Classical Greek Language Advantages

Latin | Classics

"Not to know Greek is to be ignorant of the most flexible and subtle instrument of expression which the human mind has devised" (Simmons, xii).

"It seems to be impossible to live in constant communion with the first minds of antiquity and not imbibe something of the spirit of moderation, of self-control, of cautious wisdom, that breathes through their counsels" (Gildersleeve, 22).

"Perhaps the greatest legacy of the Greeks was their belief in the goodness of what they were and what they had to give the the rest of the world" (Simmons, 61).

""Letters are the beginning of wisdom." So one Greek maxim had it, with "letters" standing for knowledge of language, the ability to convey the complexity and subtlety of thought and sense with words. The Hellenistic age strengthened the consensus that mastery of language defined the highest reaches of cultivation. As Marrou has reminded us, when we speak of "classical education" today, we really mean "Hellenistic education." For it was during the Hellenistic age, roughly from the death of Alexander in 322 to the first century BC, that curricula throughout the Mediterranean congealed. The Word was in the ascendant. The cultivated man was, in a real sense, the literary man, the man of words. It was during this period too that the "conscious ideal of human perfection" made itself felt more widely as a culturally shaped force. One was moved, Marrou wrote, to recreate one's self from unmolded clay and "to produce from the childish material ... the man who is fully man, whose ideal proportions one can just perceive: such [became] every man's lifework, the one task worthy of a lifetime's devotion"" (Simmons, 63).

"Ancient Greek, though destined for hibernationn as the language of deep learning in the West from the end of the Roman period to the fifteenth century, had claimed the crown long before as the queen of philosophical and literary languages. The koine, or common, dialect was spoken by much of the Roman world, including many in early Christian settlements dotting the Mediterranean. The Gospels were penned for that world in Greek, as were the Epistles of St. Paul" (Simmons, 83).

"If anyone wishes to understand grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, history, or Holy Scripture, let him learn Greek. We owe everything to the Greeks" (Alexander Hegius, 15th century head of the College of Deventer).

"Within the two literatures of Greece and Rome are contained all the knowledge that we recognize as vital to mankind" (Desiderius Erasmus, late 15th century)."

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"You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once." (Czech proverb)

I have found the above quote very true. I have studied many languages. It is a hobby. And with every language comes different viewpoints and ideas. (Colby)

"The limits of my language are the limits of my universe." (Ludwig Wittgenstein)


Gildersleeve, Basil Lanneau. Essays and Studies. Baltimore: N. Murray, 1890.

Marrou, H. I. The History of Education in Antiquity. Translated by George Lamb. NY: Sheed and Ward, 1956.

Simmons, Tracy Lee. Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin. Wilmington, Delaware, ISI Books, 2012.

Colby Glass, MLIS