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Ancient Greek

From Academic Kids

Ancient Greek refers to the first stage in the history of the Greek language, which normally applies on two ancient periods of Greek history: Archaic and Classic Greece. The Ancient era of Greek history normally includes also the Hellenistic (post-Classic) age, however that period formally composes its own stages in the Greek Language known as Hellenistic Greek. For information on the Greek language prior to the creation of the Greek alphabet, see articles Mycenaean Greek and Proto-Greek.


Archaic and Classic Greek

The Greek language had started shaping in local forms even before the settling of the Greek-speaking tribes into Greece; yet the actual dialectic variation took place afterwards. Throughout history the Greek language is presented in a number of dialects that did not apply on fixed geographical borders, and even if it did, those borders would be constantly altered because of the frequent migrations of the Hellenic peoples. According to its linguistic variations, the Ancient Greek language of the Archaic and Classic periods is composed by three symbolic dialectic branches:

  • Attic-Ionic

Comprises the Ionic and Attic dialects.

  • Central

Comprises the Arcado-Cypriot and the Aeolo-Achaean dialect groups. The latter is divided into the Aeolic and Achaean dialects.

  • Western

Comprises the Doric dialect of Peloponnese, Epirus and Western Central Greece.


As each of the above dialectic branches is broken down to its individual dialects, each dialect can in turn be divided into countless of local idioms. The information provided in the dialect-specific articles is a general linguistic description that is confined to the main characteristics of the Common form (Koine) of each dialect, without getting into detail about their numerous idiomatic variations. In that respect, the article on Doric, describes the "Common" form of Doric as it is seen e.g. in Pindar's poetry, which defers from local forms such as Laconian, Cretan, Sicilian or even Theban Doric.

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