[B-Greek] The Structure of the “ReadingGreek” Course

John Owlett owl at postmaster.co.uk
Wed Oct 28 09:29:31 EDT 2009

The Cambridge University Press publishes 12 items as part of the Reading Greek Course, but neither CUP’s website nor the online book stores tell you what books you need when.  This post is an outline of the course, in the hope that it will help those who are considering using it.  Sorry about the length.

Reading Greek’s aim is “to enable students to read Attic Greek, Homer and Herodotus with some fluency and intelligence in one to two years.”


(**) Learn Ancient Greek, by Peter Jones (Duckworth, 1998)

This is not officially a part of Reading Greek, but is suggested as simple introduction for those who are teaching themselves and starting from scratch.  It was written by Reading Greek’s course director—originally as a series for the London Daily Telegraph—aiming to take an adult beginner quickly and entertainingly to the stage of reading some simple passages from the New Testament and from Plato, Aristophanes and Euripides.  The idea, as I understand it, is that these early successes will boost the solo learner’s motivation.


There is a set of 4 core books (all in their 2nd edition) to this part of the course:

(01) Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary
(02) Reading Greek: Grammar and Exercises
(03) An Independent Study guide to Reading Greek
(04) The World of Athens

The Independent Study Guide is for those who are teaching themselves, and is not necessary for those who have a teacher.  The World of Athens is an introduction to classical Athenian culture; the other books refer to it (for things like what a rhapsode was) but it is not strictly necessary.

If you do 4 sessions of study a week, you will finish this part in 37 weeks.  (I doubt whether this number is an accident.  The school year in England contains 39 weeks.)


(05) Speaking Greek CD
(06) Reading Greek: Morphology Charts

The Morphology Charts are for classroom use: the teacher photocopies enough copies of the blank charts for each student to fill in as he or she learns the morphology.

(**) Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary
(**) Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek

CUP generously ignores the traditional university rivalry.  The Grammar and Exercises book contains both a short reference grammar and a Greek-English/English-Greek vocabulary, so these books are not essential.


This comprises 5 texts and a vocabulary.  Each of the texts has between 600 and 900 lines of Greek, with vocabulary and notes on the facing page.  The first 2 texts introduce the student to a solid chunk of each of 6 important classical writers—though no Xenophon!  The accompanying vocabulary is presumably unnecessary if you have bought a dictionary.  (These 3 books are still in their first edition from 1979-80.)

(07) A World of Heroes (Homer, Herodotus and Sophocles)
(08) The Intellectual Revolution (Euripides, Thucydides and Plato)
(09) Greek Vocabulary

Given the success of Reading Greek, a further 3 texts were developed at about the same time as the second edition of part 1.  These extend the student into Greek that is both later and earlier than Attic.

(10) New Testament Greek: A Reader
(11) The Triumph of Odysseus (books 21 & 22 of the Odyssey, complete)
(12) A Greek Anthology


Dr Owl

John Owlett, Southampton, UK

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