3 thoughts on “Koine resources for the Enchiridion

  1. Thank you so very, very much for this website. It is wonderful to see someone living in our age with such palpable dedication to the philosophy of Zeno and Chryssipus! I’ve only recently started on my Stoic journey after several years of initial exploration. I also lean in the direction of a more traditional viewing of the ancient literature, and see the study of Greek (and Latin) as essential to the practice. Your resources here are of invaluable worth! I have a few questions, however, that if you have time I’d love some help with.

    Primarily, I can’t really get a straightforward answer on the internet on the evolution of Koine Greek, as the Greek of Alexander the Great, and classical Attic Greek, or the Greek of Socrates, off which the former is based. As Zeno and Chryssipus would have lived in Athens in the generation immediately following Alexander, would the language of their works have been the classical Attic, in the tradition of Plato, or the Koine of the burgeoning Alexandrine empire? By the days of Epictetus, the classical language of Plato had transformed into the Koine we know today, certainly. I ask this because I’m meant to seriously take up the study of classical Greek soon, and I’m not certain from which angle to proceed. My devotion to the language stems from a desire to commune with the ancients, thus this question (though potentially reducible to the splitting of hairs) could have noticeable implications if I misstep at the outset. Might you have a direction into which you can point a fellow prokopton?

    • I’m not a classicist nor an expert, but from what I’ve been told, it’s a bit more complicated. The move from Attic to Koine was a process, so there are certain markers which you can look for in the texts.

      One of my teachers has told me that if the text contains verbs in the optative mood, then it is not Koine. If sentence structure is complex with subordinate clauses, then it is probably Classical Greek.

      If the passage uses shorter sentences/clauses and conjunctions to bind them together, it is more likely Koine. Any Greek after 300 BCE might show aspects of Koine. But some authors even into the CE fought to keep the Classical language alive; for example, Lucian.

      I’m early in my studies, and I can’t tell just by looking. I understand that if you read Attic, you’ll be able to read Koine just fine, but not necessarily the other way ’round.

      An economy of time might have you begin in Attic. It depends on what you want to read, but that would give you the broadest base, since anything from Homer, Heraclitus, to Epictetus would be fair game, then.

      Latin will give you Seneca and Cicero, but of the extent Stoic texts (Epictetus, Musonius, Marcus), Greek is still predominant.

  2. Thank you so much for your reply. I actually had not known that Musonius wrote in Greek. As I’m still in the very beginning phases of study, I’ll not be too picky, but I’ll likely lean toward Attic in the future.

    I’m located presently in China, which makes this entire enterprise very difficult. But I’m holding out in confidence. I’m excited to be continuing this journey. Thanks for all the help your blog provides.

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