26 votes
Accepted

Why did the letters in the alphabet shift position?

The letter Γ was sometimes written 𐌂 and was taken into the Latin alphabet as C, so the position did not change. The letter G was only added later (3rd century BC) to the Latin alphabet, to ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 1,777
22 votes
Accepted

Learn Ancient Greek or Latin first?

Learning Latin is (generally speaking*) easier than Greek; you don't need to learn a new alphabet, and if you know a little bit of Italian, French or Spanish, you might recognize some of the words. ...
Glorfindel's user avatar
21 votes

Why did the letters in the alphabet shift position?

The Etruscan alphabet you presented in your question is actually a transliteration. The actual Etruscan inscriptions are in one of the "Old Italic" alphabets derived from the Greek one. Unicode now ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 28.5k
19 votes

Can one translate ἀθάνατος as 'living' rather than 'immortal'?

"Living" is an undertranslation of "ἀθάνατος." "Living" has a straightforward translation from "ζῆν" (to live): the participle "ζῶν"; "ἀθάνατος," however, means "not mortal," as opposed to "not dead....
brianpck's user avatar
  • 40.1k
18 votes

What errors did the Greeks typically make in Latin?

Well, here's one example I found: nam contra Graeci adspirare ei solent, ut pro Fundanio Cicero testem qui primam eius litteram dicere non possit inridet. the Greeks on the other hand ...
Penelope's user avatar
  • 8,701
17 votes
Accepted

Are "μπ" and "ντ" indicators that the word didn't exist in Koine/Ancient Greek?

Koiné Greek & earlier lacked initial <μπ>, <ντ>, or <γκ> although these strings are commonplace word-internally. There are however a small number of Modern Greek words beginning &...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 552
17 votes
Accepted

Is there an English word derived from τάσσω, with a similar meaning of arranging/organising?

The word you are looking for would be taxonomy, from τάσσω, fut. τάξω, to arrange in a certain order, e.g. of troops. Τακτικός is that which is required for the arrangement: the tactics.
JobRozemond's user avatar
  • 1,323
16 votes

Are "μπ" and "ντ" indicators that the word didn't exist in Koine/Ancient Greek?

No, there are plenty of ancient Greek words that have μπ and ντ in there somewhere. Two common words off the top of my head are ἀντί and πέμπω, thoroughly attested throughout ancient Greek. If you ...
cmw's user avatar
  • 53.7k
16 votes
Accepted

Evidence about pronunciation of ευ and αυ in Homeric Greek?

I would go further than Draconis's answer and say that we can be pretty certain that these diphthongs were indeed diphthongs in Homer's time. Here are some additional arguments: The Homeric poems ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 31.1k
16 votes
Accepted

Is there any rule for determining whether a verb beginning with ε- will augment to η- vs ει-, or must all verbs' behaviors be memorized?

You'll basically have to memorise them, yes, though there are patterns. Both the η- in ἠλευθέρουν and the ει- in εἶχον represent a contraction of ε + ε, but the former is much older than the latter. ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
  • 9,754
14 votes

Learn Ancient Greek or Latin first?

The best choice depends on various things, like your goals, the time available, your language background, the courses you could attend, and probably other factors that did not occur to me. I will give ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Capital and non-capital letters in the Greek alphabet

It depends how hard they are to write with a pen! The "capital" letters are based on ancient inscriptional forms, the way they were carved into monuments. This is why they're made of ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66k
13 votes
Accepted

What does this Latin phrase, from an ancient astrology wheel say?

Hemphta is the name of the deity. The Latin Numen triforme means “threefold deity,” or “god having three forms.” The Greek actually appears to say παντόμορφον (pantómorphon), which I take to mean “all-...
Sebastian Koppehel's user avatar
12 votes

Can one translate ἀθάνατος as 'living' rather than 'immortal'?

ἀθάνατος uses the privative ἀ- (from [ἀν-][2] = "not"). Adding the privative prefix to a noun makes a compound meaning "one who is without [noun]". Since θάνατος means death, ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 3,628
12 votes
Accepted

Where does the final -ς in genitive feminine singularis -ᾱς/-ης/τῆς come from?

It's the other way around, actually: Latin lost this -s, and Greek retained it! In older Latin, and fossilized phrases like pater familiās "father of the household", you see the genitive ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66k
12 votes
Accepted

Meaning of "τρίχας" in Anacreon's Περι Γέροντος

Accusative of respect: 'He's old/an old man with respect to his hair(s)' – i.e., his hair is that of an old man. Draconis has alluded to this in the other answer, but it's worth making explicit that ...
cnread's user avatar
  • 19.8k
12 votes
Accepted

In the etymology of 'physics', what is the ultimate Greek root?

The Greek word for 'nature' was indeed φύσις. It is derived from the Greek word φύειν, which means 'to grow,' and was used for a variety of things, including natural appearance, natural character, and ...
cmw's user avatar
  • 53.7k
12 votes

What would the ancient Romans have called Hercules' Club?

I'm not sure we have direct evidence of this particular pendant, but we do have what the Romans called the club and what they called pendants in general. The club is called the clava. Varro (LL 8.26.6)...
cmw's user avatar
  • 53.7k
12 votes
Accepted

Why study a classical language?

Does learning a classical language help to improve one's mastery of other languages (and how much beyond word etymology)? As you've noted, most classical language teaching is 'head-on' (explicit, ...
dbmag9's user avatar
  • 1,381
12 votes
Accepted

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek sigma as voiced [z] before voiced consonants

Yes, there is evidence of this in the form of spelling confusion between Σ and Ζ before voiced consonants, which in certain contexts made its mark on Latin forms (take a look at the 98 examples of ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 28.5k
11 votes

Can one translate ἀθάνατος as 'living' rather than 'immortal'?

Short answer: no, athanatos means "immortal", not just "living". Longer answer: compare the English word "immortal". It comes from the Latin in- ("not") + mort- ("death"). So you could argue ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66k
11 votes
Accepted

Are there minimal pairs between the acute and circumflex accent?

Two examples come to mind: λῦσαι (aorist masculine imperative 2nd person singular, or aorist active infinitive, of λύω) contrasts with λύσαι (aorist active optative 3rd person singular of the same ...
b a's user avatar
  • 1,332
11 votes

Meaning of "τρίχας" in Anacreon's Περι Γέροντος

To add on a bit to cnread's (completely valid) answer: this is a form that's also called the "accusative of body parts" or the "Greek accusative" (since it wasn't common in Latin ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66k
11 votes

Why no relative pronoun in ἄνθρωπος ἐξηραμμένην ἔχων τὴν χεῖρα?

Whether a relative pronoun is ‘needed’ depends, in part, on how the participles ἔχων and ἐξηραμμένην are functioning. ἐξηραμμένην (withered) is functioning as a verbal adjective, modifying τὴν χεῖρα (...
Penelope's user avatar
  • 8,701
11 votes

Are "μπ" and "ντ" indicators that the word didn't exist in Koine/Ancient Greek?

CMW is completely correct, but to add on a bit: The reason ΜΠ and ΝΤ are used for /b/ and /d/ nowadays is because, historically, the voiced stops Β Δ Γ turned into fricatives, and then later the ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66k
11 votes
Accepted

Why -ώς in αἰδώς?

"Is this just a phonetic thing in this word, rather than a semantic one?" Yep. In fact, as Smyth says, αἰδώς is the only such "-οσ- stem" word in Attic. (In Homer you will also ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 31.1k
11 votes
Accepted

Greek quote source

The line is, in fact: Τα γ’αριστα ουδεν ημιν αμεινονα It would seem that, somewhere along the line, it has been transcribed incorrectly. I can just imagine a harried reporter hearing the line and ...
Penelope's user avatar
  • 8,701
11 votes
Accepted

Ancient Greek: how worried do I need to be about "long" and "short" accents?

I don't seem to recall seeing many of these "short" and "long" diacritics in Wiktionary. Are they actually Ancient Greek in origin (I mean, added by Aristophanes of Byzantium, or ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66k
10 votes

The pronunciation of Eta (η)

Sources that say Ancient Greek eta was pronounced like the vowel in English "delay" or "hair" are only providing a loose approximation of the vowel. Greek η was always a ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 28.5k
10 votes
Accepted

Is Greek ἀρά, prayer, cognate with Latin ara, altar?

The etymology of ἀρά is unclear. There is an Arcadian inscriptional form καταρϝος which shows that it had a digamma (which actually confuses things further since if so, the Attic form should regularly ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 31.1k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible