Introduction to Ancient Greek (Greek 1)
Fall 2014, TTh 1230-150 AB 343
Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Professor of Classics, 327 Anderson Hall,
1-3672, Office hours: TTh 11-12 and F 11:30-12:30

Course web site:
Subject web site:

updated 4 September 2014

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

This is a "hybrid" course. A hybrid course "meets" partially online. Greek 1 is a 4 c.h. course that only meets for 3 c.h. in the classroom. As described below, there is weekly online work at Blackboard. I hope this method will result in a superior course for you, and I encourage feedback on the online component.

Overview: This course aims to introduce you to the language of the ancient Greeks. By the end of the first month, you will be reading actual ancient Greek texts!! That is, you will if you survive! This course requires regular, focused work, 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 -- even just a few minutes -- 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. We start simply, with basic Greek vocabulary, forms and grammar. By the middle of the first semester we read an extended passage from Plato, followed by lines from Euripides, and paragraphs from an ancient myth collection. During April we will read an extended section of Plato's Protagoras that features Plato's myth of Prometheus and early man.

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 quizzes and exercises online at Blackboard and three tests on grammar and reading 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 brief homework assignments for almost every class meeting. Daily work is crucial; for any course you should spend two hours studying for every hour in class, so for this course you should devote eight hours each week if you would like to receive a high grade and actually learn to read Greek.

Online work: The fourth hour will be spent with self-test exercises and vocabulary quizzes online at Blackboard. These exercises are required and will only be available during the weeks of the Lesson to which they apply. You may (and should) take the self-tests as many times as you like, but this work must be done between Thursday and Tuesday. Each week's work will open at 12:01 A.M. on Friday and will close at 11:59 p.m. Monday. Your highest score will be saved in the Gradebook.

After each attempt, follow the instructions (click OK on the lower right corner) to see what mistakes you made. The system is designed to give you immediate feedback to help you study more carefully.

Every three weeks, the self-tests will become available again, but in a new, completely optional, form, to help you prepare for the tests that occur after every two lessons.

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.


  • 3 50-minute tests: 33%
  • Final: 17%
  • Weekly online exercises and quizzes: 36%
  • Homework: 7% (pass-fail, scored as a percentage of completed assignnments; see note below)
  • Daily work: 7% (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. Please note that you control fully 50% of the point total for your grade. 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 on and still receive credit.

Starting out: By Thursday, learn the Greek alphabet for a quiz (see page 1 of the textbook or the 15th slide of the first Powerpoint on BB); 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.

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 Anderson 321.
  5. Don't listen to music while studying. No, it doesn't help you relax and therefore study better. It merely distracts part of your brain.

Schedule: (Subject to modifications)

Week Lesson Main topics
Aug 26-28 Lesson 1. Alphabet quiz Thursday. The Alphabet; accents; present tense of active and middle thematic verbs.
Sept 2-4 Lesson 1 First and declension nouns
Sept 9-11 Lessons 1-2 Imperfect tense
Sept 16-18 Lesson 2 Adjectives
Sept 23-25 Test Tuesday. Lesson 3 Future tense
Sept 30-Oct 2 Lesson 3 more on the first declension
Oct 7-9 Lesson 4 The aorist tense; indirect statement
Oct 14-16 Test Tuesday. Lesson 4 Real Plato!
Oct 21-23 Lesson 5 Third declension nouns
Oct 28-30 Lesson 5 Real Euripides!
Nov 4-6 Test Tuesday. Lesson 6 Third declension adjectives; irregular adjectives
Nov 11-13 Lesson 6  
Nov 18-20 Lesson 7 Participles
Nov 25-27 Thanksgiving Break  
Dec 2-4 Lesson 7 Myths!
Dec 11 Final exam 1030-1230 review sessions can be scheduled

Important dates:

  • Monday, 8 September: last day to drop a class
  • Tuesday, 21 October: 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: