GREK 002: Elementary Ancient Greek

Course Description

Our goal this semester will be to learn to read Ancient Greek.

Learning Ancient Greek opens up a vast world that stretches from Homer’s epics to Lucian’s faked moon landing, from Sappho’s burning verses to the graffiti of freed slaves carved onto the walls at Delphi, from the curse-spells of neoplatonic wizards to the sublime agonies of Sophoclean tragedy. This course, Elementary Ancient Greek, combines an introduction to the language with brief readings across the spectrum of Greek literature. This fall semester, we’ll finish learning the basics of the language, and move into reading longer texts.


Prof. Farmer

Hi! I’m Prof. Matt Farmer (he/him/his pronouns), and I’ll be your instructor this semester. I prefer to be called “Prof. Farmer” or “Dr. Farmer”. You can read all about my research and teaching here, if you’re curious. If you ever have any questions this course or just want to chat and get to know each other better, you can email me by clicking here, or you can click here to schedule an appointment with me.

Plan for the Semester

This semester our guiding textbook will continue to be Athenaze. We’ll finish Book I, and work part way through Book II, before switching to reading selections from a longer authentic ancient text of our choice.

For most of the semester, each week we’ll take on one chapter of the textbook. Mondays and Wednesdays, you’ll begin your prep with a reading in Greek, followed by grammar explanations and exercises. On Thursdays, you’ll meet with a group of other students from the class to correct your homework. On Fridays, we’ll review and read together, and sometimes you’ll take a quiz.

For the full details of our schedule this semester, click here.


Our textbooks for this class will be:

Image result for athenaze

Balme, Lawall, and Morwood. Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek. Revised 3rd Edition

Volume 1. ISBN: 978-0190607661.

Volume 2. IBSN: 978-0190607678

You are welcome to purchase these if you would like a physical copy of your own. I will also be providing scanned pdf’s of the textbook, or you can check it out from the library.

Assignments and Grading

Specifications Grading

This course utilizes specifications grading. This means that there are a variety of assignments available for you to do throughout the semester, and it’s up to you to decide what grade you want to earn and to do the requisite number of assignments for that grade. Individual assignments will not receive a score or grade: if you fulfill the instructions and the high standard we will set together for our work, you will receive credit.

The goal of this method is to increase transparency around grading and to provide students more agency in determining how they’d like to participate in the course; it can be a little complicated, however, so if this is the first specifications course you’ve taken, make sure you understand how the system works early in the semester. In the first weeks of the term, you’ll be asked to complete a plan for the course that will help us both have a clear sense of your intentions and expectations for the semester.


Your final grade this semester will be based on the following:

  • Course Contribution: Throughout the semester, you’ll be expected to contribute to the course by attending class, doing the reading, participating in class activities and conversations, asking questions, and otherwise engaging with our communal work. Every two weeks, you’ll submit an online form to assign yourself a contribution score based on these activities. You’ll earn 2 points if you came to class each day, fully prepared; if you weren’t able to do so, you’ll have opportunities to contribute in other ways.
  • Vocabulary: Each week, you’ll have a new set of Greek vocabulary to learn. We’ll learn vocab using a free app called Cerego; it will prompt you to study and keep up with your words throughout the semester. You’ll earn credit by engaging with each vocab list through the app.
  • Homework: Each week, you and your study group will complete your Greek homework in a shared google doc. You’ll divide up the work, so that each student is only doing a portion of the exercises. You’ll then comment on and help correct each others’ work. You’ll earn points for effort on a weekly basis in these assignments, not accuracy.
  • Quizzes: Every other week, we’ll take a quiz during class on Friday. These quizzes are intended to be diagnostic: they’ll help you, and me, see what you’ve learned, and what you still need to work on. Typically to earn credit, I’ll ask you to make some small revisions and return the quiz to me, although sometimes your initial quiz might be so perfect you have nothing to revise.
  • Reflections: In weeks when you’re not taking a quiz, you’ll complete a brief reflection as part of your course contribution survey. You’ll consider the work you’ve done, and the work that’s left to do, and identify ways to keep improving your Greek. You’ll earn credit simply by completing these surveys.
  • Final Reflection: At the end of the semester, you’ll look back over the work you’ve done, and be invited to reflect on your progress. I’ll ask you to think a little about what it means to study an ancient language today, and what your hopes for Greek are in your future.

Your final grade in the course will be based on how many and what kinds of assignments you completed. These represent minimum benchmarks; to earn the indicated grade, you need to complete the required number of each type of assignment.

Final Grade:
(Passed / Revised)
Final Reflection001111


The grading system outlined above is designed to give you some flexibility to make your own choices during the semester. For example, even if you are aiming for a 3.7, you could miss one week of homework. If you are starting to feel concerned that you are not on track to earn the grade you would like in the course, please share those concerns with us as early as possible. The grading scheme of this course is designed to give you different options, but we might need to tailor that to fit the circumstances each of us face this semester, and that’s alright.

There are two key aspects of this course flexibility that we want to draw your attention to. The first is self-assessed contribution. I won’t be tracking attendance or participation in class ourselves; instead, every two weeks you’ll submit a contribution self-assessment, where you’ll consider whether you were able to do things like attend class regularly, do the reading, and participate in class activities. If you’re unable to contribute in the expected ways, I’ll invite you in your self-assessment to be creative in suggesting other ways you found to contribute, such as meeting with the me, studying with other students outside of class, or otherwise finding ways to contribute.

The second is the opportunity to revise. When you submit work in this class, if you have made a good faith effort to follow the instructions but have not achieved the high standard we’ll set for each other, you’ll be offered the opportunity to revise your work and submit it again for credit. I’ll be very specific about what revision will entail. Unless otherwise specified, revisions are always due one week after the original assignment.

Important Statements and Policies


I am committed to partnering with you on your academic and intellectual journey.  I also recognize that your ability to thrive academically can be impacted by your personal well-being and that stressors may impact you over the course of the semester.  If the stressors are academic, I welcome the opportunity to discuss and address those stressors with you in order to find solutions together.  If you are experiencing challenges or questions related to emotional health, finances, physical health, relationships, learning strategies or differences, or other potential stressors, I hope you will consider reaching out to the many resources available on campus. These resources include CAPS (free and unlimited counseling is available), the Office of Academic Resources, Health Services, Professional Health Advocate, Religious and Spiritual Life, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the GRASE Center, and the Dean’s Office.  Additional information can be found at

Additionally, Haverford College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body and providing equal access to students with a disability. If you have (or think you have) a learning difference or disability – including mental health, medical, or physical impairment – please contact the Office of Access and Disability Services (ADS) at The Director will confidentially discuss the process to establish reasonable accommodations.  It is never too late to request accommodations – our bodies and circumstances are continuously changing. 

Students who have already been approved to receive academic accommodations and want to use their accommodations in this course should share their accommodation letter and make arrangements to meet with me as soon as possible to discuss how their accommodations will be implemented in this course. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive and require advance notice in order to successfully implement.

If, at any point in the semester, a disability or personal circumstances affect your learning in this course, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I want to be sure you are aware of the full range of resources and options available to you.

It is a state law in Pennsylvania that individuals must be given advance notice that they may be recorded. Therefore, any student who has a disability-related need to audio record this class must first be approved for this accommodation from the Director of Access and Disability Services and then must speak to me. Other class members need to be aware that this class may be recorded.

Academic Integrity

In a community that thrives on relationships between students and faculty that are based on trust and respect, it is crucial that students understand a professor’s expectations and what it means to do academic work with integrity. Plagiarism and cheating, even if unintentional, undermine the values of the Honor Code and the ability of all students to benefit from the academic freedom and relationships of trust the Code facilitates. Plagiarism is using someone else’s work or ideas and presenting them as your own without attribution. Plagiarism can also occur in more subtle forms, such as inadequate paraphrasing, failure to cite another person’s idea even if not directly quoted, failure to attribute the synthesis of various sources in a review article to that author, or accidental incorporation of another’s words into your own paper as a result of careless note-taking. Cheating is another form of academic dishonesty, and it includes not only copying, but also inappropriate collaboration, exceeding the time allowed, and discussion of the form, content, or degree of difficulty of an exam. Please be conscientious about your work, and check with me if anything is unclear.