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Elementary Greek

GREEK 451/452

Elementary Greek

  • Course ID:GREEK 451/452
  • Semesters:2
  • Department:Classics
  • Course Rank:Honors
  • Teachers:Tom Cox

Description and Objectives

The four-semester Greek sequence that begins with Elementary Greek I (Fall) and II (Spring), and concludes with Intermediate Greek I (Fall) and II (Spring). This sequence is the prerequisite for advanced Greek courses at The Heights.

Objectives for Elementary Greek include:

  1. Quiz on every vocabulary list
  2. Quiz on every paradigm
  3. Translation of all “Readings”
  4. 20 “Compositions” (English-Greek translations)

The goal for student learning in Elementary Greek is mastery of the vocabulary, morphology, and grammar of the first 20 chapters of Chase and Phillips’s A New Introduction to Greek.


A New Introduction to Greek. Chase, Alston Hurd & Henry Phillips, Jr. Harvard University Press, 1961.


  • one of the many Ancient Greek-English dictionaries available—especially recommended is the middle-sized Liddell and Scott Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon available from Oxford University Press. This book will cost about $60 new, but will last and potentially be used for decades.
  • a standard reference grammar—for example Herbert Weir Smyth’s Greek Grammar from Harvard University Press. This reference work will also be useful for a lifetime, but its price makes it a better investment for a student who is already committed to studying Greek long-term.

These are reference works to be used for a lifetime, and the student is strongly urged to consider that digital versions of reference works lack the essential characteristic of delay, the interval between the time when the question arises in the mind and the time when the question is answered. This is the time period in which the space in the memory where new information will dwell is created. If one definition of learning is the expansion of the capacity for memory and the actual exercise of memory, then digital reference workds skip this essential step  of the learning process.

Course Requirements

  1. The student in GK 451 will be expected to memorize one or two paradigms and one vocabulary list—including full lexical forms of all words—for each chapter. 
  2. This will require the student to practice daily by writing and speaking his Greek. 
  3. The chapters will be covered in four days, called “1-days,” “2-days,” “3-days,” and “4-days.”
    • On 1-days, students are expected to have prepared for class by reading the new chapter, writing out and speaking the new paradigm(s) and vocabulary, and by translating some of the Readings or beginning the Compositions. In class the instructor will explain new grammar, we will practice new forms, and we will translate some of the Readings.
    • On 2-days, students are expected to have prepared for class by translating the Readings, and by translating some of the Compositions.
    • On 3-days, students will be given a quiz on the vocabulary of the chapter, and the group will finish translating together the Readings of the chapter.
    • On 4-days, students will hand in their Compositions and spend the rest of the period independently practicing paradigms. At the end of the meeting the students will take the paradigm quiz.
  4. The Final Exam will be based on the Readings.

Successful Students

Success in this course is founded above all upon this: discipline to do a little every day, managing the layover days as treacherous and expansive freedom that can be turned to great progress, or be squandered in idleness.

Students who are not working a little every day on compositions, memorizing paradigms, memorizing vocabulary, and translating the readings, will score lower on the quizzes on 3-days and 4-days. Students who are not preparing the readings diligently will score lower on the midyear and final exams.

Additional Resources

In addition to the standard dictionary and reference grammars mentioned above, students of GK 451–452 and GK 551–552 are expected to learn to use the following standard resources:

  • for a standard list of vocabulary words to be learned, the Basic Greek Vocabulary of J. R. Cheadle is a universally-valued baseline.
  • students are advised always to use hard copies of reference books (the Grammar and the Dictionary), but for emergencies, students are advised to use Logeion, an online dictionary hosted by the University of Chicago, which searches the standard print reference dictionaries of both Latin and Greek.