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 Ozap.com