My own students and others often ask me about materials available for the study of ancient Greek on the web. There are a lot of difficulties involved in studying Greek, whether in a classroom setting or on one's own. Unfortunately right now the web has not lived up to its potential to ease those difficulties. Nonetheless students now are much better off than they were a decade ago, and one can only imagine (hope?) that within the next few years we will see further progress. Already Unicode promises to ease many of the problems associated with displaying ancient Greek on the web, for example.
Here are a few of the things that I myself have prepared for use by students. Below them you will find some selected resources from around the web that I think are particularly appropriate for students just beginning the study of ancient Greek. If you are thinking of trying to learn ancient Greek on your own, you might want to check out my standard response to people who want to learn ancient Greek on their own.
These are somewhat random and I do not expect that this site will ever become a place where large amounts of consistent materials focused on the Greek language will appear.
New (7/16/04)! PRACTICE YOUR ANCIENT GREEK WITH NO PRESSURE! Finished the first year of Greek and hoping not to forget everything? Or trying to brush up on things after some time away from Greek? Depressed trying to slog through Pindar and looking for an ego boost? Read easy Greek with vocabulary and some basic notes! Xenophon of Ephesos' Ephesiaka, one of the five surviving Greek novels, is usually read in the original Greek only by scholarly specialists. That's a real shame. Sure, it's not the greatest literary achievement of the ancients, and the Greek is pretty uninspired and repetitive, but that's what makes it perfect for beginners! The language is a basic "literary Koine," so it's easy to understand if you've studied Classical Greek, but close enough to the simpler grammar of the New Testament that it makes a good transitional text for people who started with the NT. Download a PDF file right here of the first (of five) books of this goldmine of easy Greek! The PDF is designed to be printed double-sided so that each even-numbered page (containing vocab and other info) faces the odd-numbered page (with Greek text and notes) it goes with (i.e., page 2 has vocab for page 3, page 4 has vocab for page 5, etc.). The running vocabulary contains the definitions on the first two pages on which they appear (a few of the most basic words are omitted--if you don't know the definite article, you need something more basic than this!). After that, no more help. This system is designed to wean you slowly off the vocab without forcing you to run to the dictionary every 10 seconds. That thankless task alone, I'm convinced, is what causes 80% of the attrition rate after the first year. When you have to look up 75 words out of every 100, and each of those words takes 20 seconds to look up (if you can find them)...well, is it any wonder that only masochists like me become professional classicists? A note to other masochists: The text is based on the readings recorded in Papanikolaou's 1973 Teubner--I didn't examine the MS for this--but I've felt free to repunctuate in places, reject P.'s conjectures, adopt those of other scholars, and incorporate some of my own conjectures without notice. Obviously, therefore, this is not P.'s text and I trust no one is insane enough to go around citing it for scholarly purposes instead of getting hold of the scholarly edition. A sad aside: word is that A. D. Papanikolaou passed away in 2003. Please feel free to bring errors or other issues to my attention.
Basics of the Greek Verb System An HTML page, with Greek as .gif image files (and a bit in the standard Symbol font). This is designed to serve as a way to explore how information is encoded in a Greek verb and about the function of principal parts by comparison with the verb in English. As with most of the information I tend to disseminate, it will not necessarily function well as a sole source of information. But for a student enrolled in a first-year Greek course or learning on his own from a reputable textbook, I hope this will be of some help in getting the "big picture" a little clearer and in making it easier to fill that picture in.
Accenting Greek Verbs This is an HTML page that should display in any browser, but you'll need the Flash plugin to view and use the practice exercises. Assumes that a student has encountered and studied the basics of the Greek accentual system. If you know what makes a syllable long or short, what the ultima, penult and antepenult are, then you'll be fine.
Accenting Enclitics I've yet to have a student who remains totally clueless about enclitics after we go over them this way in class. Maybe it'll work for you! (Now [04/08/02] with some Greek examples--more to come.)
The following links lead to pages with gargantuan Flash movies on them. What will immediately impress the computer savvy among you is that there is no apparent reason why these particular Flash movies should be so large. The hidden reason, of course, is that I have no real idea of what I'm doing. I'm a professor of classics, and that disqualifies me from any practical expertise. It shows here. If you have a fast connection, however, they shouldn't take overly long to load. These tutorials assume that a student has already learned the basics about the length of syllables and the general rules of accentuation.
The best single source for information about online resources for students of ancient Greek is Prof. Marc Huys' site Greek Grammar on the Web (the domain name www.greekgrammar.com also points to that URL and is much easier to remember). Dr. Huys has divided the sites into categories ("Alphabet," "History of the Language," "Advanced Study," and so on) which make it easy to find what one is looking for. But this is more than a list of links. Having visited each of the sites and evaluated their content, he has given them individual ratings as well as provided short summaries. The internet is full of so much bad or badly presented information that students and autodidacts should be ecstatic to have such a knowledgeable guide. I found this site accidentally and far too late. It would have made the lives of many students much easier if I could have referred them to it. In short, bookmark this site and visit often.
The Perseus Project has a great deal of information of interest--too much to comment on in any depth. For the student of Greek there are hyperlinked texts (yes, in the original Greek), translations, online versions of important reference works (Smyth's Greek Grammar and Goodwin's Moods and Tenses in particular), and so forth. Perhaps of more immediate practical use to beginners are the online dictionaries and other tools. The Morphological Analyser, for instance, takes a word and tells you what forms it might be of what words. Even better is the presence of the Liddell, Scott and Jones Oxford Greek-English Lexicon online. If you're an intermediate student who has and hates one of the smaller versions of this tome (the so-called "Little Liddell" and "Middle Liddell") because your teacher is always saying "Yes, the word can mean that, but not here," check it out. I certainly wish my students would. (Hint, hint!) Currently two mirrors exists, one in Berlin, the other in Oxford. If you have any trouble connecting to the main server, try the mirrors. I usually head to them directly since the load on the main servers is high, especially during North American school hours.
The Texas Classical Association has a page, Greek Too, which focuses on the pedagogy of Greek. It contains some interesting links, reviews of textbooks, and nice lists of texts suitable for classroom use (or use by self-learners). Although it is pitched at teachers, most of this is informative and useful for students as well.
Prof. Mastronarde's site (mentioned above) has an excellent guide to pronunciation, a fantastic resource for beginners. It is certainly one of the best places to go for solid and accurate information on this important but often ignored topic. It is possible to nitpick with some of the recorded pronunciations, but there is very little of similar quality available. All files are Quicktime .movs.
The web site of the Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature presents information (IPA transcription, for instance) derived from the fruitful attempts to reconstruct ancient pronunciation. Real Audio sound files are also available. The web site is not particularly user friendly (neither is it particularly detailed), but it does provide one of the few places to find extended recordings of ancient Greek.
The Harvard Classics Department maintains a page of recordings (mostly of Latin). On it one will find links to recordings of Dr. Carolyn Higbie reading Greek hexameter verse, as well as to Prof. Gregory Nagy's readings. Both sets are worthwhile for anyone who wants to listen to quantitative Greek verse and really hear the quantities come out. They also would serve the self-learner who wonders how everyone else pronounces Greek, for she speaks with what I would unscientifically call an excellent "standard North American" pronunciation of classical Greek, while he reads (very inconsistently) with a pronunciation more in line with our knowledge of ancient pronunciation. He sometimes distinguishes, for example, between the epsilon-iota digraph and eta, while she does not at all. All encoding is in Quicktime.
PBS's series "The Greeks" has an accompanying web site that is well worth taking a look at. In particular, if one has Flash 4 or better, there is a small section on "Speak Like a Greek." One can pick a letter and hear the name of the letter in 5th or 4th century BC pronunciation. One can also listen to a short list of common words and names. This is very slick. I would have liked to hear the epsilon-iota digraph more faithfully represented, and I'm still not sure whether the speaker is trying to pronounce the pitch accent. If not, he accidentally does so with accuracy on many words, but fails to do so with enough frequency to satisfy my ear. Then again, I refuse to attempt the pitch accent, so who am I to talk?
Once again Prof. Mastronarde's electronic tutorials and exercises have to be mentioned. Although the approach taken here is fundamentally different than other introductory books, this may well be to the benefit of many students who have not quite grasped things and the exercises are good practice. For those who don't have problems with accents, but want more information, this is a good place to start looking at what's behind all of the rules.
Dr. Helma Dik has produced several handouts for her own students. Many of these are nice, one-page summaries and paradigms. One of them concerns "those squiggles" and not only gives a quick intro to accents and breathings, but includes practice questions and an answer key. If you're looking for a minimalist approach to accentuation, this is the place to look. Another handout, on the accentuation of aorist-stem forms ending in -sai, might be of help to those who are well along in their first year of study or further. All are in PDF format.
Dr. David Sansone also has course handouts on his web site along with some other items. The handouts include a general one on accentuation and one specifically on the accentuation of enclitics. This last is a good one-page look at this topic that will be of use for all beginning students. All handouts are in PDF format. If that link does not work in your browser, Prof. Sansone has put up another with just the PDF handouts.
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