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Classical Greek Online

Lesson 1

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

Unlike Roman tradition, Greek accounts do not depict a heroic origin in the settlement of their country. The opening sections of Thucydides' History of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians provide the best and probably most accurate account of it. Among recent proposals about the entrance of the Greeks into the areas they settled, that of E.J.W. Barber, Prehistoric Textiles (Princeton University Press, 1991) is most convincing. She points out that, among the terms for textiles and weaving, those applying to simple applications like band-weaving are native Indo-European, but those for complex applications like use of the warp-weighted loom are imported. She concludes further that the Greeks picked up the terms for some of the complex applications as they came to the country through the Balkans from the northeast (1991: 260-82). Thucycides' account, which includes the excerpt given here, fully supports the conclusion that the newcomers had a simple civilization. Moreover, it also indicates that they were by no means united like the early Romans. The lack of political unity was maintained until the time of Alexander; one of its most difficult periods was the war from 431-404 B.C. that Thucydides describes so brilliantly.

Reading and Textual Analysis

In the opening section of Book I, Thucydides complains that he was unable to get much information about the early period. He goes on to state that in the area called Hellas there were no fixed habitations. The settlers simply moved about, raising enough for their own needs. Moreover, they had no mercantile traffic. He stresses the general weakness, as in Section 3 of Book I given here. He also points out that this was the situation at the time of Homer, which was much later than the time of the Trojan war. The rest of Book I describes the gradual increase in prosperity, first of Athens, but also the discord among the groups.

δηλοῖ δέ μοι καὶ τόδε τῶν παλαιῶν ἀσθένειαν οὐχ ἤκιστα.

  • δηλοῖ -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <δηλόω> be clear, reveal -- it is clear
  • δέ -- particle; <δέ> and, on the other hand -- but
  • μοι -- pronoun; dative singular masculine of <ἐγώ> I -- to me
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- also
  • τόδε -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <ὅδε> this -- by this
  • τῶν -- article; genitive plural neuter of <> the -- of the
  • παλαιῶν -- adjective; genitive plural masculine of <παλαιός> old, ancient -- ancient
  • ἀσθένειαν -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <ἀσθένεια> weakness -- weakness
  • οὐχ -- particle; <οὐ> not -- not
  • ἤκιστα -- adverb; <ἥκιστα> least -- least

πρὸ γὰρ τῶν Τρωικῶν οὐδὲν φαίνεται πρότερον κοινῇ ἐργασαμένη ἡ Ἑλλάς.

  • πρὸ -- preposition; <πρό> before -- before
  • γὰρ -- conjunction; <γάρ> for -- for
  • τῶν -- article; genitive plural neuter of <> the -- of the
  • Τρωικῶν -- adjective; genitive plural neuter of <Τρωικός> Trojan -- the times of Troy
  • οὐδὲν -- pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <οὐδείς, οὐδεμία, οὐδέν> no one, nothing -- nothing
  • φαίνεται -- verb; 3rd person singular present middle of <φαίνω> seem -- appears
  • πρότερον -- adverb; <πρότερον> earlier, before -- before
  • κοινῇ -- adjective; dative singular feminine of <κοινός> common -- in common
  • ἐργασαμένη -- verb; nominative singular feminine of aorist participle of <ἐργάζομαι> work, make -- to have been carried out
  • -- article; nominative singular feminine of <> the -- the
  • Ἑλλάς -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <Ἑλλάς> Greece -- Greece

δοκεῖ δέ μοι, οὐδὲ τοὄνομα τοῦτο ξύμπασά πω εἶχεν, ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν πρὸ Ἕλληνος τοῦ Δευκαλίωνος καὶ πάνυ οὐδὲ εἶναι ἡ ἐπίκλησις αὕτη.

  • δοκεῖ -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <δοκέω> seem, think -- it seems
  • δέ -- particle; <δέ> and, on the other hand -- indeed
  • μοι -- pronoun; dative singular masculine of <ἐγώ> I -- to me
  • οὐδὲ -- particle; <οὐδέ> not -- not
  • τοὄνομα -- noun; article <τό> the + noun, neuter; accusative singular of <ὄνομα> name -- this name
  • τοῦτο -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <οὗτος> this -- this
  • ξύμπασά -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <ξύμπας> all together -- in general
  • πω -- adverb; <πω> yet -- yet
  • εἶχεν -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <εἴχω> have, be -- did ... exist
  • ἀλλὰ -- conjunction; <ἀλλά> but -- but
  • τὰ -- article; accusative plural neuter of <> the -- the time
  • μὲν -- particle; <μέν> on the one hand -- ...
  • πρὸ -- preposition; <πρό> before -- before
  • Ἕλληνος -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ἕλληνος> Hellenos -- Hellenos
  • τοῦ -- article; genitive singular masculine of <> the -- the
  • Δευκαλίωνος -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Δευκαλίων> Deucalion -- (son) of Deucalion
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- ...
  • πάνυ -- adverb; <πάνυ> at all -- at all
  • οὐδὲ -- particle; <οὐδέ> not -- not
  • εἶναι -- verb; infinitive of <εἰμί> I am -- did ... exist
  • -- article; nominative singular feminine of <> the -- the
  • ἐπίκλησις -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <ἐπίκλησις> name, title -- title
  • αὕτη -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <οὗτος> this -- this

κατὰ ἔθνη δὲ ἄλλα τε καὶ τὸ Πελασγικὸν ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἀφ' ἑαυτῶν τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν παρέχεσθαι.

  • κατὰ -- preposition; <κατά> completely, down, under -- from
  • ἔθνη -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <ἔθνος> nation, people, tribe -- tribes
  • δὲ -- particle; <δέ> and, on the other hand -- on the other hand
  • ἄλλα -- adjective; accusative plural neuter of <ἄλλος> other -- other
  • τε -- conjunction; <τε> and -- and
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • τὸ -- article; accusative singular neuter of <> the -- the
  • Πελασγικὸν -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <Πελασγικός> Pelasgian -- Pelasgian = (Thessalian)
  • ἐπὶ -- preposition; <ἐπί> on, about -- by
  • πλεῖστον -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <πλεῖστος> most -- chiefly
  • ἀφ' -- preposition; <ἀπό> from -- from
  • ἑαυτῶν -- reflexive pronoun; genitive plural masculine of <ἑαυτός> himself -- their own
  • τὴν -- article; accusative singular feminine of <> the -- the
  • ἐπωνυμίαν -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <ἐπωνυμία> name, designation -- name
  • παρέχεσθαι -- verb; passive infinitive of <παρέχω> provide -- had furnished

Ἕλληνος δὲ καὶ τῶν παίδων αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ Φθιῶτιδι ἰσχυσάντων, καὶ ἐπαγομένων αὐτοὺς ἐπ' ὠφελίᾳ ἐς τὰς ἄλλας πόλεις, καθ' ἑκάστους μὲν ἤδη τῇ ὁμιλίᾳ μᾶλλον καλεῖσθαι Ἕλληνας.

  • Ἕλληνος -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ἕλληνος> Hellenos -- Hellenos
  • δὲ -- particle; <δέ> and, on the other hand -- but
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • τῶν -- article; genitive plural masculine of <> the -- the
  • παίδων -- noun, masculine/feminine; genitive plural of <παῖς> child -- sons
  • αὐτοῦ -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <αὐτός> oneself, he -- his
  • ἐν -- preposition; <ἐν> in -- in
  • τῇ -- article; dative singular feminine of <> the -- the
  • Φθιῶτιδι -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <Φθιῶτις> Phthiotis -- Phthiotis
  • ἰσχυσάντων -- verb; genitive plural masculine of participle aorist of <ἰσχύω> be strong -- had become strong
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • ἐπαγομένων -- verb; genitive plural masculine of present participle passive of <ἐπάγω> bring in, invite -- were brought in
  • αὐτοὺς -- pronoun; accusative plural masculine of <αὐτός> oneself, he -- themselves
  • ἐπ' -- preposition; <ἐπί> on, about -- for
  • ὠφελίᾳ -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <ὠφελία> aid -- assistance
  • ἐς -- preposition; <ἐς> towards -- to
  • τὰς -- article; accusative plural feminine of <> the -- the
  • ἄλλας -- adjective; accusative plural feminine of <ἄλλος> other -- other
  • πόλεις -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <πόλις> city -- cities
  • καθ' -- preposition; <κατά> completely, down, under -- by
  • ἑκάστους -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <ἕκαστος> each, every -- all
  • μὲν -- particle; <μέν> on the one hand -- indeed
  • ἤδη -- adverb; <ἤδη> already -- then
  • τῇ -- article; dative singular feminine of <> the -- the
  • ὁμιλίᾳ -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <ὁμιλία> being together -- association
  • μᾶλλον -- adverb; <μᾶλλον> more and more -- more and more
  • καλεῖσθαι -- verb; infinitive passive of <καλέω> call, summon -- were called
  • Ἕλληνας -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Ἕλλην> Greek -- Greeks

οὐ μέντοι πολλοῦ γε χρόνου ἐδύνατο καὶ ἅπασιν ἐκνικῆσαι.

  • οὐ -- particle; <οὐ> not -- it was not
  • μέντοι -- particle; <μέντοι> but, however -- however
  • πολλοῦ -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <πολύς> many -- long
  • γε -- particle; <γε> indeed -- indeed
  • χρόνου -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <χρόνος> time -- time
  • ἐδύνατο -- deponent verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <δύναμαι> be able -- would
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • ἅπασιν -- adjective; dative plural masculine of <ἅπας> all -- to all (clans)
  • ἐκνικῆσαι -- verb; infinitive passive of <ἐκνικάω> prevail -- prevail

τεκμηριοῖ δὲ μάλιστα Ὅμερος

  • τεκμηριοῖ -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative of <τεκμηριόω> prove positively -- demonstrated
  • δὲ -- particle; <δέ> and, on the other hand -- indeed
  • μάλιστα -- adverb; superlative of <μάλα> very -- above all
  • Ὅμερος -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ὅμερος> Homer -- Homer

πολλῷ γὰρ ὕστερον ἔτι καὶ τῶν Τρωικῶν γενόμενος οὐδαμοῦ οὕτω τοὺς ξύμπαντας ὠνόμασεν οὐδ' ἄλλους ἢ τοὺς μετὰ Ἀχιλλέως ἐκ τῆς Φθιώτιδος.

  • πολλῷ -- adverb; dative singular neuter of <πολύς> many -- much
  • γὰρ -- conjunction; <γάρ> for -- for
  • ὕστερον -- adverb; <ὕστερον> later -- later
  • ἔτι -- adverb; <ἔτι> still -- still
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • τῶν -- article; genitive plural neuter of <> the -- the
  • Τρωικῶν -- adjective; genitive plural neuter of <Τρωικός> Trojan -- the times of Troy
  • γενόμενος -- deponent verb; nominative singular neuter of present participle middle of <γίγνομαι> happen, become -- being
  • οὐδαμοῦ -- adverb; <οὐδαμοῦ> nowhere -- nowhere
  • οὕτω -- adverb; <οὕτως> so, thus -- at all
  • τοὺς -- article; accusative plural masculine of <> the -- them
  • ξύμπαντας -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <ξύμπας> all together -- all together
  • ὠνόμασεν -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ὀνομάζω> speak of by name -- referred to
  • οὐδ' -- particle; <οὐδέ> not -- nor
  • ἄλλους -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <ἄλλος> other -- other
  • -- conjunction; <> or, than -- than
  • τοὺς -- article; accusative plural masculine of <> the -- the ones
  • μετὰ -- preposition; <μετά> after, with -- with
  • Ἀχιλλέως -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Ἀχιλλεύς> Achilles -- Achilles
  • ἐκ -- preposition; <ἐκ> from, out of -- from
  • τῆς -- article; genitive singular feminine of <> the -- the
  • Φθιώτιδος -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <Φθιῶτις> Phthiotis -- Phthiotis

οἵπερ καὶ πρῶτοι Ἕλληνες ἧσαν, Δαναοὺς δὲ ἐν τοῖς ἔπεσι καὶ Ἀργείους καὶ Ἀχαιοὺς ἀνακαλεῖ.

  • οἵπερ -- article used as demonstrative pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <> the + particle <περ> indeed -- these... indeed
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • πρῶτοι -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <πρῶτος> first -- the first
  • Ἕλληνες -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Ἕλλην> Greek -- Greeks
  • ἧσαν -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <εἰμί> I am -- were
  • Δαναοὺς -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Δαναοί> Danaans -- Danaans
  • δὲ -- particle; <δέ> and, on the other hand -- but
  • ἐν -- preposition; <ἐν> in -- in
  • τοῖς -- article; dative plural neuter of <> the -- the
  • ἔπεσι -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <ἔπος> words, saying -- poem
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • Ἀργείους -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Ἀργεῖος> Argive -- (as)Argives
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • Ἀχαιοὺς -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Ἀχαιός> Achaean -- Achaeans
  • ἀνακαλεῖ -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <ἀνακαλέω> designate -- he designates

οὐ μὴν οὐδὲ βαρβάρους εἴρηκε διὰ τὸ μηδὲ Ἕλληνάς πω, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ.

  • οὐ -- particle; <οὐ> not -- not
  • μὴν -- particle; <μήν> verily -- even
  • οὐδὲ -- particle; <οὐδέ> not -- but not
  • βαρβάρους -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <βάρβαρος> foreigner, non-Greek -- barbarians
  • εἴρηκε -- verb; 3rd person singular perfect of <εἴρω> speak, say -- he did ...speak of
  • διὰ -- preposition; <διά> through, by -- because of
  • τὸ -- article; accusative singular neuter of <> the -- this
  • μηδὲ -- particle; <μηδέ> and not -- not
  • Ἕλληνάς -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <Ἕλλην> Greek -- the Greeks
  • πω -- adverb; <πω> yet -- yet
  • ὡς -- conjunction; <ὡς> as, thus -- as
  • ἐμοὶ -- pronoun; dative singular masculine of <ἐγώ> I -- to me
  • δοκεῖ -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <δοκέω> seem, think -- it seems

ἀντίπαλον ἐς ἓν ὄνομα ἀποκεκρίσθαι.

  • ἀντίπαλον -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <ἀντίπαλος> contrast -- (to provide) a contrast
  • ἐς -- preposition; <ἐς> towards -- with
  • ἓν -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <εἷς> one -- a common
  • ὄνομα -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <ὄνομα> name -- name
  • ἀποκεκρίσθαι -- verb; perfect infinitive passive of <ἀποκρίνω> separate, answer -- (they had not yet) been separated

οἱ δ' οὖν ὡς ἕκαστοι Ἕλληνες κατὰ πόλεις τε ὅσοι ἀλλήλων ξυνίεσαν καὶ ξύμπαντες ὕστερον κληθέντες οὐδὲν πρὸ τῶν Τρωικῶν δι' ἀσθένειαν καὶ ἀμειξίαν ἀλλήλων ἁθρόοι ἔπραξαν.

  • οἱ -- article; nominative plural masculine of <> the -- those
  • δ' -- particle; <δέ> and, on the other hand -- but
  • οὖν -- adverb; <οὖν> indeed -- actually
  • ὡς -- conjunction; <ὡς> as, thus -- thus
  • ἕκαστοι -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <ἕκαστος> each, every -- themselves
  • Ἕλληνες -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Ἕλλην> Greek -- Greeks
  • κατὰ -- preposition; <κατά> completely, down, under -- by
  • πόλεις -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <πόλις> city -- cities
  • τε -- conjunction; <τε> and -- and
  • ὅσοι -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <ὅσος> as many -- as many
  • ἀλλήλων -- pronoun; genitive plural masculine of <ἀλλήλων> one another -- one another's (speech)
  • ξυνίεσαν -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <ξυνίημι> bring together, understand -- they understood
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • ξύμπαντες -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <ξύμπας> all together -- together
  • ὕστερον -- adverb; <ὕστερον> later -- later
  • κληθέντες -- verb; nominative plural masculine aorist participle passive of <καλέω> call, summon -- called together
  • οὐδὲν -- pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <οὐδείς, οὐδεμία, οὐδέν> no one, nothing -- nothing
  • πρὸ -- preposition; <πρό> before -- before
  • τῶν -- article; genitive plural neuter of <> the -- of the
  • Τρωικῶν -- adjective; genitive plural neuter of <Τρωικός> Trojan -- the times of Troy
  • δι' -- preposition; <διά> through, by -- because of
  • ἀσθένειαν -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <ἀσθένεια> weakness -- weakness
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- and
  • ἀμειξίαν -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <ἀμειξία> lack of intercourse -- lack of intercourse
  • ἀλλήλων -- pronoun; genitive plural masculine of <ἀλλήλων> one another -- with one another
  • ἁθρόοι -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <ἁθρόος> together -- together
  • ἔπραξαν -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <πράσσω> achieve, manage -- carried out

ἀλλὰ καὶ ταύτην τὴν στρατείαν θαλάσσῃ ἤδη πλείω χρώμενοι ξυνῆλθον.

  • ἀλλὰ -- conjunction; <ἀλλά> but -- but
  • καὶ -- conjunction; <καί> and -- even
  • ταύτην -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine of <οὗτος> this -- for this
  • τὴν -- article; accusative singular feminine of <> the -- the
  • στρατείαν -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <στρατεία> expedition -- expedition
  • θαλάσσῃ -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <θάλασσα> sea -- sea
  • ἤδη -- adverb; <ἤδη> already -- already
  • πλείω -- adjective; accusative singular feminine comparative of <πολύς> many -- considerable
  • χρώμενοι -- deponent verb; nominative plural masculine middle participle of <χράομαι> need, use -- (when) they made... use of
  • ξυνῆλθον -- deponent verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <συνέρχομαι> unite, come together -- they united

Lesson Text

δηλοῖ δέ μοι καὶ τόδε τῶν παλαιῶν ἀσθένειαν οὐχ ἤκιστα. πρὸ γὰρ τῶν Τρωικῶν οὐδὲν φαίνεται πρότερον κοινῇ ἐργασαμένη ἡ Ἑλλάς. δοκεῖ δέ μοι, οὐδὲ τοὄνομα τοῦτο ξύμπασά πω εἶχεν, ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν πρὸ Ἕλληνος τοῦ Δευκαλίωνος καὶ πάνυ οὐδὲ εἶναι ἡ ἐπίκλησις αὕτη. κατὰ ἔθνη δὲ ἄλλα τε καὶ τὸ Πελασγικὸν ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἀφ' ἑαυτῶν τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν παρέχεσθαι. Ἕλληνος δὲ καὶ τῶν παίδων αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ Φθιῶτιδι ἰσχυσάντων, καὶ ἐπαγομένων αὐτοὺς ἐπ' ὠφελίᾳ ἐς τὰς ἄλλας πόλεις, καθ' ἑκάστους μὲν ἤδη τῇ ὁμιλίᾳ μᾶλλον καλεῖσθαι Ἕλληνας. οὐ μέντοι πολλοῦ γε χρόνου ἐδύνατο καὶ ἅπασιν ἐκνικῆσαι. τεκμηριοῖ δὲ μάλιστα Ὅμερος πολλῷ γὰρ ὕστερον ἔτι καὶ τῶν Τρωικῶν γενόμενος οὐδαμοῦ οὕτω τοὺς ξύμπαντας ὠνόμασεν οὐδ' ἄλλους ἢ τοὺς μετὰ Ἀχιλλέως ἐκ τῆς Φθιώτιδος. οἵπερ καὶ πρῶτοι Ἕλληνες ἧσαν, Δαναοὺς δὲ ἐν τοῖς ἔπεσι καὶ Ἀργείους καὶ Ἀχαιοὺς ἀνακαλεῖ. οὐ μὴν οὐδὲ βαρβάρους εἴρηκε διὰ τὸ μηδὲ Ἕλληνάς πω, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ. ἀντίπαλον ἐς ἓν ὄνομα ἀποκεκρίσθαι. οἱ δ' οὖν ὡς ἕκαστοι Ἕλληνες κατὰ πόλεις τε ὅσοι ἀλλήλων ξυνίεσαν καὶ ξύμπαντες ὕστερον κληθέντες οὐδὲν πρὸ τῶν Τρωικῶν δι' ἀσθένειαν καὶ ἀμειξίαν ἀλλήλων ἁθρόοι ἔπραξαν. ἀλλὰ καὶ ταύτην τὴν στρατείαν θαλάσσῃ ἤδη πλείω χρώμενοι ξυνῆλθον.

Translation

The weakness of ancient times is also clear to me, not least from the following. Before the times of Troy, Hellas appears to have carried out nothing in common. Indeed, it seems to me that it did not yet have this name; before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, this title did not even exist. Rather, other tribes had furnished them by their own designations, and chiefly the Pelasgians. But when Hellen and his sons had become strong in Phthiotis, and were brought in for assistance to the other cities, then all were called Hellenes more and more because of this association. It was not for a long time, however that the name would prevail for all clans. Homer especially demonstrated this. Although being much later than the times of Troy, he nowhere at all referred to them all together, nor to others than the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis. They indeed were the first Hellenes, but he designates them in the poems as Danaans and Argives and Achaeans. He did not even speak of Barbarians because, as it seems to me, the Hellenes did not yet exist. They had not yet been separated with a common name to provide a contrast. Those who came together as Hellenes by cities and as they understood one another's speech and were later classed together carried out nothing together before the times of Troy because of weakness and lack of intercourse. But even for this expedition they united only when they already made considerable use of the sea.

Grammar

1. The alphabet and sound system.
1.1. The alphabet.

The Greek alphabet was taken over from the Phoenicians. It in turn was taken over by the Romans, but from a version of the alphabet that differs somewhat from the standard. The names are generally well known, such as the first two from our word alphabet, the third from gamma rays, and so on.

The pronunciations are also straightforward. Those used in the classical period differ somewhat from the pronunciations typically used in instruction today. When they differ, the classical period pronunciations are indicated below using words in parentheses.

Alpha α, Α father
Beta β, Β bother
Gamma γ, Γ gather
Delta δ, Δ delta
Epsilon ε, Ε debt
Zeta ζ, Ζ zen
Eta η, Η rate (rat)
Theta θ, Θ thin (tin) i.e. with aspiration
Iota ι, Ι sin
Kappa κ, Κ cope (scope) i.e. no aspiration
Lamba λ, Λ lap
Mu μ, Μ map
Nu ν, Ν nap
Ksi ξ, Ξ tax
Omikron ο, Ο rope
Pi π, Π poke (spoke) i.e., no aspiration
Rho ρ, Ρ rope
Sigma σς, Σ soap (note: lower-case form has 2 variants)
Tau τ, Τ top (stop) i.e. no aspiration
Upsilon υ, Υ soon (German Suehne) i.e. front rounded
Phi φ, Φ four (pour) i.e. with aspiration
Chi χ, Χ core (German ich or ach) i.e. velar fricative
Psi ψ, Ψ tops
Omega ω, Ω boat (bought)

In addition, a word beginning with a vowel or diphthong may or may not have an initial [h] sound. This is called a breathing. If the [h] sound is present, the breathing is called rough, signalled by a rough breathing sign [with α added for illustration]: ; and when there is no initial [h] sound before a vowel, the smooth breathing sign is . The rough breathing may also be used with initial rho: .

Moreover, vowels may have an iota subscript, that is, an [i] sound after the vowel, written as a diacritic beneath the vowel (e.g., ); while indicated in texts, this is generally left without pronunciation.

1.2. The sound system.

The system is as follows:

    Labials   Dentals   Palato-velars
Voiceless:   π   τ   κ
Voiced:   β   δ   γ
Aspirated, voiceless:   φ   θ   χ
Fricative:       ς    
Nasals:   μ   ν   ν (spelled γ before γ or κ)
             
Vowels:   ι             υ
    ε     ο  
        α    
                
    η     ω  
           
Diphthongs:   ει αι οι υι   ευ αυ ηυ ου

Classical Greek had a musical accent. There are three such accents. Vowels marked with oxia (e.g., ) had high pitch; those with varia (e.g., ) had a low or falling pitch; those marked with perispomeni (e.g., ) had rising and falling pitch.

The place of the accent is determined chiefly by the quality of the last syllable; exceptions will be noted later. If the last syllable is short and the accent is an oxia, it can fall on the third syllable from the end of a word. If it is short, and the second last vowel is long, it may have perispomeni accent. If it is long, the second last syllable can only have oxia accent. In monosyllables the final vowel has oxia accent if it is short, a perispomeni if long. The varia accent replaces a final oxia accent before words beginning with a consonant.

2. Greek, a Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) language.

The basic word order of Classical Greek is verb-final, as in the following sentence.

ἀλλὰ καὶ ταύτην τὴν στρατείαν θαλάσσῃ ἤδη πλείω χρώμενοι ξυνῆλθον.
"But they united even for this expedition when they were already making considerable use of the sea."

Thucydides, however, has a highly complex and personal style, so that he rearranges his sentences to emphasize certain elements. For example, the first sentence here begins with a verb, δηλοῖ, as does the third with δοκεῖ. The reason for the specific order in other sentences may be obvious when they are interpreted; for example, the second clearly emphasizes the final noun Ἑλλάς by placing it last. The texts of later lessons will be simpler; this text was selected because of its importance for information on the state of Greece in earlier times.

3. Modifications of the basic sentence pattern.

As noted in section 2, modifications of the basic sentence pattern are often carried out for stylistic purposes. A further example is the sentence:

Τεκμηριοῖ δὲ μάλιστα Ὅμερος.
"Then Homer established this especially."

Both the position of the verb, and that of the subject, serve to indicate the place of emphasis. Similarly, the following sentence, with the object identifying the earliest identified sub-group of the Greeks, has been carefully constructed. Fortunately the ample inflections provide great assistance in the analysis and interpretation of sentences.

4. Nominal inflection.

Nouns, adjectives and the article are inflected for three genders, three numbers, and four cases. Among the numbers that of the dual is infrequent, and will not be presented here. The four cases are the nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. The uses of the ablative, such as for the target in comparative constructions, are largely assumed by the genitive. The principal uses of the cases are readily defined. The nominative is the case of the subject and of nouns after the copula in the predicative nominative. The genitive is the case of possession. The dative is the case of the indirect object. The accusative is the case of the direct object.

Because of the common use of the article, its forms might well be memorized.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
Nom sg       τό
Gen sg   τοῦ   τῆς   τοῦ
Dat sg   τῷ   τῇ   τῷ
Acc sg   τόν   τήν   τό
             
Nom pl   οἱ   αἱ   τά
Gen pl   τῶν   τῶν   τῶν
Dat pl   τοῖς   ταῖς   τοῖς
Acc pl   τούς   τάς   τά

Examples of the ο-declension, masculine and neuter, and the α-declension, feminine, are given here.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
Nom sg   ὁ λόγος 'word'   ἡ στρατιά 'army'   τὸ δῶρον 'gift'
Gen sg   τοῦ λόγου   τῆς στρατιᾶς   τοῦ δώρου
Dat sg   τῷ λόγῳ   τῇ στρατιᾷ   τῷ δώρῳ
Acc sg   τὸν λόγον   τὴν στρατιάν   τὸ δῶρον
             
Nom pl   οἱ λόγοι   αἰ στρατιαί   τὰ δῶρα
Gen pl   τῶν λόγων   τῶν στρατιῶν   τῶν δώρων
Dat pl   τοῖς λόγοις   ταῖς στρατιαῖς   τοῖς δώροις
Acc pl   τοὺς λόγους   τὰς στρατιάς   τὰ δῶρα
5. Verb inflection.

Greek verbs are inflected for three voices, active, middle and passive, for four moods, indicative, subjunctive, optative and imperative, three systems or tenses, present, aorist and perfect, three numbers, singular, dual, plural. The augment 'ε' (epsilon) is used with past tense forms, imperfect, aorist, and pluperfect, but only in the indicative. The perfect stem is often reduplicated. In addition there are infinitives and participles.

In view of its regularity, the verb παιδεύω 'educate' may be used to illustrate the various forms. Here the present and the imperfect indicative active are given. Before vowels, 'ν' (nu) is added to some forms ending in a vowel.

    Present   Imperfect
1 sg   παιδεύω   ἐπαίδευον
2 sg   παιδεύεις   ἐπαίδευες
3 sg   παιδεύει   ἐπαίδευε(ν)
         
1 pl   παιδεύομεν   ἐπαιδεύομεν
2 pl   παιδεύετε   ἐπαιδεύετε
3 pl   παιδεύουσι(ν)   ἐπαίδευον