Dr Jonathan Kenigson, FRSA: Hellenic Culture Through Language – A Guide for A-Levels Students and University Freshers

Learning Ancient Greek can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. It is the language of Homer and Plato, and it is still used today in the form of Koine Greek, spoken by Greek Orthodox churches around the world. For anyone interested in learning the language, it is important to understand the various forms of Greek. Attic Greek is the oldest form of the language and the most widely used in Ancient Greek literature. Koine Greek is the form used in the New Testament and is the form still used by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Finally, modern Greek is the form spoken by people living in Greece today. Each form has its own unique features and histories, and all three are important to understand when learning Ancient Greek. While it can be difficult, learning Greek can be very rewarding. Not only will you be able to read the works of Homer, Plato, and other Ancient Greeks, but you will also gain a better understanding of the history and culture of Greece.

The Illiad and Odyssey are two of the most famous works of ancient Greek literature. Written by Homer in the 8th century BC, these timeless epics have been translated into numerous languages and adapted into countless other forms. The Illiad and Odyssey tell the stories of the ten-year Trojan War, Odysseus’ ten-year journey to return home, and the larger themes and ideas of Greek society. While the Iliad is the story of the war, the Odyssey is about the journey home.

These stories have inspired generations of readers and have become some of the most beloved works of literature in the world. Reading the Illiad and Odyssey in their original language can bring you closer to the heart of Homeric poetry and the ancient Greek culture. For those who want to experience these works as they were intended, there are many translations available in the original Greek. Whether you’re a student, a teacher, or just a curious reader, the Illiad and Odyssey offer a glimpse into the past and provide a timeless exploration of the human experience.

The three great tragedians of ancient Greek theatre are Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Their works are the foundation of the Greek tragedy genre and remain influential to this day. Aeschylus is often credited as the father of tragedy, having written over 70 plays during his lifetime. His works focused on the struggles of the gods and heroes, as well as themes of justice and morality. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays, many of which are still performed today. He was known for his profound and complex characters and his unique use of language. Euripides wrote the most plays of any of the tragedians, and his works are noted for their realism and sense of realism.

His plays often featured strong female characters and explored themes of love, loss, and betrayal. Together, the works of these three great tragedians have shaped and inspired the works of many writers, both ancient and modern. They have influenced the works of playwrights, directors, and actors throughout the centuries and continue to be studied and admired by audiences around the world.

The Homeric Hymns are a collection of poems composed in ancient Greece. These poems were dedicated to gods or goddesses and were used during religious ceremonies. They are an important source of information about Greek mythology, as they contain stories about the gods and their interactions with humans. The Homeric Hymns were composed over a period of several centuries, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century BC. They are written in a style like that of the Iliad and the Odyssey and are believed to have been written by Homer himself.

The Homeric Hymns provide us with insight into the beliefs and rituals of the ancient Greeks and are an invaluable source of information about the culture and history of the period. The Septuagint is an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Greek Old Testament. It was written between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE and is one of the most significant translations in history. The Septuagint was used by the early Christian church, and it provided the basis for the Greek New Testament.

It also served as an important source for the Latin Vulgate, the medieval Catholic Bible, and subsequently many other translations. The Septuagint also gave us access to many books that are not found in the Hebrew Bible, such as the Wisdom of Solomon and the Maccabees. Although the original Septuagint is lost, many manuscripts of it still exist and have been used to reconstruct the text. This ancient translation is still studied today, and it continues to provide an invaluable source for understanding the Bible.

Sources and Further Reading:

Bassett, Samuel Eliot. The poetry of Homer. Lexington Books, 2003.

Brenton, Sir Lancelot Charles Lee. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986.

Broadhead, Henry Dan, ed. The Persae of Aeschylus. Cambridge University Press, 1960.

Conacher, Desmond John. “Aeschylus’ Oresteia.” Aeschylus’ Oresteia. University of Toronto Press, 2016.

Fowler, Robert, and Robert Louis Fowler, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Homer. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Gregory, Justina. Euripides and the Instruction of the Athenians. University of Michigan Press,   1997.

Jobes, Karen H., and Moisés Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint. Baker Academic, 2015.

Kirk, Geoffrey Stephen. The songs of Homer. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Marcos, Natalio Fernández. The Septuagint in context: Introduction to the Greek version of the    Bible. Brill, 2000.

Mastronarde, Donald J. The art of Euripides: dramatic technique and social context. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Michelini, Ann N. Euripides and the tragic tradition. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds. A new English translation of the Septuagint. Oxford University Press, 2007.

Rosenmeyer, Thomas G. The art of Aeschylus. Vol. 541. Univ of California Press, 1982.

Rösel, Martin. “Towards a “Theology of the Septuagint”.” Septuagint research: issues and challenges in the study of the Greek Jewish scriptures (2006): 239-52.

Rutherford, Richard. Homer. Vol. 26. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Segal, Charles. Tragedy and civilization: an interpretation of Sophocles. University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

Waldock, Arthur John Alfred. Sophocles the dramatist. Vol. 374. CUP Archive, 1951.


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