A School Grammar of Attic Greek

Thomas Dwight Goodell

Editor's Note

This digital version of Thomas Dwight Goodell’s A School Grammar of Attic Greek (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1902) was created in 2013­–2015 with support from the Roberts Fund for Classical Studies and the Mellon Fund for Digital Humanities at Dickinson College. Bruce Robertson of Mount Allison University performed the OCR using Rigaudon, from the original scans on the Internet Archive. The raw output is available on Lace. At Dickinson the OCR output was edited, and the XML and HTML pages created by Christina Errico. The web interface was created by Ryan Burke. Meagan Ayer carried out a thorough editing, proofreading, and reformatting of the HTML pages (see below). The content is freely available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

In preparing this digital version of Goodell's A School Grammar of Attic Greek we have aimed to provide an easily navigated and referenced version of Goodell's work. The  following changes have been made:  

Apart from these changes, editing consisted of correcting transcription errors resulting from the OCR and the occasional misprint from the original text. Any questions, comments or corrections for this work may be sent to dickinsoncommentaries@gmail.com.

M. Ayer
January 2015
Carlisle, PA


The invitation to prepare a new Greek Grammar would not have been accepted had I not believed that the time has come for considerable changes in the presentation of the subject to young pupils. Greek studies are still holding their own in this country, because of their intrinsic value in a liberal education. But in order to preserve for them their due place, great improvement must be made in teaching the language, so that a reasonable amount of effort will advance a serious student farther than it ordinarily does at present. And such improvement is possible. Though nothing can make Greek really easy, it need not be so difficult as it has been made. This volume is a sincere endeavor— how far successful only the test of use will show— to aid in meeting the legitimate demand for better results from the time and labor expended.

As the first change required, I have sought to simplify grammatical statements to the utmost. Some technical terms consecrated by long tradition have been thrown overboard; so far as possible terms have been used that are really descriptive and will appear so to beginners. Nearly all changes in terminology are of this sort; only one or two seemed necessary in the other direction. Thus the potential optative disappears, because experience has shown that the term misleads nearly all pupils and some teachers; the hypothetical optative and indicative are made to support each other, and students who have begun geometry should find the terms hypothetical and hypothesis mutually explanatory. The phrase formative vowel, for variable vowel, is more distinctly descriptive than the old, and the symbol ο:ε, which is often employed in scientific works, is both more legible and more readily extended to analogous cases than the symbol introduced to our schools by the Hadley-Allen Grammar.

Secondly, I have sought to simplify by omission, so far as that could be done safely with due regard to later progress. It is assumed that those who begin Greek have had at least a year of Latin; accordingly, whatever is so much like Latin or English as to cause no difficulty is omitted or barely mentioned. Only Attic Greek is included; some confusion is avoided by keeping Epic or other non-Attic forms out of sight until they are needed— that is, until one begins to read Homer, Herodotos, and the lyric poets. And of Attic Greek only those forms are included that are found in the works commonly read in American schools and colleges up to the end of sophomore year, or are quite regular. Rarer forms, and in syntax rarer constructions, such as are naturally explained in lexicon or notes, are also generally omitted. Meantime, some things that other grammars pass over lightly are here given more prominence, because they are things that freshmen need to know and commonly do not know. Yet by this twofold process of simplification the body of the grammar is brought within three hundred pages, in spite of large type and open printing and the greater space given to examples.

But it seemed to me a change equally needed was a shift in the point of view as regards syntax. In learning the inflection and vocabulary of any language we first learn the foreign forms and their general meaning; afterward— as soon as may be, but as the second step, not the first— by turning English expressions into the foreign idiom we study from another standpoint the functions of the forms. (We are not considering the mental process of young children learning the language of people around them, but that of those who already think in one language and are learning another.) The second step is far more difficult than the first. The facts of a language may look very different seen from these two sides. But in learning Greek syntax our pupils have been too often required to take both steps at once. That is, syntactical phenomena are classified by function, and then our grammatical statements try to combine both points of view. This is less true as regards the syntax of cases. There it has been usual to start with form and describe the function ; and though rules mix the two points of view somewhat— as when we teach that cause, manner, and means are expressed by the dative— still no great harm is done. Nearly the same may be said of modes and tenses in simple sentences; but with subordinate clauses, the most difficult chapter of all syntax, the matter becomes serious. The current formulas are based on a classification by function, as clauses of purpose, condition, and so on, and throw into one functional category several distinct forms, while the student finds before him on the Greek page one syntactical form at a time, which he has to interpret. The endeavor to interpret the clauses before him by such rules compels him to shift constantly from one point of view to the other. The natural result is a confusion of mind that greatly hinders progress in understanding Greek. In this grammar I have sought to carry through consistently the principle of classifying by form. This has caused a complete recasting of the syntax of subordinate clauses. Some may at first find the changes here made somewhat disconcerting; no one recognizes more fully than I the difficulty of the task attempted. But being convinced that the reform was imperatively required, I could do nothing less than attack the problem. After my solution was worked out it was submitted to several experienced teachers, who warmly approved it. Subordinate clauses are classified first by the introductory word, next by the mode and tense of the verb; the description of each form is meant to enable the student to interpret the Greek before him; directions for translating English into Greek are left to the book on composition and to the teacher. The new system is not only better scientifically, it is more concrete and intelligible to beginners. But the system is really not new, since it is the one which lexicons follow as a matter of course, and this agreement between grammar and lexicon is a farther advantage.

In the spelling of Greek names the stricter form of transliteration is followed, except with names like Cyrus, which are also English baptismal names, or those like Athens, which have long ago received an English termination. Two reasons led me to continue here my practice of twenty-five years. First, though many leading Hellenists in England and America prefer the Latin spelling as being the traditional one, I think the other is likely to prevail in the end. No tendency of classical studies throughout the last century was more marked than the growing desire to approach Hellenic life and thought directly, and remove every distorting medium both in study and in the presentation of results. Archaeology has been one powerful influence in that direction. Accordingly all our leading museums employ the direct method of transliteration ; and museums are perhaps the greatest popularizing agency for Greek studies. It is not pedantry, but good sense, to help on this tendency and shorten the period of transition. Secondly, the stricter transliteration is simpler; to expect pupils to Latinize the names adds an unnecessary difficulty. But the introductory book in preparation to accompany the grammar will give both forms and explain both methods of transliteration. In writing the volume it was impossible to escape, had I wished to, the influence of Hadley’s Grammar, which has been familiar to me from boyhood in the original form and since 1884 as revised by the late F. D. Allen. Nearly the same may be said of Professor Goodwin’s Grammar and of his Greek Moods and Tenses, in their successive editions. My obligations to these works are very great, and not least in those chapters where I have departed most widely from them. He would be an ungrateful pupil who should forget his debt to his masters, merely because he has by their aid finally learned to look with independent judgment on some portion of their doctrine. Also, like all American Hellenists, I have learned much, and am still learning, from Professor Gildersleeve, though I suspect he will think I ought to have learned more. To such a thought on his part my first plea in defense would be the elementary character of this grammar. For young students a simple, clear, and brief statement is essential. (As an instance where the need of brevity has forced a form of wording which is not true literally though true in spirit, section 562 may be referred to. Some infinitives are by origin locatives in form; but in meaning no locative sense can be traced, so that for the purposes of syntax the assertion that all are originally for datives is not misleading.) Several German grammars have also been of much service, especially those of Kaegi and of Koch, and the two volumes of Kiihner-Blass.

Many friends have aided me directly at various stages of my task, whom I wish to thank especially. Professor Wright, of Harvard University, has read critically all the proofs; Mr. Morrison, of the Hartford High School, has freely placed at my service his unusual skill in teaching; and my colleagues, Professors Morris, Perrin, and Oertel, have been very kind and helpful, saving me from many errors and furnishing many valuable suggestions. Frequent discussion of the principles of syntax with Professor Morris has greatly influenced the development of my views, and I am sure has much improved the exposition in this volume; without the constant aid of Professor Oertel I might often have gone astray in places where even the simplest statements need to be made in the light of a wide knowledge of morphology and of lin¬guistic science. Others too numerous to name separately have aided me with criticisms and suggestions at many points, and my wife has in several ways contributed so much that the fact calls for public acknowledgment.

Finally, it is probable that some infelicities, and perhaps worse, will be revealed by class-room experience. I shall be grateful for all corrections and suggestions for improvement; and if the book is found useful enough to come to a second edition, I shall hope to make it fill its place better.

T. D. G.
June, 1902.

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