Ancient Greek language, History and Culture Classes for all ages

Returning to our home, to our civilization

We have been offering classes of Ancient Greek Language, History and Culture to Primary School pupils, but also to adults, for the past four years –more specifically, since September 2012. We will make an attempt to present and give prominence to the experience derived from those classes in the limits of this brief article.

However, at first we have to give a general account of the “Why” and the “How” of the overall enterprise. We have been teaching Greek philological and literature lessons to Senior High School students since 1994. We have been observing a gradual decline of the students’ linguistic level and an increasing difficulty in the perception of Ancient Greek, but also, more generally, of Modern Greek.What is more, the inability of focusing, the lack of patience and perseverance towards the difficulties of the lessons, the unjustifiable quickness and the rejection of whichever kind of penetration have already been made basic characteristics of the whole problem. While detecting ways of reversal of this downward course, we saw that it is not possible that something purposeful will be done under the burden of the timetable pressure (i.e. final exams and heavy workload of the set by the Greek Ministry of Education syllabus). Thus, we have come to the conclusion that a child needs to be introduced into the Ancient Greek language in a fruitful and substantive way from the first classes of Primary School, a period during which there is plenty of time in order to be done an appropriate preparation, so that the child, when being introduced into Junior High School, bears the sudden “shock” of the polytonic system and the Ancient Greek. Of course, while planning the classes method, we had to take into account some basic parameters: Modern children perceivemany stimuli from a very early age, they are accustomed to technology, due to which, though, they acquire an undue and disadvantageous quickness towards everything, they are smart, but they are bored easily. However, the normal pace is the slow one and great things demand patience, perseverance, slow pace –at least, in the beginning! That was the great problem we had to solve with regard to the classes planning. We knew that the choice of the typical method of teaching, i.e. grammar, syntax, texts for practice, would ensure the failure of the classes from the beginning. Thus, we decided to enrich the “hard core” (grammar, syntax) of the classes with every advantage which the Greek culture has.

So, our suggestion was formed as follows in the text with which we directed at everyone in summer 2012, and which had the title: Going home:

Ancient Greek Language, History and Culture classes for all ages are to be offered from September 2012 on, with God’s Grace. Purpose of the programme, regarding to young children, is them to be creatively introduced in good time –in any case, before technology (mobile phones, video games etc.) captivates them- into the Greek Logos-Language and Culture in its whole course through the ages, without exclusions and transmogrifications –from Homer, Plato and Aristotle, from Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides to Saint IoannisChrysostomus (Saint John Chrysostom), Saint Basil the Great and the other Fathers of the Orthodox Church. From DionysiosSolomos, General IoannisMacriyannis and AlexandrosPapadiamantis to FotisContoglou, GiorgosSeferis and Odysseas Elytis.

Our purpose is them to become capable of understanding and interpreting every great personality of our Culture, in order to be able to take whatever they need for today and for tomorrow from them. The interpretation and the annotation of the texts, the etymology, the comparison of Ancient to Modern Greek, the explanation of the grammatical and syntactical rules, and not their mere memorization, the sentences writing, along with more activities (reading, recitation, articulacy practice or theatrical performance of the texts, writing, drawing-painting, calligraphy) are going to be the means for the achievement of this purpose.

As for the classes structure, we have opted for simultaneously advancing into the knowledge of the basic rules of the Greek Language (Grammar, Syntax, Etymology) and into the creative contact and interpretation of texts taken from the whole range of the marvelous secret garden of the Greek Literature (Archaic and Classical, Hellenistic, Medieval and Modern), so that we proceed in the perception and the acculturation of the Greek Civilisation, by keeping the interest undiminished.

We are taking the route of going home, of returning to our Culture, holding a piece of paper and a pencil, with “A rich language = A rich thought” as our motto. We are awaiting you!

And so we began. With three classes: two young children classes (2nd and 5th Grade of Primary School) and an adults’ one.

Of course, many wonder: isn’t the choice of teaching ancient Greek to Primary School pupils venturesome, as it is known that it is “difficult” and “beyond reach” even for Senior High School students?

The question is reasonable, yet the answer is obvious:

Ancient Greek is undoubtedly difficult and beyond reach –out of quotation marks- for children who have not utilised –their family and relatives obviously being mainly responsible for this- their, most important for language learning-production,first six years of life and have not been taught it –on the responsibility of the Greek State- during their early, critical, in every aspect, years at school.

We are now able to come safely to the initial conclusions regarding the experience we have gathered after two years. As for the young children (2nd and 3rd Grade of Primary School), first of all, they involve themselves in the lesson continuously, without being bored. They enthuse over musical poetry, orthodox hymnology, history, short stories, etymology and, hereupon, they can “bare” the hard core of the lesson, which is grammar, syntax and vocabulary, with a remarkable comfort –even happily, at times. They digest rather easily and, slowly but surely, the first positive results, concerning both the expression and the thought level, can be seen in their speech and thought. One can get a clear image of the above, taking a look at the curriculum of the two years (2012-2013 and 2013-2014), part of which we are presenting further down.

Of course, the success of the whole programme depends also on each child’s personality and on their families’ participation. Differentiations in regard to the perception and digestion of what is being taught, as the case may be, are due to this. However, generally speaking, the benefits which result from this are evident from the beginning and this promises a positive future for those children.

Regarding the elder ages (5th and 6th Grade of Primary School) the process is a little slower, though this may sound strange. But this is the truth and it is probably due to the fact that those children have been involved in technology for more years –which does not benefit them- they behave rather impatiently and they digest with more difficulty. Nevertheless, that regards the initial period. They acquaint themselves with the object consequently and everything is in running order.

Now, we should post the following question: Which is the influence of learning ancient Greek in the perceptual ability, the critical thinking and the learning abilities of young children?

We are answering with a question: If a child is brought up under supervision –that is, using technology under control- and learn, from an early age, the ancient Greek language, not only as a linguistic structure, but also as the “vector” of the Greek way of thinking, which is the result going to be? Perhaps a critically thinking child, with lots of interests, ready to enjoy the gift of life as an active member of the society. We do believe that the result will be exactly that.

With regard to our classes, the positive effects are visible, though with differentiations due to the various ways of each child’s upbringing until this moment. A child that did not, or even does not, watch TV, and has not fixated on videogames –such children also exist, believe us- has a different velocity and depth of perception from a child that has grown up with the television as an instrumental part of his/her life and the videogames are already a part of their daily routine. However, the children attend the classes happily, at any rate –indeed, a young boy has declared to us that he will keep on attending them for the following years also, as it is as if it was not a lesson! Once we “have won this bet” –i.e. the voluntary and joyful participation-, the etymology, the history, the Greek short stories, the orthodox hymnology, the musical poetry, the lives of the saints, the heroic personalities and many more fragrant flowers of the Greek Culture take command, in order to give to the little pupils, but also to the adults, the spiritual food which strengthens our spirit and mind.

We will proceed now in a more extensive presentation of the basic elements of the classes, which depend on the variety and the enrichment of the “hard core” (i. e. Grammar-Syntax) with etymology, history, musical poetry, orthodox hymnology, hagiographies.

The following take place during a class period:

ETYMOLOGY

It is easily understandable that the etymology, that is the true origin of the words-names, is a basic axis in the mind activating attempt. As for the young children, it does not simply energise their mind, but also excites them and makes them have a live contact with reality. The words, the meanings, the items, everything makes sense, lights up, become understandable. Furthermore, the children become aware of the greatness of the Greek Language at first hand, are fascinated by this very greatness, love their language and become eager to go more into it.

 

Examples

ἀστέρας [a’steras] = star

The wide earth, the eternal solid pier of everything is below us. The dome of the sky, permanent, immutable and eternal, flats and leans on the solid-firm (στέρεα, [‘sterea]) earth, at the line on which touch the mountains with the horizon. This permanence, but also instability of the mounting of the sky on the earth, gave to it (the sky) the name στερέωμα[ste’reoma] = firm, firmament, the well- known firmament of the sky.

However, shiny signs, which were no firm at all, but moved, rose and set, changed course, appeared and disappeared seasonally, albeit with an eternally unchangeable order, could be distinguished on this “firm firmament”. Our ancestors named those shiny moving signs of the sky ἀστέρια [a’steria]stars, i.e. στέρεα, [a’sterea], not firm but movable, by contrast with the sky dome, the firmament which leans immovable on the ground.

Καρύδι [ka’rydi] = walnut

Every name given as identity in everything aims for describing, catching, distinguishing the mainly, or, if it is possible, even its sole, distinctive characteristic, as it will register with this very namein the “civil registers” of the dictionaries and in the language of the people.

The above happens more or less in perhaps every language in the world. However, we could argue that it is a rule in our language.

Which is the main characteristic that the word describes, in the word καρύδι, κάρυον[ka’rydi, ‘karyon]=walnut?We think that it describes the walnut as a little head and that is what the word κάρυονmeans: μικρὴκάρα[mi’kri ‘kara] = little head. Both a head and a walnut have an external tough shell: a κάρα= head has a bony shell and a walnut a ligneous one.

The ἐγκέφαλος[en’gkefalos] = brain <ἐν + κεφαλὴ [en = in + kefa’li = head], which consists of lobes, is in the heart of the head. The internal part of the walnutcontains also pods, surprisingly similar to the lobes of the brain as for their configuration.

These determining similarities of the head (κάρα) gave the word κάρυον(diminutive of the word κάρα), which literally means little head.

[ FromYannisPrinianakis-VasilisFilias “Ta imartimenatoulexikouBabinioti (The errors of the Babiniotis’ modern greek dictionary)” Papazisi editions. ΓιάννηςΠρινιανάκης-ΒασίληςΦίλιας «ΤὰἡμαρτημένατοῦλεξικοῦΜπαμπινιώτη». ἐκδ. Παπαζήση]

In total, during the educational years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, the etymology of the following words was taught:

Ἀλέξανδρος [A’lexandros = Alexander], Ἡρακλῆς [Ira’klis = Hercules], Περικλῆς [Peri’klis = Pericles] , Τερψιχόρη [Terpsi’chori = Terpsichore], Καλλιόπη [Kali’opi = Calliope], Δημοσθένης [Dimos’thenis = Demosthenes], Θέρος [‘theros = summer], ὀπώρα [o’pora = fruit], Φθινόπωρο [fthi’noporo = autumn], βόσκω [‘vosko = graze], ποιμὴν [pi’min = shepherd], γάλα [‘gala = milk], Τέμπη [‘tembi = Tempe], Φάρσαλα [‘farsala = Pharsala], ἀλώπηξ [a’lopix = fox], αἴλουρος [‘eluros = ailouros], Μεσόγειος [me’sogios = Mediterranean Sea], Θεσσαλία [thesa’lia = Thessaly], Λέων [‘leon = lion], Πλαταιαὶ [plate’e = Plataea], Λάρισα [‘larisa = Larissa] , Μυτιλήνη [myti’lini = Mytilene], Ῥήγιον [‘rigion = Rhegium], εἴλωτες [‘ilotes = slaves in Sparta], ὑπασπιστὲς [ipaspi’stes =shield carriers] , ὑπηρέτης [ipi’retis = oarsman, servant], ἀκήρατος [a’kiratos = untouched], ἄχραντος [‘achrandos = spotless], ἀμώμητος [a’momitos = blameless], ἀστέρας [a’steras = star],νερὸ [ne’ro = water], καρύδι[ka’rydi = walnut], ἀμυγδαλιὰ [amygdali’a = almond tree], γάιδαρος [‘gaidaros = donkey].

 

Musical Poetry

It is a severe mistake for poetry and music to stay on the sidelines or in the limits of an isolated from reality occupation. Thus, they are thrown in battle in our lessons, during every class period, because, thanks to these, the appropriate mood is created in the children’s souls, in order to be familiarised with the Greek Civilisation. The children have to be systematically taught the great musical poems. Familiarisation with those great songs is an important revelation for children nowadays, as those songs, unfortunately, are never listened to. They are enthused while listening to them and a creative “earthquake” is caused inside them, along with a drive to delve into the great things of the Greek Culture. The souls of the children always –but mainly nowadays, in our nonsense time- thirst after essence, meaning, vision of the future, greatness. And musical poems offer all those generously.

Example.

During the educational year 2012-2013 the following musical poems were taught:

Ὕμνοςεἰςτὴνἐλευθερίαν [imnos is tin elefthe’rian = Hymn to Liberty], Ἄξιόνἐστι [‘axione’sti = It is worthwhile], Τῆςδικαιοσύνηςἥλιενοητὲ [tis dikeos’inis ‘ilienoi’te = Notional sun of justice], Ἀγρίμιακιἀγριμάκιαμου [a’grimiakiagri’makia mu = My agrimis and my little agrimis], Μπῆκανστὴνπόληοἱὀχτροὶ [‘bikanstin ‘poli i o’chtri = The enemies have invaded in the city], Καὶνα, ἀδερφέμου [ kenaader’fe mu = And so, my brother] , Ψάλτης [‘psaltis = cantor], Θὰ᾿ρθειςσὰνἀστραπή [tharthis san astra’pi = You will come like a thunderbolt] , ἩμάνατοῦἈλέξανδρου [i ‘manatua’lexandru = Alexander’s mother], ΘούριοςτοῦῬήγα [‘thuriostu ‘riga = Thourios by Rigas] .

During the educational year 2013-2014 the following musical poems were taught:

ἘλεύθεροιΠολιορκημένοιΔιονυσίουΣολωμοῦ [e’leftheripoliorki’menidioni’siusolo’mu = DionysiosSolomos’ The Free Beleaguered], Παραπονεμέναλόγια [parapone’mena ‘logia = Words and lines of glum and sorrow], Γειάσουχαράσου, Βενετιά [giasucha’rasuveneti’a = So long, Venice], Σύντροφοιαἐποχῆς [‘sindrofi ‘protisepo’chis = Comrades of the 1st time], Μάνα [‘mana = Mother], Ποτὲδὲνθὰπεθάνουμε [po’te den thape’thanume = We are never going to die], Πετροπέρδικα [petro’perdika = Stone partridge], Μὴνμᾶςφυσήξειἄνεμος [min mas fi’sixi ‘anemos= Let the wind not blow on us], Δυὸπαιδιὰἀπ᾿τὸΒραχώρι [diopedi’aap to vra’chori = Two lads from Vrachori], ΓυναῖκεςἨπειρώτισσες [gi’nekesipi’rotises = Women of Epirus], Λαβωμένοιοἱφαντάροι [lavo’meni i fan’dari = The soldiers, wounded], Μαλαματένιαλόγια [malama’tenia ‘logia = Golden words], Mass media, Μιλῶγιὰτὰπαιδιάμου [mi’logia ta pedi’a mu = I’m speaking about my children], ΤὸτραγούδιτοῦκυρΜέντιου [to tra’guditukir-‘mendiu = MrMendios’ song], Ἐαρινὴσυμφωνία[eari’nisimfo’nia = Vernal symphony].

 

Orthodox Hymnology

The Orthodox Hymnology has the same goal. Amazing language, wonderful meanings, heavenly music.Furthermore, the performance of the hymns in Church, every Sunday and in the religious celebrations, helps, because the children either recognise them by listening to them in Church, or they expect the day they will listen to them in Church.

Example.

During the educational year 2012-2013 the following orthodox hymns were taught:

ΤῇὙπερμάχῳ (To thee, the champion leader), Τὴνὡραιότητα (By the beauty), ἸδοὺὁΝυμφίοςἔρχεται (Behold, the Bridegroom cometh), ἘγκώμιαΜεγάληςΠαρασκευῆς (ἐπιλογή) (Holy Friday Lamentations: a selection), ΚανόναςτῆςἈναστάσεως (ἐπιλογή) (Canon of Resurrection: a selection).

During the educational year 2013-2014 the following orthodox hymns were taught:

ἩΒυζαντινὴΜουσική (εἰσαγωγή) (TheByzantineMusic: anintroduction), ἀπολυτίκιοἉγίουΔημητρίου (ApolytikionofSaintDemetrios), ἀπολυτίκιοτῶνΕἰσοδίωντῆςΘεοτόκου (ApolytikionoftheEntryofVirginMary), ῬωμανὸςὁΜελῳδὸς (SaintRomanostheMelodist), Χριστὸςγεννᾶται (Jesusisbeingborn), ἩΠαρθένοςσήμερον ( TodayVirginMary) , Νεηγενὲς (Newborn), ΟἱεἱρμοὶτῶνᾠδῶντοῦκανόνοςτῶνΧριστουγέννων (TheIrmoioftheodesoftheChristmascanon), ὉμονογενὴςΥἱὸς (TheonlybegottenSon), Τὰἐφύμνιατῶνδύοἀντιφώνων(Theephymniaofthetwoantiphons), Ὁτρισάγιοςὕμνος (TheTrisagion), Χερουβικὸ (Cherubikon).

 

History

An effort is being made, so that the children feel the pulse of the greatest events-attainments of the past. Children need that: to meet and delve into the real events, to discover the acting people who pulled the strings of history, and to come to positive conclusions both as for the past and the present. In this way, history ceases to be tedious. It becomes exciting, a source of inspiration for modern smart children.

Specifically:

We widely use the map of the time of each historical event, along with photo material of the corresponding region as it is nowadays. The students have to acquire the best possible perception of the place, where the event happened then, but also understand what it is like today. The narration of the events from an authorised historian’s book follows, accompanied by the appropriate soundtrack. We aim at the creation of valorous spirit, which is the base of everything, and Greek history offers abundant opportunities to achieve that.

Example

On the fourth and fatal day, Xerxes launched an attack about 10-11 in the morning, as Ephialtes had recommended him. Leonidas, being aware that the Greeks were going to make a fatal exodus this time, moved forward his few military forces at the widest spot of the straits, ahead of the location where he had fought the previous days, as if he showed that he belittled the arithmetical advantage of the opposing army. The assaults of the Persians were pushed back; they began to recede, but the officers in the rear hit them with cats in order to advance. Some fell into the sea and drowned, others were tromped by their co-soldiers. The Greeks were struggling to cause them the most severe damages possible, before the Hydarnes’ soldiers descend from the Anopaia path and beat them back.

All the pikes they had, were broken and they were fighting with their swords. They had already come into a hand-to-hand combat (ἐκτοῦσυστάδην).Then Leonidas was killed, a man who was most courageous (ἀνὴργενόμενοςἄριστος, Herodotus 7, 224), and other prominent Spartans. Herodotus writes that he has got the names of the 300 men but he does not list them. Neither does Pausanias. Two half-blooded brothers of Xerxes and one of Darius also fell in battle. A homeric battle was given round Leonidas’ corpse. The Greeks repelled the Persians four times and thus they saved the body of the dead king. However, when the army of Hydarnes appeared in their rear, they changed tactics. They returned to the narrowestspot, behind the bulwark, all together (πάντεςἀλέες), except the Thebans. There is a low hill (κολωνόςτις) at that spot, which was their last line of defence. Here, beset from everywhere, they fought, with their swords those who had them, with their teeth those who did not have them, and they all dropped dead around their dead captain. The Persians, according to Diodorus, did not want to have a hand-to-hand combat with them. They hooked them askance and they snuffed them out with their spears and arrows (τοξεύοντεςκαὶἀκοντίζοντεςἅπανταςἀπέκτειναν -11, 10, 4).

[ΣαράντοςΚαργάκος, ΗΙΣΤΟΡΙΑΤΗΣΑΡΧΑΙΑΣΣΠΑΡΤΗΣ: SarantosKargakos: HistoryofAncientSparta (inGreek), ed. Gutenberg]

During the educational year 2012-2013 the following were taught:

  1. Ancient Greece- Sparta (a first meeting with Ancient Sparta: its advantages and disadvantages)
  2. Olympic games (11 stories adapted from the ancient sources)
  3. Stories of the great struggle (8 stories from the time of Klephts and the Greek Revolution of 1821).
  4. Alexander the Great’s daily habits
  5. Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus
  6. The Fall of Constantinople
  7. NicolaosPlastiras

During the educational year 2013-2014 the following were taught:

The Persian Wars, The Battle of Marathon, The Battle of Thermopylae, The Battle of Artemisium, The Battle of Salamis, The Battle of Plataea.

 

Hagiographies of Saints, Martyrs, Neomartyrs

The absolute bravery, the most overwhelmingfight and victory is the one against ourselves, our obsessions and defects. All those exist in the Hagiographies of the Saints, the Martyrs and the Neomartyrs. Of course, here the educational process becomes more difficult, as it is about a secret fight, that is, events which cannot be described easily, which human language is not able to catch. Nevertheless, we do not roll over, because here exists the heart of what everyone of us, and before all others the children, is searching for. Thus, we teach –with God’s Grace and according to our abilities- Synaxaria and Hagiographies. Of course, we have to find those wordsmiths, who will describe them using the words and the pictures of today, and so bring them to life in the mind and imagination of children, who “are starving” and are resorting to virtual reality,so as to experience some kind of greatness, identifying with idols of the entertainment industry and thus flailing about the cement of the fields.

Example

During the educational year 2012-2013 the following were taught:

Saint Nectarios of Aegina, Saint GeorgiosNeomaryr in Ioannina, Saint Agatha, Saint Theodore of Byzantium, Saint Photine of Samaria, Saint Euthymius the Great, Saint Nicetas the Neomartyr, Saint Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) of Simferopol and Crimea, Saint Abd-al-Masih (Christodoulos).

During the educational year 2013-2014 the following were taught:

Saint Sophia the Martyr and her daughters, Faith, Hope and Charity, an unknown Confessor, Saint John III DoukasVatatzes, Saint Barbara, Saint Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous, Saint Peter of Alaska, Saint Pancratios, “Father Paisios, the Elder of charity” (Π. Παΐσιος, ὉΓέρονταςτηςἀγάπης, in Greek), by Maria Goumenopoulou.

We are now approaching –always in the limits of a class period- the hard core of the lesson, the exclusively linguistic part, which includes grammar and syntax, necessary indeed for the acquisition of the language, albeit uninteresting or even detestable for the majority of the children, when they are taught uncovered and laid bare.

 

VOCABULARY

First, we make a parallel presentation of words in their ancient and modern Greek form, derivatives of those words which are used today, along with well-known phrases with them (the words). Second, we give definitions of words and meanings, so as children to perceive what language accuracy means, literary phrases used even nowadays, and transliteration of foreign terms on Greek (e.g. gallop =δημοσκόπηση).

 

During the educational years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 the following were taught:

From modern to ancient Greek

Ὁδρόμος = ἡὁδὸς = road, street, τὸσπίτι = ὁοἶκος = house, home, ἡπόρτα = ἡθύρα = door, τὸπαράθυρο = ἡθυρὶς = window, ὁπατέρας = ὁπατὴρ = father, ἡμητέρα = ἡμήτηρ = mother, ὁγιὸςκαὶἡκόρη = ὁυἱὸςκαὶἡθυγάτηρ = son and daughter, τὸπαιδὶ = ὁπαῖς = child, τὰπαιδιὰ = τὰτέκνα = children (of a family), τὸμωρὸ = τὸβρέφος = baby, ἡκούνια = τὸλίκνον = cradle, ὁἄνδρας = ὁἀνὴρ = man, ἡγυναίκα = ἡγυνὴ = woman, ὁπαπποὺςκαὶἡγιαγιὰ = ὁπάπποςκαὶἡμάμμη = grandfather and grandmother, (παππίας = πατερούλης = papa, παππίδιον = μπαμπάκας = daddy, παππεπίπαππος =προπάππος = great grandfather).

From ancient to modern Greek

ἄρτος = ψωμὶ = bread (and derivatives), ὕδωρ = νερὸ = water (and derivatives), ἡτράπεζα =τὸτραπέζι = table (and derivatives), ἅλας = ἁλάτι = salt (and derivatives), ἔλαιον = λάδι = olive oil (and derivatives), τυρὸς = τυρὶ = cheese (and derivatives).

VOCABULARY (definitions)

ἀνδραγάθημα = heroic act, ἀνδρεία = bravery, ἀνδριάντας = statue, ἀνδρειωμένος = brave, λοίμωξη = infection, ὁδοιπορικὰ = travel allowance, οἰκουμένη = world, οἰκολογία = ecology, οἰκόσιτος = domestic, οἰκοσκευὴ = household goods, οἰκόσημο = heraldry, θυροκολλῶ = post on the door, γυναικωνίτης = zenana, παρεμφερὴς = comparable, similar, διαχειμάζω = winter (verb), διώρυγα = channel, πορθμὸς = strait, ἰσθμὸς = isthmus, ἀβαντὰζ = edge, competitive advantage, ἀξεσουὰρ = accessory, ἀντένα = antenna, ἐκπορθῶ = conquer, γκαλερὶ = gallery, γκαρὰζ = garage, γκροὺπ = group, κοντρὸλ = control, καρνὲ = datebook, ντοὺς = shower, καταιονισμὸς = shower, μπάλανς = balance, ῥεβὰνς = rematch, ῥεκὸρ = record (noun), ῥετρὸ = retro, σέρβις = service, θούριος = thourios = war song, γεωδαισία = geodesy, βυσσοδομῶ = machinate, ἀνιδιοτελὴς = altruistic, διακεκριμὲνος = prominent, εὐφημισμὸς = euphemism, σκυτάλη = baton, σκυταλοδρομία = relay race, λίκνο = cradle, birthplace, ἐκμαιεύω = elicit, δίλημμα = dilemma, σφυρηλατῶ = forge, hammer.

 

VOCABULARY OF LITERARY PHRASES

ἀβρόχοιςποσὶν = dry-shod, without wetting the feet, effortlessly, painlessly (fig.)ἄγομαικαὶφέρομαι = to be led by the nose, to be pushed around, ἀγρὸνἠγόρασε = he has bought a field (figuratively for those who do not care about the others’ advice), αἰχμὴτοῦδόρατος = spearhead, leading edge (fig.) , αἰδὼςἈργεῖοι = shame on you, Argeioi, αἰδήμωνσιγὴ = guilty silence, ἄκρονἄωτον = peak, highest point, ἀντὶπινακίουφακῆς = for a mess of pottage, ἀπορῶκαὶἐξίσταμαι = I’m wondering and marvelling, γῆνκαὶὕδωρ = the ground and the water (fig. for those who give everything to invaders), γαῖαπυρὶμειχθήτω = let earth mix with fire.

 

Having secured, until this point, the tolerance, or even the enthusiasm of the children, we proceed in the reputed difficult and uninteresting (?) part of the lesson: Grammar and Syntax. We offer little “portions” per class, we do not require home study for a start, we work in the classroom (reading, revision, examination). Later, during the educational year, we test students in the continuously repeated syllabus with brief written tests, accompanied by “rewards” and “penalties”. In this way, children can master satisfactorily a considerable amount of the syllabus, by the end of the second year.

 

During the educational years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 the following, regarding Grammar and Syntax, were taught:

Greek alphabet, vowels, consonants (and their division), rough and smooth breathing, rough-breathed words, rules of polytonic orthography, the article, indicative mood and infinitives of the verb εἰμὶ= to be, indicative mood and infinitives of the verb λύω = to untie, to solve, indicative mood and infinitives of the verb λύομαι = to be untied, to be solved, cases-having words and what accompanies them (number, gender), parts of speech: declensional and undeclensional, forms, ending, primary word-root, the last letter of the root (“character” in Greek), nouns, diphthongs, model-used nouns (a list of them), 1st declension of nouns (νεανίας =young man, τράπεζα = table, κώμη = village, ποιητὴς = poet, τιμὴ = honour, στρτατιώτης = soldier), 2nd declension of nouns (κῆπος = garden, νῆσος = island, δῶρον = present, gift, ἄνθρωπος = man, human, ἀγρὸς = field, ὁδὸς = road, street, μυστήριον = mystery, φυτὸν = plant), 3rd declension of nouns (δύναμις = power, strength, πόλις = city, κτῆμα = possession, ἀνὴρ = man, πατὴρ = father, ἔδαφος = ground, soil, Ἑλλην = Greek man, βέλος = arrow, παῖς = child, γυνὴ = woman, μήτηρ = mother), pronouns [personal and indicative (οὗτοςαὕτη, τοῦτο = this. It has three genders in Greek, masculine, feminine and neutral.), the moods of the verbs on the independent clauses.

 

As for children, someone is able to understand more easily the necessity of such lessons. But what about the adults? What about people aged 30, 40 or 50 years old? Which is the utility? Is it maybe a luxury and time and effort, wasted to no avail?

The reasoning and the purpose of offering those classes to adults has been and still is, to revert systematic studying, as an instrumental part of our daily life. We all have to study on a daily basis, independent of our profession, educational level and mood. As monks have included studying in their daily schedule, so we, lay people, have to do. Surely, statistics reveal a heavy situation. The reading audience is very little in our country, whereas the TV and recently the Net Surfing loots our personal time, bringing us in a situation of “heavy” ignorance, with already visible and tangible consequences in the life of our country. Thus, we all need to join such classes, to return slowly in our home, in our culture.

More specifically, regarding the structure of the adults’ classes, it is fundamentally similar to the children’s classes. It diversifies only to an extent, as has some extra units, which we are presenting further down.

Strategic education

We read and comment essays of great thinkers on burning issues. We list indicatively some of them, which were taught during 2012-2013 and 2013-2014:

  1. ἮλθετὸτέλοςτοῦἙλληνισμοῦ; (Has the end of Hellenism come?, Father GeorgiosMetallinos)
  2. Νεωτερικότητακαὶθρησκεία(Modernity and religion, Yiannis D. Ioannidis)
  3. Ἡοὐτοπίατῶννεοειδωλολατρῶν (The utopia of the neopaganists, ConstantinpsGanotis)
  4. ΤὸΖάλογγο, οἱΚονκισταδόρεςκαὶἡῬεπούση (Zalongo, the Conquerors and Maria Repousi, CharisCharitonidis)
  5. Ὁψηφιακὸςἄνθρωπος(The digital man, C.G. Papadimitrakopoulos)
  6. ΓεώργιοςΓεμιστὸςΠλήθων -ἡοὐτοπίαἑνὸςνέουἸουλιανοῦ (GeorgiusGemistusPletho -the utopia of a new Julian, Ath. E. Carathanasis)
  7. ΟἰκουμενικότητακαὶὑπαρκτὸςἙλληνισμὸς ( Ecumenity and existing Hellenism, ConstantinosRomanos)
  8. Πατριδεγωφάγος –μαζικὴμετάλλαξη[Country- self- eater –a massive mutation (extracts), TheodorosZiakas].

(Everything is in Greek.)

The dawning of historiography

Introduction in the marvellous world of the Greek historic science.

Ἡρόδοτος–τὸἔργοτου, ἩἔννοιατῆςἱστορίαςστὸνἩρόδοτο, τὸτέλοςτοῦἩροδότου, ὁπολιτικὸςστοχασμὸςτοῦἩροδότου, κείμενοἩροδότου(6.106.1-6.107.6)[Herodotus– his opus. The meaning of history in Herodotus, the end of Herodotus, the political thought of Herodotus, a Herodotus’extract (6.106.1-6.107.6)],Θουκυδίδης. Ἡζωὴκαὶτὸἔργοτου, ἡδράσηκαὶὁθάνατόςτου, ἡσυγκέντρωσητοῦὑλικοῦ, τὸἰδεολογικὸστίγμακαὶἡπαθολογίατοῦπολέμου, κείμεναΘουκυδίδη (1. Α’, 2. 82, 1-2, 3. 65, 5-10)[Thucydides, his life and opus, his action and his death, the picking of the material, the ideology and the pathology of the war, Thucydides’ extracts (1. 1, 2. 82, 1-2, 3. 65, 5- 10)].

(Everything is in Greek.)

CHURCH FATHERS

An attempt of being introduced in the field of the wisdom of the Fathers of the Church.

  1. ΑΓΙΟΣΙΩΑΝΝΗΣΧΡΥΣΟΣΤΟΜΟΣ. ΤΟΜΕΓΑΛΕΙΟΚΑΙΗΠΡΟΣΦΟΡΑΤΟΥ. [SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM. HIS GREATNESS AND OFFER].
  2. ἩἐξορίατοῦἁγίουἸωάννουΧρυσοστόμου (τοποχρονολογικὸδιάγραμμα), π. ΘεοδώρουΖήση. [The exile of Saint John Chrysostom (a topochronological diagram). Father TheodorosZisis].
  3. 11 κείμεναἀπὸτὸνλόγοτοῦἁγίουἸωάννουΧρυσοστόμου: Διδασκαλία καὶἔλεγχοςπρὸςτοὺςἔχονταςσυνεισάκτους. [11 extracts from the homily of Saint John Chrysostom: Διδασκαλίακαὶἔλεγχοςπρὸςτοὺςἔχονταςσυνεισάκτους (Advice and admonishment to the priests having housekeepers in their homes).]
  4. ΑΒΒΑΣΗΣΑΪΑΣ. ΛΟΓΟΙΑΣΚΗΤΙΚΟΙ. ΕΡΜΗΝΕΙΑ. [ABBOT HESIAH. ASCETIC SPEECHES. INTERPRETATION.]
  5. Εὐαγρίου, κεφάλαιαπερὶδιακρίσεως, παθῶνκαὶλογισμῶν. 4 κείμενα. [Evagrius’ chapters on individuation, pathi and logismi (= thoughts). 4 extracts].
  6. Μάρτυρεςκαὶεἴδωλα. Τὸ παράδειγμα τῆςἁγίαςΑἰκατερίνης. [Martyrs and idols. Saint Catherine’s paradigm].
  7. ἘπιστολὴἁγίουἸωάννουΒατάτζηπρὸςτὸνΠάπαΓρηγόριοτὸνΘ’ [Saint John III DoukasVatatzes’ epistle to Pope Gregory IX].
  8. ἩἅλωσητῆςΠόληςκατὰτὸνΓεννάδιοΣχολάριο, π. ΘεοδώρουΖήση. [The Fall of Constantinople according to GennadiusScholarius (Father TheodorosZisis)].
  9. ὉΜέγαςΦώτιοςὡςγνώμοναςχρηστῆςδιοίκησης. [Saint Photios the Great as an example of fairleadership].

 

(Everything is in Greek).

 

THE LIBERATED GREECELITERATURE

  1. Pre-Solomian poets and Heptanese School.
  2. Three poems of IakovosPolylas: Ἐρασιτέχνης [Amateur],Μίαπρώτηἀγάπη[A first love],Κούγκι[Koungi].

(Everything is in Greek).

 

 

WE LOVE ANCIENT GREEK

The famous French Hellenists Jacqueline de Romilly and Jean-Pierre Vernant asked from men of letters, arts and science, but also from students at university and at school, all of whom learned the Greek language, to choose an ancient Greek text and write a comment about their choice and their love for Greece. A great opportunity for us, Greeks, to see our cultural treasure from the perspective of our foreign fellow human beings and to overcome the methodically cultivated oeceiophobia (selfphobia).

  1. Homer’s Odyssey 6, 255-272. Commented by ClaudeAbeille, sculptor, member of the Fine Arts Academy.
  2. Xenophon’s Anabasis 3, 1, 35-36. Commented by the philosopher Manuel de Dieguez.
  3. Homer’s Iliad 1, 1-7. Commented by Victor Brito, student of Classical Philology in Lycee Louis-le-Grand.
  4. Homer’s Iliad 22, 296-305. Commented by Olivier Lecerf, honorary president of the Lafarge group.

 

From the book ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕΤΑΑΡΧΑΙΑΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ [WE LOVE ANCIENT GREEK. In Greek], ed. Ποταμὸς [Potamos].

 

In short, this is what happened during the educational years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 in the two classes that were constituted by Primary School Pupils and in the one constituted by adults. We obviously expected a more positive reaction. However, it is most difficult nowadays, when money is being deified, for someone to venture to do something not recommended by the massive propaganda as necessary and useful.

On the other hand, the first step is the hardest. We are going to keep on, with God’s Grace, and of course we are going to search for the financial support which will allow us to extend this programme to other cities, but also online (www.e-gnomon.gr). Unfortunately –or rather fortunately- we are not an NGO, so that we will be abundantly financed…What is more, we need ideas and thoughts to correct or even improve the quality of the programme. So, if you are interested, come in contact with us! [kyrgev@gmail.com, 0030-23210-28190, 0030-694-3760038].

Fare ye well!!!

Kyriakos El. Georgiades, Greek teacher