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Η ΓΛΩΣΣΑ ΕΛΛΕΝΙΚΗ ΡΑ’ (Greek 101)  Fall 2008 9:40-10:40 MW – FA 249, 10:05-11:05 TTh – FA 342

Instructor: John H. Starks, Jr.,              
Binghamton University SUNY, Library Tower 1102 (Office Hours MW 11-12; Th 1-2)  607-777-4524     

Syllabus and Daily Assignments
(consult regularly in case of changes to assignments)




Course Synopsis and Student Learning Goals: Welcome to first year Greek!
    This course will introduce you to the language of Homer and Socrates, of Plato and Sappho, a language adopted by Alexander the Great and the writers of the New Testament to become the most widely spoken language across the Mediterranean for most of a millenium. Greeks developed the Olympic Games, tragedy and comedy as true theater, the Hippocratic oath still adhered to by physicians; Greek will open your eyes to elements of world culture and history, social, philosophical, and artistic understanding, and the roots of language itself, including your own native language, whatever that may be. English owes some 10-15% of its large vocabulary directly to Greek, especially in words applicable to the scholarly world of the arts and sciences. Through study of grammar, and readings that teach Hellenic culture, we will learn a great deal about an influential foreign culture, and ultimately about world culture and American heritage.
    This will not always be a pure translation class - we will vary exercises, learning styles, and material as often as possible. We will try to laugh often, even when we're working hard. During this semester, you will be reading some original Greek or slightly adapted sentences from famous poems (epic, lyric) and prose (speeches, histories, philosophy). You will learn foundational elements of Greek grammar and syntax, and we will spend significant time discussing the roots of English grammar as a support to our learning of Greek grammar. You will also enhance your English vocabulary while learning the meaning of Greek vocabulary, and you will begin to understand some of the most important principles of Hellenic life and society.

Course Requirements:


Maurice Balme, Gilbert Lawall Athenaze, An Introduction to Ancient Greek, 2nd Edition (Oxford, 2003)
N. Marinone
All the Greek Verbs (Duckworth, 2001) ISBN 0715617729 –feel free to go ahead and order from Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Class Participation: ATTENDANCE IS REQUIRED. Beginning the second week of class, you will receive a daily grade for participation in class that suggests your level of preparation on material covered (A, B, C, D or 0) and your involvement in class activities. Participation includes questions, exchange of ideas, and responses to directed or general questions from the instructor or others. An absence from class for ANY REASON must be counted as a 0 since you cannot participate if you are absent. Four (4) absences or your lowest participation grades will be dropped, no questions asked, at the end of the term allowing 1 week of class days for illness, family matters, etc. In general, I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences for purposes of daily participation grades, but PLEASE always contact me by email or phone before class if you MUST be absent on a given day. I want to know when and why you need to miss class, and make sure that you don't  get too far behind.
    It is important to understand that participation can include informed questions, requests for further explanation, offering to answer specific questions, or any contributions that foster learning in the classroom environment.
    GROUP WORK PROVISO: I will utilize different groupings of students from time to time in class to facilitate peer learning and review. Be prepared any given day to form groups quickly and efficiently as instructed. I encourage those of you who benefit from group study to create a working study group for out-of-class work.
    HOMEWORK PROVISO -  I generally check homework by asking questions of students in class or asking what questions you have. There is no way we will translate every word of every assignment in class. Homework may include exercises and readings from Greek to English, either in the Athenaze text or supplementary exercises found at, as well as reading of grammatical explanations, review of vocabulary, and other assignments. When possible, the answers to significant unfinished assignments will be  posted on Blackboard; the supplementary exercises linked above AND on your daily assignments/syllabus link are for self-study, including self-correcting exercises on vocabulary, word forms and translation. DAILY HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS ARE THE ONE TYPE OF WRITTEN WORK ON WHICH I ENCOURAGE YOU TO WORK WITH OTHERS, BUT MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING FOR YOURSELF BY THE TIME YOU GET TO A QUIZ OR EXAM.

Quizzes: Up to 10 quizzes will be given as listed on the syllabus (I may, by consultation with the class prior to quiz day, decide to omit any quiz, if we need more time to deal with topics before quizzing on them. A few times during the term, these quizzes may be take-home format to allow for more thorough answers or translation or to facilitate other in class needs. These will always be administered at the END of each class session listed on the syllabus so that additional time spent on quizzes by individuals does not impact the entire class moving on. Quizzes will usually consist of translation from Greek to English and vocabulary and some form identification and will cover material learned from the day of the previous quiz to the end of the session prior to the quiz. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped at the end of the term, so makeup quizzes will generally not be given. If a quiz is scheduled, and if you absolutely cannot make it to class that day for legitimate reasons, and you contact me appropriately before the class in question, I will consider whether you may take the quiz at another time. Absence for religious holidays also requires notification of the instructor prior to the absence. Again the basic rule is to keep the line of communication open.

TestsYou will take three (3) major term exams as listed on the syllabus. These will test grammar recognition, word forms (morphology), translation from Greek to English, and reading comprehension and the formats will be partially derived by consensus of the class. Absence from a test FOR ANY REASON is very serious and may result in a much more difficult makeup test AT THE INSTRUCTOR's DISCRETION (I always reserve the right to refuse to give a makeup exam) - again, absence from a test for serious illness or other legitimate reasons demands prior notification of the instructor, at which time I will consider whether you may take the same exam at an alternate time. That said, if you show signs of being very studious and make solid progress through the term, but you are obviously ailing so badly on a test day that your performance would be unrepresentative of your regular work, please speak with me and arrangements can usually be made for a makeup time – be fair with me and I will extend you the same courtesies.

Final Exam: Of necessity, tests in language courses are always comprehensive (Grammar forms and vocabulary don't go away, they just may disappear for a while and return suddenly, even violently). The final will be even more so. I will cover the  last quarter of the class material in some detail on the final, but there will also be a fair amount of review material from throughout the term.


ACADEMIC HONESTY AND WRITTEN WORK – I cannot stress enough (and you will see more mentioned about this below) that every piece of work you turn in for a grade must be yours and yours alone. Cheating, whether in class or out of class, is a punishable offense at Binghamton University, and will be addressed very seriously in accordance with university policy.

Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Final Exam


Average of Test scores


Average of Quizzes


Class Performance & Participation


I must insist on a firm grade scale as follows: 93-100 A, 90-92 A-, 87-89 B+, 83-86 B, 80-82 B-, 77-79 C+, 73-76 C, 70-72 C-, 60-69 D, 0-59 F. I especially reserve the right to consider borderline grades as falling on either side of the divide that seems most appropriate given all grading circumstances (i.e., a 92.5 or even a 92.9 cannot automatically be assumed to round up, though I may determine that a student's overall performance may warrant such rounding). Consult me about your progress in seemingly nebulous areas such as class participation, etc. I am always available for questions about your grade, even though you may not see it posted in the Blackboard grading system. I do not post grades on that system because I do not like the grading system tabulation format.

Other Expectations:

You may need to spend 2-4 hours outside of class for every hour in class (8-16 hours per week). Foreign languages often require significant preparation time if you want to do well. Because we meet four times per week, you will have significant amounts of time to ask questions of me and work with peers in class and out of class.

Suggestions for Success:
    1) ALL written work to be turned in for a grade must be pledged with an affirmation of your adherence to the Student Academic Honesty Code as described at this site.
    2) Make sure that you regularly consult your email and Blackboard, as these are the most efficient ways for me to disseminate information to everyone enrolled in this class.
    3) My only real pet peeves in classroom demeanor are CELL PHONES (turn them off), chronic tardiness, sleeping in class (even in early morning classes, folks), and not informing me and others affected if you have a schedule problem.
    4) I guess the next closest thing to a peeve is my frustration with being unable to read the minds of completely silent students.  Part of the joy of the classics is sharing what you think about it - whether good or bad. There's always something that deserves discussion, and the whole class can benefit from your insights. And (this is the lesson I've had to learn over time), if you're a natural talker, know when to balance your contribution with that of those around you. Be sensitive to the silences that sometimes occur - someone may be thinking deeply. I have toyed with the idea of using email chat rooms to help out those who are more inclined to silence, but I continue to believe that oral human communication is a most valuable gift and tool for all aspects of modern life, just as it was for the even more orally oriented cultures of the ancient world.
    5) Keep on your syllabus. This class will allow little time for catching up if you fall behind. The syllabus/daily assignments offers a guide and a goal. If you find yourself unable to get through the assigned readings and exercises, let's discuss it as a group or individually - work with others, divide the load and then make sure you teach each other. I prefer to have a plan, and try to find the best way to get there. CHECK YOUR SYLLABUS FREQUENTLY FOR ANY CHANGES I MAY NEED TO MAKE ALONG THE WAY.
    6) Bring all the appropriate books each day they are required by the syllabus (to be safe bring BOTH books EVERY day). Try to mark up your book as little as possible with answers, but often with extra info that helps you understand. On longer readings, such as passages, do not bring your fully written translations into class with you and read from them (I had to be broken from this habit 1st term freshman year by being called down in class. It worked). Show that you understand what you read or that you have questions about what you read.. Make vocabulary and grammar notes while you read, and you can bring that to class with you if necessary. Rereading through an assignment shortly after leaving class is the absolute best way to see if you really understood what was going on with the changes suggested there. Nothing is worse than recalling the incorrect interpretation that you worked so hard on before class better than the corrected interpretation or deeper interpretation that you take away after class simply because you spent so much more time on the former and not enough time on the latter.
    7) Extra Credit - fuhgedaboutit!! (Someone burned me long ago abusing extra credit. I'm afraid there is no antidote for my allergic reaction to requests for extra credit). On the other hand, you get personal extra credit for every thing you learn above and beyond the call of absolute duty, so look at the bigger picture.
    8) Final Grades are an assessment of your whole performance. I like to create many components to a grade as an evaluation of a complete student. I tend not to curve individual assignments (unless something is clearly wrong with the grading apparatus) in order to preserve my overall sense of student performance and aptitude for the assignment of the more important final grade. I do consider improvements in problem areas as part of what shows your increased aptitude.
    9) Enjoy learning Greek. Let's make our time in class productive, but also, as often as possible, interesting, enjoyable and thought- provoking. We will talk frequently about the way Hellenes thought and lived to try to understand what they are saying to us. We will not sit in a dull translation session 4 days per week. We will change exercises and engage in discussion of ideas often.
     Pursuant to this end, please feel free within reason to bring coffee or other legal stimulants for these sessions - we will agree to meet in locations other than the room when weather and lesson needs permit – Greek and Roman schools often met in a stoa/basilica or under a tree, in the open air - we should do no less.
    10) One day there may be a suggestion 10, but right now, I don't have one and there were 9 Muses, so we will leave an ennead of sage Starks suggestions for student success - maybe suggestion 10 should be to practice saying that 10 times fast.