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Introduction to Greek



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Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co.
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Introduction to Greek, Second Edition is an introductory text to Classical Greek. It is designed for the first full year course and it concentrates on the basics in a way that allows the material to be covered easily in courses that meet three times a week over the course of two semesters. The focus of the text is on grammar with slightly altered readings drawn chiefly from the works of Xenophon and Herodotus.

Author Biography

Cynthia W. Shelmerdine is professor and chair of the Classics Department at the University of Texas. Her research interests include Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology and Mycenaean Greek. She is the author of Wilding's Greek for Beginners with Focus as well as A Guide to the Palace of Nestor (Princeton 2001).

Table of Contents

Preface     xiii CHAPTER 1   1 1. The Greek alphabet   1 2. Consonant groups   2 3. Vowel groups (diphthongs)   2 4. Accents   3 5. Breathings   4 6. Punctuation and capital letters   4 CHAPTER 2   7 1. Verb formation: principal parts   7 2. The present active indicative of thematic verbs (1st principal part)   8 3. Verb accents   9 4. The negative ο?   10 5. Common conjunctions   10 Chapter 2 Vocabulary    11 CHAPTER 3   13 1. Noun formation   13 2. The definite article   13 3. Feminine nouns of the 1st declension   14 4. Noun and adjective accents   15 5. Accents of 1st declension nouns   15 6. Prepositions   16 7. The future active indicative of thematic verbs (2nd principal part)   17 Chapter 3 Vocabulary    18 CHAPTER 4   19 1. The paradigm of the definite article   19 2. Masculine nouns of the 1st declension   19 3. The imperfect active indicative of thematic verbs (1st principal part)   20 4. Some uses of the definite article   21 5. Verbs taking genitive or dative   21 Chapter 4 Vocabulary   22 CHAPTER 5   23 1. Masculine and feminine nouns of the 2nd declension   23 2. The aorist active indicative of thematic verbs (3rd principal part)   23 3. Aspect in the indicative   24 4. Word order   25 5. The possessive genitive   26 Chapter 5 Vocabulary   27 CHAPTER 6   29 1. Neuter nouns of the 2nd declension   29 2. Some uses of the dative   30 3. The present active infinitive of thematic verbs   30 4. The complementary infinitive   31 5. Reading expectations   31 6. The negatives ο? and μ?   31 Chapter 6 Vocabulary   32 CHAPTER 7   33 1. 1st and 2nd declension adjectives   33 2. Attributive adjectives   34 3. Predicate adjectives and nouns   34 4. Enclitics   35 5. The present indicative and infinitive of ε?μ?, \u2018be\u2019   36 6. The dative of possession   37 Chapter 7 Vocabulary   38 CHAPTER 8   39 1. 3rd declension nouns   39 2. 3rd declension nouns: stems in -κ, -τ   40 3. The present active imperative, 2nd person, of thematic verbs and ε?μ?   40 4. Connection   41 5. μ?ν and δ?   42 READING: Underground Dwellings   44 Chapter 8 Vocabulary   44 CHAPTER 9   45 1. 3rd declension nouns: stems in -τ, -δ, -θ   45 2. α?τ?ς, intensive use   46 3. α?τ?ς as personal pronoun   46 4. α?τ?ς, attributive use   47 5. Elision   48 6. ο??ς τ? ε?μι   49 READING: Cyrus Is Helped by Camels   49 Chapter 9 Vocabulary   50 CHAPTER 10   51 1. 3rd declension nouns: stems in -ντ, -κτ   51 2. The future and imperfect indicative of ε?μ?, \u2018be\u2019   52 3. The relative pronoun   52 READING: The Battle of Thermopylae   54 Chapter 10 Vocabulary   55 CHAPTER 11   57 1. 3rd declension nouns: stems in -ρ   57 2. Syllabic and temporal augments   58 3. Augments of compound verbs   58 4. Principal parts of palatal stem thematic verbs   60 5. The strong aorist active indicative of thematic verbs (3rd principal part)   61 READING: Xerxes Whips the Sea   63 Chapter 11 Vocabulary   64 CHAPTER 12   65 1. 3rd declension nouns: stems in -ν   65 2. More uses of the article   66 3. Compounds of ε?μ?, \u2018be\u2019   66 4. Conditions   67 5. Simple conditions   68 6. Contrary-to-fact conditions   68 READING: Admetus and Alcestis   70 Chapter 12 Vocabulary   71 CHAPTER 13   73 1. 3rd declension nouns: stems in -σ   73 2. Principal parts of dental stem thematic verbs   74 3. The future and aorist active infinitives of thematic verbs   75 4. Infinitive aspect   76 5. The infinitive as a verbal noun; the articular infinitive   76 READING: The Wooden Wall   78 Chapter 13 Vocabulary   79 CHAPTER 14   81 1. 3rd declension nouns: stems in -ι, -υ   81 2. Principal parts of labial stem verbs   82 3. νομ?ζω and φημ?    83 4. Indirect statement   84 5. The infinitive in indirect statement   84 READING: The Ten Thousand Reach the Sea   87 Chapter 14 Vocabulary   88 CHAPTER 15   89 1. 3rd declension nouns: stems in diphthongs   89 2. The present and imperfect passive indicative of thematic verbs (1st principal part)   90 3. The genitive of personal agent   91 4. Irregular 3rd declension nouns   92 5. The aorist passive indicative of thematic verbs (6th principal part)   92 6. The future passive indicative of thematic verbs (6th principal part)   93 READING: The Cunning of Artemisia   95 Chapter 15 Vocabulary   96 Review of Principal Parts   97 CHAPTER 16   99 1. μ?γας, πολ?ς and adjectives of the τ?λας type   99 2. Regular comparison of adjectives   100 3. Comparison with ? and the genitive of comparison   101 4. Some uses of the genitive   102 5. Some uses of the dative   102 READING: How The Egyptians Avoided Gnats   104 Chapter 16 Vocabulary   104 CHAPTER 17   105 1. The middle voice: meaning   105 2. The middle voice: formation   106 3. Review of middle future forms   107 4. Some uses of the accusative   108 5. Time expressions   110 READING: Victory In Bad Weather   111 Chapter 17 Vocabulary   112 CHAPTER 18   113 1. Active imperatives of thematic verbs    113 2. Imperatives of ε?μ?, \u2018be\u2019   114 3. Future and aorist middle and passive infinitives of thematic verbs    114 4. The future infinitive of ε?μ?, \u2018be\u2019   115 5. Personal pronouns, 1st and 2nd persons   116 6. Possessive adjectives, 1st and 2nd persons   116 READING: Double Dealings of Themistocles   118 Chapter 18 Vocabulary   119 CHAPTER 19   121 1. Contract verbs   121 2. Contract verbs in -εω   121 3. Impersonal δε?   122 4. Contract verbs in -αω   123 5. Contract verbs in -οω   125 6. Contract nouns and adjectives   126 READING: Xerxes and the Helmsman   127 Chapter 19 Vocabulary   128 CHAPTER 20   129 1. Adjectives of the σ?φρων and ?ληθ?ς types   129 2. Adjectives of the ?δ?ς type   130 3. The adjective π?ς   131 4. The liquid future (2nd principal part   131 5. The liquid aorist (3rd principal part   132 6. Review of liquid future and aorist forms   132 READING: Polycrates and the Ring 1: Advice from Amasis   134 Chapter 20 Vocabulary   135 CHAPTER 21   137 1. Participles   137 2. The present active participle in -ων (1st principal part)   137 4. The circumstantial participle   139 5. Further notes on participles   140 6. The future active participle (2nd principal part)   141 7. The aorist active participle (3rd principal part)   141 READING: Polycrates and the Ring 2: Destiny Is Destiny   143 Chapter 21 Vocabulary   144 CHAPTER 22   145 1. Present middle / passive participles (1st principal part)   145 2. Future and aorist middle participles (2nd and 3rd principal parts)   147 3. Aorist and future passive participles (6th principal part)   147 4. The genitive absolute    148 5. Further comparison of adjectives in -τερος, -τατος   149 READING: The Ingenuity of Cyrus   150 Chapter 22 Vocabulary   151 CHAPTER 23   153 1. Athematic (-μι) verbs   153 2. Athematic (-μι) verbs, 1st principal part   153 3. Athematic (-μι) verbs, 3rd principal part   156 4. Further comparison of adjectives in -(?)ων, -(ι)στος   158 5. Declension of comparatives in -(?)ων   159 READING: Crocodiles   160 Chapter 23 Vocabulary   161 CHAPTER 24   163 1. Reflexive pronouns   163 2. Direct and indirect reflexives   164 3. The reciprocal pronoun   164 4. Questions   165 5. Demonstrative pronouns / adjectives   166 6. τοιο?τος, τοσο?τος   167 READING: A Strange Rescue   168 Chapter 24 Vocabulary   169 CHAPTER 25   171 1. The subjunctive mood   171 2. The subjunctive of thematic and athematic (-μι) verbs   171 3. Exhortations   173 4. The deliberative subjunctive   173 5. Prohibitions   174 6. γ?γνομαι   174 READING: Aristagoras and His Map   175 Chapter 25 Vocabulary   176 CHAPTER 26   177 1. The optative mood   177 2. The optative of regular thematic verbs   177 3. The optative of contract verbs   178 4. The optative of athematic (-μι) verbs   179 5. The potential optative   180 6. Wishes   180 READING: Marathon 1: Vain Appeal to Sparta   182 READING: Marathon 2: The Battle    182 Chapter 26 Vocabulary   183 CHAPTER 27   185 1. Sequence of moods   185 2. Purpose (final) clauses   185 3. The future participle to express purpose   186 4. ο?δα   187 5. Irregular strong aorists   189 6. Supplementary participles in indirect statement   190 7. Indirect statement with ?τι or ?ς   190 READING: An Argument about Command 1: Gelon\u2019s Offer   192 Chapter 27 Vocabulary   193 CHAPTER 28   195 1. Future and general conditions   195 2. Conditions with the subjunctive   196 3. Conditions with the optative   197 4. Directional suffixes   198 READING: An Argument about Command 2: The Greek Response   199 Chapter 28 Vocabulary   200 CHAPTER 29   201 1. Adverbs   201 2. ?χω + adverb   201 3. μ?λα, μ?λλον, μ?λιστα   202 4. The interrogative pronoun / adjective   203 5. The indefinite pronoun / adjective   203 6. Interrogative and indefinite adverbs   204 READING: Born To Be King 1: A High-Handed Child   205 Chapter 29 Vocabulary   206 CHAPTER 30   207 1. The indefinite relative pronoun / adjective   207 2. Correlative pronouns / adjectives   208 3. Correlative adverbs   208 4. Conditional relative and temporal clauses   209 READING: Born To Be King 2: King Hereafter   211 Chapter 30 Vocabulary   211 CHAPTER 31   213 1. The perfect system   213 2. The perfect and pluperfect active indicative of regular verbs (4th principal part)   213 3. The perfect and pluperfect middle / passive indicative of regular verbs (5th principal part)   214 4. The dative of personal agent   215 5. The perfect infinitive (4th and 5th principal parts)   216 6. Result (consecutive) clauses   217 READING: Pylos and Sphacteria 1: An Ill Wind   218 Chapter 31 Vocabulary   219 CHAPTER 32   221 1. The 2nd (strong) perfect active   221 2. Reduplication   222 3. The perfect middle / passive of consonant stem verbs   223 4. The perfect active participle   224 5. The perfect middle / passive participle   225 6. Supplementary participles not in indirect statement   226 READING: Pylos and Sphacteria 2: Stalemate   228 Chapter 32 Vocabulary   229 CHAPTER 33   231 1. The perfect subjunctive and optative   231 2. Numbers   232 3. Declension of numbers   233 4. The negative pronouns / adjectives ο?δε?ς and μηδε?ς   233 5. Clauses of fearing   234 6. Indirect questions   236 READING: Pylos and Sphacteria 3: A Boast Fulfilled   237 Chapter 33 Vocabulary   238 CHAPTER 34   239 1. ε?μι, \u2018go\u2019   239 2. ?ημι   241 3. Temporal clauses with ?ως, μ?χρι and ?στε   243 4. Temporal clauses with πρ?ν   244 READING: Socrates\u2019 Defense Speech   246 Chapter 34 Vocabulary   246 Greek–English Glossary   247 English–Greek Glossary   257 Appendix 1: Principal Parts   265 Appendix 2: Uses of Cases   269 Appendix 3: Prepositions   270 Appendix 4: Summary of Forms   271 Nouns    271 Adjectives   276 Participles   279 Pronouns   281 Numbers   284 Regular Thematic Verbs   285 Contract Thematic Verbs   293 Athematic Verbs: δε?κνυμι, τ?θημι, ?στημι, δ?δωμι   296 Irregular Athematic Verbs: ?ημι, ε?μ?, ε?μι, φημ?, ο?δα   303 Appendix 5: Reading Expectations   307 Appendix 6: Construction Summaries   309 Appendix 7: Regular Verb Tense Markers and Endings by Tense   311 Appendix 8: Regular Verb Tense Markers and Endings by Mood   313 Index    315



This book was born of my experience over the last three decades teaching ancient Greek to American university students, who bear little resemblance to the audience (British schoolboys with some knowledge of Latin) for which most older textbooks were intended. College students appreciate an acknowledgment of the fact that they are coming to Greek at an older age and with wider interests. They find a new paradigm, for example, easier to remember if they understand the linguistic pattern behind it. At the same time they need some review of English grammar, and many have never taken Latin. Newer morphology- based textbooks address these needs, some in great detail. Another characteristic, however, of the students for whom it is intended is that they want results: they want to absorb the grammar and to start reading Greek, real Greek, as soon as possible. Retention rates suggest that many students are unwilling to invest two or even more semesters in a language if at the end of that time they will still be learning syntax, rather than reading the authors who inspired them to learn the language in the first place. To this end, I have tried to provide useful linguistic background, but also to focus on the basics and keep the book fairly short. The readings, drawn chiefly from Xenophon and Herodotus, are as close to the original as feasible, and increasingly so in later chapters. They seem to me to provide better practice and preparation than the invented passages of reading-based textbooks. The epigraphs which appear at the beginning of some chapters illustrate a point of grammar covered in that chapter. They are there for teacher and students to enjoy together if they wish; the vocabulary is not included in the glossary.

The starting point for the first edition was L.A. Wilding’s Greek for Beginners (2nd edition, Faber and Faber Limited 1959), one of the best of the older texts. Wilding’s selection of readings, practice sentences and vocabulary were appealing features. His assumption that Greek students already knew Latin was a drawback, however, and he provided little in the way of forms or grammatical explanations, referring students instead to a primer of Greek grammar. I created a full textbook based on Wilding’s sentences and readings, including paradigms, explanations of morphology and syntax, chapter vocabularies, and so on. I also added material not in the original, like athematic verbs and conditions, and moved some syntactical sections earlier in the book. Grammar was explained with reference to English, not Latin.

The second edition carries these changes still further. The most significant modifications are the following:

  • The order of presentation has been further revised; for example, the perfect and pluperfect tenses and the numbers are deferred to near the end of the book, and athematic verbs have moved from the last chapter to chapter 23.
  • Some material omitted from the first edition has been added (e.g. the potential optative, accusative of respect, alternative verb forms).
  • Some longer chapters have been split into two.
  • Chapter vocabularies now distinguish between words in bold (to be learned, and recurring in future chapters) and words in regular type (appearing in the current chapter, but rarely if at all in future exercises, and never in English- to-Greek sentences).
  • Explanations have been revised and in some cases expanded. Increased use of bullets and outline format will, I hope, make information easier to find.
  • Syntactical presentations emphasize how to recognize a construction rather than how to form it. That is, they proceed from the perspective of a reader who is working through a Greek sentence, learning to use key words to predict what will follow and to recognize constructions. (The presentation of contrary-to-fact conditions in Ch. 12.6 exemplifies this approach.) Tables of reading expectations are provided for more complex constructions; these are repeated in Appendix 5. Those who like the traditional construction summaries, more useful when working from English to Greek than in reading, will find them in Appendix 6.
  • Exercises of various types are included, especially in earlier chapters, though the focus is still on Greek-to-English and English-to-Greek sentences.
  • Principal parts are emphasized more, and more consistently.
  • The focus is on Attic spelling (ττ for σσ), and Attic forms current in the 5th cy. BCE. Thus, for example, some extant but later principal parts are omitted.
  • These and other changes will, I hope, make the textbook more effective and easier to use. Many of them either echo or derive from comments by those who have reviewed the first edition and/or used it themselves. While I have not adopted every suggestion offered, I offer heartfelt thanks to all who have helped in this way and by catching errata to improve the book. They include my colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin Lesley Dean-Jones, Ben Henry, Tom Hubbard and Jack Kroll, colleagues elsewhere Simon Burris, Barbara Clayton, Brent Froberg, Jim Marks, Jeanne Neumann, Kirk Ormand, Gilbert Rose and Susan Shelmerdine, as well as the anonymous reviewers for Focus Publishing. U.T. graduate students Bart Natoli and Luis Salas assisted with proofreading. Finally, I would like to express once again my debt to many students whom I have taught with this book in earlier drafts and in the first edition. They are the best test of what works well and how to improve what does not; and they have given me the pleasure of shared discoveries which is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching.

    Cynthia W. Shelmerdine
    New Year’s Day 2008

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