Learning Ancient Greek – in Belfast and Adelaide

February 20, 2021 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | THUMBNAIL REVIEWS | 0 Comments |

In pre-Covid days I idly browsed the magnificent sites for ancient language holiday courses at ivy-dressed, stone-built universities intending – one day – to enrol in a fortnight of glamorous intellectual slavery at Cornell or Oxford.   I would work as hard as Dicaeopolis, slaving over my participles into the night, my Liddell and Scott illuminated by candles for some reason.  I’d return to my usual term-time classes at the WEA in February, all shiny and brilliant from my overseas deep dive. One day…one day…And then of course, someone ate a bat.  So overseas or even interstate intensives (there are some excellent intensives held at Australian Universities, in cities which are sadly not as romantic as New York or London) are not in my future for a while.

So, during the 2020-2021 break, as I pined for a return to my face-to-face Greek classes after a year on Zoom, I was intrigued to find a Facebook post from Helen McVeigh, Classical Greek tutor at Queen’s University, Belfast, (helenmcveigh.co.uk) offering Zoom day-long intensives  in Greek and Latin at various levels. I learned from Ms. McVeigh’s video that I could understand Greek via an Irish accent filtered by an Australian ear.  I emailed Ms. McVeigh, who was charming and encouraging. So I paid the £35 ($AU63 – bargain!) for the Lower Intermediate Greek refresher day and awaited instructions. Ms. McVeigh sent materials.  The course would cover third declension nouns, first and second aorists, present participles and the middle voice.

There was just one problem. The class went from 10am to 3.30pm, Belfast time, meaning that I, in the Australian Central Daylight Time zone, would Zoom-in at 8.30 pm Saturday night and Zoom-out at 2 am Sunday morning. I would take my, ‘lunch break’ at 10.45 pm.  So I poured some cold white wine after a 40 degree (Celsius) day (which amused my fellow students on their snowy morning) and logged-in. Our tutor Helen was in Belfast; my fellow students were Barbara in Shropshire, Elizabeth in East Lothian, Richard in Wiltshire, Theo in Liverpool and Anne and Diane, both in the West Midlands.

I was interested to hear the difference in accent. I found it difficult to distinguish between the UK α and η. I think I heard π pronounced as ‘pi ‘(imagine!). We worked through exercises and translations together on line and during the breaks.  At the request of one student, we diverged from the schedule to deal with αυτος, αυτη and αυτον.  It was useful revision and I think that I finally understand the difference between the use of the attributive and predicate positions.

Although I do not pretend to have the concepts which we covered under complete control, and while it is never wasteful to review familiar concepts, I do think that I could have undertaken the upper intermediate class and I hope to have the chance to do so later this year. Helen is a talented and engaging teacher. Recommended for those times when there are no flights to ancient cities.

Also highly recommended; Ancient Greek at the WEA in Adelaide. We return to our face-to-face classes this month. Hopefully. Please join us if you live in Adelaide and have a basic knowledge of Ancient Greek. This year we will review the more difficult grammar and translate original texts.  Our teacher Dr. Alessandro Boria is fabulous.  The class is friendly – challenging but never frightening.  5.30 on Wednesdays, Angas Street.




Ancient Greek reading group: for those who have completed the study of the two volumes of Athenaze and for all those with an understanding of the Classical Greek. Tutor will supply material initially, a textbook will be discussed during the course.




Fees available for this course:(Which Fee?)
Standard: A$371.00
Discount: A$334.00
Concession: A$325.00



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