Score: 9/10

Pros: very relatable; encourages you to start SPEAKING Ancient Greek from day one; provides you with the right words, phrases and structures to start speaking early; dialogues are useful in the student’s contexts rather than the contexts of ancient authors; readings are relatable, interesting, even funny; students who follow along will understand readings without loads of dictionary look up time or parsing work (goes to pacing); covers much grammar and vocabulary; great selection of examples; selection of famous Greek quotes worth knowing at the end of the book

Cons: missing some of the grammar and exceptions introduced in denser courses; requires a teacher or lots of figuring things out on your own; no audio companion for such a conversational course

This may be the love-it-or-hate-it litmus test of Ancient Greek courses. Do you want to speak conversational Greek? Do you want to be able to say “hi!” and ask someone to repeat themselves “again?” on day one? Do you want your grammar, exercises and vocabulary tethered to practical readings and conversations? Then this is your book!

Maybe, on the other hand, you’re put off by this chimera of an approach. You signed up for Classical Greek to leave behind those peppy, integrated conversational lessons snapped up by modern European language learners. You shudder at the thought of a chatty and colorful “Speak Ancient Greek So Simple for Everybody Right Now Today!” If so, this book may turn you off. (It’s not quite so extreme, but it’s currently the closest we Ancient Greek learners have.)

When it comes to Greek, I wasn’t sure which camp was mine until I finished Paula Sapphire’s Ancient Greek Alive. Its pages are full of relatable phrases and vocabulary, grammar and syntax that was rusty and stale but suddenly made sense faster than ever before. And all in the context of actually speaking the language. That’s coming from someone who had already studied Greek with many other resources, so I also feel the need to temper that hearty recommendation for other autodidacts.

The thing is, even if you are on board with a conversational modern approach to this ancient tongue, this book might still rub you the wrong way. It includes very little help for unaware English speakers with little prior exposure to the language. My hunch is that it’s entirely crafted for a classroom. Still, with a good dictionary and – if you’re lucky – another friend who’s bought into the “let’s teach ourselves Greek!” hobby, you’ll have a notebook full of helpful scaffolding that will make sense out of the book in no time. It’s not tough or puzzling, just not directly made for us self-taught learners.

All in all this is a very rare gem of a resource for this tough but entirely learnable – and SPEAKABLE – language! If you want to get your Greek nerd on, pair this with Vox Graeca to start deciding on and shaping your personal Ancient Greek accent.