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Question: If I was a teacher in Ancient Greece, and I wanted to write "good job" or "great job" or "excellent" on a students paper. What text would I write?

Thank you so much.

3 Answers 3

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They didn't have paper in Ancient Greece, but I once got a πάνυ εὖ 'very good' (or more accurately 'very well [done]', since εὖ is an adverb) on one of my tests. Variations on that theme include εὖ μάλα 'very good' (this one is probably old-fashioned by the Classical period, but it does show up in the Odyssey), κάρτα εὖ 'extremely good', and εὖ σφόδρα 'exceedingly good'. Or just εὖ 'good', of course.

If you're asking about actual historical practice, though, that's information we don't have. We have some basically credible descriptions of what a typical school day looked like for both Roman and Greek schoolboys in the first centuries CE in the form of certain colloquia, which were bilingual dialogues and stories used for language learning (teaching Greek to Latin speakers and, later, vice versa), from which we do know they did writing exercises, and we also have a papyrus with a translation exercise by a Greek speaker learning Latin from around 300 CE, but that doesn't feature a teacher's feedback and is likely a copy anyway; students would have worked on wax tablets, not unnecessarily expensive papyrus. More information on that can be found in Eleanor Dickey's Learning Latin the Ancient Way.
For the actual Classical period, i.e. the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, we have nothing at all.

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One option from Koine Greek is is εὖγε. In Luke 19:17 we read, “καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Εὖγε, ἀγαθὲ δοῦλε...” “And he said to him ‘Well done, [my] good servant!’”

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    One thing to note, though, is that εύγε is an exclamation, like bravo! so it might appear as a note by a teacher, but not as a grade.
    – Mike Nakis
    Jan 31 at 13:08
  • Well it would likely have been delivered orally, right? ;-)
    – adam.baker
    Feb 1 at 6:11
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I would suggest either καλῶς or εὖγε.

A group that meets (or met) on zoom for chats in Ancient Greek has this reference for conversational Ancient Greek: Bill's Conversational Ancient Greek Cheat Sheet

Two entries are:

καλῶς • OK, great, very good, well done (adv.) (in Sec. 1 Basic Greetings)

εὖγε • well done! (in Sec. 20 Interjections)

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  • These are great suggestions, but I would suggest linking to a more reputable source.
    – brianpck
    Jan 31 at 20:18

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