Zeus wants you to learn Ancient Greek

Don’t make him angry!!!!!

updated 14 May 2014

Why learn Greek?
The Greek Curriculum
Fall 2014 Greek 1 Syllabus
Spring 2015 Greek 2 Syllabus
The 1003: Intensive Greek Spring 2014

Why learn Greek?

Learning Ancient Greek is a fun ordeal. Fun ordeal? Why, that’s an oxymoron or or paradox (oops, those are both words derived from Ancient Greek! And what DO those words mean, anyway?)

Why should YOU learn Ancient Greek (other than fear of Zeus)? If you’ve ever enjoyed reading Sophocles or Plato in English, you’d be amazed to realize how much more fascinating they are in the original Greek, and by the end of your first year of Greek you start to study these authors in their own words. Free yourself from the tyranny of translators and talk to the authors themselves!

Greek not only provides enjoyment and intellectual stimulation, but it is also very practical. Consider:

1) It sharpens analytical language skills and improves knowledge of English; introduces Greek words that have been borrowed by English, e.g. architect, athlete, Catholic, Christ, dyslexia, fancy, holistic, pedagogy, psychiatry, and sophomore. 2) Many English technical vocabularies, from philosophy to geology, since the time of the Renaissance are based on Greek. Almost all terms in biology, medicine and other hard sciences are derived from Greek. If you learn Ancient Greek, you are several steps ahead of your peers in in understanding scientific concepts.
3) Greek is often required or recommended for students who plan to enter seminary, or pursue graduate studies in Western theater, history, literature, political science, or philosophy.
4) Because of the advantages listed above students of Greek tend to do very well indeed on such pre-graduate and professional exams as the GRE (grad school), MCAT (med school), and LSAT (law school).


Ancient Greek 1-2 is offered every year, and Intensive Greek is offered often in the summer or the spring. If you are interested or have questions, please contact Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Chair of GR Classics (and Greek teacher), robin@temple.edu or 1-3672. By the end it's not just Greek that you've learned. You discover that with steady effort and patience you can learn to read the actual words of the founders of the Western intellectual tradition. You come to know yourself not just as kids from Cherry Hill or Philadelphia who hope to find a job someday, but as someone who has engaged Herodotus, Plato and St John in conversation.

The Greek Curriculum

First-Greek involves learning the basics of Greek grammar and the most common vocabulary words. Along the way students read brief, but real, excerpts from important Greek authors such as Plato.┬áThe year climaxes with authentic, unadapted readings, including Lysias’ On the Murder of Eratosthenes, a trial speech involving murder and adultery.

The third semester (2001) typically concentrates on Homer or Greek tragedy (specific books TBA), and the fourth on authors such as Plato, Herodotus and Demosethenes. Second and third-year Greek students meet together, with the readings alternating each year in order to avoid overlap.

Web Resources for Studying Ancient Greek

Some of these sites include sound files so you can hear the results of current scholarship on how ancient Greek sounded. If you listen to more than one site you will notice that nobody pronounces Greek the same! We strongly encourage you to listen to these files.

The Open University's introduction to the Greek alphabet. Terrific interactive exercises to get you started.

Athenaze Exercises from the University of Victoria. Start here!

Ariadne: Resources for Athenaze

Ancient Greek Tutorials has on-line drills for Greek forms, and a very handy accentuation drill.

Helma Dik (University of Chicago) has an index page of very helpful handouts (pdf files) on various aspects of the Greek language, suitable for Greek 51-2.

Classical Language Instruction Project is designed to function as a resource for college undergraduates hoping to gain some insight into the pronunciation and elocution of ancient Greek and Latin. As the rationale for the Project states on the site: "There may be considerable debate among scholars about the most 'authentic' way to pronounce Greek or Latin; yet it is certain that the texts from the ancient world reflect a vivid and complex spoken language, not a lifeless code." With that in mind, the site features different classical scholars reading passages by a number of writers, including Homer, Plato, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Seneca. As the scholars read, students can follow along, view the passage in English, and pause the recording in order to develop an understanding of the text and its pronunciation. Finally, the site also includes a brief essay on rhythm and meter in Greek and Latin.

Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature has information on the "restored pronunciation" of ancient Greek, and sound files, including a reading of the Greek alphabet and simple Greek words

The Sound of Ancient Greek - Classical Pronunciation. Excerpts from Aeschylus, Plato and Homer, using classical phonemes as well as a reconstruction of the classical pitch accent, applied to the domain of the word and appositive group as well as of the phrase.

Gregory Nagy's Homer in Performance Web Page Sound files of Homer recitations in Greek

The Codex Sinaiticus (one of the oldest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament)