I'm currently reading Plato, Homer, and others in their English translations. I also currently am learning how to speak modern conversational Greek. I also want to learn Attic Greek in order to better read and understand Plato, Homer, etc. in their original editions so to say. Is this a good idea? Would I get confused or would this have the opposite effect of accelerating both processes of learning?

Thanks in advance.


2 Answers 2


I'll start from the perspective of English. Even though I am a native speaker, my understanding of the language itself, its structure, and its vocabulary have increased significantly by studying Middle English and Old English. One interesting thing this helps with is dialects - many expressions which at first appear to originate in a regional dialect of Modern English are, in fact, holdovers from OE or ME (e.g. "gotten", "ax a question", "a-fixin' to" and "I guess so"), and just died out everywhere else.

As it pertains to my study of Hebrew: I think there is also a significant cross-training element to studying a "conversational" language as well as a primarily written, read-only language. To get a feel for how a language "sounds", for how people might have spoken casually, to treat the language as living, rather than a dead tree, is worth more than just some dry words on a page. See this question on Hebrew, which has been particularly helpful for me in choosing to concentrate on learning Modern Hebrew, even though I am interested in and building a basis in Biblical Hebrew as well: Modern Hebrew before Biblical Hebrew?


As native speaker of Greek, I would suggest you focused on Modern Greek first as it is much simpler than Attic Greek. Then, once you have a solid foundation of Modern Greek, you can perhaps pick a few textbooks on Attic Greek, learn about its unique features and finally study Plato, Homer etc. In this way I think your transition to Attic Greek will be smoother. Hope this helps!

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