Introduction to Ancient Greek

This is a course of Ancient Greek language for complete beginners. Teaching will be based on a combination of grammar and translation, allowing you to understand the inner workings of the language and providing you with the necessary tools to read and translate simple passages. There will be new grammar points to be learned every week, as well as translation practice and simple English into Greek composition.

The aim of the course is to introduce you to the basic principles of Classical Greek. It provides a firm basis of grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary of the language, through which you will be able to read and translate into English simple passages of Greek prose. By the end of the module you will have gained sufficient knowledge of the language to be able to approach and successfully translate adapted passages of Greek prose.

Teaching is varied and interactive, including practice in reading and translating Greek in each class, using texts in the textbook and, later, taken from actual Greek documents; with some further practice on points of grammar and vocabulary. You will be encouraged, especially later in the course, to suggest Greek texts for use in class.

No prior knowledge of the language is necessary. This module is open to anyone with an interest and enthusiasm for the subject. However, all modules are taught at university level, and you must be able to read, write and speak English fluently to benefit from your studies.

This short course can be taken as a stand-alone course or it may be available as part of a Certificate of Higher Education.

Indicative Weekly Class Content

  • Week 1: Introduction to Ancient Greek. The alphabet and pronunciation. Diphthongs, double consonants, accents, and breathings. Grammatical terms, links with English grammar, endings, word order, terminology, translation techniques, etc. Definite article.
  • Week 2: Agreement. First/second declension adjectives. Present indicative active verbs in –ω.
  • Week 3: Present imperative active verbs in –ω. Conjugation, tense, mood, voice, person and number. Thematic and compound verbs. The vocative. Contract verbs: present indicative and imperative. Rules of contraction.
  • Week 4: Adverbs. Second declension masculine and neuter nouns. First/second declension adjectives.
  • Week 5: Prepositions. Particles. Enclitics. μεν and δε. Irregular verbs, present indicative. Complement. Omission of verb ‘to be’ (attributive/predicative position of the adjective). Adjectives as nouns. Particles.
  • Week 6: Middle verbs: present indicative and imperative. Contract middle verbs: indicative and imperative. First declension of nouns.
  • Week 7: Genitive case. Prepositions with the accusative and the dative. Personal pronoun.
  • Week 8: Third declension nouns (consonant stems). Irregular third declension nouns ‘Zeus’ and ‘ship’.
  • Week 9: Irregular first/second declension adjectives ‘many’ and ‘great’. Negatives. Idioms. Demonstratives.
  • Week 10: Third declension neuter nouns (consonant stems). Third declension nouns (vowel stems). Third declension adjectives.
  • Week 11: Indefinite and interrogative pronoun. Present participles active.
  • Week 12: Present participles middle and contract verbs. Elision and crasis.
  • Week 13: Imperfect indicative active and middle.
  • Week 14: Future indicative active and middle.
  • Week 15: Indefinite/interrogative words. Third declension noun ‘the king’. Third declension nouns ‘the trireme’, ‘Pericles’, ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘daughter’.
  • Week 16: First aorist indicative active and middle.
  • Week 17: Second aorist indicative active and middle. Indirect speech. Past of ‘to be’, ‘to go’, ‘to know’.
  • Week 18: Present infinitive active and middle. Irregular infinitives. Verbs taking infinitive constructions. Comparative and superlative adjectives.
  • Week 19: Aorist participles active and middle. Aspect.
  • Week 20: Second Aorist participles active and middle. Intensive pronoun/adjective. Verb 'I am able'.


  • Reading Greek, Text and Vocabulary and Reading Greek, Grammar and Exercises (Cambridge University Press, 2007). *NB: this is the latest edition*

General Reading

  • N. Marinone, All the Greek Verbs (Duckworth, 1998).
  • J. Morwood, Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek (Oxford University Press, 2001).
  • J. Morwood, The Pocket Oxford Greek Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2000).

30 credits at level 4

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students. You may have to fulfil specific prerequisites for some intermediate-level or advanced-level courses, but these will be specified where relevant.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You enrol directly onto the classes you would like to take, using the Enrol Now link below. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then enrol onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.

First class: Fri 13-Oct-17 6pm-8pm

Class location Central London
Class code SSHC299S4ACB

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