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    Elpenor's Lessons in Ancient Greek

In Print:
The Original Greek New Testament

LESSON 2 - Second Part / First Part
ACHILLES' GRIEF - From Homer's Iliad

by George Valsamis



Page 2

Ὣς φάτο͵ τὸν δ΄ ἄχεος νεφέλη ἐκάλυψε μέλαινα·  ἀμφοτέρῃσι δὲ χερσὶν ἑλὼν κόνιν αἰθαλόεσσαν χεύατο κὰκ κεφαλῆς͵ χαρίεν δ΄ ᾔσχυνε πρόσωπον· νεκταρέῳ δὲ χιτῶνι μέλαιν΄ ἀμφίζανε τέφρη.


* Written in blue are words you already know from the first lesson.


How many sentences are there in the text above?

As you know, to have a sentence you must have a verb (explicit or implied), each verb forms its own sentence (clause), a self-sufficient sentence is called main (κυρία), a sentence that needs another sentence in order to have a complete meaning is called secondary (δευτερεύουσα) or subordinate (ὑποτεταγμένη).

As in English, punctuation marks will give you some help: a comma (=κόμμα), a full stop (=τελεία), a semicolon (in Greek this is a raised dot ·  - in red in the text above. Note that the English semicolon [ ; ], in Greek is the question mark). Of those marks, only a full stop defines for sure one or more sentences, otherwise, a sentence may contain elements (explanations, appositions, etc.) spanning many semicolons or commas.

1) Meaning is the best guide to finding the sentences in a period (the section of a text between two full stops). 2) You know how many sentences there are, if you know how many verbs there are, and, finally, 3) you can infer that a new sentence begins when you see a conjuction (like "although"), a relative or interrogative pronoun (like "who"), a relative or interrogative adverb (like "when"). 

There are a lot of words in the text that you can't understand, so that the first move you'd make would be to open up your dictionary and find these words. Let's suppose that you search first for the words of the first period (until the first semicolon, at μέλαινα=dark). You will indeed find all the words in the dictionary, except for three: τόν, φάτο and ἐκάλυψε. Your text now has become:


Ὣς[Thus] φάτο[ ]͵ τὸν[ ] δ΄[and,but] ἄχεος[grief] νεφέλη[cloud] ἐκάλυψε[ ] μέλαινα[dark].


As you can see, among the words that you've found, there is not even one verb. Why not?

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Cf. The Complete Iliad * The Complete Odyssey
Greek Grammar * Basic New Testament Words * Greek - English Interlinear Iliad
Greek accentuation * Greek pronunciation

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