One of the main reasons why we despise the Ancient Greek language or rather why we discourage our children from learning it is due to its perceived difficulty. Of course, this is not the only reason: this is a ‘dead’ language, one claims, this is just like a foreign language, claims yet another …
But let us first stick to the matter of perceived difficulty in learning ancient Greek and make some useful- in our opinion- observations
Let us assume that ancient Greek is rather difficult to learn. We might as well accept this. But is it wise not to pursue something, based on its level of difficulty ? Is striving to accomplish only the easiest tasks an admirable character trait? What kind of message does this convey to our children? Do we concede for them to be deprived the inexhaustible wealth of the Greek language simply because we do not want them to ”push themselves too hard”? In any field of science, is there any subject of great importance that is not hard to acquire, more or less.Quite early on, the great Greek tragic poet Euripides (480 BC-406 BC) had stated that “Good things are acquired by myriads of hard efforts”
The perceived difficulty of the ancient Greek language is something subjective, debatable and, anyhow, not insurmountable. An ally in this effort – at least for those who speak modern Greek as their mother language- is the indisputable continuity of the Greek language in the 3,500 years of its presence in the human history. There are of course differences between different phases of the Greek language, but there is a common compact core that proves the inseparability of the Greek language and makes every stage of the Greek language accessible to anyone who speaks said language in any one of its historic forms.
It is both wise and academically appropriate to guide the learner towards the highest (as regards beauty and level of difficulty) form of the ancient Greek language, namely that of the 5th century B.C. (the Attic language) or its earlier form( the Homeric language), only after they have been taught the Hellenistic common language,the language of the Gospels and the New Testament, which without losing the virtues and the wealth of the ancient Attic speech is certainly closer to Modern Greek than any of others.
In support of the above, we quote the opinion of the most up-to-date young Greek linguist, G. Hadjidakis: “… out of some 4,900 words of the New Testament, the 2280, are said to be still used today in everyday language. The rest, the remaining 2200, are well understood by all modern Greeks , in either their written or spoken form and only 400 are truly incomprehensible to the Greek people. ” In addition, eminent scholar Edward Schwyzer in his work ‘The syntax of ancient Greek language’ notes: “Not only the traditional written language of Byzantine and later Greek history, but also the Modern Greek vernacular as well as the modern Greek dialects have maintained in general the ancient Greek syntactic categories,despite the existence of various phonological and typology changes. One cannot deny certain the losses and neologisms , but the latter remain always within the framework provided by tradition. ‘
So following the basic principle of teaching “from the easiest to the most difficult onward” we lead the students from the study of modern Greek to ancient Greek with the link between the two being the Hellenistic language and the ecclesiastical language that has all the elements necessary to aid the successful learning of ancient Greek .
There is, however, an insurmountable difficulty, or rather, a fundamental prerequisite, if you will, a for all of the above to take place. And that is, Love for the Greek language, the Desire to learn it correctly and thoroughly in all of its timeless continuity, ancient, medieval, modern. This is what is essentially missing nowadays or rather this is the part that we should be aspiring towards . When the above requirement is fulfilled, nothing can prevent us from doing so. With proper systematic guidance and study, we can learn Greek in its three forms and relish the treasure of the Greek Literature.
A living example of love, so to speak, of the Greek language is the Greek language teacher of the University of Milan, Andrea Marcolongo, who, out of the wealth of this love, wrote her first book on the subject of Ancient Greek, titled: “The Amazing Greek Language -9 Reasons For You To Love The Ancient Greek Language”.. This book was first published in Italy in 2016, it was unprecedentedly successful (100,000 copies have already been sold) and translated into many languages (in Greek in Patakis Editions).
So if you love the ancient Greek language, no more second thoughts: register for our course and come aboard for the most amazing trip the trip to the wonderful world of the Greek language and the Greek literature!