Textbooks and readers for learning ancient Greek as a living language. A note of warning: almost all of the books that teach ancient Greek with the natural approach have some minor or major mistakes in them. We highly recommend that you use a reference grammar alongside the books or, even better, work through them together with an experienced Greek teacher.
Polis – Speaking Ancient Greek as a Living Language
The book follows the approach of the Polis Institute, Jerusalem, teaching ancient Greek as a living language (see the video below). The book covers most of Greek grammar (but not all: past tenses, for example, are left out) and teaches a vocabulary that derives, mostly, from the New and Old Testament.
- very original approach
- engages students with games, commands etc.
- free audio recordings available on the Polis homepage
- messy layout (you won’t want to use this book as a reference grammar)
- no overview what topics are actually taught in each chapter
- many little mistakes, even within the solutions of the teacher’s volume
- some rather obscure vocabulary
- class use (the book doesn’t give much grammatical explanations and might, therefore, not be well suited for self-learners)
- everybody interested in Koine/New Testament Greek
Alexandros to Hellenikon Paidion
“Alexandros” is a reworking of Rouse’s “A Greek Boy at Home” (which you can find for free on archive.org). The book tells the story of an Athenian boy and his family in twelve short chapters.
You can download some sample pages from the homepage of the editor Cultura Classica (link to the PDF).
- vocabulary well suited for active use of the language (“Who are you? Where do you live?” etc.)
- written only in Greek, teaches even the grammar in Greek (which, of course, might be a con for self-learners)
- free audio recordings (available for download from the publisher: click here)
- many little mistakes that will be hard to spot for a novice Greek learner
- at times dubious vocabulary (e.g. λόφος instead of ὄρος for “mountain”)
- class use
- advanced self-learners who are already familiar with Greek grammar and would like to learn the grammatical terms in Greek, too
Athenaze was originally a “normal” textbook that followed, broadly speaking, the traditional translation method. However, it got some reworking from Luigi Miraglia and Tommaso F. Bórri in the style of the Accademia Vivarium Novum editions with more text and more images. The book is a solid introduction to Attic Greek but does not lend itself for active use of the language.
- many grammatical explanations plus sections on ancient Greek culture
- well done images in the Italian edition (not so much, unfortunately, in the English one)
- not much material that can be used for spoken Greek in the classroom
Ancient Greek Alive
A little known book that is out of print nowadays. Published in the 90s “Ancient Greek Alive” was way ahead of its time. The book takes a mixed approach between traditional grammar explanations (parsing) and active use of the language. It is an interesting treasure trove of easy to read Greek stories, useful for the self-learner as well as for the Greek teacher looking to supplement his usual classes.
- very easy but still interesting short-stories in Greek
- many grammatical and cultural explanations make the book suitable for self-learners
- no audio available
- self-learners and classroom use
- Greek learners interested in Attic Greek
Assimil is a well known publisher for language learning materials. While most of their courses deal with modern languages they also offer textbooks on “dead” languages like ancient Greek or Latin that apply the same methods. The book is divided into 101 short lessons that are accompanied by audio recordings: the idea is that you read a bit of the book each day and listen repeatedly to the audio recordings so as to “assimilate” the structure of the language.
- the speakers of the audio recordings try to differentiate the Greek accents (acute, grave, circumflex), a feature of the language that gets neglected in most other courses
- no English edition available
- people interested in Attic Greek and in learning to pronounce the pitch accent