The Cambridge Greek Play 2019 – It’s All Greek to Me…

Vee Tames 15 October 2019

It was all Greek to Me… Seriously: Learning Ancient Greek with Professor James Diggle and Dr. Anthony Bowen

Before coming up to Cambridge last year, my knowledge of the Classics consisted of a mixture of Percy Jackson series and all the words to the songs in Disney’s Hercules. I didn’t study Greek or Latin at school and hadn’t read many texts that referenced the Classical world. Needless to say, when I first encountered an entirely new alphabet and a cacophony of unfamiliar sounds during our first week of rehearsal and development in January, I was terrified. I was not only illiterate but quite literally tongue-tied.

However, both Professor Diggle and Dr. Bowen’s knowledge and enthusiasm have been invaluable in helping me hold my own amongst a group of experienced classicists. I cannot thank both of them enough for their sheer amount of time and effort they have invested in producing copious audio recordings, transliterations and translations as well as undertaking personalised coaching both in groups and individually.

The author in action…

It is thanks to their hard work that non-classicists like me were able to get to grips with aspiration (adding breath to certain sounds), new sounds such as Ψ (psi) and φ (phi) as well as the different metres employed in Sophocles’ verse. All this guidance was invaluable in helping me make the part of Ismene, Oedipus’ daughter, my own and letting me have command over Ancient Greek, rather than the other way round.