38 Students at Public University are Registered for Ancient Greek–Why?

I have tweeted more than once about my surprise at having many more students registered for Ancient Greek than usual (my previous record was 26; 41 were registered last evening; 39 are registered now). I have joked that it was because of this poster:

Greek Poster 2015

But this is not very scientific. I feared that many students might be there by accident–it just seemed so contrary to my experience that so many students would sign up. (Hint: it isn’t due to the posters!)

So, I started the class today with a questionnaire. Below are the questions and a tally of the common answers. I think most of them are here to stay!

How did you learn about this class?

The current instructor (previous students x3)
From a friend
Need for credit/requirement for major (x3)
The university
Advisor (x12)
Core Curriculum options list (x6)
It still had room (x2)
Other Classics Classes
No reason
Another professor

Why do you want to learn ancient Greek?

To translate ancient Greek texts some for seminary (x3)
Love the Classics/Greece/Latin/Mythology (X13)
Because it is different/interesting/new (x8)
Good preparation for medicine/science major (x2)

Do you have any concerns before starting the course?

“Will this go too slowly?” (x2)
Language learning is difficult (x3)
How different are ancient and modern Greek?
None (x4)
It seems difficult (x3)
When do we need the books?

What would you like to accomplish?

Learn a language other than English
To learn to read Greek (x9)
Rudimentary understanding (x7)
To hold a conversation in Ancient Greek (x3 !)
To be able to speak fluently
To do my best (!)

So, general interest is important, but this year it seems the advisors have been critical–which is a big change. (I will be sending some thank-you emails shortly). Also note the importance of Greek 1 being in the University’s core curriculum.

The final desire expressed above by one student, that she wanted to her her best, made me think of Peleus’ advice to Achilles, which will now be my motto for this ‘epic’ course.

Iliad, 11.783-784

“Old Peleus ordered his son Achilles
Always to be the best and stand out from all the rest.”

Πηλεὺς μὲν ᾧ παιδὶ γέρων ἐπέτελλ’ ᾿Αχιλῆϊ
αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων·

5 thoughts on “38 Students at Public University are Registered for Ancient Greek–Why?

  1. My concern would be: How different are ancient and modern Greek?
    My modern Greek is OK. Passable, if only fit for use as a tourist and American cousin, but I suspect it would be enough to interfere with learning the ancient language.

    1. That is a big concern because the languages are so very different. Learning Ancient might help you ‘read’ the words of modern (and the same is true vice versa), but the grammars and pronunciation are absolutely different. There is definitely some overlap in vocabulary, but it is limited.

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