Why Greek

There are many reasons to study ancient Greek, from an interest in historical linguistics to a personal fascination with ancient culture. The study of Greek has great practical merit as well. To read Greek, you will need to hold a complex system of facts in your head and manipulate these facts with both precision and imagination— a capability useful, even critical, in just about any higher occupation you choose to pursue. Greek students outperform on GRE, LSAT, and MCAT exams, and that is not a surprise.

But most people, rightly, study Greek in order to meet in the original language one or more of the great minds that wrote in Greek. The list is breathtaking: Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, to name just a few of the more obvious.

This intensive course has as its explicit goal to prepare you to read authors in the original Greek. We will read Greek of increasing complexity as the year goes along, and by semester’s end we will be reading mostly unadulterated Greek.  After finishing the course, you will be prepared to continue reading Greek at the intermediate level (Greek 203), and to read simple prose, from Aesop to the New Testament, more or less independently.


  • Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek, Books 1 & 2. Revised 3rd edition. Maurice Balme and Gilbert Lawall. Oxford University Press. 2016. ISBN 9780190607661.

  • Athenaze: Workbooks I &  II. Revised 3rd edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190607685.

  • Memrise (free): Classical Studies graduate student David Stifler and I have created a Memrise course (“Duke – Elementary Greek with Athenaze”) to help with memorizing vocabulary. This online facility works on all computers and devices. To use, register with Memrise ( or app), and search the courses tab for “Duke Athenaze.

Class logistics and goals

Class will be a mixture of exercises, Q&A, explanation of new grammatical material, practice in reading, practice with writing, drills, discussion of points of culture. Assignments will typically involve a mix of memorization, written practice, and reading. Assignments are not heavy by Duke standards, but must be prepared consistently and thoroughly prior to each class, since class time will often depend on knowledge gained from the assignment. This is an intensive course, and class time will be used very productively; skipping class is not an option.

Graded Material

  • Homework & class participation (34%). Attendance at all class meetings is required: if you do not attend, you cannot participate. Written homework will often be collected and graded. If you must miss class for reasons of illness or family emergency, let me know beforehand and fill out the requisite form.

  • Quizzes (33%). Short quizzes will be given for each full chapter, twice a week. No make-up quizzes will be given; excused absences will result in the quiz not being counted. The lowest two quiz scores will be dropped.

  • Midterm exam (13%). An hour-long in-class exam at the middle of the term (Mar. 2) will give you the opportunity to review the material and display your newfound knowledge.

  • Final examination (20%). A two-hour exam during the exam period will give you the opportunity to review the material and display your accumulated knowledge.

Office hours

  • My office is located just downstairs, in 229B Allen building, next to the Classical Studies main office

  • Open office hours are immediately after class on Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30-12:30; but if my door is open you are welcome, and you can always email me for an appointment as well

  • It’s my job but also my pleasure to help; don’t be shy