Comparative Teaching of Old Greek and Latin/Lesson 01 Part 1

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Comparative Teaching of Old Greek and Latin Lesson 01 Part 1

Translated from the Greek Wikipedia|Wikiversity: "Συγκριτική διδασκαλία των κλασικών γλωσσών / (Comparative Teaching of the Classical Languages)"

LESSON 01 PART 1. Spirits, accents, sounds and letters.

(The two first courses should, occasionally, be repeated)

1.1.1. The spirits in the Old Greek Language.

The Old Greek language used two spirits, the simple spirit ( oὐ ) and the thick spirit ( ὁ ). The thick spirit was a rough breathing accompanying an initial vowel or ῥ-, something like a quantity of air, as a light ( h ) uttered before the initial vowel of a word or the ( ρ ), while the simple spirit declared simply the absence of the rough breathing of the initial vowel. Most words of Old Greek that begin with a vowel take simple spirit. Rough breathing take the words:

1. That begin from ὑ- ή από (because the ρ, as semivowel was pronounced like a vowel).

2. The articles ὁ, ἡ, αἱ, οἱ and the demonstrative pronouns ὅδε, οὗτος.

3. The relative pronouns and the relative adverbs apart from ἔνθα, ἔνθεν.

4. The personal pronouns ἡμεῖς, ἡμῶν, ἡμῖν, ἡμᾶς, οὗ, οἷ, ἕ.

5. The indefinite pronouns ἕτερος, ἑκάτερος, ἕκαστος and their derivatives.

6. The conjunctions ἕως, ἡνίκα, ἵνα, ὅμως, ὁπότε, ὅπως, ὅτι, ὡς, ὥστε.

7. The numerals εἷς, ἕν, ἕξ, ἑπτά, ἑκατόν and their derivatives.

8. Other words, which we learn in the texts, as ἅγιος, ἁγνός, αἷμα, ἅλας, ἅλμα, ἅμαξα, ἁμαρτάνω, ἅμιλλα, ἁπαλός, ἁπλοῦς, ἅρμα,

ἁρπάζω, ἕδρα, Ἑλένη, ἕλιξ, Ἑλλάς, ἑορτή, ἕρπω, ἑσπέρα, ἕτοιμος, εὑρίσκω, ἥβη, ἡγοῦμαι, ἥλιος, ἡμέρα, ἥμερος, Ἡρόδοτος, ἥρως, ἥσυχος,

ἧττα, ἱδρύω, ἱκανός, ἱκέτης, ἵππος, ἱστορία, ὁδός, ὅλος, ὁρμή, ό ὅρος, ὁρίζω, ὁρῶ, ὅσιος etc and their derivatives.

(We can with various practical ways find whether a word of Old Greek takes rough breathing. For example if in the Romanic Languages a word of Greek origin begins with the letter (H) then it takes rough breathing, as word of the Old Greek Language, as Ἑλλάς (Hellas), Ἑλένη (Helena), Ἱστορία (History), Ὅμηρος (Homer), Ἡρόδοτος (Herodotus) etc. Or if in the composition of words the voiceless p or t, that remains as final consonant after the elision, of the prepositions ἀπό, κατά, μετά, ὑπό, ἐπὶ is changed in φ or θ then the simple word which is used as second synthetic takes rough breathing, as καθαγιάζω (κατά + ἁγιάζω), αφαίμαξη (ἀπό + αἷμα), αφαλάτωση, εφάμιλλος, υφαρπάζω (ὑπό + ἁρπάζω), καθέδρα, μεθεόρτια (μετά + ἑορτή), υφέρπω, εφευρίσκω, έφηβος, καθηγητής, υφήλιος, εφήμερος, εφησυχάζω, καθιδρύω, έφιππος, κάθοδος, εφ’ όλης, εφορμώ, καθορίζω, καθορώ, καθοσιώνω etc.)

1.1.1. Accents in the Old Greek Language.

The Old Greek language used three, rather musical, accents: the acute (ναί) denoting a climbing or sharpening of the voice, the grave (δὲ), denoting a descent or a lowering of the voice or the absence of the acute, and the circumflex (πῶς), which declared the existence, on the same sound, both of the acute and grave and denoted that on the same sound there was a sharpening of the voice being followed by a lowering. The circumflex was put only on long vowels, because it was impossible, from the aspect of time, to put two accents on a short vowel. In the classic era people did not use accentual marks. These began to be used during the Hellenistic years. In order to stress rightly the Old Greek words, dynamically of course, because today we stress the Old Greek words as we stress them in Modern Greek, we should keep in mind the following rules:

1. No word is stressed before the antepenultimate.

2. The antepenultimate, when it is stressed, takes only acute (ἄνθρωπος, ὥριμος, ἥδομαι, ἤλθομεν).

3. The antepenultimate is not stressed when the final syllable is long. Its accent goes down in the penultimate (ἄνθρωπος, ἀνθρώπου, ἀνθρώπων, ἀνθρώπους, ῥητόρων).

4. The [[penultimate] when is stressed and short takes acute (νέος, νόμος, δίκη).

5. The penultimate when is stressed and long takes acute, if the final syllable is long (δώρων), and circumflex, if the final syllable is short (δῶρον).

6. The stressed final syllable when is short it takes acute (ἀγαθός, χαρά, ἰχθύς).

7. The stressed final syllable when it is long and non contracted takes acute in the nominative, the accusative and the vocative case (ἡ τιμή, τὴν τιμήν, ὦ τιμή) and circumflex in the genitive and dative case (τῆς τιμῆς, τῇ τιμῇ).

8. The stressed final syllable when it is long and contracted takes circumflex (ἀγαπῶ, ποιῶ, δηλῶ, Ἑρμῆς, μνᾶ, ὀστοῦν). However, if the second of the contracted vowels is stressed, then it takes acute (ἐάν - ἄν, ἑσταώς - ἑστώς).

9. The grave is marked, instead of the acute, only on the final syllable, when doesn't follow a point of punctuation or an enclitic word (καὶ γάρ, ἀληθὲς δέ, τό τε φιλικὸν στράτευμα).


1. The α (clean) in the endings of the names of the first declension is long (τὰς χώρας, τὰς κώμας, τὰς γλώσσας, τοὺς στρατιώτας, τοὺς Ἀτρείδας, τὰς ἀληθείας).

2. The α in the endings of the names of the second and third declension is short (τὰ ἆθλα, τὰ δῶρα, τὰ σῦκα, τὰ γελοῖα, τὰ ὁποῖα, τὸν Τρῶα, τὸν γῦπα, τοὺς γῦπας).

3. The α in the endings of the aorist is short (εἶπα, ἦρα, ἔλυσα).

4. The υ and ι at the end of the names of third declension is generally short (τὸ νᾶπυ, κόρακι).

5. All diphthongs are long apart from αι and οι at the end of declinable words, with the exception of the optative mood (χῶραι, χῶροι, λῦσαι (infinitive), λύσαι (optative), οἶκοι, οἴκοι (adverb).

6. Short vowels take only acute (νέος, φθόνος, τάπης, πατρίς, γίγας, κλίμα).

7. Circumflex enters only on long syllable (ἐκτιμῶ, ἀμοιβῆς, τῶν νικῶν, δρᾶμα).

1.1.3. Spirits and accents in the Latin Language.

The Latin Language does not use accents and spirits. The accentuation of words depends on the quantity of the syllables and particularly of the penultimate and is managed by the following rules:

1. The final syllable is stressed only in case of being cut off of the final not stressed vowel (illi'c, illu'c, isti'c, istu'c, addu'c, dedu'c, adhu'c etc).

2. The penultimate is stressed only when it is long, by nature or by place, differently the antepenultimate is stressed (Regi’na, terra'rum, Ro'mulus, epi'stula, libe'rtas).

3. Words of greek origin maintain their prosody, but are stressed in accordance with the rules of Latin (Mede'a (Μήδεια), Athe'nae, Melpo'mene (Μελπομένη), poe'ta, Aene'as, pa'tria, Home'rus, Pene'lopa, Pene'lope, Aegy'ptus, cyclo'pa).

4. Voca'lis ante voca'lem corripitur, i.e. vowel before a vowel becomes short (gra'tia, fi'lius, ora'tio, parti'tio, partici'pium, a'rguo, confi'cio, de'beo).

5. A short vowel before two or more consonants is considered by place long (Athenie’nsis, Nove’mber, elepha’ntus, prude’nter, desce’ndo, accu’mbo, repu’gnat, cogno’sco).

(However, if the two consonants are voiceless + liquid, then the syllable can be also considered short (sy'llaba anceps), particularly in the poets (te'nebrae, tene'brae, co'nsecro, conse'cro. For bigger facility in the reading of Latin words, in the first thirty five courses, we will enter accent after each stressed vowel in the threesyllable and multisyllable words.)

1.1.4 Sounds and letters in Modern Greek, in Old Greek and in Latin.

Sounds in Modern greek / Letters in Modern Greek / Sounds in Old Greek / Letters in Old Greek / Sounds in Latin / Letters in Latin

α - α / α, αα - α / α, αα - a

ε - ε / ε, εε - ε, η / ε, εε - e

ι - ι, η, υ / ι, ιι - ι / ι, ιι - i, y

ο - ο,ω / ο, οο - ο, ω / ο, οο - o

ου - - / ου - ουου - υ / ου, ουου - u

- - - / - - - / oe - -

β - β / μπ - β / μπ - b

γ - γ / γκ - γ / γκ - g

δ - δ / ντ - δ / ντ - d

ζ - ζ / ζ - ζ / ζ - z, s

θ - θ / th - θ / - - -

κ - κ / κ - κ / κ - c, q, k

λ - λ / λ - λ / λ - l

μ - μ / μ - μ / μ - m

ν - ν / ν - ν / ν - n

π - π / π - π / π - p

ρ - ρ / ρ - ρ / ρ - r

σ - σ, ς / σ - σ, ς / σ - s

τ - τ / τ - τ / τ - t

φ - φ / φ - φ / φ - f

χ - χ / χ - χ / χ - h

- - - / - - - / β - v

μπ, ντ, γκ, τσ, τζ - ξ,ψ / - - ξ,ψ/ j - j

- - - / - - - / - - x

25 / 25 / 25 / 25 / 25 + 2 / 25

Remarks on the table of the sounds and letters:

1. It should be explicit discrimination between sounds, i.e. the phonemes, the small voices with which we make in the oral speech the words, and the letters, i.e. the marks of the written speech with which we write the words.

2. Old Greeks pronounced in a different way certain letters (β1=μπ, γ=γκ, δ=ντ, θ=th, η2=εε, ω=οο, υ=ου) etc. We pronounce them as in Modern Greek.

3. In the era before the classic period there were in use and other letters that continued to be used only in order to declare numbers, as the stigma Ϛ for 6, koppa Ϟ for 90 and sampi Ϡ for 900 or the digamma F and jot J, that was removed in Old Greek but it was maintained in Latin.

4. The diphthongs in both languages were pronounced separately, for each sound, with the accent being put usually on the first sound (αι = άι, as in the Modern Greek word νεράιδα (= fairy). In Latin the au = a'u is pronounced, as in the word a'udio (I hear).

5. The letter S in Latin, between vowels, is pronounced z, the u as ου, the diphthong ae is pronounced e, the diphthong oe as the French eu, qu as kv, ph as f, the ch5 as k or h. We write with (¨) the second letter of a combination of vowels that does not constitute diphthong and are pronounced separately e.g. introëamus, coëgit.

1.1.5. Peculiarities, deflections and completions:

(These elements are studied in second and in third phase, i.e. after it has been completed the study of the regular course.)

1. The accent of the enclitic words, in Old Greek, goes up on the last syllable of the previous word as acute, when the word has the acute on the antepenultimate or is stressless or is enclitic (ἄνθρωπός τις, ἔν τινι τόπῳ) or when it has circumflex on the penultimate (κῆποί τινες). The accent is removed, when the previous word has the acute on the final syllable (Θεός τις) or it has the circumflex on the final syllable (ἀγαπῶ τινα) or when the previous word has the acute on the penultimate and the enclitic word is of one syllable (λόγος τις). Finally the accent remains on the enclitic word, when the previous word has the acute on the penultimate and the enclitic word is of two syllables (λόγοι τινές, ἀνθρώπων τινῶν) or when it exists emphasis (παρά σού) or when the previous word has elision (κακοί δ’ ἐσμέν) or when before the enclitic word it exists a punctuation mark (Ὅμηρος, φασί, μέγας ἦν).

2. The accent of the enclitic words (que, ve, ne), in Latin, is removed, when the previous word is stressed on the penultimate and the final syllable is short (ho'mone, me'nsaque, melio'rave) or goes up on the final syllable of the previous word, if this word is stressed on the antepenultimate (a'nima'que, i'nsula'ne) or if it is stressed on the penultimate of the previous word, and the final syllable is short (du'ce'sque, ami'co'sne).

3. The compound verbs having a preposition in the first part have the accent on the antepenultimate in the imperative mood (κατάλυε, ἀνάδειξον). The accent generally does not go up beyond the final syllable of the preposition (ἀπόδος, κατάθες) unless the preposition has elision (πάρειμι, ἄπελθε) neither beyond the syllable that has augment or reduplication (κατεῖπε, κάτειπε, ἀφῖγμαι, ἀφῖξο). The second singular person of the imperative of the passive second aorist has the accent on the final syllable of the preposition, when the imperative is of one syllable and the preposition dissyllabic (κατάθου, παράσχου, but ἀπογενοῦ, ἐνθοῦ, ἐνοῦ).

4. The Old Greek alphabet, in the older, before the classic, periods, had also the letter digamma F, that was pronounced as weak w, and the letter jot j, that was pronounced as soft g, which from the classic period had already ceased to be used (βασιλεFύς, βάλjω).

5. In Latin Y and Z began to be used in the years of Cicero for the transcription of corresponding Greek letters υ and ζ.

6. The syllable ending in vowel is said open and the syllable ending in consonant is said closed. The use of the spirits in the written speech was generalised much later than the archaic period, at the 9th century A.D.

7. The consonantal sounds of the Indoeuropean Language were much more, because there also existed the middle-aspirates, bh, gh8, dh1,2,7, which Sanskrit3 maintained at the same time with the simple ph, ch, th, which both Greek and Latin maintained.

8. In the word μεθαύριον (& μεταύριον) the -t- of the preposition μετά (μετὰ + αὔριον ) takes thick spirit and becomes -θ- contrary to the rule. A spirit was usually put in -ρρ-, when that was found in the middle of a word. In the first -ρ- it is put a simple spirit and in the second a thick spirit (Πύῤῥος), that is why the name in Latin became Pyrrhus.

9. The rule that fixes that when the final syllable is long the antepenultimate is not stressed is forced in cases as the mutual change of the vowel quantity (τῆς πόλεως < τῆς πόλη-ος, τοῦ πήχε-ως < τοῦ πήχη-ος ).

10. The accent in the Indoeuropean Language was free4,5, a characteristic that was maintained in Sanskrit6,9, i.e. it was not in effect the restriction of putting the accent on one of the last three syllables in every word, as in the Ancient Greek and Latin languages, and accordingly it could also be stressed a syllable before the antepenultimate, as it becomes in Pontic Dialect of the Greek Language (ετίμαναμε, έμορφεσα).

To continue look at: Lesson 01 Part 2

To see the Introduction look at: Introduction