέσωμαι, ἐσώθην
λείπω, λείψω, ἔλιπον, λέλοιπα, λέλειμμαι, ἐλείφθην
κλέπτω, κλέψω, ἔκλεψα, κέκλοφα, κέκλεμμαι, ἐκλάπην
ἄγω, ἄξω, ἤγαγον, ἦχα, ἦγμαι, ἤχθην
ἥκω, ἥξω, -, -, -, -
ἀδικέω, ἀδικήσω, ἠδίκησα, ἠδίκηκα, ἠδίκημαι, ἠδικήθην
τιμάω, τιμήσω, ἐτίμησα, τετίμηκα, τετίμημαι, ἐτιμήθην
ποιέω, ποιήσω, ἐποίησα, πεποίηκα, πεποίημαι, ἐποιήθην
νικάω, νικήσω, ἐνίκησα, νενίκηκα, νενίκημαι, ἐνικήθην
ἀγγέλλω, ἀγγελῶ, ἤγγειλα, ἤγγελκα, ἤγγελμαι, ἠγγέλθην
ἀξιόω, ἀξιώσω, ἠξίωσα, ἠξίωκα, ἠξίωμαι, ἠξιώθην
δηλόω, δηλώσω, ἐδήλωσα, δεδήλωκα, δεδήλωμαι, ἐδηλώθην
καλέω, καλῶ, ἐκάλεσα, κέκληκα, κέκλημαι, ἐκλήθην
μένω, μενῶ, ἔμεινα, μεμένηκα, -, -
τελευτάω, τελευτήσω, ἐτελεύτησα, τετελεύτηκα, τετελεύτημαι, ἐτελευτήθην
ἀκούω, ἀκούσομαι, ἤκουσα, ἀκήκοα, -, ἠκούσθην
βάλλω, βαλῶ, ἔβαλον, βέβληκα, βέβλημαι, ἐβλήθην
βούλομαι, βουλήσομαι, -, -, βεβούλημαι, ἐβουλήθην
δέχομαι, δέξομαι, ἐδεξάμην, -, δέδεγμαι, -
λαμβάνω, λήψομαι, ἔλαβον, εἴληφα, εἴλημμαι, ἐλήφθην
πάσχω, πείσομαι, ἔπαθον, πέπονθα, -, -
δίδωμι, δώσω, ἔδωκα, δέδωκα, δέδομαι, ἐδόθην
ἵστημι, στήσω, ἔστησα (trans.) or ἔστην (intrans.), ἕστηκα (intrans.), ἕσταμαι, ἐστάθην
ἀφίστημι, ἀποστήσω, ἀπέστησα (trans.) or ἀπέστην (intrans.), ἀφέστηκα (intrans.), ἀφέσταμαι, ἀπεστάθην
καθίστημι, καταστήσω, κατέστησα (trans.) or κατέστην (intrans.), καθέστηκα (intrans.), καθέσταμαι, κατεστάθην
τίθημι, θήσω, ἔθηκα, τέθηκα, τέθειμαι, ἐτέθην
φιλέω, φιλήσω, ἐφίλησα, πεφίληκα, πεφίλημαι, ἐφιλήθην
φοβέομαι, φοβήσομαι, -, -, πεφόβημαι, ἐφοβήθην
γίγνομαι, γενήσομαι, ἐγενόμην, γέγονα, γεγένημαι, -
ἔρχομαι, ἐλεύσομαι, ἦλθον, ἐλήλυθα, -, -
μανθάνω, μαθήσομαι, ἔμαθον, μεμάθηκα, -, -
μάχομαι, μαχοῦμαι, ἐμαχεσάμην, -, μεμάχημαι, -
μετανίσταμαι, μεταναστήσομαι, μετανέστην, μετανέστηκα, -, -
μηχανάομαι, μηχανήσομαι, ἐμηχανησάμην, -, μεμηχάνημαι, -
φεύγω, φεύξομαι, ἔφυγον, πέφευγα, -, -
δείκνυμι, δείξω, ἔδειξα, δέδειχα, δέδειγμαι, ἐδείχθην
ἐπανίσταμαι, ἐπαναστήσομαι, ἐπανέστην, ἐπανέστηκα, -, -
ἐρωτάω, ἐρωτήσω, ἠρώτησα, ἠρώτηκα, ἠρώτημαι, ἠρωτήθην
λανθάνω, λήσω, ἔλαθον, λέληθα, -, -
τυγχάνω, τεύξομαι, ἔτυχον, τετύχηκα, -, -
φθάνω, φθήσομαι, ἔφθασα or ἔφθην, -, -, -
χαίρω, χαιρήσω, -, κεχάρηκα, -, ἐχάρην
αἱρέω, αἱρήσω, εἷλον, ᾕρηκα, ᾕρημαι, ᾕρέθην
αἰσθάνομαι, αἰσθήσομαι, ᾐσθόμην, -, ᾔαθημαι, -
εἰμι, ἔσομαι, -, -, -, -
ἕπομαι, ἕψομαι, ἑσπόμην, -, -, -
ὁράω, ὄψομαι, εἶδον, ἑόρακα or ἑώρακα, ἑώραμαι or ὦμμαι, ὤφθην
φέρω, οἴσω, ἤνεγκα or ἤνεγκον, ἐνήνοχα, ἐνήνεγμαι, ἠνέχθην
βαίνω, -βήσομαι, -ἔβην, βέβηκα, -, -
γιγνώσκω, γνώσομαι, ἔγνων, ἔγνωκα, ἔγνωσμαι, ἐγνώσθην
λέγω, ἐρῶ or λέξω, εἶπον or ἔλεξα, εἴρηκα, εἴρημαι or λέλεγμαι, ἐλέχθην or ἐρρήθην
νομίζω, νομιῶ, ἐνόμισα, νενόμικα, νενόμισμαι, ἐνομίσθην
πίπτω, πεποῦμαι, ἔπεσον, πέπτωκα, -, -
φημί, φήσω, ἔφησα, -, -, -
ἁμαρτάνω, ἁμαρτήσομαι, ἥμαρτον, ἡμάρτηκα, ἡμάρτημαι, ἡμαρτήθην
δοκέω, δόξω, ἔδοξα, -, δέδογμαι, -ἐδόχθην
δύναμαι, δυνήσομαι, -, -, δεδύνημαι, ἐδυνήθην
εἶμι, -, -, -, -, -
ἐλαύνω, ἐλῶ (ἐλάω), ἤλασα, -ἐλήλακα, ἐλήλαμαι, ἠλάθην
ἐπίσταμαι, ἐπιστήσομαι, -, -, -, ἠπιστήθην
ἔχω, ἕξω or σχήσω, ἔσχον, ἔσχηκα, -ἔσχημαι, -
ἀποθνῄσκω, ἀποθανοῦμαι, ἀπέθανον, τέθνηκα, -, -
ἀποκτείνω, ἀποκτενῶ, ἀπέκτεινα, ἀπέκτονα, -, -
βουλεύω, βουλεύσω, ἐβούλευσα, βεβούλευκα, βεβούλευμαι, ἐβουκεύθην
ζητέω, ζητήσω, ἐζήτησα, ἐζήτηκα, -, ἐζητήθην
ἵημι, -ἥσω, -ἧκα, -εἷκα, -εἷμαι, -εἵθην
ἀφίημι, ἀφήσω, ἀφῆκα, ἀφεῖκα, ἀφεῖμαι, ἀφείθην
συνίημι, συνήσω, συνῆκα, συνεῖκα, συνεῖμαι, συνείθην
μέλλω, μελλήσω, ἐμέλλησα, -, -, -
πιστεύω, πιστεύσω, ἐπίστευσα, πεπίστευκα, πεπίστευμαι, ἐπιστεύθην
αἰσχύνομαι, αἰσχυνοῦμαι, -, -, ᾔσχυμμαι, ᾐσχύνθην
ἀπόλλυμι, ἀπολῶ, ἀπώλεσα (trans.) or ἀπωλόμην (intrans.), ἀπολώλεκα (trans.) or ἀπόλωλα (intrans.), -, -
-, ἐρήσομαι, ἠρόμην, -, -, -
-, ἀνερήσομαι, ἀνηρόμην, -, -, -
εὑρίσκω, εὑρήσω, ηὗρον, ηὕρηκα, ηὕρημαι, ηὑρέθην
ἡγέομαι, ἡγήσομαι, ἡγησάμην, -, ἥγημαι, ἡγήθην
κρίνω, κρινῶ, ἔκρινα, κέκρικα, κέκριμαι, ἐκρίθην
ἀποκρίνομαι, ἀποκρινοῦμαι, ἀπεκρινάμην, -, ἀποκκριμαι, -
οἶδα, εἴσομαι, -, -, -, -
ἀφικνέομαι, ἀφίξομαι, ἀφικόμην, -, ἀφῖγμαι, -
δεῖ, δεήσει, ἐδεήσε(ν), -, -, -
κεῖμαι, κείσομαι, -, -, -, -
πυνθάνομαι, πεύσομαι, ἐπυθόμην, -, πέπυσμαι, -
τρέπω, τρέψω, ἔτρεψα or ἐτραπόμην, τέτροφα, τέτραμμαι, ἐτράπην or ἐτρέφθην
φαίνω, φανῶ, ἔφηνα, πέφηνα, πέφασμαι, ἐφάνην
χρή, χρῆσται, -, -, -, -

Aug 25, 2010, 9:19pm Top

Wow. Did you type that in?

Aug 25, 2010, 9:32pm Top

Ahhh... certainly feels a lot better to see it in the proper alphabet than transliterated :-D

Aug 25, 2010, 9:58pm Top

31: Not today. I typed the entire vocab lists of each chapter (and occasionally the entire paradigms), to make flash-cards.

Aug 25, 2010, 10:00pm Top

Oh, to have free time.....! :)

Aug 28, 2010, 8:30am Top

I can't resist recounting my own "Captain Corelli" moment. I worked on the excavations at Gla in the 1960s and had no modern Greek, only my best classical Greek. Looking at newspapers had emboldened me to think that I might just be able to cobble together a few basic requests on a shopping trip to the local village. My attempts to buy bread were met with howls of laughter - although I did eventually get served.

When I returned to camp and asked a local Greek archaeologist what was so funny about my request he explained that the word for bread in classical Greek meant "communion wafer" in modern Greek. There's been a lot of slippage in 2500 years...

Aug 28, 2010, 11:54am Top

19:kdweber: Yes, kdweber, I know Reading Greek. What's the question? I found it useful myself, and it's designed for later learners. You don't tend to learn your Greek as thoroughly as going through Athenaze with a teacher, for example, but the aim is to learn quickly - i.e. get to a reasonable reading level if without the school student's ability to produce Greek. I like it, and if you want to read Greek it's not a bad system, but I think if you're really serious - perhaps want to teach it, or do Greek composition - a more rigorous course might be helpful. Note that a significantly new edition came out two years ago.

Aug 28, 2010, 11:50pm Top

>36 shikari: Thanks shikari. I'm a late learner (over 50 but not retired) and want to try to pick up some classical Greek on the side. My daughter's (BA in English, classics minor) former professor is teaching an intro classic Greek course using this text and we were thinking of auditing it together (study buddies). We'd be using the new edition.

Aug 29, 2010, 12:48am Top

the Reading Greek course also comes with an audio component, Speaking Greek, which is worth shelling out for if you're curious. It gives you some context for the sounds, even if it does sound wackier than I'd imagined.

Aug 29, 2010, 8:34am Top

@37:kdweber: I'd go along with binders' recommendation of getting the Speaking Greek CD. There are also some flash cards available on-line and on the iPhone for the course that might be helpful. Good luck with the course - studying together should be fun! Where is the course, by the way?

Aug 30, 2010, 8:43am Top

Just completed my first week of Classical Greek 1A by taking the first quiz. I scored 94% (3 wrong out of 54 questions, variously weighted), so I did much better than I expected.

I have to admit the first week of this class has definitely humbled me. I have always been a top-performing student (back when I was in school) and never had to work very hard. I have had to work VERY HARD to get results this week.

I want to thank all of you who have offered me their advice and encouragement. The most valuable advice is to study & practice daily. I have spent one to two hours every day (except yesterday) all week, studying my flash cards, honing my translation skills – but the most challenging part for me has been identifying parts of grammar (in English or Greek!) which is of course essential to the study. I have been writing fiction & non-fiction since I was very young, and have always had the conceit that I didn’t need to know how to diagram sentences. I used to joke that I wouldn’t recognize a participle if you dangled it in front of me, but in learning a foreign language like Greek, where verb endings depend on grammar, I find myself very weak and with a lot to learn.

We’ll see how Week #2 goes . . .

(note: this has been posted to more than one thread)

Aug 30, 2010, 9:09am Top

Yeah it's definitely of the utmost importance that you can instantaneously recognize what part of speech is in front of you. Especially since, eventually it gets a little more complicated when you find out that some of the endings for different things look really similar, so you have to start recognizing pretty fast some of the cosmetic differences between nouns and verbs, too. For instance the active 1st person singular present participle ends with the same two letters as the genitive plural of most nouns. I remember that would kicking me in the balls until I saw enough of them to be able to tell the difference at a glance. (Though if you're lucky, whatever writer you're reading will be article-happy and put articles in front of all the genitive nouns so you won't have as much of a problem :-D)

Aug 30, 2010, 4:39pm Top

#40: It's great to hear you're doing well, Garp. Yes, it is hard work, but worth every minute. Keep up the daily study and use your flash cards whenever you get a break. As Feicht said, it's seeing something over and over again that gets it into your head.

If you're having a little trouble with English grammar, the "English Grammar for Students of ..." series is pretty good at explaining the various grammatical terms for English. I don't think there's a book for Classical Greek, but I found English Grammar for Students of Latin helpful for both languages. The first half of each topic explains the concept for English, the second half for Latin (which you could ignore).

Aug 30, 2010, 5:35pm Top

Oh yeah I guess I sort of forgot that you hadn't studied Latin before, Garp. That would have probably helped you a little as far as grammar goes, and is kind of the "traditional" order (Latin then Greek) but I'm sure you can go in either direction really. Latin has an extra noun case that Greek doesn't have (the ablative) which can be kind of confusing sometimes, but Greek just uses the dative like the ablative (which can kind of be ... a bit more confusing :-D) Also Greek has that whole middle voice thing which is really weird at first until you start noticing how haphazardly it tends to be used ;-)

Aug 30, 2010, 6:12pm Top

Thanks halifaxcalimus for the English grammar book recommendation. I may need outside help if I can't get my brain wrapped around this.

And Feicht -- just the knowledge that there is something called a "active 1st person singular present participle" makes me shudder LOL

Tommorrow is class #2 and this week I have been reading ahead in the text ...

Aug 30, 2010, 8:32pm Top

there is enough explanation in Athenaze to grasp the concepts, but if you're one of those learners who likes to tackle things from more than one angle, the University of Florida has some handouts online which have some explanations and tables suitable for printing out and sticking to your wall (i can't be the only one who does this!)


voice & tense:


verb tables:

iirc they reference Smyth, the grammar you will end up getting, but prolly don't need yet.


Edited: Aug 30, 2010, 8:42pm Top

Haha Stan it's really not that big of a deal. The problem is using clunky English terms to describe it. All that example means is something in English that would end in "-ing" that someone speaking uses to describe what they're doing right now. I.e., the "active 1st person singular present participle" in English of "to eat" would be "(am) eating". :-)

EDIT: So yeah I'm kind of a grammar Nazi HAHA... if you ever have any questions on grammar (in whatever language) I can try to help :-D

Aug 31, 2010, 6:24am Top

#45 Binders -- thanks -- there's some great stuff in there

Sep 7, 2010, 9:11am Top

Well, I survived the second week of Greek relatively unscathed. I even scored a 100% on the second test and nobody was more surprised by that than me. (I was lucky because they didn’t ask me to translate the stuff I was really weak on!) Immediately after taking the test, I have this tremendous urge to toss back a double-shot of “Wild Turkey” – but since it’s usually around 7 AM and I am no Winston Churchill or Harry Truman in the booze department, I put that urge aside …

This continues to be the hardest thing I’ve done since I quit smoking 14 years ago. I think I have a better grip on the grammar, but every day remains a battle to carve out the time to study & review and to make the most of that study time. Almost every night I am at Starbucks, monopolizing the largest table I can seize -- laptop, notes & flashcards spread out around me, sipping a grandé bold and beating myself up for getting the accents wrong.

Well, here goes Week 3 …it remains a long road ahead …

Sep 7, 2010, 10:16am Top

I'm telling you man, it's not that it's "not important".... but the accents really aren't that big of a deal when it comes to your overall comprehension of the language. Like I told you before, there are really only a handful of situations in which knowing the accent helps you differentiate between words and whatnot. Other than that, it is just almost an artificial exercise and I've never understood 100% why we have to learn them.

Sep 7, 2010, 10:31am Top

You guys are inspiring. Maybe I will finally take up ancient Greek again. I'm ashamed to say I haven't touched it since high school, and have only held onto my Greek Homer for sentimental reasons. Another classical European education mostly gone to waste ;-)

Sep 7, 2010, 12:02pm Top

#48: It's great to hear you're doing well and that you're keeping at the daily grind of review. Keep up the good work!

Accents come with time. Lots of time. So please don't beat yourself up over them. At this point, try to learn which syllable it goes on in the nominative case so you don't get the "em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble". In other words, learn "AN-thro-pos", not "an-THRO-pos". Believe it or not, there is a logic to 98% of the accenting in Greek, but you need to learn a lot more Greek before the patterns start emerging.

(And if it makes you feel any better, I've met professors who don't get accents quite right!)

Sep 7, 2010, 12:36pm Top

48: I agree with everything you just said :-D You do just sort of get the hang of it after a while. If you really want to learn the accents hardcore, just try to remember them for the nominative and genitive singular of your vocab words. Then you start to recognize that with a great portion of words, if it ends in a long vowel, the accent is on the "penult", i.e. the second to last syllable, and if it's a short vowel, the accent tends to want to be as far away from the last syllable as possible (though it can't be more than 3 syllables away). So it would be AN-thro-pos, an-THRO-pou.

Sep 8, 2010, 12:26am Top

The thing about accents is that, while you can make a case to ignore them--if your goal is facility, not mastery--if you start by ignoring them it will take QUITE an effort to claw your way back to understanding them. It's better to grit your teeth, and learn them. If you turn aside from minor battles you may soon find yourself unable to go forward, so numerous are the armies threatening you from the rear. As it were. :)

Sep 8, 2010, 1:45am Top

That is a good point Tim. Obviously slacking isn't really a good idea in any new endeavour. Part of my problem with them though is that the ancients themselves didn't even use them, so they are an artificial construct of scribes who needed them in order to be able to pronounce a language that was by then no longer spoken as such. I guess it wouldn't be a big deal if the "rules" for accenting always worked, but they don't, and there are tons of "exceptions." I just think language learning is hard enough without artificially inventing "rules" for a dead language that are only broken like all the time.

Sep 8, 2010, 1:38pm Top

Well, it depends on "use." Ancient Greeks didn't write them until later because they used them for real. They didn't need to think about where the accent went any more than we need to think about it, or put it in our written language. The same applies to many other features--the didn't need to think about long and short iotas, or long and short alphas, because they knew them in their bones. We don't, so the question is: What are we missing? Is there any point in learning accents and vowel lengths if the written language didn't use them, but assumed you knew them?

Sep 8, 2010, 1:43pm Top

I would advise Precis d'accentuation Grecque which is really a most excellent book on Greek accentuation. Only thing is: the modern language is French, which might not be a help to you guys.

Sep 8, 2010, 2:00pm Top

>56 BarkingMatt:

I second that. Some of the best 20th century scholarship on Greek grammar and syntax is from France. I also recommend Andre Delotte's Le Verbe Grec. Most of the French isn't too taxing if you have a basic command of it.

Sep 8, 2010, 5:28pm Top

Thus far I am studying everything they tell me to. If I get good after a few years I may get arrogant and blow some stuff off, but for the time being I am going with the flow (and trying to stay afloat!). The way our instructor described accents was that the ancients used them for pitch and we use them for emphasis.

Matt -- thanks but I am trying to learn Greek, I'm not ready to tackle French LOL

Sep 9, 2010, 3:02am Top

I was afraid of that. Only offered on the off chance that you might say you had been raised in Quebec, or something like that ;-)

Sep 13, 2010, 12:18pm Top

This was the toughest week so far in Greek and the one I thought would break me, not only because the grammar and accents and proclitics and enclitics were sending me over the edge, but also because I couldn't spend the time every day on vocab and writing. I work a lot of 12 hour days and this past week that tended to overwhelm the time at Starbucks with the flashcards.

It took me hours to do the homework, and my homework had a lot of errors, but it was actually the homework that saved me because I learned so much during that struggle that when I took the test I scored a 99%. I was amazed! On to week four . . .

Sep 16, 2010, 1:08am Top

#57 apaloosaman: Can you say a bit more about the Delotte book? What is it? What does it cover? What's the audience? When was it written?

Sep 16, 2010, 5:46pm Top

>60 Garp83:

We need more updates, Garp. This is like an addiction program. When you go silent and stop coming to meetings, we'll all know you've fallen off the wagon.

"My name is Tim Spalding, and I have a problem with Greek."

Sep 16, 2010, 5:51pm Top


I just got back from two hours at Starbucks with flash cards spread on the table mumbling to myself while "normal" people eyed me cautiously . . .

I think two cups of grande bold java only added to my nervous gestures as I attempted translation. "Dicaiopolis drove the oxen and his slave Xanthias carried the plow ...."

Sep 16, 2010, 11:30pm Top

Oh god... you just nailed the reason why I have to study Greek in private... I am too animated and make too much noise when I'm doing it! haha... I was translating Xenophon at my friend's house and from the other room they yelled at me to stop conjuring up wicked spells :-D

Sep 17, 2010, 2:26am Top

from the other room they yelled at me to stop conjuring up wicked spells

-- Ancient Greek γοητεία (goēteia) means "charm, jugglery"1 from γόης "sorcerer, wizard"2. The meaning of "sorcerer" is attested in a scholion, referring to the Dactyli, stating that according to Pherecydes and Hellanicus, those to the left are goētes, while those to the right are deliverers from sorcery.3 The word may be ultimately derived from the verb γοάω "groan, bewail" --

Source: Websters Online Dictionary

Sep 17, 2010, 11:16am Top

Good grief, that's the oldest reference I've seen to right-hand, left-hand magic. You guys are a treasure trove :-)

Edited: Sep 17, 2010, 11:26am Top

Left/right polarity is seen in much older divination texts.

Sep 17, 2010, 11:36am Top

>64 Feicht:. You do get the oddest looks when using Latin and Classical Greek out loud, and comments tend toward the supernatural. Perhaps it's the movies using Latin or pseudo-Latin for spells. Something similar happened this week. I teach a second-year communications course and began reciting the opening lines of the Aeneid to make a point. When I explained what I had done, one of the students said, "Man, that's a relief. I thought you were possessed."

Sep 17, 2010, 12:07pm Top


Sep 17, 2010, 9:31pm Top

63> "Dicaiopolis drove the oxen and his slave Xanthias carried the plow ...."

Careful: I think you'll find it's "drives"/"carries", present tense :)

Sep 18, 2010, 8:09am Top

Yes teacher you are right (LOL) ... I was just recalling from memory as I scribbled ...

Sep 22, 2010, 1:32pm Top

Could any of you scholars of Classical Greek recommend a book on the phonological rules of the language? My husband is studying Greek this semester (and absolutely loving it), and he has a background in Linguistics.

Sep 22, 2010, 4:21pm Top

72> You might try Vox Graeca by W. Sidney Allen.

Sep 23, 2010, 3:08pm Top

I've just had The Greek Language by Palmer recommended; has anyone had a look at it?

Sep 26, 2010, 9:16am Top

>61 shikari:

Sorry for the delay in replying - I have just returned from vacation. Delotte's monograph was written in 1953 and, I guess, is aimed at people with a fairly solid understanding of Greek who want a deeper understanding of irregular Greek verb forms. The whole book is a paperback of about 75 pages - its full title is: "Le Verbe grec : Expliqué par la grammaire historique avec un tableau des verbes irréguliers". I was introduced to it when I was doing scholarship entrance in Classics for Oxford. It's probably a tad more advanced in its field than Moore's "Comparative Greek and Latin Syntax" - a book we both share in our respective libraries.

Sep 26, 2010, 5:18pm Top

Well I am going into week 6 of Classical Greek and I’m still hanging on! I was looking to challenge my mind & I sure am challenging it!

I scored an 83% in today’s test, which is my lowest score so far but the test was very grammar-heavy and that continues to be my weaker area. To offset that, though, I have become far more adept in translation and that has really contributed to building my confidence. I can actually pull phrases out and free translate, which I never thought I would be able to do with any accuracy just 3 weeks ago. Now I can follow the exploits of Dicaeopolis while he curses out his slave Xanthias and his oxen and I actually know what the hell is going on. At the same time, there’s a long road ahead. The teacher was correct on day one when he said that this requires work EVERY DAY. So I will keep on truckin’. . .

On a somewhat unrelated note, my ability to muddle through Classical Greek and make the time to study has inspired me to enroll in a fully accredited online Masters program – through APUS, the one the military & CIA, etc. utilize for distance learning. I have enrolled in the Masters in Ancient History program and registered for my first class – Greek Civilization – which is a 16 week session that commences November 1st.

Wish me luck – I will need it!

Sep 27, 2010, 2:35am Top

Wishing you luck :-)

Sep 28, 2010, 9:29am Top

Garp! Garp! Garp!

Just for you, buddy. The British Library is putting 280 volumes in Greek online! Check it out here.

Sep 28, 2010, 9:34am Top

Thanks Pam -- on both counts!

Sep 28, 2010, 3:58pm Top

76> Great to hear you're still slugging away and getting results. It's a wonderful feeling when the strange squiggles on the page begin to look like words that you can recognize, isn't it?

Sep 28, 2010, 4:07pm Top

I'm learning Attic at the moment using An Introduction to Ancient Greek: A Literary Approach and as part of a structured University degree.
I find that it moves along quickly but it has many paradigms in each section.

Edited: Sep 29, 2010, 8:31am Top

Wow, thanks, ThePam, for the British Library link! Now I need an iPad, though!!!

Another Greek (and Latin) online resource, rather more useful to learners, is Alpheios (http://alpheios.net/). Dictionaries, on-line parsing and setting up of vocab lists for anyone with Firefox. Perhaps a strong enough reason (with Zotero) to use the browser!

Oct 5, 2010, 9:41am Top

I'm into week 7 now. Still really have to work at it. Got a 97% in last week's test but I really struggled prepping for it, trying to master all the plural endings. I still don't really have accents down pat -- I must have some kind of mental block. On the plus side, memorizing vocab & translating by phrase from Greek to English & English to Greek is coming much easier, so I guess I should be encouraged. Next class in 30 minutes! Oh boy!

Oct 5, 2010, 2:48pm Top

Isn't Dikaiopolis the hero of one of Aristophanes plays? Which one, Acharnians?

Stick with it Garp, the rate you're going, a few months from now you will be able to read Xenophon and/or get started on Homer or Herodotus. Don't get burned out. You're doing it right.

Oct 5, 2010, 5:09pm Top

Good memory Anthony -- indeed Dikaiopolis is the protagonist of Aristophanes's Acharnians

Thanks for the encouragement!

Oct 5, 2010, 9:16pm Top

WTG Garp!

Oct 6, 2010, 3:42am Top

Doing great Garp. I know you've wanted to learn Greek for a long time, and it's good to see you pursuing your personal goals.

Oct 11, 2010, 7:54am Top

Glad to hear that Greek is going well. You sound as if you are loving it. It is worth learning Greek to read the original versions, especially for Homer and the plays. The good news is that Homeric sentence structure is mostly straightfoward and simple.

Oct 11, 2010, 8:38am Top

#88 Man I hope so! Genitive, Dative and Vocative is killing me ...

Oct 11, 2010, 11:57am Top

And you don't even have to worry about the Ablative!! What are you complaining about? ;-D

Nah it can get a bit confusing... it just helps to keep the "basic" rules in mind for what each case can do, and then go from there. For instance, genitive is usually some sort of "possession" where you would use "of" in English, dative is often the indirect object ("I give Greek advice TO Garp", with the "to Garp" being in dative in Greek), and vocative is really only used for direct address ("O great merciful Zeuss!"). And of course nominative is subject and accusative is direct object.

And most of these can be used with specific prepositions and phrasings and whatnot... that's where the complexity sets in :-D

Oct 11, 2010, 7:07pm Top

the old english universities press "Teach Yourself Greek" had a memorable device for learning the cases with prepositions:



Oct 11, 2010, 8:40pm Top

Ha. I remember that. That book is one of the don't-worry-about-accents books.

Oct 24, 2010, 1:21pm Top

81 in todays test ... lots of verb conjugations ... my lowest score yet but I'm hanging in there. Translation has become much easier, but all of the verb conjugations and noun declensions make me shake my jowls from side-to-side like Lewis Black LOL

ὀ Δικαιπολις στεναζει

Oct 24, 2010, 2:00pm Top

I've gotta get crackin on my Greek myself. And Latin. I've been kind of putting it off since I've been here because I've had so much bs to take care of, but if I don't get started soon, I never will.

Oct 24, 2010, 2:14pm Top

"ἀεί ἡ ἄτη ὑπεκπροθέει λιτάς"

Oct 24, 2010, 9:39pm Top

After he stops moaning, Dikaiopolis should go fix the spelling of his name, LOL.

Oct 24, 2010, 10:12pm Top

good eye Anthony ... spell check doesn't work in Greek ...LOL


PS it is groaning, not moaning ...

Oct 25, 2010, 5:22am Top

@95 LOL . . . how often I considered heeding the Litae and sacrificing chickens to Zeus on the night before an exam. But did I? Not I. With the predicted consequences. (Iliad 9:505 ff.)

They're teaching you some pretty fancy verbs in that class. Straight out of Homer verbatim.

Oct 25, 2010, 5:54am Top

"ἀεί ἡ ἄτη ὑπεκπροθέει λιτάς"

is not from the class ... it is my paraphrasing of a line from Homer. I reached out to the professor for help with the proper verb form. It is now my email signature (Ruin always outruns prayers)

Oct 25, 2010, 7:09am Top

It's a good encapsulation of the more complex passage from the Iliad.

Oct 25, 2010, 7:52am Top

Thanks! It's a cool phrase, I think. Makes people wonder ...

Edited: Oct 25, 2010, 11:00am Top

At Bryn Mawr college, the students traditionally leave offerings before a statue of Athena before exams. It's such a tradition that an upcoming book on the history of Bryn Mawr is titled Offerings to Athena.

"The patron goddess of the college is Athena. Her statue is located in Thomas Great Hall. Students make offerings to Athena for her gifts of wisdom and strength when taking finals, writing papers, just asking for a little personal help, and innumerable other reasons." (http://www.brynmawr.edu/welcome/traditions.shtml)

Which I think is very cool.

ETA crap, the forum is eating all my HTML.

Oct 25, 2010, 1:52pm Top


Oct 25, 2010, 4:00pm Top

BTW, you must be the people to ask:

DEM it er


deh MEET er ?

I always thought the first, but I heard Julia Stiles on the radio this afternoon discussing her role in Persephone at BAM (http://www.bam.org/view.aspx?pid=2231), pronounce it de MEET er. Made me cringe. Am I right?

Oct 25, 2010, 4:34pm Top

Not absolutely sure on this one, since it's a name. But in general: put stress on the last syllable but one.

By the way, as far as I'm aware, pronouncing it "deh MAY ter" would be even better.

Edited: Oct 25, 2010, 4:44pm Top

"deh MEET er" is the standard Anglicized pronunciation. In Attic Greek it was pronounced more like "day MAY tear". In Doric, "dah MAH tear", giving the emphasis to the "mother" part of the name, meter, or mater in Greek.

Nobody knows where the "deh" part comes from. The ancient Greeks thought it was a term for "earth", but this etymology is generally rejected now.

Oct 25, 2010, 5:01pm Top

Well, obviously it's simply "the Mother" then

(Runs for cover)

Oct 25, 2010, 6:22pm Top

It's so cool to know you guys :-)

Jan 7, 2011, 9:54pm Top

Finally got my grade for the first semester of Classical Greek and I got an A, which really surprised me! Now, can I pull this off again in the new semester, which can only prove more difficult & more crowded with the dreaded grammar? Only time will tell ...

Jan 7, 2011, 9:57pm Top

Doesn't surprise me at all.

Jan 10, 2011, 4:10pm Top

My husband is still forging away. I heard a voice raised in unbelieving outrage yesterday: "... except for the singular female genetive?"

Jan 10, 2011, 4:18pm Top

The grammar kills me, especially since I'm a pretty good writer I never paid any attention to grammar terms in English so I feel like I'm in the third grade ...

Edited: Jan 13, 2011, 11:44am Top

>117 "The grammar kills me, especially since I'm a pretty good writer I never paid any attention to grammar terms in English so I feel like I'm in the third grade"

Classical Greek (like Latin, Sanskrit, German, Russian etc) is classified as an "synthetic language" - English is a more "analytic language". There are lots of ambiguities in analytic languages that don't exist in synthetic languages. Word order is far more important in the analytic languages. The classic illustration of this is something like the sentence "She told me that she loved me" - now take the word "only" and put it at the start of the sentence and then construct consecutive sentences each time moving "only" one place to the right. Each sentence has a different meaning - all you have done is rearrange the word order and not the form of the words theemselves. The function of "only" changes as you move it along the sentence - you can't do that in the more synthetic languages to the same degree. In that sense the analytic languages are subtler than the synthetic ones. However the great plus for the synthetic languages is that they allow great freedom of word order without changing meaning - and that is extensively put to use in verse in those languages.

Jan 13, 2011, 6:34pm Top

Message 113: appaloosaman: Brilliant! I never heard is explained like that. Absolutely makes sense

Jan 13, 2011, 7:36pm Top

114: At least in Latin (I'm not all that familiar with Classical Greek), it also allows writers to emphasise particular parts of a sentence in a way that English can really only achieve vocally (although, sometimes italics and bold can achieve the same effect).

For example, take appaloosaman's sentence above:

She told me that she loves me.

Read the sentence aloud a couple of times placing emphasis on different words and consider the additional meaning it carries:

She told me that she loves me (emphasises that it was 'she' and no one else).

She told me that she loves me (emphasises that I was told about the love, not that I inferred it from something else)

She told me that she loves me (emphasises that it is me she loves, not someone else).

In Latin, you can convey similar 'additional' information and emphasis by changing the word order. Try doing that in English, and the result is a completely different sentence:

Told she me that me loves she! :)

Jan 15, 2011, 12:50pm Top

English grammar is no picnic either, if you have to learn it as a second language. IMO it is easier to learn declensions and conjugations than to learn all the ins and outs of word order. Or Chinese - Chinese has virtually no grammar as we would describe it, but learning all the noun-signifiers, particles, etc., is fiendish.

Jan 15, 2011, 4:09pm Top

My attempt at translating the 3 "She told me that she loves me" into latin:

1. with emphasis on SHE:

"ILLA* mihi dixit se me amare."

2. with emphasis on TOLD:

DIXIT enim** mihi se me amare.

3. with emphasis on ME

MEMET mihi dixit se amare

In all of these, the 2nd "she" would have to be "se" ("herself" --reflexive). This is called Indirect Discourse by grammarians. DIRECT discourse, (" ʻI love you,ʻ she said." -- more usual in modern languages is found only occasionally in Classical Latin.

*ILLA (she): or Ipsa (she HERSELF)
or ISTA ("your she"), if "She" is well known to the hearer or has just been mentioned by the hearer

*enim: ʻFor.." (conjunction); or equidem (as far as I know") or autem (a mild "but")

Jan 15, 2011, 5:39pm Top

Greek II starts on Tuesday. There is an intro quiz. You can take it 5 times but you must get an 85% to pass. I studied, prepared, and . . . got a 50% ...

Jan 15, 2011, 6:04pm Top

I think you'll get there. This is a delay, not even a setback.


Jan 15, 2011, 9:09pm Top

Thanks Robert. Yeah, I'm not taking it too hard. The professor said no one so far had passed, and I don't consider myself exceptional

Jan 15, 2011, 10:20pm Top

I think this quiz with five chances to pass is a pedagogical tool.

Jan 16, 2011, 9:01am Top

The problem is that each section of noun and verb forms is winner take all -- or should I say loser take none. Otherwise I would have passed it. Oh well, I will try again today

Jan 25, 2011, 6:27pm Top

115: Absolutely - not that we can't convey these things, but we have different means to communicate them in literary English:

She told me that she loves me (emphasises that it was 'she' and no one else).
She herself told me that she loves me.

She told me that she loves me (emphasises that I was told about the love, not that I inferred it from something else)
She told me she loves me in so many words.

She told me that she loves me (emphasises that it is me she loves, not someone else).
She told me that it's me she loves.

That's the nature of English. And it means that translation may involve adding or removing a host of little words, or adverbal or adjectival phrases.

Jan 25, 2011, 6:33pm Top

She told me that she loves me, might also mean mean that she said so be it wasn't actually the case ;-)

But yes, our Indo-European languages share some of structural elements.

Jan 25, 2011, 10:21pm Top

She told me she loved me, but she slept with the postman

May 12, 2012, 7:42pm Top

Ancient Language Courses offered in Australia

The Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia offers an Ancient Languages School. The program is offered twice a year in January and July. Beginners level classes are offered in January, with follow-on classes in July.

This is a week long program providing intensive courses in various ancient languages.

Languages (offerings vary based on demand and session) and currently include:

Classical Greek
Koine Greek
Linear B
Classical Hebrew
Middle Egyptian (at intermediate and advanced levels)

Previous session offerings included:


The next Ancient Languages School (MALS) will be held from 2nd-6th July.

Additional information about the programme, and how to register, can be found at:

Macquarie Ancient Languages School

- Information taken and adapted from

Papy list (5-11-2012) post by. Dr Jennifer Cromwell, Macquarie University Research Fellow and

The Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University Web site.

Group: Ancient History

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