Greek Revival: The Lesson of Madam Grece

Local Flavor, Things to Do — By Paige Moore on December 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

On December 18th, the esteemed Jacqueline de Romilly, age 97, crossed over in a Western suburb of Paris. Her ardent passion of ancient Greece resulted in her being awarded Greek citizenship in 1995 and the title of “Ambassador of Hellenism” by the Greek state in 2000. Her departure came at a time when Greece is hanging her head low and in desperate need of all of her champions, but she left ringing positive for the nation that brought us Pericles, Socrates, Homer, and so many others:

“No matter what -if we stay at the exceptional course that takes us from the 15th century to the 21st- one thing is certain: the force that brought Greek into prominence amidst so many crises and rebirths is mind-boggling” From Jacqueline de Romilly’s “Petites lecons sur le grec ancient” (Small lessons in ancient Greek) – Read the article about her in the Athens News online article.

The Philhellene was deeply saddened by the decline of interest in the ancient languages. She used her high platform in some of the finest schools of France, including the Sorbonne, to advocate the continuance of learning  ancient Greek.

Modern Greek has its roots in ancient Greek and is far more useful in Athens today. There are three programs  I recommend investigating should you be inclined to dig deeper: the Athens Centre in the neighborhood of Mets (near Ilissia) the Hellenic American Union in Kolonaki, or the Greek House in the Northern suburb of Kifissia. All three offer a variety of courses in culture, beginner to advanced levels, speeds of learning, seminars and lectures . Expect to commit a minimum of three weeks or a maximum of twelve. The shorter the program, the more frequent the classes.

With the current situation, you’ll want to make sure that your school is within walking distance of your accommodations. Go to NileGuide for recommended hotels in the neighborhoods of Ilissia, Kolonaki, and Kifissia, or better yet, investigate short term apartment leasing or housing swaps.

Should you go through with it, know that Greece is a country of intelligent people who love to teach and are flattered by your effort, no matter the level of mastery.

Feature image courtesy of

Tags: ancient Greece, Athens, Athens Centre, Hellenic American Union, Jacqueline de Romilly, Language courses, Modern Greek, The Greek House


  • Aρης says:

    Go Philhellenes!!! Right on!

    Also useful for enthusiastic beginners and those keeping up with studies: the Loeb Classical Library…a series of books by Ancient Greek authors designed to be accessible to the broadest possible audience, presenting original Greek on each left-hand leaf and a literal translation on the facing page. As early translations pass out of copyright many are available online for free, here:

    More info on this treasure:

    Another useful online resource:

    UC Berkeley’s Department of the Classics offers perhaps the best intensive program in Ancient Greek within the United States (for prep before further study and travel in Greece, depending upon your circumstances):

    Course syllabi from Classics Departments at well-established universities are generally good resources for orienting oneself to current textbooks and instructional materials…for example, Berkeley offers this downloadable Ancient Greek Tutorial used in their classrooms:

    For better or for worse there may be a time when everyone in the world is a native English speaker…then, Ancient Greek will once again be taught at the best elementary and high schools throughout the world, as was the case from Roman times until this last century. That is how important this language is — and why studying Modern Greek (spoken by only 11 million people in a country the size of Mississippi) is exponentially, uniquely rewarding.

    Thank you for such an intelligent proactive pro-hellenic article

  • Aρης says:

    “Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries.” René Descartes

    An isolated Greek speaking community along the Black Sea coast of Turkey speaks a dialect more similar to Ancient Greek than any known … idioms, vocabulary, even musical tones exist like an enchanted time-capsule in the minds of 5,000 persons.

    I wish an adventure tourist familiar with YouTube would visit carrying a microphone and videocam…it would also be easy to project such a pitch to the National Geographic or Discovery Channels.

    Actually, it would be cool if Nile Guide were to sponsor trips to document such endangered cultures, sites, and such, similar to the recent ‘Travel like a Pirate’ contest. A professional videographer could accompany ‘Nile Guide Explorers’ (winners cooperating as a ‘reality TV’ team even) to create hour long documentaries set in destinations which would benefit from increased tourism — like the Turkish community mentioned above — and, which are well reconnoitered by Nile Guide Experts.

    While undertaking whatever tasks composed each ‘Explorer’ contest, team members could interview archeologists and other relevant professionals with the help of Nile Guide Local Experts. After being inspired by a Nile Guide Features documentary tourists could replicate similar follow-up trips on their own using Nile Guide services. –All while producing something good and lasting and meaningful….documented and compiled, year after year, on Eventually it would be quite a resource…like a nascent travel-focused National Geographic Channel.

    One trip to Turkey to create an initial half-hour pitch for Nile Guide Features may not seem like much — as either an investment or achievement…but…if two or three Explorer contests were organized and documented per year, an impressive professional archive of quality repeating television revenue world wide will be created, using the knowledge base and imagination of Nile Guide’s existing personnel and infrastructure. Secondary benefits would be advertising and expanding Nile Guide’s current services. And that’s just to start!


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