How I Learned the Language of Homer

by Erin on February 18, 2012

It was decided. A fait accompli. I had to take Greek. That, along with Latin, were required if I wanted to pursue Classical Archaeology. Of course, we didn’t have a proper Classical Archaeology program at my university. So taking courses in the Department of Classics would have to suffice. I now feel a bit apologetic to all of my long-suffering professors, who had to endure not one but three art history majors infiltrating their ranks of serious minded students in Classics. Must have been fun for them when we asked, completely innocently, “where are the pictures?”.

Ancient Greek really was, well, all Greek to me. I vividly recall learning the Greek alphabet the previous summer.

My textbook for that Greek language course was quite memorable. It was called An Introduction to Greek, and the book was published in 1928. For real. Thinking about it always brings to mind post-Edwardian schoolboys for some reason (I imagine the following dialogue as well: “I say Mummy, did you know that hippopotamus means river horse in Greek? How jolly good!”)

Of course now, I rarely have occasion to use my ancient Greek. Sure, once in a while. It mainly comes in handy when I am perusing say the Oxford Classical Dictionary. Or even the Wikipedia.

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