The term ancient Greek refers to the form of the Greek language used in ancient Greece. In this case the term ancient specifically refers to the years 500 BC to 300 BC. This was a period of philosophical, political, artistic and scientific achievements that formed a tremendous legacy and heavily influenced all of the Western civilizations.
Ancient Greek was the language used by fifth century Athenian historians and philosophers. It has contributed many words to the English language and has been continuously studied in western universities since the Renaissance.
There are plenty of reasons as to why you might want to consider studying ancient Greek. First of all, if you’re interested in Greek literature you’ll be able to read it in its original language and not have to rely on translations. The Greeks were the first in the west to study philosophy, maths and history, so there is plenty of information to find in their ancient texts.
Furthermore, believe it or not, you will also improve your vocabulary and grammar comprehension in English. Ancient Greek is the foundation of many English words. About 60% of English words have roots in Greek!
Last but certainly not least, studying ancient Greek can be beneficial for many university courses. If you’re studying law or medicine then you’ll definitely have an easier time understanding a lot of the terms used in your books. Moreover, philosophy, archeology and religion students will more than likely study parts of Greek history regardless during their courses.
Ancient Greek is the predecessor of modern Greek (simply referred to as Greek nowadays). The new version of the language originated somewhere around 1453 AD. Although the two languages have many similarities they differ in syntax, pronunciation and other places.
One of the main differences between the two languages is that ancient Greek had a very rich vowel system while modern Greek consists of only five vowels. Furthermore, while nowadays the Greek language consists of both capital and lowercase letters, its predecessor only used capital letters.
Different letters are also pronounced differently between the two languages, not to mention that ancient Greek had more letters in general.
Learning ancient Greek is usually perceived as difficult by most native English speakers. The alphabet is completely different, there are unfamiliar sounds and because it is classified as a “dead” language, finding learning materials is a bit harder compared to most modern languages.
Regardless, this should not deter anyone from taking up ancient Greek. It has many similarities to modern Greek and with the amount of information available online, it’s never been easier to learn a language. Learning the alphabet will be a bit hard in the beginning, but with enough consistency you’ll quickly get used to it. After you do that, the rest will slowly but surely fall into place. There are plenty of different ways in which you can learn ancient Greek - books, apps, videos or courses, it all depends on what your preferred method of learning is.
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