How to Approach This Course

Professor of Ancient History
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
vgorman1@unl.edu or vbgorman@gmail.com

Reading Ancient Greek in the Digital Age is designed to be a self-paced, open access course in Attic Greek. It employs tools that are freely available, and no textbook is required. The principal aim is to offer a reading knowledge of Greek, Latin, and, frankly, languages in general, and heritage languages in particular, to anyone who has the desire to learn, without forcing the reader to go through a lengthy and unnecessary hazing period of extensive rote memorization of syntactic forms and vocabulary words that rarely, if ever, occur.


This course focuses on the text of Xenophon’s Hellenika. Because of its subject-matter, the main vocabulary is fairly limited to military terms. The structure is a straightforward narrative sprinkled with speeches, all of which provide an ideal pathway to learning to read Attic Greek. You will start with simplified sentences from the Hellenika and, as you progress through further grammatical elements, those same sentences will recur with the new elements restored in them, until you are able to read the unadulterated Greek text.


You will be using two free digital tools. The first is Alpheios, a web browser extension that gives you the meaning and the morphological analysis of each word in your text. The second is Arethusa, a treebanking program available through the Perseids Project. It is used to make grammatical trees of the sentences, using the simple rules of Dependency Syntax. You will learn to read trees, in order to understand the grammatical structure of the sentences you are translating, and you will be given the opportunity to annotate your own trees and compare them to a Gold Standard version.


The lessons are divided into two main units. Unit 1 will proceed through the parts of speech in a simple sentence in Greek using only 4 verb forms, while Unit 2 will explore the verb system and all manner of subordination found in a complex sentence. Each chapter has one or more video lessons with accompanying PowerPoints and handouts. Each chapter contains two sets of practice sentences (except mini-chapters, which only contain one). Both sets of sentences are accompanied by translations and commentaries. The first set is already linked to syntactic trees through Alpheios. Unit 1 is further arranged so that the first sentences in each chapter will contain only the most common vocabulary words. The later sentences will contain a few new vocabulary words, which you should translate using Alpheios. If the short definition offered initially by Alpheios does not seem appropriate for your context, click on the symbol on the toolbar that takes you to the default lexicon and a wider range of commonly-used definitions. A second set of practice sentences allows you to try your hand at making trees. The file must be downloaded and then uploaded as a New Treebank Annotation in Perseids. You may then practice making trees yourself and compare them to a Gold Standard. Practice with as few or as many of the sentences in each chapter as you like. Move at your own pace, and enjoy the process of understanding language. Questions, comments, and corrections and gratefully accepted.

Good Luck!


Tips: Most Important Items to Memorize

1. Forms/meanings on the verb handout [1.1]
2. The Article [1.2]
3. Vocab: common 1st and 2nd declension nouns [1.2]
4. Common case uses [1.2]
5. Third declension endings [1.8]
6. Master vocabulary, ranked
7. Subordinating conjunctions [2.2]
8. 1st and 2nd person endings [2.7]
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