ΜΥΟΜΕΓΕΘΗΣ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΛΑΙΑΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗΣ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΙΚΗἀναγνωσομένοις τοὺς συγγραφέας τοὺς παλαιούς.
(or: mouse-sized grammar of ancient Greek,for persons aiming to read the ancient authors)
The first who merits mentioning in this dedication, is my wife, πολυτάλαινα, but also πολύτροπος, in addition to being a δῖα γυναικῶν, who since an accident put me in a wheelchair, has dedicated a good part of her life to keeping me going.
Next the Greek language itself, which fascinated me from the first lesson in 1954 and my first teacher, terrible and delightful at the same time, J. G. Menten, who without any academic tuition knew more about ancient Greek than many professors.
Also, naturally, all predecessors in this field, from whom I have borrowed freely, especially Kaegi.
Lastly my pupils, who by questions intelligent and otherwise, and by hilarious mistranslations always exposed shoddy explanations and spurred me on to clearer and more accessible presentation of the necessary grammar.
My friend and colleague dr. A. Hilhorst from Groningen (Netherlands) has carefully read through the whole work and pointed out many an error and imperfection, base for as many suggestions; those taken have contributed much to the quality of this modest grammar. For any remaining errors and imperfections I bear sole responsibility. For all his work I give him heartfelt thanks.
Tilburg, The Netherlands, April 2008.
The author of this document, who has been a teacher of ancient Greek in the Netherlands since 1960, imagines there may be a category of persons who have been taught Greek at school, but have failed to keep it up, this being next to impossible in the bustle of the modern world. They know what reading Greek entails, but do not have a ready command of the details of grammar, even if they ever had. This opus, or ἔργον, aims to assist such people: the grammatical facts are presented in a succinct fashion with a view to quick reference. Also, the author has tried to provide for beginners in the discipline of reading Greek, but they will have more difficulty in getting started and might be better advised first to make use of other starters courses, of which there is an abundance on the internet (or even better at the booksellers'), and then return to this volume.
Anyone who proceeds with reading this ἔργον will be confronted with linguistic terms that (s)he may have forgotten or never met before; an alphabetical list with brief definitions added is one of the pages to which one may link (I hope this is the correct term in e-jargon): this will prevent the necessity of adding a welter of footnotes to every page.
It may pay to read the grammatical inroduction once or twice (or more until full understanding is reached) with a view to grasping what makes ancient Greek tick.
The essential parts of the 'booklet' are 1) the survey of the main case endings of the nouns, 2) the conspectus of verb formation, and 3) the long list of verb stems that have non-canonical formations.
Much of the material is presented in a manner very different from your old school grammar, so it will be sensible to read all the theory carefully at least once.
Abbreviations, of which much use will be made, will be marked by underlining letters in the first incidence of the words. An alphabetical list of abbreviations is added.
I am convinced that the three instruments mentioned above will give adequate support to the prospective reader (the ἀναγνωσόμενος of the title) until such time as the memory of schoolroom teaching comes flooding back into the mind and the need for this booklet will fade into the background.
When reading any language, but certainly ancient Greek, it is of prime importance to determine which forms of which words one is confronted with. To acquire a proficiency in this job of determination one could take almost any text and start working word by word, aided of course by dictionary and grammar. More efficient would probably be a series of exercises specially devised to teach the tricks of the trade. Some day I might provide these. After – or along with - exercises on separate forms one can start on simple sentences and so work up to more complex periods. The meaning of the forms can be studied by linking to the appropriate pages from the pages concerning the determination of the forms.
For those wishing to check a limited piece of translation from the Greek without the toil of learning the complete grammar I have tried to cater by preparing a list of relevant word endings, alphabetically retrograde, to determine the forms of the sentence they are working on; this page is entitled "amathesin" (i.e. for those without learning, what in electronic circles would be called "for dummies").
I hope users, and especially reviewers (if, hopefully, any), will bear in mind that the purpose of this work is no more than to help readers of Greek texts in their quest for the meaning of what is written; I have had no intention of presenting a complete descriptive grammar and have omitted details that one hardly ever encounters, but do take up an inordinate amount of space.
At the bottom of each page the necessary, and some unnecessary, links have been placed.
article assimilation augment canonical conjugation composite verbs contracted verbs eimi be eimi go exercises for dummies
grammatical introduction grammatical terms keystoexercise moods: indicative, subjunctive, optative, imperative, infinitive, participle
morphemes oida phases: durative, aorist future, perfect reading Greek: 1 2 reduplication script stem synopsis noun synopsis verb