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25 Posts

Posted - 16 Jan 2007 :  02:04:28  

hello everybody,

I am 16 years old and an extreme lover of hellenism and the classics. My ethicity is Greek and am currently living in Melbourne, Australia. I speak modern greek, and last year my modern greek teacher started getting me really interested in ancient and new testiment greek... and now here i am [:)].

I've been trying for a very long time to get some kind of ancient greek classes going but the only place that offers 'classical greek' in my state wants 5000 dollars a year [:0], and we simply cant afford to pay [:(]... ive been trying to teach myself though as much as i can, i have got alot of help from sites like this one with basic grammar, and my vocabulary is quite large for a bigginer from my knowlage of modern greek. I am at about chapter 8 in the book im using 'teach yourself ancient greek - gavin betts and alan henry' and along the way ive had alot of trouble getting questions answered and gramarical problems solved... ive decided to enroll at ntgreek.net in their courses, is there something enthusiasts in this forum would suggest? im really lost on what to do and am reeeaaalllyyy dieing to LEARN LEARN LEARN as much greek as i can lol...

speaking of which i have a first question which someone may be able to help me with here, in the 'greek reading' section of my chapter in the book ive become stumped with a passage i cannot seem to translate...

φευ φευ, παλαιός αίνος ως καλώς έχει- γέροντες ουδέν εσμεν άλλο πλήν ψόφος και σχήμ', ονείρων δ' έρπομεν μιμήματα, νούς δ' ουκ ένεστιν, οιόμεσθα δ' εύ φρονείν.

PS i apologise for the use of only the 'monotonic' system i am using a modern greek font and do now know how to add the different breathing marks and accents on the keyboard.

the translation i have got so far is:

Alas Alas, how right the saying is; We elderly are nothing other than noise and appearance, we crawl as copies of dreams, mind and not possible we think and be sane.

i know i have it all wrong in the last part and would be extremely greatful if anybody could help me out [:)]

If anybody can suggest any good books for me to get it would be great, i need a good book which explains things well as i dont have a teacher to ask. Im not really fussed about audio stuff because i am using modern greek pronounciation, but audio 'explaining' the chapter is really good [:D]...

Basically my goal is to be at some stage able to pick up a koine greek bible and be able to read it reasonably well. I would really love to understand everything they say in church and things like that. Ive only been learning for about 6 or so months so aaannnnyyy help is appreciated.

from john [;)]



615 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2007 :  02:00:13  


Γειά σου Γιάννη,

Most important is to keep your enthusiasm. I have not been in Australia, but from what I learn it doesn’t seem an ideal place for culture. Anywhere people now are interested only in money, but Australia never had any spiritual character – if my information is correct. Keep your enthusiasm and go on studying by yourself. You don’t need a lot of books and these you will find online.

I’m surprised that you are able to deal with Euripides, and yet you have problems reading the New Testament. In the verse that you translated, you seem to confuse ἔνεστιν with ἔξεστιν. The second means “it is possible”, but the first means ἐν (inside) ἔστιν (is). In the next sentence, οἰόμεσθα εὐ φρονεῖν, the infinitive is the object of the verb, so remove the “and” (: we think that we have wisdom). Follow the ‘help’ link at the menu (top of page) to find technical instructions on how to write polytonic Greek in your computer.

Elpenor’s lessons are for people above your age and you will have difficulties to understand them, I guess. If you have a fast connection to the internet, you can easily download all the Greek grammars, etc., of TextKit and see what helps you most. You can find here links to these and other books. Don’t neglect to give a try to Pharr’s Homeric Greek.

You can also discuss with other kids who study by themselves and see how they do it, or even work with them, by translating together an ancient text or parts of it. Right now V L studies Aeschylus and he might be able to give you some advices. Since you speak modern Greek, you can also check these textbooks.

In any case, keep in mind that you don’t study Greek because you are Greek, that is for ethnical reasons, but because it is a language that will help your thinking advance. A few days ago I was thinking about the word creation and how different it is in English and Greek. In English creation means a construction, while in the Greek word δημιουργία means the coming to actuality (ἔργον) of a community (δῆμος). Between δημιουργία and creation there exist a difference of a whole world, they are not synonyms.

Such differences are present almost everywhere between Greek and other languages, and because you are Greek it is more difficult for you to notice them. Δημιουργία is a modern Greek word, as is ancient, and your everyday usage of it might hinder your understanding; therefore, read slowly in order to have time to think on words.

Ending this note let me say that we are here; you are not alone; keep studying and you will have all the help that you need. People in many countries study Greek; you may be an exception in your town, but you have many friends in the world.

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25 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2007 :  20:31:01  


Geia sou Georgie!

thank you very much for your reply i appreciate it... [:D]

You are completely right Australia is deffinatley not a good place for culture at all, Melbourne has the 3rd largest population of Greeks in the world, and the fullness of Greek culture seems to hit most Anglo-Saxons in the area with complete shock... as a result the Greek community (as all racial communities in Australia) has become extremely tight after (more so in the earlier years of my parents) going through alot of racism.

I am 2rd generation greek, and understand what you mean when you say that i shouldnt just learn ancient greek because of that, but i feel that my facination and love of the greek language and culture wouldnt have existed at all if i wasnt greek... if that makes sence lol...

Thank you aswell for helping me with the translation, i actully found it was the book at fault, as in its dictionary it gave the meaning of 'enestin' as 'it is possible'. I have downloaded the 'begginers' course on textkit ('first greek book' + 'greek grammar' + 'the first four books of the Anabasis') is this a good course to start with?... i thank you again for showing me this! [:D] Ther doesnt seem to be much forum activity though, but i am fine working through the book by myslef...

I noticed that the above set of books though teach attic greek, reading some of the other posts in this forum attic doesnt seem to be a fan for begginers... should i start with attic or homeric greek? either way though i definatley want to persue NT greek for not only enjoyment of the language but also spiritual purposes...

And george, you are completely right... because i use the word 'demiourgia' probably every day, i truly was too blind to look deeper and see the true meaning of the word... i was doing some reading today and as you said i read slower and looked deeper at all the words, there is truly no comparing the 'simplicity' of the english language with the flow of the greek one.

Also i wonder what you think about the NT greek course on 'ntgreek.net' would you recomend it for someone like me?

Again thank tou very much... GEIA SOU MEGALE!! [:)]

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615 Posts

Posted - 18 Jan 2007 :  13:49:07  


I don’t know about the nt course you say; if it is not expensive, you can give it a try. Yet, if you are able to discipline yourself, and study, let’s say, just one hour every day, you’ll be surprised how fast your Greek will improve – and your English, by the way, since you will be studying with the help of English books.

I wouldn’t say that if you were not Greek you would not love Greek. Let me repeat that there exist a lot of non-Greeks who love and study Greek – which is proved by the very fact of so many study tools in English, French, German, etc. Set aside any sort of nationalism, it won’t help you. Truth is not in the physical or cultural dna. Your tradition may help you, only if you want to be helped, not automatically.

The way of your study is something you need to find by yourself. Maybe you will experiment a little before you decide. Start somehow, then change, then change again, until you find a way that suits you. If I were to start now, I would start from Homer. Pharr is a nice choice; if you know of anything better, use it. Or, you can study grammar and syntax using relevant books, and translate a platonic dialogue – or whatever excites you.

Homer and Plato are the two most important foundations of what we call ancient Greece. Start from either of them (I wouldn’t suggest Xenophon; if you prefer history, use Thucydides). But, again, this is to be decided by yourself according to what inspires you most. Maybe you can start from Elpenor’s anthology just to feel the spirit of continuity from Homer to the Christian era, and while doing this decide also what you will use to study the language – or you can study the language by using the anthology itself!, besides solving grammar exercises.

This forum seems to be focused on special themes, and not in learning courses. If you happened to find other kids wanting to study together, you could exploit the forum’s technical facilities and be the first to form a study group, - or search for other sites where such groups might be active.

As you say yourself, studying is not about learning just grammar, but it is a probable part of a spiritual path. Of course, the New Testament is the center, according to us, but it is not the only book that can help – nor can you be helped only by books. Your relations with other people are of crucial importance – this is where also your knowledge is tried. Faith (or wisdom) is not a scientific activity.

For example, in the New Testament you read to ‘love your enemy’. This is the same whether you read it in Greek or in English, and you don’t need to be a scholar in order to understand it – but how difficult is it to achieve it in action, in your life! I would say that it is impossible. If you want it, God will give it to you – even if you don’t know Greek – and before that, He will give you Himself, as is written, you shall see Him as He is. Our Fathers are firm in this, union with God starts now, or it doesn’t happen at all; don’t wait for the other life to know the Christ, and do not expect this knowledge from books or whenever you want (or you think you want). Books can only tell you that this knowledge exists, and that its time is not decided by you, although you can think of it, want it, and, in a way, prepare it.

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36 Posts

Posted - 18 Jan 2007 :  17:26:56  


I wouldn’t suggest Xenophon

Why not?

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615 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2007 :  12:42:45  


I think Clyde Pharr is very convincing in the rejection of Xenophon; do yourself a favor and read his introduction to Homeric Greek. I would only add or emphasize more, a rule of learning, that we always begin from what is more important.

Both Homer and Plato are more important than Xenophon – and if you are especially interested in history, Herodotus and Thucydides are also more important than Xenophon.

Herodotus is enchanting, Thucydides is brilliant and compact as a mathematical theorem. Cicero grasped the essence of Thucydides perfectly: “the number of his sentences doth almost reach to the number of his words; and in his words he is so apt and so close, that it is hard to say whether his words do more illustrate his sentences, or his sentences his words.”

In between so many exquisite choices, why should one pick Xenophon?

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