Homeric vs Attic vs Koine

G A Sindh

Banned
Sindhi - Pakistan
I am studying Greek using the video course Greek 101: Learning an Ancient Language. It teaches Homeric Greek but mentions the Koine forms too. I was wondering whether Attic was not important enough to merit the special attention given to Koine in the course. After all, Plato and Aristotle wrote in Attic, so one would think that Attic forms would at least be mentioned in passing. Am I missing out on something here?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Almost everyone worth reading wrote in Attic, so that's the one version I'd choose, myself. But really Ancient Greek is close enough to the same thing, whether you study Homeric, or Attic, or Koine, the three varieties a reader has most need of. Once you've studied one, and can adequately read Homer, or whatever, you can then study the comparatively minor differences needed to understand Plato, or Pindar, or Sappho, or the New Testament. You're not confronted with a hugely different variety like Modern Greek.
     

    G A Sindh

    Banned
    Sindhi - Pakistan
    Thanks. Is Attic a transitional stage between Homeric and Koine? If so, I can understand why the professor would teach Homeric and Koine but not Attic since doing so would be redundant.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Almost everyone worth reading wrote in Attic, so that's the one version I'd choose, myself. But really Ancient Greek is close enough to the same thing, whether you study Homeric, or Attic, or Koine, the three varieties a reader has most need of. Once you've studied one, and can adequately read Homer, or whatever, you can then study the comparatively minor differences needed to understand Plato, or Pindar, or Sappho, or the New Testament. You're not confronted with a hugely different variety like Modern Greek.
    :thumbsup:

    @G A Sindh
    Maybe because Koine Greek is the closest to Modern Greek than Homeric and Attic, and also a lingua franca for many centuries, so it was very important...
     
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    I am studying Greek using the video course Greek 101: Learning an Ancient Language. It teaches Homeric Greek but mentions the Koine forms too. I was wondering whether Attic was not important enough to merit the special attention given to Koine in the course. After all, Plato and Aristotle wrote in Attic, so one would think that Attic forms would at least be mentioned in passing. Am I missing out on something here?
    Keep in mind also that in Christian (Protestant) unis and colleges all over the western world, the prevalence of Koine over Attic is almost universal because Koine is the language of the Christian Gospels
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    It sounds very strange. Normally, wherever Ancient Greek (with no further specification) is taught, it is Attic Greek that is meant. Its differences from Koine are very small, anyway; on the other hand, Homeric Greek is very different, about as different from Koine as Chaucer's English is from Modern English.
     

    saalik

    Banned
    Urdu - Pakistan
    It sounds very strange. Normally, wherever Ancient Greek (with no further specification) is taught, it is Attic Greek that is meant. Its differences from Koine are very small, anyway; on the other hand, Homeric Greek is very different, about as different from Koine as Chaucer's English is from Modern English.

    And how different is it (Homeric) from Attic?
     

    dcx97

    Banned
    Hindi - India
    Thanks. Is Attic a transitional stage between Homeric and Koine? If so, I can understand why the professor would teach Homeric and Koine but not Attic since doing so would be redundant.

    Yes, I believe so. Attic Greek is merely a transitional stage between Homeric and Koine, much as Koine is a transitional stage between Attic and modern Greek.
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Yes, I believe so. Attic Greek is merely a transitional stage between Homeric and Koine, much as Koine is a transitional stage between Attic and modern Greek.

    I wouldn't quite put it that way. Homeric Greek is a highly artificial language, mostly Ionian but with a generous admixture of Aeolian and reflecting more ancients forms of Greek than the language of its final redaction. Attic Greek did NOT evolve from Homeric; it was a separate Ionian dialect that evolved independently. Koine, on the other hand, did evolve from Attic, with some influence from other forms of Greek (the replacement of specifically Attic -ττ- by -σσ-, for instance) but mostly under its own dynamic.
    Of course, Attic Greek is chronologically intermediate between Homeric Greek and Koine. And feateures of Homeric Greek do help us understand the prehistory of Attic.
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Yes, definitely. Koine displaced all older forms of Greek. (It is thought that one strange modern dialect, Tsaconian, may be derived from ancient Doric; but that, if true, would be the only exception.)
    There was a 2nd-century AD grammarian named Phrynichos, who wrote a book of advice on Koine vulgarisms to be avoided and proper Attic equivalents to use. For a modern Greek, it is amusing to read: a good many of the expressions Phrynichos condemns are in standard use today. If you read Greek even just a little, you may wish to look at this extract: Ο Φρύνιχος και τα λάθη μας
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    So do today's Greeks understand Koine easily?
    Not easily, certainly not without previous study. The grammar has changed considerably. But more easily than we can understand Attic Greek; as for Homeric Greek, though many words (ουρανός, γῆ, θάλασσα, θεός...) and forms are the same 3000 years on, just as many, if not more, are completely unrecognizable to us moderns.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Is there a good resource (course or book) for transitioning from Homeric to Attic without having to do yet another full blown course?
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Thanks. I saw that appendix, which is of course helpful, but it does refer you to a "good Attic grammar" in several places and at the end just says "read a good Attic author and consult a grammar as needed". Maybe that's all that's needed (I don't know). I guess if I ever get to that stage someday I'll post an update here.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Update:

    I found this booklet to be very helpful as a bridge from Homeric to Attic.

    Perhaps getting ahead of myself here, but is there a good resource for transitioning from Attic to Koine? I'm thinking in terms of vocabulary specifically since Koine grammar looks straightforward enough but the vocabulary seems very different.
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    [...] is there a good resource for transitioning from Attic to Koine? I'm thinking in terms of vocabulary specifically since Koine grammar looks straightforward enough but the vocabulary seems very different.
    Does it? I never noticed that, probably because many words first appearing in Koine are still part of modern Greek. But I don't think you would need a 'ressource' for reading Koine if you are reasonably conversant with Attic Greek; a good dictionary (LSJ will do fine) would be enough.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Does it? I never noticed that, probably because many words first appearing in Koine are still part of modern Greek. But I don't think you would need a 'ressource' for reading Koine if you are reasonably conversant with Attic Greek; a good dictionary (LSJ will do fine) would be enough.

    I admit it's not a very informed statement on my part; just an impression from reading snippets from the NT and comparing them to the Homeric vocabulary from the course I completed and the smattering of beginner Attic texts.
     

    Konstantinos

    Senior Member
    Greek - Athens
    The genetic proximity (γενετική εγγύτητα) of Ancient Greek and Modern Greek is 8.6. This means that they are very close.

    For comparison, Italian and Latin is at 20.5, Spanish and Portuguese 19.4, MSA and Arabic dialects 18.1.

    Modern Greek and Modern Chinese: 96, Modern Greek and Modern Standard Arabic: 94.3...
     
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    Konstantinos

    Senior Member
    Greek - Athens
    Comparing languages in elinguistics.net is a good starting point.

    Also, just myself, I have created a simple AI / NLP program, using google's TPUs for finding the genetic proximity between some languages, but of course the reliability of its results is relative.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    Speaking as someone who is not a native Greek speaker, I began with the rudiments of Attic Greek for two terms in university (with homework sentences like "The general led the horses across the river") and then Homeric Greek for two terms, in which we read portions of the Odyssey, and then Attic Greek: tragedy, comedy, and so on. As I recall, the switch from Homer to Euripides was noticeable but not a struggle. A decent Attic Greek grammar, the middle LSJ, and a professor who knew we had been reading Homer were sufficient for Euripides.

    Of course different authors have different styles. I wouldn't go from Homer to the Oresteia if I wanted to retain my sanity. :)

    I taught Koine to American university students in their second year of studying Greek (they studied Attic Greek in their first year). As I recall, we had a small textbook to go along with the New Testament. Some students did well, and others didn't, but it wasn't a struggle for the most part.
     
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