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Learning Greek


In Print:
The Original Greek New Testament

Excerpts from a study contained in Homeric Greek - A Book for Beginners, University of Oklahoma Press 1985. The text contains some words in Greek, download Greek fonts, if you don't have. 


Page 3

      According to our present system, students are taught a smatter­ing of Attic Greek. Then they are given a smattering of Homer, who represents a period several centuries earlier. Then again comes some more Attic Greek, and if the student continues in his work he usually gets some Doric, with sometimes a little Lesbian, and the Ionic of Herodotus, to which is commonly added a dash of the Koine for further confusing variety. All of this comes at such times and at such points in his development that it is practi­cally impossible for the ordinary student to obtain a clear concep­tion of what the Greek language is like and what are the funda­mental processes of its development. As a result grammar becomes a nightmare to be dreaded instead of an opportunity to study the structure of one of the most interesting and instructive languages in existence. This has reference to the linguistic features, apart from its literary value. If on the other hand we begin with Homer and obtain a good grounding in his language, the transition from that to later Greek is simple and natural and in accordance with well-established laws, so that a student who once gets a grasp of the processes involved not only has acquired a valuable scientific point of view, but he might be untrue enough to the traditions of countless students of the past to find Greek grammar interesting.

      Furthermore, since most of us learned our Attic Greek first, when we came to Homeric Greek and found so many different forms, the feeling very naturally arose with many that Homer has many more forms than Attic Greek, and that they are more difficult. On the contrary, the Homeric forms are not only simpler and more transparent than the Attic and as a consequence more easily learned - many Attic forms have to be explained by a reference to the Homeric ones - but the Homeric forms are considerably fewer in number. (...)

      Many Atticists have maintained that the great number of irregularities in Homeric Greek would be an added difficulty to the beginner. It is true that they are troublesome, but not so trouble­some as the considerably greater number of irregularities in Attic Greek. Any one who will take the trouble to count them will find that the irregular formations in Attic Greek considerably outnumber those in Homer. There is not space here to catalogue the various irregularities, heteroclites, metaplastic forms, etc., of Attic Greek, but the lists given in Kuehner-Blass, or any other of the more elaborate Greek grammars, are enough to convince the most skeptical.

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    Cf. The Complete Iliad ||| The Complete Odyssey

    Related:  Andrew Lang, We need Homer and the Study of Greek   Homer Bilingual (Greek English) Anthology  Homer : Greek - English Interlinear Iliad  A Commentary on the Odyssey Homer: Achilles' Grief, Returning to Ithaca & The Underworld Cavafy, The Horses of Achilles Helen Keller, It was the Iliad that made Greece my paradise,  Plato Home Page 

The Greek Word Course : Lessons in Ancient Greek

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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