Classic Greek Language

Learning Classic Greek Language First Project
My first project is to learn the Classical Greek Language beginning with the Greek alphabet (alpha, beta, gamma, etc.).
I plan to use 3 rooms in my childhood home (8 rooms) as my memory palace and use 10 loci per room. I will place each Greek Capital letter to a loci and chain the lower case letter, the name (alpha, beta, etc.), and sound from each loci. Not a big challenge, but a worthy start. Any ideas or better memory techniques for this project?

I wrote a few posts in my blog about learning some Greek.

Since the most important thing is to know what each letter represents, you might not need a memory palace. You could probably get away with just creating a link between each symbol and its sound. The memory palace would only come in handy if you want to memorize them in order from the beginning. (I never learned the exact order of the letters, but only learned to read words.)

I don’t know much about Ancient Greek, but here are some quick examples with Modern Greek sounds:

These are the same as in English:
Α, Ι, Κ, Μ, Ν, Ο, Τ, Ε, Ζ, α, ι, κ, ο, τ

These are similar to English – just remember the shape or sound variation:
Β, Δ, Υ, Ω, β, γ, δ, ε, μ, ς, υ, ω

These could be linked to mnemonic images:
Γ – picture a guillotine – it represents a “g” sound (or cross between a g and y)
Η – picture a waterslide and the word “wheeeee”
Θ, θ – picture a thorn stuck in your fingertip (“th”)
Λ, λ – someone turned the L on its side and flipped it over
Ξ – an arrow was shot through an X, splitting it
ξ - the pieces of the X then fly away like balloons with the air let out of them
Π, π – pi
Ρ, ρ – tennis racquet (“r”)
Σ – someone twisted the bottom of the “S” around
Φ – fava bean, ready to split in two (“F”)
Χ, χ – imagine clearing your throat to spit on an “X” target
Ψ, ψ – Poseidon’s trident (“ps”)
ζ – something like a cursive z
η – an eeee-ear (“i”)
ν – pointing dowN (“n”)
σ - rolling Stone (“s”)
φ - a face (“f”)

Thanks so much for your help in getting started with Greek language and memory techniques. I can see first of all, that if I want to work at this, I will need to capture a Ancient Greek font so I can write about it.

I like your mnemonic images, I will use them. Thanks.

I do feel the need to learn the Greek letters in order. In the beginning to be able to cite the Greek alphabet in order and then to practice using and pronouncing the letters. I have the first room done and therefore almost half the Greek Alphabet.

Once I have this tucked away safely in my subconscious I can move on to using them to learn to read and write the language.

I read your posts on Greek, and envy your stay in Greece.

I don’t know if it would work for Ancient Greek, but for typing in Modern Greek, I use Google Translate:

You can just type something like: “Thelo na matho ellinika” and it will automatically turn into: “Θέλω να μάθω ελληνικά”…

Here are some programs that I just found for Ancient Greek:

It seems that the alphabet is the same for Ancient Greek and modern Greek, so that problem is gone. The difference is in the pronunciation of the letters. I want to read Aristotle, I wonder if it makes any difference in understanding Aristotle in Ancient Greek vs. Modern Greek. It would be good to be able to read and understand Ancient Greek while at the same time understanding and speaking Modern Greek. It seems that would work. Or would it? 2300 years can experience significant changes in the semantics and syntax of a language. I think I will work on the Ancient Greek and if I begin to understand Modern Greek, that will be a plus.

I found the “SPIonic” font at and installed it in windows. The recommendations you gave me are very useful in helping me learn the Greek alphabet and more. Great tools,Thanks.

My Tool Box for learning Ancient Greek is beginning to grow. I generally learn best by self-study using at least three different sources of study. I have found the following sources that may be of interest to others:

  1. Joint Association of Classical Teachers’ Greek Course: Reading Greek: 2nd Edition [4 volumes and CD]
    “An Independent Study Guide”
    “Grammar and Exercises”
    “Text and Vocabulary”
    “The World of Athens: An Introduction to Classical Athenian Culture”
    “Speaking Greek”
    View at Amazon:

  2. “Greek: An Intensive Course” by Hardy Hansen and Gerald M. Quinn
    View at Amazon:

  3. Discussion with Professor of Philosophy recommends:
    An immersion course in the Classics at UCLA or UCI [I’m looking into this, no course in Fall Semester]

I am Greek native.

Laird, if you made any progress in your Greek learning, feel free to send me a message in modern Greek and I’ll try to correct it if there are any mistakes.

About ancient Greek, we did 5 years of Ancient Greek in high school (grades 7 up to 11), for about 4 hours per week. So, if year has 35 school weeks, I think I’ve done over 5x4x35=700 hours of ancient greek. However, that’s not enough amount to learn ancient greek properly, that’s why most modern greeks cannot understand much in of ancient greek, besides some common grammar and words. If I read ancient greek, I think I understand 60% of it, even though I’ve not studied it for more than a decade, but it may take a while to decode all hidden ancient greek meanings and grammar.

However, in my native language, I speedread a lot daily new articles in (that site is like the Dailymail of Greece) or or (for sports) because the information there does not require much thinking. If I spend 2 minutes per each article there, that’s quite ideal.