Greek 101: Learning an Ancient Language

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great introduction! I just finished this course and could not be more happy that I bought it. The professor goes through all the subject matter in depth and explains things in simple terms, so that even I could understand them.
Date published: 2020-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning Greek with no pains. I have just watched the first lesson of the course and it is an excellent introduction to Classical Greek. Although I am a Portuguese speaker I didn't have any problems thanks to the wonderful teacher.
Date published: 2020-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quality of education Great Greek Master from Great courses. Instructor well derive his class in good learning pedagogy
Date published: 2020-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I am finding the course very satisfactory. It is well-structured, well-paced, and logically organised. While the explanation of basic grammatical concepts is detailed, it is not so lengthy as to bore those with a strrong grammatical background.
Date published: 2020-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I am truly in Love with The Great Courses and am having a good learning experience with Mr. Mueller. His tone and speed (important to me) is perfect for my learning capabilities.
Date published: 2020-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Hobby I am sixty-four years old. This course has become my hobby, that's how I'm working my way through it. I'm not trying to complete the course as if I'm in the first semester of Classical Greek and will be graded. That wouldn't be any fun. This is how I am learning the subject matter. The text and some writing paper sit on my desk, along with my pen. As I walk past the desk, I very often sit down and begin translating sentences. Once I finish one sentence, I can't help but do the next sentence. It is through that repetitive practice, working on one lesson, one sentence at a time, that I am able to learn and memorize the content. Thirty minutes can pass without even realizing. Every time I move on to the next lesson I think, "This is difficult! I'll never learn it!" But eventually I master that lesson and move on to the next. It is also with that practice that I begin to notice patterns upon which my knowledge of the subject matter builds. I'm memorizing the Homer in the text. It's beautiful. I'm having the time of my life! Thank you!
Date published: 2020-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The course guide is inadequate. It does not provide the vocabulary necessary to complete the assignments. An explanation of the answers would be helpful.
Date published: 2020-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course, for sure! I love this course. I bought it just as a refresher, since I already have a Classics degree from a major university in 1973. I thought it wouldn't hurt to go back over the basics and just accustom myself to the script and to normal sources. Well, major surprise! Classics has come a long way since the days when it was memorize or get out. This course is so logical, so well laid out, and so thoroughly explained that it's hard to imagine any circumstance where it wouldn't be great course. Whether you are beginning your journey with Greek or, like me, well on the way this course will match your goal. Whether you go through it fast or slow I think you will find it amazing. I can't think of better introduction to Greek, and I say that as a Classics graduate who started in high school and has been to both Italy and Greece several times.
Date published: 2020-06-16
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Greek 101: Learning an Ancient Language
Course Trailer
The Greek Alphabet & Pronunciation
1: The Greek Alphabet & Pronunciation

Learn the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet using the restored classical pronunciation, recognizing that there was some variation in pronunciation in the ancient world. Practice the pairings of vowels called diphthongs, and sound out a selection of words that you will soon be reading in sentences.

34 min
First-Declension Nouns
2: First-Declension Nouns

Discover that Greek nouns have gender and their endings supply a host of information, such as whether the case is nominative, genitive, dative, or accusative—a function usually performed by word order or prepositions in English. Begin with the eight noun endings of the primarily feminine first declension.

31 min
Basic Rules of Greek Accentuation
3: Basic Rules of Greek Accentuation

Invented over two thousand years ago by Aristophanes of Byzantium, head of the Library of Alexandria, accents are important clues to the pronunciation of Greek words, and they often provide other crucial information. Learn the rules for the three types of accents: acute, grave, and circumflex.

32 min
Additional Patterns of the First Declension
4: Additional Patterns of the First Declension

Look at two variations in the pattern of the first declension—one used in Homeric Greek and the other in Koine, the Greek of the New Testament. Despite being separated by almost a thousand years, the two dialects have remarkable continuity.

31 min
Verbs in the Present Tense
5: Verbs in the Present Tense

Greek verbs can be described in terms of person, number, tense, voice, and mood. In this lesson, focus on verbs that are present active indicative. Learn that voice, person, and number are indicated by endings on the verb base. For the present tense, these are called primary endings.

30 min
Adjective Forms & Second-Declension Nouns
6: Adjective Forms & Second-Declension Nouns

So far, you have studied first-declension nouns, which are mainly feminine. Now expand your range into masculine and neuter nouns, many of which use second-declension endings. Practice these endings together with their adjectival forms in words that you will encounter in Homer.

30 min
Building Basic Translation Skills
7: Building Basic Translation Skills

Review what you have learned up until now. Then try your hand at translating from English to Greek—first into Homeric Greek and then into Koine, noticing the key differences between the two dialects. Close by reading the opening passage of the Gospel of John in its unadapted original Koine.

30 min
First- & Second-Declension Pronouns
8: First- & Second-Declension Pronouns

Delve deeper into the first and second declensions, discovering that the endings for demonstrative adjectives and pronouns differ in only minor ways from those for nouns. Practice using different types of pronouns, and learn that they underwent a fascinating evolution from Homeric Greek to Koine.

31 min
Verbs in the Imperfect Tense
9: Verbs in the Imperfect Tense

Greek has several ways of talking about the past. Focus on the imperfect tense, which describes an action that was ongoing in the past—for example, “The Achaeans were dishonoring the gods.” The imperfect is built by adding a vowel prefix, called an augment, to the verb base, plus secondary endings.

31 min
Verbs in the Future & Aorist Tenses
10: Verbs in the Future & Aorist Tenses

Learn two new tenses: the future and aorist. In the process, encounter the concept of principal parts, which are indispensable for recognizing different tenses. Concentrate on the first three principal parts for regular verbs (present and imperfect, future, and aorist). Also inspect some irregular verbs.

31 min
First-Declension Masculine Nouns
11: First-Declension Masculine Nouns

Although first declension nouns are generally feminine, some masculine nouns also fall into this class. Learn how to recognize them (as well as the declensions of all nouns) from the nominative and genitive forms supplied in Greek dictionaries. Then investigate some finer points of compound verbs.

29 min
The Root Aorist
12: The Root Aorist

The aorist is a past tense that makes no reference to the duration or completion of an action, and focuses instead on the simple act. In Lesson 10, you learned the morphology of the first aorist. Now study the second aorist and root aorist. Analyze examples of all three aorist tenses in the New Testament and Homer.

29 min
Third-Declension Nouns
13: Third-Declension Nouns

Encounter the third and final declension, focusing, as usual, on the genitive, which is the key to identifying the declension. This is especially important with the third declension, since the noun base is not obvious from the nominative form. Then make your final preparations to read Homer's Iliad in unadapted Greek.

32 min
Understanding Dactylic Hexameter
14: Understanding Dactylic Hexameter

Read the first five lines of Homer’s Iliad, focusing on vocabulary and grammar. Then investigate the quality that makes Homer a great poet: his use of sound and meter. Homer composed in dactylic hexameter, which was used throughout antiquity. Learn the rules that govern this epic meter.

29 min
Practicing Dactylic Hexameter
15: Practicing Dactylic Hexameter

Practice reciting the first five lines of the Iliad, hearing how the meter enhances the meaning of the text. Then study third declension neuter endings, and read three verses of unadapted New Testament Greek, covering the conversation between the angel Gabriel and Mary in Luke 1:32-34.

32 min
The Middle/Passive Voice: Present & Future
16: The Middle/Passive Voice: Present & Future

Go deeper into Homer with lines 6-10 of the Iliad. Then discover the middle and passive voices. The passive operates as in English, with the subject receiving the action of the verb. However, English doesn’t have a middle voice, which in Greek signals that the subject is acting in its own interest.

31 min
Aorist & Imperfect Middle/Passive
17: Aorist & Imperfect Middle/Passive

In the previous lesson, you learned the primary middle/passive endings, which are used for the present and future tenses. Now compare these to the secondary middle/passive endings, which are used for past tenses. Then read lines 11-16 of the Iliad, learning new rules for scanning dactylic hexameter.

32 min
Perfect & Pluperfect Active
18: Perfect & Pluperfect Active

Learn the fourth principal part, which governs the formation of the perfect and pluperfect tenses. Discover the great utility of these past tenses for talking about completed action. Study an example of the perfect in John 3:13, and read lines 17-21 of the Iliad.

30 min
Forming and Using Infinitives
19: Forming and Using Infinitives

Study the fifth principal part, which forms the basis of the perfect and pluperfect middle/passive, and the sixth and final principal part, which forms the basis of the aorist passive. Then learn how to construct the infinitive in different tenses, looking at examples in Homer and the New Testament.

30 min
Active Participles
20: Active Participles

Participles are verbal adjectives. Like verbs, they have tense and voice. Like adjectives, they agree in case, number, and gender with the nouns they modify. Learn to form participles in different tenses of the active voice. Study examples in the Gospel of Matthew and in your reading of lines 22-27 of the Iliad.

31 min
Middle/Passive Participles
21: Middle/Passive Participles

Move on to middle/passive participles. Greek participles pack a lot of meaning into a single word that may require an entire clause to translate into English. Look at examples from two different verses in Matthew as well as your Homeric reading for this lesson: lines 28-32 of the Iliad.

31 min
The Perfect System in the Middle/Passive
22: The Perfect System in the Middle/Passive

Learn to form the perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect middle/passive tenses on the basis of the fifth principal part. Study examples in Matthew and Luke. Then read lines 33-37 of the Iliad, which includes a stirring scene “along the shore of the much-roaring sea.”

32 min
The Subjunctive Mood
23: The Subjunctive Mood

Turn from the indicative mood to the subjunctive mood, which denotes situations that are doubtful, wishful, purposeful, or fearful. Subjunctives are easily recognized by their long vowel that precedes (or constitutes) the verb ending. Explore several examples, including one from Luke's Nativity narrative, and read line 38 of the Iliad.

32 min
The Imperative Mood, Active
24: The Imperative Mood, Active

Encounter the imperative mood—the verb construction used for commands. Study the imperative endings in the present and aorist tenses. Find three aorist commands in Luke 22:36, and even more as you continue your reading of the Iliad with lines 39-47.

30 min
The Imperative Mood, Middle/Passive
25: The Imperative Mood, Middle/Passive

Learn to form imperatives in the middle/passive, looking at examples in Matthew 3:2 and John 14:1. Note that in Homeric Greek the imperative and other verb endings tend to be uncontracted. Then read the Iliad lines 48-52, experiencing the devastation wrought by Apollo’s silver bow.

32 min
The Optative Mood
26: The Optative Mood

The last of the moods is the optative, which expresses a wish—as in line 42 of the Iliad, where the priest Chryses implores Apollo, “May the Danaans requite my tears….” Find more examples of this easily recognized form in the New Testament. Then continue your reading of the Iliad with lines 53-58.

32 min
The Aorist Passive
27: The Aorist Passive

Delve deeper into the aorist passive, which was introduced in Lesson 19. This tense may sound exotic, but it’s a workhorse in Greek sentences. For example, study the string of aorist passive commands in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew. Then work your way through lines 59-63 of the Iliad.

32 min
Third-Declension Adjectives
28: Third-Declension Adjectives

In the next four lessons, return to the declension of adjectives and pronouns to explore variations on patterns you have already practiced. In this lesson, focus on third-declension adjectives. Close by reading lines 64-69 of the Iliad. Also learn about a handy class of words called particles.

32 min
Demonstrative Adjectives & Pronouns
29: Demonstrative Adjectives & Pronouns

Investigate the use of Greek demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, which correspond to English words such as this, that, these, and those. Chart a rich sampling of demonstratives, including a reflexive pronoun, in Luke 23:28-29. Then continue with the heightening tension in lines 70-75 of the Iliad.

30 min
Personal & Possessive Pronouns
30: Personal & Possessive Pronouns

Plumb the depths of Greek personal and possessive pronouns. Begin with the historically later forms of the New Testament, revisiting the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew. Then focus on the pronouns in your next extract from the Iliad, lines 76-80. Along the way, discover a classic figure of speech called chiasmus.

30 min
Relative, Interrogative & Indefinite Pronouns
31: Relative, Interrogative & Indefinite Pronouns

Conclude your exploration of Greek pronouns with interrogative, indefinite, and relative pronouns. These are words such as who, which, and what; and, for indefinite pronouns, someone, something, and similar unspecific descriptors. Look at examples in the New Testament and in the Iliad 81-85.

31 min
Regular -μι Verbs in the Active
32: Regular -μι Verbs in the Active

Bring your study of Greek verbs to a close by focusing on an important class of verbs that end in μι in the first principal part. There aren’t many such μι verbs, but they are useful and common, and they appear frequently in compounds.

30 min
Regular -μι Verbs in the Middle/Passive
33: Regular -μι Verbs in the Middle/Passive

Extend your exploration of μι verbs, studying the middle passive, which is more regular than the active voice covered in the previous lesson. Note examples of μι verbs in Luke 22:19, which depicts a moment from the Last Supper, and lines 86-100 of the Iliad.

32 min
Review of Regular -μι Verbs
34: Review of Regular -μι Verbs

Search for the features that distinguish μι verbs from the verb forms encountered earlier in the course, whose first principal part ends in ω. Resume your study of the Lord’s Prayer, discovering two μι verb aorist commands. Then read lines 101-108 of the Iliad, which open with a μι verb compound.

31 min
The Verb εἰμί
35: The Verb εἰμί

The most common μι verb is also one of the most irregular: to be. Study its forms, discovering that, as unpredictable as it appears, it is more regular than its English counterparts: I am, you are, he is. Then learn to count in Greek, and analyze lines 109-117 of the Iliad.

30 min
Irregular Verbs & Tips for Further Study
36: Irregular Verbs & Tips for Further Study

Learn two more irregular verbs, to go and to know, seeing them at work in sentences from John and Matthew. Then complete your last passage from the Iliad, lines 118-125, and consider strategies for continuing your Greek studies—whether you want to dig deeper into Homer and the New Testament, or discover new masterpieces.

30 min
Hans-Friedrich Mueller

The Latin language offers keys to more than most people can imagine…until they too learn Latin. I have devoted my life to helping others obtain the keys that they need to unlock the intellectual treasures that interest them most.


The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Union College

About Hans-Friedrich Mueller

Dr. Hans-Friedrich Mueller is the Thomas B. Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He earned his M.A. in Latin from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. in Classical Philology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to Union College, he taught at The Florida State University and the University of Florida. Professor Mueller won the American Philological Association's Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level, as well as two awards for excellence in teaching at The Florida State University. At the University of Florida, he developed a graduate distance-learning program in classics for high school teachers. In addition to writing numerous articles, Professor Mueller is the author of Roman Religion in Valerius Maximus, the editor of an abridged edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the translator of Andreas Mehl's Roman Historiography: An Introduction to Its Basic Aspects and Development. He is also the author of Caesar: Selections from his Commentarii De Bello Gallico and coauthor of Caesar: A LEGAMUS Transitional Reader.

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