Greek at Bard

Greek at Bard

Ancient Greek is the language known to us from the writings of Homer, Sappho, Plato, and Sophocles, along with many other authors; in a dialect called koine it also forms the language of the New Testament. It differs widely enough from the Greek spoken today that the two are considered separate languages.

Greek/ Classical Studies

Ancient Greek is the language known to us from the writings of Homer, Sappho, Plato, and Sophocles, along with many other authors; in a dialect called koine it also forms the language of the New Testament. It differs widely enough from the Greek spoken today that the two are considered separate languages. Since it is no longer a living tongue, ancient Greek is taught in a different way than most of the other languages offered at Bard: Students acquire fluency in reading only, not in speaking or conversing. Their goal is to read great literary, historical and philosophical works in the original, rather than to communicate their own thoughts and ideas in a foreign language. As a secondary objective they will attain a thorough understanding of grammatical structures found in all Western languages, as well as a familiarity with the linguistic roots that make up much of modern English, in particular the vocabulary of science, medicine and literary analysis.

Beginning Ancient Greek is offered every year at Bard, either in an indivisible two-semester sequence or in a double-credit Intensive version in one semester. Because of the special needs of language learning, classes meet four days a week, rather than the two or three typical of other Bard courses. No prior knowledge of the language or alphabet is required. The course is designed to advance students through levels of grammatical complexity, such that they attain an ability to read standard Greek authors by the end of the first year. Students interested primarily in Biblical Greek, with its comparatively simple grammar, may be able to continue reading on their own from that point; those focused on the Classical period will want to go on to at least a third semester of course work in order to solidify and strengthen the skills acquired in the first year.

Second-year Greek courses focus on prose authors and poets whose works have the broadest relevance to modern culture, yet whose styles are relatively easy to master. These include the poets Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, and Euripides, and the prose writers Plato, Herodotus and Xenophon. Usually the second year is divided such that students who complete both courses are trained in reading poetry as well as prose.

In the third year of language study, students are equipped to read virtually any author in the canon of Greek literature, including Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Aristotle and Thucydides. At this level the faculty typically arrange tutorials with students, allowing them to select the authors and texts most relevant to their interests.


Faculty contacts may be found here.

Sample Courses

 Current Course List (click here)
Basic Greek I, II
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Intensive Greek
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Intermediate Greek: Introduction to Classical Authors and Genres
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Intermediate Greek: Herodotus & Beyond
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Advanced Greek 300
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Advanced Greek 400
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Additional Studies

Classical Studies Program

Classical Studies Website

For the last two hundred years, Classics has been the study of the ancient Greek and Latin languages and the histories, literatures, and cultures that produced them. Classics is an interdisciplinary field of study, approaching the ancient evidence from a variety of perspectives: students interested in language, literature, history, anthropology, philosophy, and art history have traditionally used the tools of these disciplines to understand the ancient Mediterranean world.