Score: 8/10

pros: covers the lot of Greek grammar without shying away from tougher topics; inexpensive & commendable “bang for your buck”; well-picked examples with translations clearly illustrate the author’s explanations; exercises include readings in Attic Greek early on; later chapters explore other aspects of Ancient Greek like dual forms, poetic & Homeric Greek; introduction briefs you on the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, varieties of Greek & grammar terminology; regular & irregular verb tables, numerals & vocabulary in appendix; great index makes for easy searching provided you understand the grammatical terms used

cons: material gets dense fast, making progress slow at times; some of the finer points or exceptions about grammar & word use get lost in supplementary notes; presumes strong knowledge of grammar at points; exercises are simply Greek sentences and paragraphs to read (not “activities” of the kind you’ll find in other Teach Yourself language courses)

I have a long history with Teach Yourself Ancient Greek: it was with an earlier edition of this course that I set off to learn Greek at the age of thirteen. Now it’s time for me to take a second look, after a broader exposure to a wide range of language learning materials. If you’re new to Ancient Greek, how do these lessons stack up to other courses? Sure, the price tag is nice, but what – and how much – can you expect to learn?

First off, this course packs a lot into its 380+ pages. Every noun & adjective declension, verb tense/aspect/mood/voice and every other part of speech of Attic Greek is covered. Exceptional cases and notes about the complexities of language usage abound. New vocabulary appears at every turn, often in the context of example sentences or the “exercises”. The author takes pains to explain grammar and language use precisely and in detail.

That level of coverage in only 300 pages of lessons means that this book is dense and relies on your understanding of traditional grammar. You’ll find fancy terms, and tables with verb, noun & adjective paradigms. Explanations of grammar terms are helpful but spartan, and “exercises” plunge you right into the literary world of Ancient Athens. This is in no way a contemporary approach to language learning.

I scare-quoted “exercises” because they simply consist of Greek sentences & paragraphs pulled from ancient authors for you to read. Later chapters include longer extracts, particularly one late chapter in which you learn the basics of Homeric Greek and read selections from the Odyssey.

The appendix includes a review of Greek cardinal and ordinal numbers, regular, irregular & semi-regular (?) verbs, “answers” to the “exercises” (so, just translations of the Greek texts) and a substantial Greek-to-English vocabulary list. Between the index and table of contents, you’ll have ample help searching through the book, provided you understand the grammar terms.

This course comes recommended as a complete introduction to the Greek of Ancient Athens. It is one of the few beginner books (grammars) with a focus on Attic, with real readings from the period. In his explanations, Gavin Betts proves himself versed in the particulars of the language and its ancient writers. Any reservations I have are directed at the potentially overwhelmed. This course isn’t impossible for beginners – I myself had only begun studying linguistics (especially morphology) when I started in on Teach Yourself Ancient Greek. If you’re determined, methodical, and pace yourself, you’ll have little trouble with these lessons. Other learners may consider less imposing introductions to Biblical Greek (even if you’re destined for another dialect) such as Learn New Testament Greek.