Getting Started in Homeric Greek

It has long been a tradition to start Greek with Xenophon’s Anabasis. And it’s even been a tradition for close to a century to assert that there ought to be a better way. That goes back to Pharr’s Homeric Greek: A Book For Beginners (Greek Edition), a great book in its day. Even today it’s not a bad place to make your start in Homeric Greek, but if you’re looking for an introduction that goes a little slower, there’s another one out there: Beetham’s Beginning Greek With Homer. I just recently ran across Beetham’s book, though it came out in 1996. It’s a nice introduction, walking you through the bare minimum to make your start in and work your way through Book V of the Odyssey. That, incidentally, is a great set-up to continue with Steadman’s user-friendly Homer’s Odyssey 6-8: Greek Text with Facing Vocabulary and Commentary. If you want to learn Homeric Greek as your starting point in Greek and you’re undertaking it as a wannabe philologist, Pharr is probably still the place to begin. But if your interest is in getting a feel for the language and having the experience of reading Homer in the original, Beetham makes for a good place to start. Incidentally, I have not used Schoder’s 2-part Reading Course in Homeric Greek, but Amazon’s Preview left me with a sense that it was maybe too thorough a course for someone who just thought it would be fun to tackle Homer in the original (and a number of the example quotations for different points were not from Homer). If you like this text, or know of another easy gateway to Homer, you can mention it in the comments. And if you want to do this on the cheap, you can find a PDF of Pharr’s Homeric Greek at Archive.org.

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About G Barto

I've been learning languages more than 20 years and teaching them for at least 15. Here I share the joys and frustrations of teaching yourself new languages.
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