Intensive Ancient Greek (Greek 1003)
Spring 2014, MWF 12-110 AB343, TTh 11-1220 AB306
Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Professor of Classics, 327 Anderson Hall,
1-3672, Office hours: TBA
Subject web site:

updated 12 March 2014

Texts: An Introduction to Ancient Greek: A Literary Approach (Second Edition)
by C. A. E. Luschnig 978-0-87220-889-6 (there is an e-edition available)

Lysias, On the Murder of Eratosthenes. PDF at Blackboard.

Overview: This course aims to introduce you to the language of the ancient Greeks. By the end of the first week, you will be reading actual ancient Greek texts!! That is, you will if you survive! This course will be hard, but it will also be extremely rewarding. No matter how clever you are, learning Greek will take a fair amount of time. You should not take this course unless you are willing and able to spend some time on Greek every day, for this time will be the single most important factor in your level of success. I will give you as much help as you want or need. During April we will read a real, unadulterated, Athenian text, On the Murder of Eratosthenes by Lysias.

Approach: We stress learning Greek through reading progressively harder passages of the original language, a practice accompanied by memorizing important vocabulary and forms. It is very important that you not wander off or fall behind. Thus you will be a weekly vocabulary quizzes online at Blackboard and a grammar and reading test every other week during the semester, and a final. If you are going to miss a class, you must call or email me, and I will return your message as soon as I can with your assignment. There will be regular homework assignments. Daily work outside of class is crucial to success in this class. I assign weekly vocabulary quizzes because memorizing a word's meaning then allows you to concentrate on its form when you are reading. Understanding a word rests on a combination of absolute meaning and contextual form. Learn the meaning and half the battle is won! An extra bonus here is that understanding Greek roots will increase your English vocabulary tremendously. The vocabulary quizzes may be taken an infinite number of times during the week they are active.

SOS? If you at any point feel overwhelmed, dumber than everyone else in the class, or just plain confused, please talk to me. Don’t sneak away and then try to avoid running into me on campus. I am very willing to offer advice or extra help. Consider setting up study groups with your classmates.  There will be students around the module who have completed this course already.


  • 6 Tests: 42%
  • Final: 14%
  • Online vocabulary quizzes (BB>Assignments): 24%
  • Homework: 10% (pass-fail, scored as a percentage of completed assignnments; see note below)
  • Daily work: 10% (includes attendance and participation).

If you miss a quiz or test without notifying me in advance with justification, you may not make up the assignment.

Note that I will weigh the second half of the course more heavily than the first if you show real improvement as the semester progresses.

Homework: Completion of assigned homework is extremely important for learning the language. Ideally, you should complete your homework on non-class days, not one hour before we meet! Normal homework may be handed in one meeting late and still receive credit.

Starting out: By Tuesday, learn the Greek alphabet for a quiz (see page 3; be able to write out the alphabet in order, in lower case letters). I STRONGLY urge to you consult a new interactive web site ( for learning the Greek alphabet and the basic principles of the Greek language. For now, learn the lower case letters, since these are the ones you will see the most. The single biggest obstacle most students face as they begin is the alphabet, so if you get used to it quickly, the rest will be much easier. The single biggest obstacle most students face as they begin is the alphabet, so if you get used to it quickly, the rest will be much easier. Check out this guide for writing Greek letters.

How to Study:

  1. Make sure there are as few distractions as possible (chatty roommates, ESPN, music)
  2. Review the reading and grammar we covered during the previous class meeting. If you find something does not make sense, make a note of it and ask questions during the next class meeting
  3. Do whatever formal homework assignment I have given
  4. Working outside of class with other students really helps. Traditionally, students have gathered across from the elevators on the third floor of Anderson, or on the couches in the Classics module (Anderson 321)
  5. Don't wear your phone or mp3 player while studying. No, it doesn't help you relax and therefore study better. It merely distracts part of your brain.

Schedule: (Subject to modifications)

Exciting news!! We will be reading brief sentences of real Greek during Week, 1 a section of Plato's Meno in Week 4, some Euripides in Week 5, selections from Apollodorus' Library of Greek Mythology in Week 7, and parts of Plato's Apology of Socrates starting in Week 8, and more!!

Week Lesson Main topics
Jan 21-24 Introduction and Lesson 1. Alphabet quiz Tuesday. The Alphabet; accents; present tense of active and middle thematic verbs; first and declension nouns
Jan 27-31 Lesson 2 Imperfect tense; adjectives
Feb 3-7 Test Monday. Lesson 3 Future tense; more on the first declension
Feb 10-14 Lesson 4 The aorist tense; indirect statement
Feb 17-21 Test Monday. Lessons 5-6

Third declension nouns

Feb 24-28 Lessons 6-7 Third declension adjectives; irregular adjectives
March 10-14 Lesson 7. Test Thursday on 5-7. The start Lesson 8 Participles; pronouns
March 17-21 Lesson 8-9 Perfect active tense
March 24-28 Lesson 9 Pronouns; perfect middle-passive
March 31-Apr 4 Test Monday. Lesson 10 Comparison; aorist and future passive
Apr 7-11 Lesson 11 Contract verbs
Apr 14-18 Test Monday. Lesson 12-13 MI-verbs; subjunctive mood
Apr 21-25 Lessons 13-14 Optative mood; imperative mood
Apr 28-May 2 Test Monday. Lysias  
May 5 Lysias  
May 12 Final exam 10:30-12:30 review sessions can be scheduled

Important dates:

  • Tuesday, 3 February: last day to drop a class
  • Tuesday, 25 March: last day to withdraw from a class

Disability disclosure statement: Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss the specific situation as soon as possible. Contact Disability Resources at 215-204-1280 in 100 Ritter Annex to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Statement on Academic Freedom: Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The University has adopted a policy on Student and Faculty Academic Rights and Responsibilities (Policy # 03.70.02) which can be accessed through the following link: