Ancient Greek

Ancient Greek

Overview
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, (known as Archaic), c. 5th–4th centuries BC (Classical
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

), and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD (Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

) of ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and the ancient world
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek. The language of the Hellenistic phase is known as Koine
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 (common) or Biblical Greek, the language from the late period onward has no considerable difference from Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

.
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Encyclopedia
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, (known as Archaic), c. 5th–4th centuries BC (Classical
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

), and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD (Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

) of ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and the ancient world
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek. The language of the Hellenistic phase is known as Koine
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 (common) or Biblical Greek, the language from the late period onward has no considerable difference from Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

. Koine
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earlier form it closely resembles the Classical. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classic and earlier periods included several regional dialects.

Ancient Greek was the language of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 and of classical Athenian
Age of Pericles
Fifth-century Athens refers to the Greek city-state of Athens in the period of roughly 480 BC-404 BC. This was a period of Athenian political hegemony, economic growth and cultural flourishing formerly known as the Golden Age of Athens or The Age of Pericles. The period began in 480 BC when an...

 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 West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, since the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. This article's primary concern is the Epic and Classical phases of the language.

Dialects


The origins, early forms, and early development of the Hellenic language family are not well understood, owing to the lack of contemporaneous evidence. There are several theories about what Hellenic dialect groups may have existed between the divergence of early Greek-like speech from the common Proto-Indo-European language
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

. They have the same general outline but differ in some of the detail. The only attested dialect from this period is Mycenaean, but its relationship to the historical dialects and the historical circumstances of the times imply that the overall groups already existed in some form.

The major dialect groups of the Ancient Greek period can be assumed to have developed not later than 1120 BC, at the time of the Dorian invasion
Dorian invasion
The Dorian invasion is a concept devised by historians of Ancient Greece to explain the replacement of pre-classical dialects and traditions in southern Greece by the ones that prevailed in Classical Greece...

(s), and 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; moreover, 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 ancient Greeks themselves considered there to be three major divisions of all the other 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 Cyprian, 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:
  • West Group
    • Northwest Greek
    • Doric
      Doric Greek
      Doric or Dorian was a dialect of ancient Greek. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea, some cities on the coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Epirus and Macedon. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the...

  • Aeolic Group
    Aeolic Greek
    Aeolic Greek is a linguistic term used to describe a set of dialects of Ancient Greek spoken mainly in Boeotia , Thessaly, and in the Aegean island of Lesbos and the Greek colonies of Asia Minor ....

    • Aegean/Asiatic Aeolic
    • Thessalian
    • Boeotian
  • Ionic-Attic Group
    Ionic Greek
    Ionic Greek was a subdialect of the Attic–Ionic dialect group of Ancient Greek .-History:Ionic dialect appears to have spread originally from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th Century B.C.By the end of the Greek Dark Ages in the 5th Century...

    • Attica
      Attic Greek
      Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

    • Euboea and colonies in Italy
    • Cyclades
    • Asiatic Ionia
  • Arcadocypriot Greek
    • Arcadian
    • Cypriot


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. Arcado-Cyprian, or Aeolic and Arcado-Cyprian vs. Ionic-Attic. Often non-west is called East Greek.

The Arcado-Cyprian group apparently descended more closely from the Mycenaean
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

 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
Pamphylian Greek
Pamphylian is a little-attested and isolated dialect of Ancient Greek which was spoken in Pamphylia, on the southern coast of Asia Minor. Its origins and relation to other Greek dialects are uncertain. A number of scholars have distinguished in Pamphylian dialect important isoglosses with...

, spoken in a small area on the south-western coast of Asia Minor 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.

Ancient Macedonian
Ancient Macedonian language
Ancient Macedonian was the language of the ancient Macedonians. It was spoken in the kingdom of Macedon during the 1st millennium BCE and it belongs to the Indo-European group of languages...

 was an Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 language closely related to Greek, but its exact relationship is unclear because of insufficient data: possibly a dialect of Greek; a sibling language to Greek; or a close cousin to Greek, and perhaps related to some extent, to Thracian
Thracian language
The Thracian language was the Indo-European language spoken in ancient times in Southeastern Europe by the Thracians, the northern neighbors of the Ancient Greeks. The Thracian language exhibits satemization: it either belonged to the Satem group of Indo-European languages or it was strongly...

 and Phrygian
Phrygian language
The Phrygian language was the Indo-European language of the Phrygians, spoken in Asia Minor during Classical Antiquity .Phrygian is considered to have been closely related to Greek....

 languages. The Pella curse tablet is one of the many clear finds which support the idea that the Ancient Macedonian language is closely related to the Doric Greek dialect.

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
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 Doric), Southern Peloponnesus Doric (including Laconian
Doric Greek
Doric or Dorian was a dialect of ancient Greek. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea, some cities on the coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Epirus and Macedon. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the...

, the dialect of Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

), and Northern Peloponnesus Doric (including Corinthian).

The Lesbian dialect was a member of the Aegean/Asiatic Aeolic sub-group.

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 fragments of the works of the poetess Sappho from the island of Lesbos
Lesbos Island
Lesbos is a Greek island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea. It has an area of with 320 kilometres of coastline, making it the third largest Greek island. It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait....

 and the poems of the Boeotian poet, Pindar.

After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 300's BC, a new international dialect known as Koine
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 or Common Greek developed, largely based on Attic Greek
Attic Greek
Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

, but with influence from other dialects. This dialect slowly replaced most of the older dialects, although Doric dialect has survived to the present in the form of the Tsakonian
Tsakonian language
Tsakonian, Tsaconian, Tzakonian or Tsakonic is a Hellenic language, spoken in the Tsakonian region of the Peloponnese, Greece....

 dialect of Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

, spoken in the region of modern Sparta. Doric has also passed down its aorist terminations into most verbs of Demotic Greek
Dimotiki
Demotic Greek or dimotiki is the modern vernacular form of the Greek language. The term has been in use since 1818. Demotic refers particularly to the form of the language that evolved naturally from ancient Greek, in opposition to the artificially archaic Katharevousa, which was the official...

. By about the 500's AD, the Koine had slowly metamorphosized into Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

.

Sound changes


See Proto-Greek for a description of sound changes from Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 up through attested Ancient Greek.

Phonology


The pronunciation of Post-Classic Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 changed considerably from Ancient Greek, although the orthography still reflects features of the older language (see W. Sidney Allen, Vox Graeca – a guide to the pronunciation of Classical Greek). For a detailed description on the phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 changes from Ancient to Hellenistic periods of the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, see the article on Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

.

The examples below are intended to represent Attic Greek in the 5th century BC. Although ancient pronunciation can never be reconstructed with certainty, Greek in particular is very well documented from this period, and there is little disagreement among linguists as to the general nature of the sounds that the letters represented.

Vowels

Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

  unrounded
Roundedness
In phonetics, vowel roundedness refers to the amount of rounding in the lips during the articulation of a vowel. That is, it is vocalic labialization. When pronouncing a rounded vowel, the lips form a circular opening, while unrounded vowels are pronounced with the lips relaxed...

rounded
Roundedness
In phonetics, vowel roundedness refers to the amount of rounding in the lips during the articulation of a vowel. That is, it is vocalic labialization. When pronouncing a rounded vowel, the lips form a circular opening, while unrounded vowels are pronounced with the lips relaxed...

Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i iː y yː
Close-mid
Close-mid vowel
A close-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from a close vowel to a mid vowel...

e eː o oː
Open-mid
Open-mid vowel
An open-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of an open-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from an open vowel to a mid vowel...

ɛː ɔː
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

a aː


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

Certain vowels historically underwent compensatory lengthening
Compensatory lengthening
Compensatory lengthening in phonology and historical linguistics is the lengthening of a vowel sound that happens upon the loss of a following consonant, usually in the syllable coda...

 in certain contexts. /a/ sometimes lengthened to [aː] or [ɛː], and /e/ and /o/ become the closed values [eː] and [oː] and the open ones [ɛː] and [ɔː] depending on time period.

Consonants

Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Dental Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n (ŋ)
Plosive voiced b d ɡ
voiceless p t k
aspirated
Aspiration (phonetics)
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. To feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say pin ...

Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

s h
Trill
Trill consonant
In phonetics, a trill is a consonantal sound produced by vibrations between the articulator and the place of articulation. Standard Spanish <rr> as in perro is an alveolar trill, while in Parisian French it is almost always uvular....

r
Lateral
Lateral consonant
A lateral is an el-like consonant, in which airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth....

l


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

Assimilation


In verb conjugation, one consonant often comes up against the other. Various sandhi
Sandhi
Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of phonological processes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries . Examples include the fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of sounds due to neighboring sounds or due to the grammatical function of adjacent words...

 rules apply.

Rules:
  • Most basic rule: When two sounds appear next to each other, the first assimilates
    Assimilation (linguistics)
    Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

     in voicing and aspiration to the second.
    • This applies fully to stops. Fricatives assimilate only in voicing, sonorants do not assimilate.
  • Before an /s/ (future, aorist stem), velars become [k], labials become [p], and dentals disappear.
  • Before a /tʰ/ (aorist passive stem), velars become [kʰ], labials become [pʰ], and dentals become [s].
  • Before an /m/ (perfect middle first-singular, first-plural, participle), velars become [ɡ], nasal+velar becomes [ɡ], labials become [m], dentals become [s], other sonorants remain the same.

Morphology


Greek, like all of the older Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

, is highly inflected. It is highly archaic in its preservation of Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 forms. In Ancient Greek noun
Noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

s (including proper nouns) have five cases
Declension
In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

 (nominative
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

, genitive
Genitive case
In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

, dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

, accusative
Accusative case
The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of prepositions...

 and vocative
Vocative case
The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

), three genders
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 (masculine
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

, feminine
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 and neuter
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

), and three numbers
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 (singular, dual
Dual (grammatical number)
Dual is a grammatical number that some languages use in addition to singular and plural. When a noun or pronoun appears in dual form, it is interpreted as referring to precisely two of the entities identified by the noun or pronoun...

 and plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

). Verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

s have four moods
Grammatical mood
In linguistics, grammatical mood is a grammatical feature of verbs, used to signal modality. That is, it is the use of verbal inflections that allow speakers to express their attitude toward what they are saying...

 (indicative, imperative
Imperative mood
The imperative mood expresses commands or requests as a grammatical mood. These commands or requests urge the audience to act a certain way. It also may signal a prohibition, permission, or any other kind of exhortation.- Morphology :...

, subjunctive
Subjunctive mood
In grammar, the subjunctive mood is a verb mood typically used in subordinate clauses to express various states of irreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred....

, and optative
Optative mood
The optative mood is a grammatical mood that indicates a wish or hope. It is similar to the cohortative mood, and closely related to the subjunctive mood....

), three voices
Voice (grammar)
In grammar, the voice of a verb describes the relationship between the action that the verb expresses and the participants identified by its arguments . When the subject is the agent or doer of the action, the verb is in the active voice...

 (active, middle and passive
English passive voice
The passive voice is a grammatical construction in which the subject of a sentence or clause denotes the recipient of the action rather than the performer...

), as well as three persons
Grammatical person
Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

 (first, second and third) and various other forms. Verbs are conjugated through seven combinations of tenses
Grammatical tense
A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

 and aspect
Grammatical aspect
In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

 (generally simply called "tenses"): the present
Present tense
The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

, future
Future tense
In grammar, a future tense is a verb form that marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future , or to happen subsequent to some other event, whether that is past, present, or future .-Expressions of future tense:The concept of the future,...

 and imperfect are imperfective
Imperfective aspect
The imperfective is a grammatical aspect used to describe a situation viewed with internal structure, such as ongoing, habitual, repeated, and similar semantic roles, whether that situation occurs in the past, present, or future...

 in aspect; the aorist
Aorist
Aorist is a philological term originally from Indo-European studies, referring to verb forms of various languages that are not necessarily related or similar in meaning...

 (perfective aspect
Perfective aspect
The perfective aspect , sometimes called the aoristic aspect, is a grammatical aspect used to describe a situation viewed as a simple whole, whether that situation occurs in the past, present, or future. The perfective aspect is equivalent to the aspectual component of past perfective forms...

); a present perfect, pluperfect and future perfect
Future Perfect
-Album Credits:*Produced by T-Bone Burnett*All Songs Written by Autolux*Engineered by Mike Piersante*Mixed by Dave Sardy*Mastered by Stephen Marcussen *Artwork by Carla Azar-Vinyl releases:...

. 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. There are infinitives and participles corresponding to the finite combinations of tense, aspect and voice.

Augment


The indicative of past tenses
Grammatical tense
A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

 adds (conceptually, at least) a prefix /e-/. This was probably originally a separate word, meaning something like "then", added because tenses in PIE had primarily aspectual
Grammatical aspect
In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

 meaning. The augment is added to the indicative of the aorist
Aorist
Aorist is a philological term originally from Indo-European studies, referring to verb forms of various languages that are not necessarily related or similar in meaning...

, imperfect and pluperfect, but not to any of the other forms of the aorist (no other forms of the imperfect and pluperfect exist).

There are two kinds of augment in Greek, 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:
  • a, ā, e, ē → ē
  • i, ī → ī
  • o, ō → ō
  • u, ū → ū
  • ai → ēi
  • ei → ēi or ei
  • oi → ōi
  • au → ēu or au
  • eu → ēu or eu
  • ou → ou


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 prefix, the augment is placed not at the start of the word, but between the prefix and the original verb. For example, προσ(-)βάλλω (I attack) goes to προσέβαλoν in the aorist.

Following Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's practice, the augment is sometimes not made in poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, especially epic
Homeric Greek
Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey. It is an archaic version of Ionic Greek, with admixtures from certain other dialects, such as Aeolic Greek. It later served as the basis of Epic Greek, the language of epic poetry, typically in...

 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.) There are three types of reduplication
Reduplication
Reduplication in linguistics is a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word is repeated exactly or with a slight change....

:
  • Syllabic reduplication: Most verbs beginning with a single consonant, or a cluster of a stop with a sonorant, add a syllable consisting of the initial consonant followed by e. An aspirated consonant, however, reduplicates in its unaspirated equivalent: Grassmann's law
    Grassmann's Law
    Grassmann's law, named after its discoverer Hermann Grassmann, is a dissimilatory phonological process in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit which states that if an aspirated consonant is followed by another aspirated consonant in the next syllable, the first one loses the aspiration...

    .
  • Augment: Verbs beginning with a vowel, as well as those beginning with a cluster other than those indicated previously (and occasionally for a few other verbs) reduplicate in the same fashion as the augment. This remains in all forms of the perfect, not just the indicative.
  • Attic reduplication: Some verbs beginning with an a, e or o, followed by a sonorant (or occasionally d or g), reduplicate by adding a syllable consisting of the initial vowel and following consonant, and lengthening the following vowel. Hence ererēr, ananēn, ololōl, ededēd. This is not actually specific to Attic Greek
    Attic Greek
    Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

    , despite its name; but it was generalized in Attic. This originally involved reduplicating a cluster consisting of a laryngeal
    Laryngeal theory
    The laryngeal theory is a generally accepted theory of historical linguistics which proposes the existence of one, or a set of three , consonant sounds termed "laryngeals" that appear in most current reconstructions of the Proto-Indo-European language...

     and sonorant; hence h₃lh₃leh₃lolōl with normal Greek development of laryngeals. (Forms with a stop were analogous.)


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 (semi-)regular change.

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 consonant appears after the reduplication in some verbs.

Writing system


Ancient Greek was written in the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

, with some variation among dialects. Early texts are written in boustrophedon
Boustrophedon
Boustrophedon , is a type of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions. Every other line of writing is flipped or reversed, with reversed letters. Rather than going left-to-right as in modern English, or right-to-left as in Arabic and Hebrew, alternate lines in...

 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
Greek diacritics
Greek orthography has used a variety of diacritics starting in the Hellenistic period. The complex polytonic orthography notates Ancient Greek phonology...

, interword spacing, modern punctuation
Punctuation
Punctuation marks are symbols that indicate the structure and organization of written language, as well as intonation and pauses to be observed when reading aloud.In written English, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences...

, and sometimes mixed case
Capitalization
Capitalization is writing a word with its first letter as a majuscule and the remaining letters in minuscules . This of course only applies to those writing systems which have a case distinction...

, but these were all introduced later.

Example text


The following polytonic Greek text is from the beginning of Apology
Apology (Plato)
The Apology of Socrates is Plato's version of the speech given by Socrates as he unsuccessfully defended himself in 399 BC against the charges of "corrupting the young, and by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel"...

 by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

:


Transliterated into the Latin alphabet using a modern version of the Erasmian scheme
Pronunciation of Ancient Greek in teaching
Ancient Greek has been pronounced in various ways by those studying Ancient Greek literature in various times and places. This article covers those pronunciations; the modern scholarly reconstruction of its ancient pronunciation is covered in Ancient Greek phonology.-Greek world:Among speakers of...

:


Translated into English:
What you, men of Athens, have learned from my accusers, I do not know: but I, for my part, nearly forgot who I was thanks to them, since they spoke so persuasively. And yet, of the truth, they have spoken, one might say, nothing at all.


Another example, from the beginning of Homer's Iliad:

Modern use


The study of Ancient Greek in European countries in addition to Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 occupied an important place in the syllabus from the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 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
Independent school (UK)
An independent school is a school that is not financed through the taxation system by local or national government and is instead funded by private sources, predominantly in the form of tuition charges, gifts and long-term charitable endowments, and so is not subject to the conditions imposed by...

 and grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

s in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It is compulsory in the Liceo classico
Liceo classico
Liceo classico is a secondary school type in Italy. The educational curriculum lasts five years, and students are generally about 14 to 19 years of age....

 in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, in the gymnasium in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, in some classes in Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, in Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 in klasicna gimnazija and it is optional in the Humanistisches Gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 (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
Federal Statistical Office of Germany
The Federal Statistical Office of Germany is a federal authority of Germany. It is a part of the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany....

, and 280,000 pupils studied it in Italy. Ancient Greek is also taught at most major universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 worldwide, often combined with Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 as part of Classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

. It will also be taught in state primary schools in the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, to boost children’s language skills. Ancient Greek is also taught as a compulsory subject in Gymnasia
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 and Lycia in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

.

Ancient Greek is often used in the coinage of modern technical terms in the European languages: see English words of Greek origin
English words of Greek origin
The Greek language has contributed to the English vocabulary in three ways:#directly as an immediate donor,#indirectly through other intermediate language, as an original donor , and#modern coinages using Greek roots....

.

Modern authors rarely write in Ancient Greek, though Jan Křesadlo
Jan Kresadlo
Jan Křesadlo was the primary pseudonym used by Václav Jaroslav Karel Pinkava , a Czech psychologist who was also a prizewinning novelist and poet....

 wrote some poetry and prose in the language, and some volumes of Asterix
Asterix
Asterix or The Adventures of Asterix is a series of French comic books written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo . The series first appeared in French in the magazine Pilote on October 29, 1959...

 have been written in Attic Greek and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard...

has been translated into Ancient Greek.

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 funny. 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 modern Greek language to its ancestral predecessor.

An isolated community near Trabzon
Trabzon
Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Iran in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, an area where Pontic Greek is spoken, has been found to speak a variety of Greek that has parallels, both structurally and in its vocabulary, to Ancient Greek not present in other varieties. As few as 5,000 people speak the dialect but linguists believe that it is the closest living language to Ancient Greek.

Latinized forms of Ancient Greek roots are used in many of the scientific names
Binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages...

 of species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 and in scientific terminology.

See also

  • Exploring the Ancient Greek Language and Culture
    Exploring the Ancient Greek Language and Culture
    The Annual European Student Competition "Exploring the Ancient Greek Language and Culture" is an international competition held in Europe and in Mexico. It takes place yearly, and is to be considered among the most important high-school student competitions in classical languages held in Europe...

     (competition)
  • Greek alphabet
    Greek alphabet
    The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

  • Greek declension
  • Greek diacritics
    Greek diacritics
    Greek orthography has used a variety of diacritics starting in the Hellenistic period. The complex polytonic orthography notates Ancient Greek phonology...

  • Mycenaean Greek language
  • Koine Greek
    Koine Greek
    Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

  • Medieval Greek
    Medieval Greek
    Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

  • Modern Greek
    Modern Greek
    Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

  • Greek language
    Greek language
    Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  • List of Greek phrases (mostly Ancient Greek)

Further reading

  • P. Chantraine
    Pierre Chantraine
    Pierre Chantraine was a French linguist.A student of, among others, Antoine Meillet, Joseph Vendryes and Paul Mazon, Chantraine became one of the most renowned authorities on Ancient Greek philology of his generation...

     (1968), Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque, Klincksieck, Paris.
  • Athenaze
    Athenaze
    Athenaze is a series of textbooks published by Oxford University Press to teach Ancient Greek. It was written by Maurice Balme and Gilbert Lawall and first published in 1990....

     A series of textbooks on Ancient Greek published for school use
  • Hansen, Hardy and Quinn, Gerald M. (1992) Greek: An Intensive Course, Fordham University Press
    Fordham University Press
    The Fordham University Press is a publishing house, a division of Fordham University, that publishes primarily in the humanities and the social sciences...

  • Easterling, P & Handley, C. Greek Scripts: An illustrated introduction. London: Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies
    Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies
    The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, known as the Hellenic Society, was founded in 1879 to advance the study of Greek language, literature, history, art and archaeology in the Ancient, Byzantine and Modern periods....

    , 2001. ISBN 0902984179

External links



Grammar learning

Classical texts