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The earliest extant evidence for the Greek language are lists written in a syllabic script called Linear B; these short, non-literary texts were written on clay tablets in the major Greek Mycenaean Centers (Mycenae, Pylos, Thebes, and Knossos) from c. 1450 to c. 1200 BCE.  There is no archaeological evidence of writing after the collapse of the Mycenaean world until the 8th c. BCE, when we find short Greek inscriptions written in alphabetic form, The earliest works of Greek literature that survive until today date most probably to the 8th c. BCE and include the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems by Homer, as well as Hesiod’s Theogony. The ancient Greeks produced an impressive literary corpus of prose and poetry expressed in a variety of dialects.  Rich in vocabulary and expressive force, the ancient Greek language is the key to understanding the intellectual achievement of the Greek writers who set the stage for the development of such diverse fields of literature and learning as philosophy (e.g. Plato, Aristotle), rhetoric (e.g. Lysias, Demosthenes), historiography (e.g. Herodotus, Thucydides), biography (Plutarch), tragedy (e.g. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides), and comedy (e.g. Aristophanes).

“Classical Greek” refers mainly to the Greek dialect spoken in Athens in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE (Attic Greek). As such, Classical Greek was the language of the first great democratic state; eventually, it became the standard dialect that was read and studied for more than a thousand years down through the era of the Roman and Byzantine empires.  After the Classical period, the Greek language continued to evolve, forming a standard common dialect (koine Greek) that was used throughout the Hellenistic world of the eastern Mediterranean and beyond.  This was the dialect used by the writers of the New Testament to make it accessible to the widest literate audience.  The modern Greek language is its descendant, though greatly changed after more than a thousand years of linguistic development.

Following a first-year sequence introducing students to the grammar and vocabulary of standard Attic Greek, we offer reading courses that typically alternate between poetry and prose, and introduce students to a variety of dialects and literary genres.  Given the difficulty of the language and the rich variety of its literary corpus, the student who wants to gain a command of ancient Greek should plan to study it for at least five to six semesters.

Those who are considering graduate study in any area of classical studies (Greek and Latin) are strongly advised to consult with a CAMS faculty member as to graduate school expectations and should plan to take as much Latin as possible and at least two years of Greek in their undergraduate curriculum.



GREEK 101: Introductory Ancient Greek Fundamentals of classical Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.

GREEK 102: Intermediate Ancient Greek Intermediate study of classical Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. 
Prerequisite: GREEK 101

GREEK 401: Introductory Reading in Greek Literature Analysis of selected passages of ancient Greek literature; attention will be paid to gra mmatical as well as literary details. 
 Prerequisite: GREEK 102

GREEK 420: Greek Prose Authors Readings in representative authors.

GREEK 425: Greek Historians Translation and study of one or more of the ancient Greek historians. 
Prerequisite: GREEK 102

GREEK 430: Greek Poetry Translation and analysis of selected readings in Greek poetry. 
 Prerequisite: GREEK 102

GREEK 440: Greek Drama Translation and study of a selected play.  Prerequisite: GREEK 102

GREEK 494: Research Project Supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small-group basis.

GREEK 494H: Research Project Supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small-group basis.

GREEK 496: Independent Studies

Student Testimonial

“The day I changed my major to Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies was one of the happiest of my college career.  Even before switching to CAMS,  I was interested in what the department had to offer. (...)
An undergraduate advisor suggested LATIN 003 as a way of easing into college life, as I had taken Latin classes throughout high school and had performed well on the Advanced Placement exams.  The beginning was rough, but I enjoyed the challenge of translating Latin prose and the information that the texts conveyed.  Although I pursued an Advertising degree during my first two years of college, I continued to sign up for Latin courses, and by the end of my sophomore year, I had realized that Classics, not Advertising, was the right major for me. In addition to the Latin courses, I also studied the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, and Egypt in the CAMS major.  All of these classes were interesting, educational, and taught by knowledgeable faculty members.   The CAMS faculty is always helpful; they provide insight into the class material and make suggestions for outside reading during office hours and after class.  When I wrote my senior thesis for the Honors College, I received much help from the CAMS faculty while researching and writing the thesis.  Now that I have received my diplomas from Penn State, both in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Spanish, I have decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Education.  I have been accepted at the Complutense University of Madrid, one of the oldest universities in Europe, to study secondary education, specializing in classical languages.  I am confident that the education I received at Penn State, notably in the CAMS department, will aid me greatly in my postgraduate studies and in securing a teaching job, whether in the United States, Spain, or elsewhere.”

Celia Meehan
2010 CAMS graduate

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