In Greek, students examine literature and other texts from classical antiquity, using frameworks of linguistic analysis as well as theories relating to literature and the history of ideas. The Greek language spread quickly from the country of its origin to surrounding areas and several distinct dialects can be differentiated. Some of these dialects have become associated with specific literary genres (for example, Attic tragedy). The Greek culture and language spread over the eastern Mediterranean region and extended to Rome and the western parts of the expanding Roman Empire where Greek became the language of the cultural elite.
Students begin studying the classic Attic dialect, the language of Plato and the tragedies, and are later introduced to other Greek dialects. Studying Greek provides first-hand knowledge of the literary tradition that started and continues to influence our western literary tradition. Even research principles within the natural sciences have been impacted and shaped by the thought processes prevalent in ancient Greek texts. Thus, Greek studies provide students with a framework to pursue other studies in other academic disciplines such as theology, philosophy, historically related language studies and literary studies. Previous knowledge of general grammar will assist students in their studies.
After two terms of studies (Greek A and Greek B), students are able to choose to continue studying Classic Greek or begin specializing in the area of Byzantine Studies and looking at how the Greek language developed during the Byzantine Empire from the 5th century AD until its fall in 1453. The majority of texts represent historical writing; however, students will also look at theological literature, particularly hagiography, poetry, both profane and religious, and other texts deemed culturally-historically significant. Different levels of difficulty are represented by the texts, from academic texts modeled after classical rhetoric to the colloquial language used in the Middle Ages.