HOMERIC GREEK

    Without a knowledge of Greek there is no education." --Leo Tolstoy
1. Why Study Greek?
2. Why Study Homeric Greek?
3. Homeric Greek Course Description, prerequisites,  and required texts

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1. Why Study Greek? (at least read the underlined passages!)

    Its place in history: Learning ancient Greek is an invaluable part of a classical education. The Greek language of the classical age (roughly speaking, from Homer to Alexander the Great, or about the eighth to the fourth centuries B.C.) gave to western civilization the great myths, fables, plays, prose and poetic forms, philosophies, scientific and medical studies, political ideas, and histories which, absorbed by the Romans and redeemed by Christendom, have informed our culture beyond calculation. Think of the Trojan, Persian, and Peloponnesian Wars, the tragedy of Oedipus, Socrates' dialogues, Plato's philosophy, and Aristotle's science. The very similar Greek of the Hellenistic age (Alexander to Constantine, or about 330 B.C. to A.D. 330) was the language of an equally wide variety of literatures, including Plutarch's biographies, but especially the writings of the New Testament and Greek church fathers, such as Irenaeus, Eusebius, and Athanasius. Greek along with Latin was part of everyone's education in the ancient Roman world, Greek was the language of medieval Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean (the Byzantine empire) as Latin was in the west, and ancient Greek again became part of the common education in the western world from the Renaissance onward until less than a hundred years ago. Modern Greek is much closer to its ancient and medieval roots than most other European languages are to theirs, so the history of the language is more continuous and uninterrupted by great changes.

    Its place in classical education: Besides giving direct access to the great literature of the ancient and early Christian world unimpeded by translations (particularly important to the Christian who wishes to read the New Testament -and the Old Testament too, in the Septuagint, the Greek translation made long before Christ's time), the study of Greek sharpens the mind because of the precision which the student of Greek learns, shapes the intellect because of the habits of thought the form of the Greek language teaches, and cultivates aesthetic appreciation because of the close study of a language that is beautiful in its poetry and prose.
     

2. Why Study Homeric Greek?
    His relationship to literature: "Homer is the best possible preparation for all later Greek literature, much of which is unintelligible without a fair knowledge of him. He was to Greek literature what the Bible has been to English... The student who has taken only a very little of beginning Greek, even if he has progressed no farther than the end of the first book of the Iliad, has come into vital contact with the magic and the music of the Greek language, used in one of the most beautiful, one of the most varied, and one of the most influential literary compositions of all ages; and though he may have devoted considerable labor to mining the gold, he cannot truthfully say, and probably will not want to say, that Greek for him has been a waste of time."

    His relationship to the New Testament: "It is generally recognized that for the best results in the study of the New Testament, students should read a considerable amount of other Greek first. In the whole circle of Greek literature the two authors most important for the student of the New Testament are Homer and Plato. Herodotus informs us that Homer and Hesiod were the chief sources of the Greek popular religion; and certainly one cannot obtain a clear grasp of the forces opposed to Christianity without a good knowledge of Homer and of the hold that Homer had upon the popular mind. If one is to read intelligently the works of the early church fathers, he must be well acquainted at first hand with Homer. It is Homer, Homer's religion, and Homer's gods which recur constantly in their works and which are attacked over and over again as being the bulwarks of the heathen faith which they are striving to supplant. Homer and the ideas he represents are infinitely more important for the student of the New Testament and of the early church than is Xenophon; and if one can study not more than a year or so of Greek before taking up the New Testament, he should be all means have some Homer followed by Plato. Experience has shown that after a year of Homer, students can and do pass with little difficulty into the New Testament. The passage from Homer to Attic, or to Hellenistic, Greek is of course a great deal easier than vice versa, and occupies very little time and effort."
     

3. Course Description, prerequisites, and required texts
Greek I -- Homeric Greek
      The aim of Schola's Homeric Greek I Tutorial is to "teach beginners to read Greek intelligently and with pleasure." The course covers more than half of essential Greek grammar in a year, including reading metrically, and by the end of the course the student will have begun to read the first book of the Iliad (about 60-80 lines). There will also be English readings and discussions about Homer and the Iliad and later Greek poetry. The class will also read some New Testament Greek to demonstrate the ease with which the transition can be made.

      Greek I is best suited for students who are at least 15 years old, and have some previous experience with Greek or Latin. Younger students, and those without prior classical language study will be considered, but please contact the instructor first.


    Greek II -- Homeric Greek (cont.)

      The Homeric Greek II Tutorial covers the remainder of essential Greek grammar. By the end of the course, then student will have read all of the first book of the Iliad.

      Homeric Greek I or the equivalent is a prerequisite for Homeric Greek II.


Great quotes about Greek

"I have become convinced that of all that human language has produced truly and simply beautiful, I knew nothing before I learned Greek...Without a knowledge of Greek there is no education." --Leo Tolstoy

"Learn Greek; it is the language of wisdom." --George Bernard Shaw

"I would make everyone learn English; then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honor--and Greek as a treat." --Sir Winston Churchill

"The only purpose of education is to enable one to read Homer in the original Greek." --Sir J. T. Sheppard, Provost of King's College, Oxford

"To read Homer in Greek is the best lesson in poetry." --Hugh McCarron.

"Owing to the exigencies of the present educational situation, many who desire to use the Greek Testament are unable to approach the subject through a study of classical Attic prose. The situation is undoubtedly to be regretted, but its existence should not be ignored. It is unfortunate that so many students of the New Testament have no acquaintance with classical Greek..." --J. Gresham Machen

"It cannot be said too often that Greek is an evolving language and that an understanding of ancient Greek includes mastery of both Attic [Classical] and koine. The former was the language of the great works of history, literature, and philosophy of the classical period that have had such a profound influence on our Western culture. Koine Greek, on the other hand, is the dialect of the New Testament writers who recorded the beginnings of the most significant religious movement of the West. Whatever the student's or scholar's own particular interests, he cannot fully appreciate the one without an understanding of the other and of the relationships between the two."  --Stephen Paine

"And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." --St. Luke