So, you want to study Ancient Greek and don’t want to take a course, 2023 edition

Here’s my general advice for autodidacts, people looking to do a lot of Greek reading, or anyone really wanting to kickstart and turbo-charge their Ancient Greek. It’s also more of less what I tell students to do (especially if they have finished Athenaze vol 1)

These days I would almost certainly tell you to read Athenaze. My case for Athenaze as a beginning textbook rests on two principles. Firstly, it’s the best continuous-narrative textbook that we have. It’s far from perfect, the textbook itself isn’t great, but that reason alone is enough to use it. Secondly, while it’s difficulty + vocab gradient is too steep, it’s less steep than anything else. So, I would start with Athenaze.

Should you read the Italian version? Yes, but with caveats. (i) If you have no background in the language at all, buying the Italian version and not the English will leave you without grammatical explanations, which is going to make life hard; (ii) but if you can get things explained one way or another, the Italian is superior; (iii) the Italian editions can be hard to get hold of, depending on your luck in ordering things from Italy. (iv) the main advantage of the Italian is simply this: far, far more connected prose to read in Greek. At least double.

When you get to the end of volume 1, you should definitely do volume 2. But it’s also around this time that you can profitably read other beginner/basic things. I’m not saying someone should necessarily read all of the following, but one could! You’ll definitely need to do some lexicon work if you tackle anything outside the main line of your textbook though, so have Logeion bookmarked. But you could start by reading:

  1. Mark Jeong’s Greek Reader
  2. Alexandros, τὸ Ἑλληνικὸν παιδίον
  3. Charles Moss’ First Greek Reader
  4. The JACT Reading Greek course (at least 1-8 after Athenaze ch 16, then I would leave the rest until after Athenaze vol 2)
  5. Stoffel’s Epitome of the Greek New Testament
  6. My LGPSI
  7. Galilaiathen (my in-progress Athenaze-linked NT-Koine reader. Currently available via my patreon.)
  8. WHD Rouse’s A Greek Boy at Home.
  9. The new Logos LGPSI reader. (My review here)

If you read all that, you’d be well, well situated for going on to read a lot of ancient Greek. This is how I’d design a fairly comprehensive reading program of extensive reading for beginning students. Once you get a lot of beginner reading done, it’s time to read more and more broadly and extensively, but I think that probably needs another post, another time.

2 responses

  1. I was under the impression that Alexandros was somehow derivative of Rouse’s A Greek Boy at Home. Is it nevertheless worth it to read both of them?

    • Alexandros is derivative of AGBAH but I nevertheless think it’s worth reading both of them. I’d read Alexandros first though, AGBAH can be more than a bit tough at times!

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