Can someone learn Doric?

Here you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Greek, and more.
Post Reply
User avatar
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Nea Michaniona, Thessaloniki, Greece

Can someone learn Doric?

Post by Michael5iLVEr » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:46 am

This year, we finished the Attic grammar at school. But now I'm instrested in Doric. I know that in Greece they teach no other dialect excpet for the Attic. Actually, we have seen some Doric texts when we were reading Antigone but we passed through them with the translation.

I know some small things about Doric, such as: It retains the more ancient long α instead of converting it to η as the Ionic dialects, genitive of πόλις is πόλιος, ει and ου are often written like η and ω, retation of ϝ (digamma) etc. But these alone are not enough for me. I want a full Doric Greek grammar. Also, I don't know if it was different in syntax.

So, does anyone know if there are any grammars for Doric? I know that Persus has the Word Search function, however good dictionary would be very helpful, too. Or, if you have anymore knowledge on this dialect, could you share it with me?

Thanks in advance!
εἴθε ἅπαντα βαίνοιεν καλῶς!

Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1684
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Can someone learn Doric?

Post by Hylander » Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:42 pm

Unlike Attic, there is no single, consistent "Doric" dialect on which a systematic grammar could be based.

On the one hand, there are local ("epichoric") Doric dialects reflected in inscriptions from Doric-speaking areas, mostly the Peloponnese, which are very different from one another and in most cases quite different from "Doric" literary texts. On the other hand there are literary texts that to a greater or lesser extent exhibit certain Doric features, but the Doric literary texts are not consistent with one another, either.

Moreover, the corpus of surviving Doric literary texts is much, much less extensive that the Attic corpus, and consists entirely of poetry. No corpus of literary Doric prose has survived (though I think there may be a handful of fragments). So there's really not a large enough body of Doric writing on which a useful and systematic grammar could be based.

The most salient and recognizable "Doric" feature is of course the retention of inherited long alpha instead of Attic-Ionic eta, but this is a feature of all dialects other than Attic-Ionic.

Early on, Doric became associated with choral poetry, or rather choral song, and it was obligatory for choral poetry to be composed in some form of Doric. The language of the choral poets Alcman, Steisichorus, Pindar and Bacchylides is to a greater or lesser extent Doric, even though Pindar, for example, was a Boeotian from Thebes, whose native dialect would have been some sort of "Aeolic". Likewise, as a result of the convention that choral poetry much be composed in some sort of Doric, the choral songs in Athenian drama are Doric-colored, but really they are composed in something like Attic, or rather a common Greek literary language, with some recognizably Doric features superficially imposed.

The difficulties of identifying a single Doric dialect on which to base a Doric grammar are compounded by the fact that the supposedly Doric literary texts that have survived have come down to us in a form based on editions prepared by Hellenistic scholars several centuries after the texts were originally composed (after cir. 300 BCE). These scholars are believed to have sometimes substituted what they thought were Doric forms ("hyper-Doricisms") for the words they found in the texts on which they based their editions--for example, erroneously substituting long alpha for original eta that occurred in all Greek dialects. So we can't always be sure that supposedly Doric forms in literary texts are genuine. And on top of that, there are spelling issues such as those you identified, which may or may not be the result of Hellenistic editing.

The good news is that Doric forms appearing in literary texts are not all that extensive and not too hard to identify with a little experience, and apart from long alpha, most commentaries will identify and explain the Doric forms for you. Once you've engaged with a few Doric literary texts, you will become adept at recognizing the non-Attic forms.

User avatar
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 932
Joined: Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:19 am
Location: Nanchang, PRC

Re: Can someone learn Doric?

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:37 pm

Off topic, let me express my surprise at one of the young Michael's statements and make a comparison.
Michael5iLVEr wrote:I know that in Greece they teach no other dialect exc[ep]t for the Attic.
I find that a surprising statement if it is true.

In the NSW, High School students attempting the Classical Greek extention course in their final year of school read Homer in addition to the Attic they cover in the continuers level course. You can see from the Classical Greek - Extension HSC exam paper from last year that it was based on Illiad I and IX as seen texts, and another excerpt for the unseen.

I had assumed / expected that Homeric Greek would be read by at least some of the students in Greek lycea.
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

Textkit Member
Posts: 188
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Re: Can someone learn Doric?

Post by Aetos » Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:21 am

Believe it or not, Homer is only taught in translation during the first 2 years of Gymnasium (Odyssey year 1, Iliad year 2); however, Attic Greek is taught for all 6 years (3 Gymnasium, 3 Lyceum). Latin is only offered in the 3rd year of Lyceum. The 3 years of Attic Greek taught in the Gymnasium focuses on Grammar and Syntax with short selections from the easier prose writers, such as Xenophon and Herodotus. The 3 years in the Lyceum feature the historians in year 1(Xenophon & Thucydides), Sophocles' Antigone and Thucydides in year 2, and finally the philosophers Plato and Aristotele in year 3.

Here is a link to a site that provides html & pdf versions of current Greek primary and secondary school textbooks:
Check out "Υλικά ανά μάθημα", then "Αρχαία ελληνική γλώσσα και γραμματεία"

User avatar
Textkit Member
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:54 am

Re: Can someone learn Doric?

Post by opoudjis » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:48 pm

> No corpus of literary Doric prose has survived (though I think there may be a handful of fragments).

Not true: Archimedes, for example. What is fair to say though is that literary Doric prose is even more linguistically inconsistent and questionable than literary Doric poetry; it's much later, too. (Anything after Archimedes is fantasy Doric—Pseudo-Archytas egregiously so; and even Archimedes' Doric is not always convincing.)

Post Reply