Ancient Greek

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Ancient Greek
Ἑλληνική
Hellēnikḗ
Account of the construction of Athena Parthenos by Phidias.jpg
Inscription about the construction of the statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon, 440/439 BC
Regioneastern Mediterranean
Indo-European
Greek alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-2 grc
ISO 639-3 grc (includes all pre-modern stages)
Glottolog anci1242 [1]
Homeric Greece-en.svg
Beginning of Homer's Odyssey Beginning Odyssey.svg
Beginning of Homer's Odyssey

Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BC to the 6th century AD. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period (9th to 6th centuries BC), Classical period (5th and 4th centuries BC), and Hellenistic period (Koine Greek, 3rd century BC to 4th century AD).

Contents

It is preceded by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage although its earliest form closely resembles Attic Greek and its latest form approaches Medieval Greek. There were several regional dialects of Ancient Greek, of which Attic Greek developed into Koine.

Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of fifth-century Athenian historians, playwrights, and philosophers. It has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in educational institutions of the Western world since the Renaissance. This article primarily contains information about the Epic and Classical periods of the language.

Dialects

Ancient Greek was a pluricentric language, divided into many dialects. The main dialect groups are Attic and Ionic, Aeolic, Arcadocypriot, and Doric, many of them with several subdivisions. Some dialects are found in standardized literary forms used in literature, while others are attested only in inscriptions.

There are also several historical forms. Homeric Greek is a literary form of Archaic Greek (derived primarily from Ionic and Aeolic) used in the epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey , and in later poems by other authors. Homeric Greek had significant differences in grammar and pronunciation from Classical Attic and other Classical-era dialects.

History

Ancient Greek language Idioma griego antiguo.png
Ancient Greek language

The origins, early form and development of the Hellenic language family are not well understood because of a lack of contemporaneous evidence. Several theories exist about what Hellenic dialect groups may have existed between the divergence of early Greek-like speech from the common Proto-Indo-European language and the Classical period. They have the same general outline, but differ in some of the detail. The only attested dialect from this period [lower-alpha 1] is Mycenaean Greek, but its relationship to the historical dialects and the historical circumstances of the times imply that the overall groups already existed in some form.

Scholars assume that major ancient Greek period dialect groups developed not later than 1120 BC, at the time of the Dorian invasion(s)—and that their first appearances as precise alphabetic writing began in the 8th century BC. The invasion would not be "Dorian" unless the invaders had some cultural relationship to the historical Dorians. The invasion is known to have displaced population to the later Attic-Ionic regions, who regarded themselves as descendants of the population displaced by or contending with the Dorians.

The Greeks of this period believed there were three major divisions of all Greek people — Dorians, Aeolians, and Ionians (including Athenians), each with their own defining and distinctive dialects. Allowing for their oversight of Arcadian, an obscure mountain dialect, and Cypriot, far from the center of Greek scholarship, this division of people and language is quite similar to the results of modern archaeological-linguistic investigation.

One standard formulation for the dialects is: [2]

AncientGreekDialects (Woodard) en.svg
Distribution of Greek dialects in Greece in the classical period. [3]
Magna Graecia ancient colonies and dialects-en.svg
Distribution of Greek dialects in Magna Graecia (Southern Italy and Sicily) in the classical period.

West vs. non-West Greek is the strongest-marked and earliest division, with non-West in subsets of Ionic-Attic (or Attic-Ionic) and Aeolic vs. Arcadocypriot, or Aeolic and Arcado-Cypriot vs. Ionic-Attic. Often non-West is called ‘East Greek’.

Arcadocypriot apparently descended more closely from the Mycenaean Greek of the Bronze Age.

Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Greek influence, and can in some respects be considered a transitional dialect. Thessalian likewise had come under Northwest Greek influence, though to a lesser degree.

Pamphylian Greek, spoken in a small area on the southwestern coast of Anatolia and little preserved in inscriptions, may be either a fifth major dialect group, or it is Mycenaean Greek overlaid by Doric, with a non-Greek native influence.

Most of the dialect sub-groups listed above had further subdivisions, generally equivalent to a city-state and its surrounding territory, or to an island. Doric notably had several intermediate divisions as well, into Island Doric (including Cretan Doric), Southern Peloponnesus Doric (including Laconian, the dialect of Sparta), and Northern Peloponnesus Doric (including Corinthian).

The Lesbian dialect was Aeolic Greek.

All the groups were represented by colonies beyond Greece proper as well, and these colonies generally developed local characteristics, often under the influence of settlers or neighbors speaking different Greek dialects.

The dialects outside the Ionic group are known mainly from inscriptions, notable exceptions being:

After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BC, a new international dialect known as Koine or Common Greek developed, largely based on Attic Greek, but with influence from other dialects. This dialect slowly replaced most of the older dialects, although the Doric dialect has survived in the Tsakonian language, which is spoken in the region of modern Sparta. Doric has also passed down its aorist terminations into most verbs of Demotic Greek. By about the 6th century CE, the Koine had slowly metamorphosed into Medieval Greek.

Ancient Macedonian was an Indo-European language. Because of no surviving sample texts, it is impossible to ascertain whether it was a Greek dialect or even related to the Greek language at all. Its exact relationship remains unclear. Macedonian could also be related to Thracian and Phrygian languages to some extent. The Macedonian dialect (or language) appears to have been replaced by Attic Greek during the Hellenistic period. Late 20th century epigraphic discoveries in the Greek region of Macedonia, such as the Pella curse tablet, may suggest that ancient Macedonian could have been a variety of north-western ancient Greek or replaced by a Greek dialect. [4]

Phonology

Differences from Proto-Indo-European

Ancient Greek differs from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and other Indo-European languages in certain ways. In phonotactics, ancient Greek words could end only in a vowel or /n s r/; final stops were lost, as in γάλα "milk", compared with γάλακτος "of milk" (genitive). Ancient Greek of the classical period also differed in both the inventory and distribution of original PIE phonemes due to numerous sound changes, [5] notably the following:

Phonemic inventory

The pronunciation of ancient Greek was very different from that of Modern Greek. Ancient Greek had long and short vowels; many diphthongs; double and single consonants; voiced, voiceless, and aspirated stops; and a pitch accent. In Modern Greek, all vowels and consonants are short. Many vowels and diphthongs once pronounced distinctly are pronounced as /i/ (iotacism). Some of the stops and glides in diphthongs have become fricatives, and the pitch accent has changed to a stress accent. Many of the changes took place in the Koine Greek period. The writing system of Modern Greek, however, does not reflect all pronunciation changes.

The examples below represent Attic Greek in the 5th century BC. Ancient pronunciation cannot be reconstructed with certainty, but Greek from the period is well documented, and there is little disagreement among linguists as to the general nature of the sounds that the letters represent.

Consonants

Bilabial Dental Velar Glottal
Nasal μ
m
ν
n
γ
( ŋ )
Plosive voiced β
b
δ
d
γ
ɡ
voiceless π
p
τ
t
κ
k
aspirated φ
θ
χ
Fricative σ
s
h
Trill ρ
r
Lateral λ
l

[ŋ] occurred as an allophone of /n/ that was used before velars and as an allophone of /ɡ/ before nasals. /r/ was probably voiceless when word-initial (written ). /s/ was assimilated to [z] before voiced consonants.

Vowels

Front Back
unrounded rounded
Close ι
i
υ
y
Close-mid ε ει
e
ο ου
o
Open-mid η
ɛː
ω
ɔː
Open α
a

/oː/ raised to [uː], probably by the 4th century BC.

Morphology

Ostracon bearing the name of Cimon, Stoa of Attalos AGMA Ostrakon Cimon.jpg
Ostracon bearing the name of Cimon, Stoa of Attalos

Greek, like all of the older Indo-European languages, is highly inflected. It is highly archaic in its preservation of Proto-Indo-European forms. In ancient Greek, nouns (including proper nouns) have five cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative), three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), and three numbers (singular, dual, and plural). Verbs have four moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and optative) and three voices (active, middle, and passive), as well as three persons (first, second, and third) and various other forms. Verbs are conjugated through seven combinations of tenses and aspect (generally simply called "tenses"): the present, future, and imperfect are imperfective in aspect; the aorist (perfective aspect); a present perfect, pluperfect and future perfect. Most tenses display all four moods and three voices, although there is no future subjunctive or imperative. Also, there is no imperfect subjunctive, optative or imperative. The infinitives and participles correspond to the finite combinations of tense, aspect, and voice.

Augment

The indicative of past tenses adds (conceptually, at least) a prefix /e-/, called the augment. This was probably originally a separate word, meaning something like "then", added because tenses in PIE had primarily aspectual meaning. The augment is added to the indicative of the aorist, imperfect, and pluperfect, but not to any of the other forms of the aorist (no other forms of the imperfect and pluperfect exist).

The two kinds of augment in Greek are syllabic and quantitative. The syllabic augment is added to stems beginning with consonants, and simply prefixes e (stems beginning with r, however, add er). The quantitative augment is added to stems beginning with vowels, and involves lengthening the vowel:

Some verbs augment irregularly; the most common variation is eei. The irregularity can be explained diachronically by the loss of s between vowels. In verbs with a preposition as a prefix, the augment is placed not at the start of the word, but between the preposition and the original verb. For example, προσ(-)βάλλω (I attack) goes to προσέβαλoν in the aorist. However compound verbs consisting of a prefix that is not a preposition retain the augment at the start of the word: αὐτο(-)μολῶ goes to ηὐτομόλησα in the aorist.

Following Homer's practice, the augment is sometimes not made in poetry, especially epic poetry.

The augment sometimes substitutes for reduplication; see below.

Reduplication

Almost all forms of the perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect reduplicate the initial syllable of the verb stem. (Note that a few irregular forms of perfect do not reduplicate, whereas a handful of irregular aorists reduplicate.) The three types of reduplication are:

Irregular duplication can be understood diachronically. For example, lambanō (root lab) has the perfect stem eilēpha (not *lelēpha) because it was originally slambanō, with perfect seslēpha, becoming eilēpha through compensatory lengthening.

Reduplication is also visible in the present tense stems of certain verbs. These stems add a syllable consisting of the root's initial consonant followed by i. A nasal stop appears after the reduplication in some verbs. [6]

Writing system

The earliest extant examples of ancient Greek writing (circa 1450 BC) are in the syllabic script Linear B. Beginning in the 8th century BC, however, the Greek alphabet became standard, albeit with some variation among dialects. Early texts are written in boustrophedon style, but left-to-right became standard during the classic period. Modern editions of ancient Greek texts are usually written with accents and breathing marks, interword spacing, modern punctuation, and sometimes mixed case, but these were all introduced later.

Sample texts

The beginning of Homer's Iliad exemplifies the Archaic period of ancient Greek (see Homeric Greek for more details):

Μῆνιν ἄειδε, θεά, Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί’ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε’ ἔθηκε,
πολλὰς δ’ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν
ἡρώων, αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν
οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι· Διὸς δ’ ἐτελείετο βουλή·
ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε
Ἀτρεΐδης τε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν καὶ δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς.

The beginning of Apology by Plato exemplifies Attic Greek from the Classical period of ancient Greek:

Ὅτι μὲν ὑμεῖς, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, πεπόνθατε ὑπὸ τῶν ἐμῶν κατηγόρων, οὐκ οἶδα· ἐγὼ δ' οὖν καὶ αὐτὸς ὑπ' αὐτῶν ὀλίγου ἐμαυτοῦ ἐπελαθόμην, οὕτω πιθανῶς ἔλεγον. Καίτοι ἀληθές γε ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν οὐδὲν εἰρήκασιν.

Using the IPA:

[hóti men hyːmêːs | ɔ̂ː ándres atʰɛːnaî̯i̯oi | pepóntʰate | hypo tɔ̂ːn emɔ̂ːŋ katɛːɡórɔːn | oːk oî̯da ‖ éɡɔː dûːŋ kai̯ au̯tos | hyp au̯tɔ̂ːn olíɡoː emau̯tûː | epelatʰómɛːn | hǔːtɔː pitʰanɔ̂ːs éleɡon ‖ kaí̯toi̯ alɛːtʰéz ɡe | hɔːs épos eːpêːn | oːden eːrɛ̌ːkaːsin ‖]

Transliterated into the Latin alphabet using a modern version of the Erasmian scheme:

Hóti mèn hūmeîs, ô ándres Athēnaîoi, pepónthate hupò tôn emôn katēgórōn, ouk oîda: egṑ d' oûn kaì autòs hup' autōn olígou emautoû epelathómēn, hoútō pithanôs élegon. Kaítoi alēthés ge hōs épos eipeîn oudèn eirḗkāsin.

Translated into English:

How you, men of Athens, are feeling under the power of my accusers, I do not know: actually, even I myself almost forgot who I was because of them, they spoke so persuasively. And yet, loosely speaking, nothing they have said is true.

Modern use

In education

The study of ancient Greek in European countries in addition to Latin occupied an important place in the syllabus from the Renaissance until the beginning of the 20th century. Ancient Greek is still taught as a compulsory or optional subject especially at traditional or elite schools throughout Europe, such as public schools and grammar schools in the United Kingdom. It is compulsory in the liceo classico in Italy, in the gymnasium in the Netherlands, in some classes in Austria, in klasična gimnazija (grammar school - orientation classical languages) in Croatia, in Classical Studies in ASO in Belgium and it is optional in the humanities-oriented gymnasium in Germany (usually as a third language after Latin and English, from the age of 14 to 18). In 2006/07, 15,000 pupils studied ancient Greek in Germany according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, and 280,000 pupils studied it in Italy. [7] It is a compulsory subject alongside Latin in the humanities branch of the Spanish bachillerato. Ancient Greek is also taught at most major universities worldwide, often combined with Latin as part of the study of classics. It will also be taught in state primary schools in the UK, to boost children's language skills, [8] [9] and will be offered as a foreign language to pupils in all primary schools from 2014 as part of a major drive to boost education standards, together with Latin, Mandarin, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. [10] [ needs update ]

Ancient Greek is also taught as a compulsory subject in all gymnasiums and lyceums in Greece. [11] [12] Starting in 2001, an annual international competition "Exploring the Ancient Greek Language and Culture" (Greek : Διαγωνισμός στην Αρχαία Ελληνική Γλώσσα και Γραμματεία) was run for upper secondary students through the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, with Greek language and cultural organisations as co-organisers. [13] It appears to have ceased in 2010, having failed to gain the recognition and acceptance of teachers. [14]

Modern real-world usage

Modern authors rarely write in ancient Greek, though Jan Křesadlo wrote some poetry and prose in the language, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone , [15] some volumes of Asterix, [16] and The Adventures of Alix have been translated into ancient Greek. Ὀνόματα Kεχιασμένα ( Onomata Kechiasmena ) is the first magazine of crosswords and puzzles in ancient Greek. [17] Its first issue appeared in April 2015 as an annex to Hebdomada Aenigmatum . Alfred Rahlfs included a preface, a short history of the Septuagint text, and other front matter translated into ancient Greek in his 1935 edition of the Septuagint; Robert Hanhart also included the introductory remarks to the 2006 revised Rahlfs–Hanhart edition in the language as well. [18] Akropolis World News reports weekly a summary of the most important news in ancient Greek. [19]

Ancient Greek is also used by organizations and individuals, mainly Greek, who wish to denote their respect, admiration or preference for the use of this language. This use is sometimes considered graphical, nationalistic or humorous. In any case, the fact that modern Greeks can still wholly or partly understand texts written in non-archaic forms of ancient Greek shows the affinity of the modern Greek language to its ancestral predecessor. [19]

An isolated community near Trabzon, Turkey, an area where Pontic Greek is spoken, has been found to speak a variety of Modern Greek, Ophitic, that has parallels, both structurally and in its vocabulary, to ancient Greek not present in other varieties (linguistic conservatism). [20] As few as 5,000 people speak the dialect, and linguists believe that it is the closest living language to ancient Greek. [21]

Ancient Greek is often used in the coinage of modern technical terms in the European languages: see English words of Greek origin. Latinized forms of ancient Greek roots are used in many of the scientific names of species and in scientific terminology.

See also

Notes

  1. Mycenaean Greek is imprecisely attested and somewhat reconstructive due to its being written in an ill-fitting syllabary (Linear B).

Related Research Articles

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Attic Greek Ancient Greek dialect

Attic Greek is the Greek dialect of the ancient city-state of Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek and is the standard form of the language that is studied in ancient Greek language courses. Attic Greek is sometimes included in the Ionic dialect. Together, Attic and Ionic are the primary influences on Modern Greek.

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Ionic Greek Ancient Greek dialect

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Aeolic Greek Dialect

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Aorist verb forms usually express perfective aspect and refer to past events, similar to a preterite. Ancient Greek grammar had the aorist form, and the grammars of other Indo-European languages and languages influenced by the Indo-European grammatical tradition, such as Middle Persian, Sanskrit, Armenian, the South Slavic languages, and Georgian, also have forms referred to as aorist.

Mycenaean Greek Most ancient attested form of the Greek language from the 16th to 12th centuries BC

Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in Mycenaean Greece, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the terminus ad quem for the introduction of the Greek language to Greece. The language is preserved in inscriptions in Linear B, a script first attested on Crete before the 14th century. Most inscriptions are on clay tablets found in Knossos, in central Crete, as well as in Pylos, in the southwest of the Peloponnese. Other tablets have been found at Mycenae itself, Tiryns and Thebes and at Chania, in Western Crete. The language is named after Mycenae, one of the major centres of Mycenaean Greece.

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Proto-Greek language proto-language

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Ancient Greek dialects

Ancient Greek in classical antiquity, before the development of the common Koine Greek of the Hellenistic period, was divided into several varieties.

Ancient Greek phonology is the reconstructed phonology or pronunciation of Ancient Greek. This article mostly deals with the pronunciation of the standard Attic dialect of the fifth century BC, used by Plato and other Classical Greek writers, and touches on other dialects spoken at the same time or earlier. The pronunciation of Ancient Greek is not known from direct observation, but determined from other types of evidence. Some details regarding the pronunciation of Attic Greek and other Ancient Greek dialects are unknown, but it is generally agreed that Attic Greek had certain features not present in English or Modern Greek, such as a three-way distinction between voiced, voiceless, and aspirated stops ; a distinction between single and double consonants and short and long vowels in most positions in a word; and a word accent that involved pitch.

The orthography of the Greek language ultimately has its roots in the adoption of the Greek alphabet in the 9th century BC. Some time prior to that, one early form of Greek, Mycenaean, was written in Linear B, although there was a lapse of several centuries between the time Mycenaean stopped being written and the time when the Greek alphabet came into use.

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In the grammar of Ancient Greek, including Koine, the aorist is a class of verb forms that generally portray a situation as simple or undefined, that is, as having aorist aspect. In the grammatical terminology of classical Greek, it is a tense, one of the seven divisions of the conjugation of a verb, found in all moods and voices.

Psilosis is the sound change in which Greek lost the consonant sound /h/ during antiquity. The term comes from the Greek ψίλωσις psílōsis and is related to the name of the smooth breathing, the sign for the absence of initial in a word. Dialects that have lost are called psilotic.

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References

  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ancient Greek". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Newton, Brian E.; Ruijgh, Cornelis Judd (13 April 2018). "Greek Language". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
  4. Lockwood, W.B. "A panorama of Indo-European languages" (PDF). London, U.K.: Hutchinson University Library. p. 6.
  5. Fortson, Benjamin W. (2004). Indo-European language and culture: an introduction. Malden, Mass: Blackwell. pp. 226–231. ISBN   978-1405103152. OCLC   54529041.
  6. Palmer, Leonard (1996). The Greek Language. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 262. ISBN   978-0-8061-2844-3.
  7. "Ministry publication" (PDF). www.edscuola.it.
  8. "Ancient Greek 'to be taught in state schools'". Telegraph.co.uk. 30 July 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  9. "Now look, Latin's fine, but Greek might be even Beta" Archived 3 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine , TES Editorial, 2010 - TSL Education Ltd.
  10. More primary schools to offer Latin and ancient Greek, The Telegraph, 26 November 2012
  11. "Ωρολόγιο Πρόγραμμα των μαθημάτων των Α, Β, Γ τάξεων του Hμερησίου Γυμνασίου" . Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  12. "ΩΡΟΛΟΓΙΟ ΠΡΟΓΡΑΜΜΑ ΓΕΝΙΚΟΥ ΛΥΚΕΙΟΥ" . Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  13. "Annex to 2012 Greek statistics" (PDF). UNESCO. 2012. p. 26. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  14. "Proceedings of the 2nd Pan-hellenic Congress for the Promotion of Innovation in Education". II. 2016: 548.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. Areios Potēr kai ē tu philosophu lithos, Bloomsbury 2004, ISBN   1-58234-826-X
  16. "Asterix speaks Attic (classical Greek) - Greece (ancient)". Asterix around the World - the many Languages of Asterix. 22 May 2011.
  17. "Enigmistica: nasce prima rivista in greco antico 2015". 4 May 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  18. Rahlfs, Alfred, and Hanhart, Robert (eds.), Septuaginta, editio altera (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006).
  19. 1 2 "Akropolis World News". www.akwn.net.
  20. Jason and the argot: land where Greek's ancient language survives, The Independent, 3 January 2011
  21. Sitaridou, Ioanna. "Against all odds: archaic Greek in a modern world". University of Cambridge. Video alone on YouTube

Further reading

Grammar learning

Classical texts