Greek (Ancient)

Ancient Greek is taught by the Department of Classics and Ancient History within the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

About the major

An Ancient Greek major allows you to read, in the original, works of immense cultural and literary significance by the great writers of the ancient Mediterranean world. The study of philosophy, history, drama, lyric, epic, the novel, and oratory begins in Greece, and Greek contributions to world literature are undisputed models of perfection in every later age. Reading the actual words of Homer, Euripides, Plato or the New Testament is an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.

Greek majors study a wide variety of important texts from key periods and genres in the development of this hugely influential literature, gaining an understanding of its themes, preoccupations and complex reflection of Greek (particularly Classical Athenian) culture. Linguistic ability is developed as you progress through a series of units that introduce, practise and then analyse in context Greek morphology and syntax. You may begin either at introductory level, if you have no prior knowledge of Greek, or at intermediate level if you have studied Greek previously to HSC-level (or equivalent). The culmination of the major for all students is in-depth study and nuanced appreciation of works of celebrated Greek authors.

An Ancient Greek major will also help you to develop key skills including the ability to carefully analyse language and to construct clear and persuasive arguments both orally and with the written word.

Pathways through the major

There are two pathways through an Ancient Greek major: one if you have not studied Greek to HSC-level (or equivalent), and one if you have. These pathways merge at the intermediate level (GRKA2600).

For a major in Ancient Greek, the minimum requirement is 36 senior-intermediate or senior-advanced credit points in Ancient Greek. This must include at least 6 credit points at senior-advanced level (3000 level).

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Ancient Greek. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

The non-HSC stream:
Over the course of first year, you acquire the fundamental syntactic and morphological rules of Attic Greek. You will study one unit per semester, and reach a comparable standard of linguistic knowledge at the end of the year to that of students who have studied Greek in secondary school to HSC-level. This means that you will be equipped with most of the basic knowledge and skills that enable you to comprehend texts written in Greek.

You can enter this stream either as a first-year student (and complete the junior units coded GRKA1600 and GRKA1601) or as a second- or third-year student (and complete units coded GRKA2620 and GRKA2621). The latter option allows students who have decided to major in ancient history, classical archaeology, philosophy and other fields to gain the competence in Greek that they need to complete or complement their own studies.

During your second year, you will be in a class with students who have studied Greek to HSC level. You will complete the core units, GRKA2600 (Intermediate Greek 1) and GRKA2601 (Intermediate Greek 2). In the second semester you also have the option of studying a 3000-level unit (GRKA3601, The Language of the Greek Bible or GRKA3602, Greek Epic). You will meet some more complex syntactical and grammatical concepts, but the main focus of the year will be training you to read and analyse Greek literary texts. You will be introduced to critical terminology and theory, and will begin to explore in depth the literary output of classical Greece.

In third year, you complete a final compulsory unit, GRKA3600 (Advanced Greek), where you receive advanced training in the translation and study of Greek literary texts. You will hone your skills in reading and translation as well as grammatical and stylistic analysis. Regular exercises in composition will further develop mastery and appreciation of literary Greek. In the second semester of this year, you can take a senior-advanced unit on the Language of the Greek Bible (GRKA3601) or Greek Epic (GRKA3602), and there will also be two senior-advanced literary units (one in first and one in second semester) in which you will read and research key works of ancient Greek literature

To achieve an Ancient Greek major, you need to have completed 36 credit points at senior-intermediate (2000) and senior-advanced (3000) level. The units on offer are as follows (compulsory units are in bold):

Sample Pathway - Ancient Greek major (non-HSC stream)
First Year S1 GRKA1600 Introduction to Ancient Greek 1 Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 GRKA1601 Introduction to Ancient Greek 2 Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1 GRKA2600 Intermediate Greek 1 Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 GRKA2601 Intermediate Greek 2

GRKA3601 Language of the Greek Bible or

GRKA3602 Greek Epic
Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 GRKA3600 Advanced Greek

GRKA3603 Greek Oratory and Historiography, or

GRKA3604 Greek Philosophical Texts
Senior unit Senior unit
S2

GRKA3605 Greek Drama, or

GRKA3606 Classics of Greek Literature

GRKA3601 Language of the Greek Bible or

GRKA3602 Greek Epic
Senior unit Senior unit

The ex-HSC stream:
If you have studied Greek to HSC-level, you enter straight into the Intermediate level of Greek study. The core units that you complete in your first year are GRKA2600 (Intermediate Greek 1) and GRKA2601 (Intermediate Greek 2). In the second semester you also have the option of studying a 3000 level unit (GRKA3601 The Language of the Greek Bible, or GRKA3602 Greek Epic). You will spend some time studying complex syntactical and grammatical concepts, but the main focus of the year will be training you to read and analyse Greek literary texts. You will begin to explore in depth the literary output of classical Greece.

In second year, you complete one final compulsory unit, GRKA3600 (Advanced Greek), where you receive advanced training in the analysis of Greek literature. Your reading and translation skills will be honed by weekly language classes and the translation of unseen passages, paying close attention to style and diction, and to literary and narrative technique. Exercises in Greek composition will further deepen your knowledge, mastery and appreciation of literary Greek.

In addition you can choose 3 senior-advanced literary units (one in first and two in second semester). In the first semester of the year, you can take either Greek Oratory and Historiography (GRKA3603) or Greek Philosophical Texts (GRKA3604). In the second semester, you can take either Greek Epic (GRKA 3602) or Language of the Greek Bible (GRKA 3601) and either Greek Drama (GRKA3605) or Classics of Greek Literature (GRKA3606).

In the third year of your Ancient Greek major you can choose from three senior-advanced literary units. In these units, you will read important works of Greek literature and discuss them in detail in class with your fellow students and lecturer, as well as writing a substantial research essay.

Sample pathway below, (compulsory units are in bold):

Sample Pathway - Ancient Greek major (ex-HSC stream), only 36 senior credit points are required for the major
First Year S1 GRKA2600 Intermediate Greek 1 Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 GRKA2601 Intermediate Greek 2

GRKA3601 Language of the Greek Bible, or

GRKA3602 Greek Epic
Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1

GRKA3600 Advanced Greek

GRKA3603 Greek Oratory and Historiography, or

GRKA3604 Greek Philosophical Texts
Senior unit Senior unit
S2

GRKA3605 Greek Drama, or

GRKA3606 Classics of Greek Literature

GRKA3601 Language of the Greek Bible, or

GRKA3602 Greek Epic
Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1

GRKA3603 Greek Oratory and Historiography, or

GRKA3604 Greek Philosophical Texts
Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2

GRKA3605 Greek Drama, or

GRKA3606 Classics of Greek Literature

GRKA3601 Language of the Greek Bible, or

GRKA3602 Greek Epic
Senior unit Senior unit
Honours in Ancient Greek

Qualifying for honours
If you are considering an honours year in Ancient Greek, it is best to seek early advice on all the pathways open to you and the skills you will need to do your best. Our formal prerequisites are an average of 70% or above in 42 senior credit points of Ancient Greek including two of GRKA3603, 3604, 3605, 3606 plus 6 additional senior credit points of Ancient Greek, Latin, or Ancient History. The Honours Coordinator can advise you on acceptable equivalents to our standard requirements.

Undertaking honours
An extra year of Ancient Greek allows students to specialise in a particular field and to write a major piece of research. The honours year can be the culmination of your study of Ancient Greek or a pathway to further research in our postgraduate program (though in this case you should also consider doing at least two years of Latin). Our program consists of two seminars, an unseen translation exam and a thesis of 15,000 words on a topic decided by you in consultation with your supervisor.

Honours in Classics (joint Greek and Latin)

Qualifying for Honours
If you are considering an Honours year in Classics it is best to seek early advice on all the pathways open to you and the skills you will need to do your best. Our formal prerequisites are either:

  • An average of 70 percent or above in 36 senior credit points of Latin including two of LATN3603, 3604, 3605, 3606 plus 18 additional senior credit points of Greek or
  • An average of 70 percent or above in 36 senior credit points of Greek including two of GRKA3603, 3604, 3605, 3606 plus 18 additional senior credit points of Latin. The Honours Coordinator can advise you on acceptable equivalents to our standard requirements.

Undertaking Honours
An extra year of Classics allows students to specialise in a particular field and to write a major piece of research. The honours year can be the culmination of your study of Classics or a pathway to further research. Our program consists of two seminars, an unseen translation exam and a thesis of 15,000 words on a topic decided by you in consultation with your supervisor.

Full details of the program, its prerequisites and its relationship to other majors taught by the department can be found on the Departmental website at sydney.edu.au/arts/classics_ancient_history

Contact/further information

Students seeking further information about units of study, or about the books recommended for study, should call at the school office on level 3 of the Quadrangle, phone +61 2 9351 2862, or consult our website at sydney.edu.au/arts/classics_ancient_history.