Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin
Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

7.1 Parallel text: Euripides

Here are the first three lines of the prologue from Euripides’ play, Bacchae, together with notes on individual words and phrases (see Table 16). Spend a couple of minutes familiarising yourself with it and seeing how much, if any, you can understand. Then attempt to answer the questions that follow.

Euripides, Bacchae, 1.1−3.

The god Dionysus (Bacchus) announces his arrival at the Greek city of Thebes.

English

I, son of Zeus, have reached this land of Thebans, Dionysos, whom the daughter of Kadmos, Semele, once bore, brought to labour by lightning-bearing flame.

Greek

ἥκω Διὸς παῖς τήνδε Θηβαίων χθόνα

Διόνυσος, ὃν τίκτει ποθ᾽ ἡ Κάδμου κόρη

Σεμέλη λοχευθεῖσ᾽ ἀστραπηφόρῳ πυρί

transliteration

hēkō Dios pais tēnde Thēbaiōn chthona

Dionysos, hon tiktei poth' hē Kadmou korē

Semelē locheutheis' astrapēphorōi pyri

Table 16 Dictionary entries for Bacchae 1−3.

GreekEnglishDictionary entry
ἥκω (hēkō)I have reachedἥκω (hēkō) – ‘I have come’
Διὸς (Dios)of ZeusΖεύς (Zeus) – ‘Zeus’
παῖς (pais)sonπαῖς (pais) – ‘son’
τήνδε (tēnde)thisὅδε (hode) – ‘this’
Θηβαίων (Thēbaiōn)of ThebansΘηβαῖος (Thēbaios) – ‘Theban’, i.e. from the city of Thebes
χθόνα (chthona)landχθών (chthōn) – ‘land’
Διόνυσος (Dionysos)DionysosΔιόνυσος (Dionysos) – ‘Dionysos’
ὃν (hon)whomὅς (hos) – the Greek relative pronoun ‘who’
τίκτει (tiktei)bear, give birth toτίκτω (tiktō) – ‘give birth to’
ποθ᾽ (poth')onceπότε (pote) – ‘once’
ἡ ()theὅ (ho) – the Greek definite article
Κάδμου (Kadmou)of KadmosΚάδμος (Kadmos) – ‘Kadmos’ (or ‘Cadmus’), founder of the city of Thebes
κόρη (korē)daughterκόρη (korē) – ‘daughter’
Σεμέλη (Semelē)SemeleΣεμέλη (Semelē) – ‘Semele’ (the daughter of Kadmos)
λοχευθεῖσ' (locheutheis')brought to labourλοχεύω (locheuō) – ‘bring to labour or childbirth’
ἀστραπηφόρῳ (astrapēphorōi)lightning-bearingἀστραπηφόρος (astrapēphoros) – ‘carrying lightning’ (or ‘carried by lightning’)
πυρί (pyri)by fireπύρ (pyr) – ‘fire’

Activity 31

Identify all proper nouns in this passage (i.e. the names of individuals or peoples). Proper nouns in Greek, as in English, begin with a capital letter.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Answer

The passage contains five proper nouns in total.

Proper nouns

EnglishGreekNotes
ZeusΔιός (Dios)father of Dionysos
ThebansΘηβαίων (Thēbaiōn)inhabitants of the city of Thebes in central Greece
DionysosΔιόνυσος (Dionysos)the god Dionysos
KadmosΚάδμου (Kadmou)founder of the city of Thebes and father of Semele
SemeleΣεμέλη (Semelē)mother of Dionysos (by Zeus) and daughter of Kadmos

Activity 32

What do you notice about the ratio of Greek words to English in this passage?

Discussion

The English translation uses more words than the Greek (25 English words to Greek’s 17).

Of course, a different English version might have deployed fewer words than 25, or perhaps more. The chosen example is not, however, especially wordy or untypical. It would certainly be difficult to create a literal English translation with just 17 words.

A275_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371