https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Liebert_

Is Ancient Greek taught at schools in Greece?

Is Ancient Greek still taught at schools in Greece? Are threre versions of Iliad and Odyssey by Homer in Modern Greek? I just came across with these thoughts as learning Modern Greek on Duolingo.

March 24, 2017

11 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stergi3

Yes, they are taught as Pangiotists13 mentioned, but through literary texts, not as a foreign language to speak. Actually it is difficult to learn speaking Ancient Greek, I doubt if there is any Greek now that is able to. It demands much effort, devotion and many years of study, even lifetime. But after school you can understand much from Greek Koene, for instance, the language of Gospels, and of course Katharevousa, as both are closer to Modern Greek than the Classic Greek of the 4th c. BC., when the most important writers wrote, Ancient Tragedies, Plato, Aristotle etc.

Notice that the Greek students speak Modern Greek already, so they use their knowledge to compare words, to find the connection etc. Also Greek is a language that never stopped being spoken, so there are several forms in different periods. Modern writers write in Modern Greek now. But it wasn't the case all the periods, as some decades ago the official form was Katharevousa and there had been a great conflict which form should be chosen, even riots in 1901 about the issue if the Gospels should be translated or not https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_riots

The scholars and writers in the centuries after the Classical Period were trying to imitate the style and the language of their ancestors, so a huge gap started that had got enormous by the time between them and the people's language, a gap that only lately bridged. Duolingo teaches Modern Greek, as they're spoken or written today, Δημοτική, at least it tries to. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demotic_Greek

March 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Liebert_

Thanks for the answer! :)

March 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/panagiotis_ts

Yes, ancient Greek is one of the most important subjects in high school in Greece.

In junior high school (ages 12-15) we read the Odyssey and the Iliad, as well as Helen by Euripides (all of them in modern Greek), while we have a crash course in ancient Greek grammar and syntax.

In senior high school (ages 15-18), ancient Greek is a compulsory subject and we can have from 2 to 5< hours of ancient Greek classes a week, according to what we want to major in at university. We study some great historical, theatrical and philosophical texts in their original form.

Most Greek students think that it is a hard subject, but it can be amusing at times and it gives us a great general culture. :-)

March 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Liebert_

Thank you very much for the answer! :^)

March 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gian_Kieselstein

I studied it in Italy in high school for 5 years! Just loved it! more than Latin! and that's why I am now learning modern greek!:)

July 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kubelnaby

They do study Ancient Greek but make the same mistake as us Italians when studying Latin: they pronounce it not the way it was actually pronounced, but the way they pronounce the words nowadays. With funny consequences: Ancient Greek sheep in Greece go "viiii" rather than "beee" like in the rest of the world.

March 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stergi3

Yes, you are right. We don't actually know how the Ancient Greek were pronounced. The same as Latin. Nobody had ever heard an Ancient Greek speaking.

Another problem is what is the period of Ancient Greek we are talking about. Without doubt, Greek Koene, a simplified form of the period about the years between after Alexander the Great and the Roman conquest (323 BC-146 BC), that was used as a common language in the Eastern Mediterranean that time, is closer to the Modern Greek. So one can say that it is almost like the Modern Greek. Of course I am not sure. I think that the people reading the Gospels of the period they were written were pronounced Greek very close to the Modern one. Because the Erasmian pronunciation proposed by Erasmus of Rotterdam in Rennaisance never adopted by the scholars that wrote in Attic dialect in Greece or in Italy they immigrated after the Ottoman Period, nor by the Orthodox Church, which is very conservative in language, and don't want to translate the Gospels and the Liturgy to Modern Greek. But it is my personal view on this subject.

March 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamOlean

Stergi3, I realize this a couple months late, but you're exactly right that Koine Greek pronunciation during the Roman Period was broadly similar to Modern Greek. Anyone who's interested in the evidence can check out linguist Randall Buth's "Koine Pronunciation" (2012) for a brief summary. He cites much more exhaustive, detailed studies for those who have the interest (or stomach) for that sort of thing! https://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/koine-greek-pronunciation/

June 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stergi3

I have a simple evidence about it: The Greek Orthodox Church. The liturgy and all ceremonies are in Greek Koene. The Church in Greece is very conservative about language issues. The official Church uses polytonic system, even today they started having compromises about the language that is used in their texts that are not part of the liturgy and ceremonies. Having in mind that, I make the speculation that the Greek Koene, that was used in the period of the Gospels was not far away from the Modern Greek one. Why this? Well, Greek Koene was a language of all Eastern Mediterranean, a "lingua franca", undestood and spoken by many foreign speakers, native ones or bilingual. So the Ancient Greek of the Classical period were much simplified and that was the reason the scholars of Alexandria introduced the accents and aspiration system, to pronounce the words correctly. But these marks actually became useless soon, the phonemes used in common practice stopped having the variety of the Ancient Classical Greek, so as the Modern Greek has a new variety, the used phonemes are well described by the IPA system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA_for_Greek . Since that time, the Hellenistic period, started a language division, that lasted almost till today.

June 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/troll1995

I don't think that learning the actual pronunciation bears any benefit. References should be made about it, of course, for knowledge's completeness but no reason to learn and pronounce them the way they were pronounced. The same applies for Italian and Latin (although I think that the pronunciation differences are much smaller?)

March 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AniOhevYayin

I greatly appreciate this thread. Very interesting and informative.

February 24, 2019
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