It is not easy to find good resources for spoken ancient Greek. For this reason we started a series of Youtube videos aimed at beginners who want to learn the most important phrases. In this post you’ll find the full transcript of the first lesson (τί ὄνομά σοί ἐστιν;) with some additional info as well as some recommended resources for further study (scroll down to the end of the post).
Key Phrases of This Lesson
Watch the Video Here
(Ἰέννι·) χαίρετε· σήμερον μαθησόμεθα ἀξιόλογόν τι· πῶς ἀσπαζόμεθα ἀλλήλους ἑλληνιστὶ πυθόμενοι τὸ ὄνoμα· ἀρξώμεθα δέ.
(Jenny:) Hi! Today we are going to learn something interesting: how to greet each other in Greek asking for the name. Let’s start!
(Ἰέννι·) χαῖρε· τί ὄνομά σοί ἐστιν;
(Ῥογῆρος·) χαῖρε· ὄνομά μοί ἐστι Ῥογῆρος. τί ὄνομά σοί ἐστιν;
ὄνομά μοι Ἰέννι ἐστίν.
(Jenny:) Hi! What’s your name?
(Rogelio:) Hi! My name is Rogelio. What’s your name?
My name is Jenny.
τὸ μὲν πρῶτον οὖν λέγομεν· χαῖρε. τὸ δὲ χαῖρέ ἐστι προστακτικὴ τοῦ ῥήματος χαίρειν ὃ σημαίνει· ἱλαρὸς ἢ ἱλαρὰ ἴσθι, εὔθυμος ἴσθι. λέγομεν δὲ οὕτως μόνον πρὸς μίαν ἢ ἕνα ἄνθρωπον· εἰ πλείους ἄνθρωποι πάρεισιν, δεῖ ἡμᾶς εἰπεῖν· χαίρετε.
So first of all we say “chaire” (“Hi!”). “Chaire” is the imperative of the verb “chairein” which means: be happy, be cheerful. We say this, however, only to one (female or male) person: if there are more people present, we have to say “chairete”.
τί ὄνομα αὐτῷ ἐστίν;
ὄνομα αὐτῷ Σωκράτης ἐστίν
τί ὄνομα αὐτῇ ἐστίν;
ὄνομα αὐτῇ Ξανθίππη ἐστίν.
What’s his name?
His name is Socrates.
What’s her name?
Her name is Xanthippe.
λέγομεν οὖν ὄνομά μοι, ὄνομά σοι, ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ὄνομα αὐτῇ χρώμενοι ἀεὶ τῇ δοτικῇ.
So we say: my name, your name, his name, her name, always using the dative.
τί ὄνομά ἐστι τῷ κυνί;
ὄνομα τῷ κυνί ἐστιν Ἄργος.
τί ὄνομά ἐστι τῷ ἀνδρί;
ὄνομα τῷ ἀνδρί ἐστιν Ὀδυσσεύς.
What is the dog’s name?
The dog’s name is Argos.
What is the man’s name?
The man’s name is Odysseus.
ὁ δὲ Ὀδυσσεὺς πολύτροπός ἐστι καὶ ψεύδεται ἐνίοτε περὶ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ· ὃτε γὰρ ὁ δεινὸς κύκλωψ ἐρωτᾷ· “Τί ὄνομά σοί ἐστιν;” λέγει ὁ Ὀδυσσεύς·”Οὖτις ἐμοί γ᾽ ὄνομα.”, ἵνα ἀπατᾷ τὸν κύκλωπα.
Odysseus, however, is cunning and sometimes lies about his name. For when the terrible Cyclops asks him: “What is your name?”, Odysseus says: “Nobody is my name.” so as to trick the Cyclops.
τί ὄνομά σοί ἐστιν; εἰ βούλεσθε, λέγετε τὰ ὑμέτερα ὀνόματα ἐν τοῖς κάτω ὑπομνήμασιν.
What’s your name? If you want to, tell us your name(s) in the comments below.
Joannides: “Sprechen Sie Attisch?”
A useful phrasebook that is available for free on archive.org (link). Unfortunately no English version exists but you can contact us if you are interested in reading the book in English.
Rico: “Polis. Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language”
The Polis book is mainly intended as a beginner’s textbook but it also contains many phrases that are useful for conversational ancient Greek. An additional plus is the fact that you can listen to the accompanying audio clips for free on the Polis homepage. Note, however, that the book teaches only Koine Greek (not Attic) and that there are quite a few errors and idiosyncracies in the book, so you should read it with a critical mind.
If you want to learn conversational ancient Greek directly from the ancients we can recommend the following texts:
- for Koine: the “Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana” (a great collection of authentic everyday expressions; available from Cambridge Classical Texts)
- for Attic: old comedy (Aristophanes) and the dialogues of Plato (especially the introductory scenes)
- somewhere between Attic and Koine: Menander
Odysseus and the Cyclops
And finally, here is the original encounter between Odysseus and the Cyclops as told by Homer (9.345-370):
καὶ τότ᾽ ἐγὼ Κύκλωπα προσηύδων ἄγχι παραστάς,
κισσύβιον μετὰ χερσὶν ἔχων μέλανος οἴνοιο.
«Κύκλωψ, τῆ, πίε οἶνον, ἐπεὶ φάγες ἀνδρόμεα κρέα,
ὄφρ᾽ ἰδῇς, οἷόν τι ποτὸν τόδε νηῦς ἐκεκεύθει
ἡμετέρη· σοὶ δ᾽ αὖ λοιβὴν φέρον, εἴ μ᾽ ἐλεήσας
οἴκαδε πέμψειας· σὺ δὲ μαίνεαι οὐκέτ᾽ ἀνεκτῶς.
σχέτλιε, πῶς κέν τίς σε καὶ ὕστερον ἄλλος ἵκοιτο
ἀνθρώπων πολέων; ἐπεὶ οὐ κατὰ μοῖραν ἔρεξας.»
Ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δὲ δέκτο καὶ ἔκπιεν· ἥσατο δ᾽ αἰνῶς
ἡδὺ ποτὸν πίνων, καί μ᾽ ᾔτεε δεύτερον αὖτις·
«Δός μοι ἔτι πρόφρων, καί μοι τεὸν οὔνομα εἰπὲ
αὐτίκα νῦν, ἵνα τοι δῶ ξείνιον, ᾧ κε σὺ χαίρῃς.
καὶ γὰρ Κυκλώπεσσι φέρει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα
οἶνον ἐριστάφυλον, καί σφιν Διὸς ὄμβρος ἀέξει·
ἀλλὰ τόδ᾽ ἀμβροσίης καὶ νέκταρός ἐστιν ἀπορρώξ.»
Ὣς ἔφατ᾽· αὐτάρ οἱ αὖτις πόρον αἴθοπα οἶνον·
τρὶς μὲν ἔδωκα φέρων, τρὶς δ᾽ ἔκπιεν ἀφραδίῃσιν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ Κύκλωπα περὶ φρένας ἤλυθεν οἶνος,
καὶ τότε δή μιν ἔπεσσι προσηύδων μειλιχίοισι·
«Κύκλωψ, εἰρωτᾷς μ᾽ ὄνομα κλυτόν; αὐτὰρ ἐγώ τοι
ἐξερέω· σὺ δέ μοι δὸς ξείνιον, ὥς περ ὑπέστης.
Οὖτις ἐμοί γ᾽ ὄνομα· Οὖτιν δέ με κικλήσκουσι
μήτηρ ἠδὲ πατὴρ ἠδ᾽ ἄλλοι πάντες ἑταῖροι.»
Ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δέ μ᾽ αὐτίκ᾽ ἀμείβετο νηλέϊ θυμῷ·
«Οὖτιν ἐγὼ πύματον ἔδομαι μετὰ οἷς ἑτάροισι,
τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους πρόσθεν· τὸ δέ τοι ξεινήϊον ἔσται.»
That was when I went up to him, holding an ivy-wood bowl full of dark wine, and said: “Here, Cyclops, have some wine to follow your meal of human flesh, so you can taste the sort of drink we carried in our ship. I was bringing the drink to you as a gift, hoping you might pity me and help me on my homeward path: but your savagery is past bearing. Cruel man, why would anyone on earth ever visit you again, when you behave so badly?”
At this, he took the cup and drained it, and found the sweet drink so delightful he asked for another draught: “Give me more, freely, then quickly tell me your name so I may give you a guest gift, one that will please you. Among us Cyclopes the fertile earth produces rich grape clusters, and Zeus’ rain swells them: but this is a taste from a stream of ambrosia and nectar.”’
‘As he finished speaking I handed him the bright wine. Three times I poured and gave it to him, and three times, foolishly, he drained it. When the wine had fuddled his wits I tried him with subtle words: “Cyclops, you asked my name, and I will tell it: give me afterwards a guest gift as you promised. My name is Nobody. Nobody, my father, mother, and friends call me.”
Those were my words, and this his cruel answer: “Then, my gift is this. I will eat Nobody last of all his company, and all the others before him”.