Classical Greek

Why study Classical Greek?

Together with Latin, the study of the ancient Greek language is at the heart of the unique area of study described as classics. For this reason most candidates study Greek alongside Latin but not all. The value of a classical language as a mental discipline should not be underestimated: it encourages precision, conciseness and logic in a way that few other subjects can replicate. These qualities make classical languages an obvious choice for someone going on to read Law, for instance, or Social Sciences. A report by Professor Shearer West of Oxford University, in the wake of the economic crisis, demonstrating the impact and value of studying humanities over sciences, concluded that employers are looking for candidates with “succinct and persuasive written and verbal communication skills and the capacity for critical analysis and synthesis’. Furthermore, quite aside from its extrinsic value, the joy and enormous satisfaction of reading some of the world’s most influential literature (e.g. Plato, Homer and Sophocles to name but three) in the original language is naturally another strong incentive for those who choose Greek A level.

Greek is a rigorous A level; it is necessary to have achieved a good GCSE grade or equivalent previous study in order to cope with its demands. It complements and enhances many other subjects. Greek will not only develop linguistic ability, but also analytical and evaluative skills, highly prized by universities and employers. It will provide a very good foundation for a wide range of university courses and careers.

Classical Greek is currently taught to sixth form girls and boys at Monmouth School for Boys.

Head of Department: Mr R Whiteman

Course content

Board: OCR   A level Syllabus Code: H444

Greek Language
Further reading of Greek authors enables students to develop the skills and confidence to translate unseen passages of Greek verse and prose, as required on paper 1. There is no defined vocabulary list for this paper.

For the second language paper students will either undertake an unseen comprehension passage from the work of an orator such as Demosthenes, Lysias or Xenophon or translate a passage of English into Greek prose.

Greek Prose Literature
Two Greek prose set texts are studied in depth within their literary, social and historical context; the focus is on knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the text. Additional literature in translation is also studied for appreciation of the context.  Prose set texts are selected from the works of Herodotus, Plato or Xenophon. There is a choice of texts.

Greek Verse Literature
Two Greek verse set texts are studied in depth within their literary, social and historical context; the focus is on knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the text. Additional literature in translation is also studied for appreciation of the context.  Verse set texts are selected from the works of Homer, Euripides and Aristophanes. There is a choice of texts.

Method of assessment

There are four written examinations:

  • Unseen Translation 1¾ hours (33% total marks)
  • Unseen Comprehension or Prose Composition 1¼ hours (17% total marks)
  • Prose Literature 2 hours ( 25% total marks)
  • Verse Literature 2 hours ( 25% total marks)