Module 4


© 2021 Philip S. Peek, CC BY 4.0


In English, adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Many English adverbs end in the suffix -ly. In Greek, adverbs are defined as they are in English. A Greek adverb (πίρρημα) typically ends in the suffix -ως, although the majority of the high-frequency ones found below do not. When reading Greek you often encounter adverbs right before or right after the word they modify.

Memorize the definition of an adverb as given above and the three examples found below. The adverb is in bold and what it modifies is underlined.

  1. It may be only in dreams (only modifies the verb may be).
  2. I told her we’d be so happy (so modifies the adjective happy).
  3. I remember it so well (so modifies well which in turn modifies remember).

The suffix ly does not always function as a morpheme1 indicating that an English word is an adverb. Consider these two sentences,

  1. There’s a motion in daily silence.
  2. Your dear blue eyes how they haunt me daily.

Though the forms are the same, in the first daily functions as an adjective and in the second it functions as an adverb. Since the adverb in Greek functions just like the adverb in English, use your understanding of English adverbs to understand the definition and the function of the Greek adverb.

Practice Identifying Adverbs. From this excerpt of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, practice picking out the adverbs and what they modify. Check your answers with those in the Answer Key.

“Open your eyes, Clevinger. It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.”

Clevinger sat for a moment as though he’d been slapped. “Congratulations!” he exclaimed bitterly, the thinnest milk-white line enclosing his lips tightly in a bloodless, squeezing grind. “I can’t think of another attitude that could be depended upon to give greater comfort to the enemy.”

“The enemy,” retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, “is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don’t you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live.”

In doing the above exercise, aim for a complete understanding of what an adverb is and how it functions. Since the Greek adverb is nearly identical to the English in definition and function, you can transfer your understanding of the English adverb to your understanding of the Greek adverb.

Greek Adverbs

The below has a list of the most frequently occurring adverbs. Memorize them. You will encounter them frequently in the rest of this book and they are not glossed. This book glosses (γλῶσσα tongue, language) all words except the frequently occurring adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions by giving each word’s English equivalent and the information you need to be able to identify the word’s form.


Additional Information

English Equivalent

ἀεί or αἰεί



at the same time as, at once


thereon, thereupon, throughout

ἄρα or ῥά

and so, therefore, then, in that case



indeed, in fact, merely, at least



on the other hand


indeed, in fact, certainly


thereupon, thereafter, then


yet, still




already, by this time, now


even, also


especially, most


more, rather


(postpositive; typically followed by δέ)

on the one hand


indeed, to be sure, however


after, next


(mostly found in hypothetical contexts)

no, not


truly, surely



οὐ, οὐκ, οὐχ

(proclitic; mostly found in factual contexts)

no, not


then, therefore; really, certainly

οὕτως or οὕτω

in this way, such, so




perfectly, verily, by all means



at some time, once, ever




then, therefore


at that time, then


as, as if

  1. Of these frequently occurring adverbs, only one, οὕτως, ends in -ως. This is because most adverbs ending in -ως derive from adjectives.
  2. Enclitics. Enclitics are pronounced closely with the word that precedes them. Some common ones are the adverbs γε, ποθέν, ποι, ποτέ, που, πως, and τοι; the conjunction τε; the pronouns με, μοι, μου, σε, σοι σου, τι, and τις; and the verbs εἰμί, φημί. Enclitics sometimes have an accent and sometimes do not. They can also affect the accent of the word that precedes them. How they do this is covered in Part II of the 21st-Century series.
  3. Postpositive. Certain words like μέν and δέ cannot stand as the first word in a sentence.
  4. Proclitics. Proclitics are monosyllabic words, lacking an accent, and are pronounced closely with the word that follows them. Common proclitics are the adverb οὐ; the conjunctions εἰ and ὡς; the prepositions εἰς, ἐν, ἐκ; and these forms of the article: , , οἱ, αἱ.
  5. μέν and δέ often work together and are often not translated into English. They can contrast two things: he (μέν) did this; but she (δέ) did that. They may also create a list or an accumulation of things: he (μέν) did this; and she (δέ) did that, and they (δέ) did this, etc. μέν is almost always followed by an answering δέ. Additionally μέν . . .  δέ can mean the one . . . the other and οἱ μέν . . . οἱ δέ can mean some . . . others. At first you may find it helpful to translate μέν as on the one hand and δέ as on the other hand. As your understanding of Greek improves, you will develop sophisticated ways to translate them or may decide not to translate them at all.
  6. οὐ, οὐκ, οὐχ: use οὐκ if the word that comes after starts with a smooth breathing; use οὐχ if the word that comes after starts with a rough breathing; if the word starts with a consonant, use οὐ.

Practice Translating Adverbs. Translate the paragraph below from Catch-22, paying attention to how the adverbs function. Often there is not an authentic connection between how ancient Greek expresses the meaning of a sentence and how English does. The main takeaway from exercises like these is a greater understanding of how each part of speech functions, not a greater understanding of ancient Greek idiom. Check your answers with those in the Answer Key.

‘Every time another White Halfoat was born,’ he continued, ‘the stock market turned bullish. Νῦν whole drilling crews were following us around with all their equipment γε to get the jump on each other. Companies began to merge γε so they could cut down on the number of people they had to assign to us. But the crowd in back of us kept growing. We never got a good night’s sleep. When we stopped, they stopped. When we moved, they moved, chuckwagons, bulldozers, derricks, generators. We were a walking business boom, and we began to receive invitations from some of the best hotels γε for the amount of business we would drag into town with us. Some of those invitations were μάλιστα generous, but we could οὐ accept any because we were Indians and all the best hotels that were inviting us would οὐ accept Indians ὡς guests. Racial prejudice is a terrible thing, Yossarian. It μὴν is.

τοίνυν, Yossarian, it δὴ happened—the beginning of the end. They began to follow us around from in front. They would try to guess where we were going to stop next and would begin drilling before we even got there, so we could οὐ stop. As soon as we’d begin to unroll our blankets, they would kick us off. They had confidence in us. They wouldn’t καὶ wait to strike oil before they kicked us off. We were οὕτως tired we almost did οὐ care the day our time ran out. One morning we found ourselves μὴν surrounded by oilmen waiting for us to come their way so they could kick us off. Everywhere you looked there was an oilman on a ridge, waiting there ὡς Indians getting ready to attack. It was the end. We could οὐ stay where we were because we had νῦν been kicked off. And there was no place left for us to go. Only the Army saved me. Luckily, the war broke out just in the nick of time, and a draft board picked me right up out of the middle and put me down safely in Lowery Field, Colorado. I was the only survivor.’

Why Study the Greeks?

The answers to this question are many and vary as much as beauty does to the beholder’s eyes. One answer is this. Given our rapidly changing digital world, today more than ever we need to learn how to learn. Ancient Greek is a great vehicle for doing so. It offers us information which must be memorized, understood, and analyzed. And it offers us different conceptual systems for thinking about culture and language. A second answer is that the ancient Greeks offer us compelling content. Ancient Greek culture is the starting point for many subjects that continue to enthrall and influence us today. Anthropology, architecture, art, history, literature, mathematics, medicine, music, philosophy, political science, rhetoric, science, and theology are some fields of study to which the Greeks applied their curiosity and intellects. Studying their achievements in these fields assists us by offering models and perspectives for thinking about these subjects and for living our own lives. By studying a culture different from our own, we can see more clearly how life is filled with complexity and nuance, where there are few absolute saints and sinners. Like the rest of humanity, the Greeks achieved great things, some good, some bad, and much that was mixed. The Greeks in all their complexity are there for us to study with a critical eye that sees the bad and the good and realizes that most people have a mixture of both within them. A third possible answer is that the Greeks were creative and independent, willing to challenge the status quo and to invent new ways of doing and of thinking. Cultivating the creative spirit was integral to Greek life and we can learn from them how to do so ourselves. And so this textbook offers its answers to this question by assisting you in learning how to learn; by offering you rich content; and by attempting to awaken the creative spirit that lives within you.

Mimnermos of Kolophon or Smyrna, Μίμνερμος ἐκ Κολοφῶνος ἢ Σμύρνας, c. 630–600 BCE. A Greek elegiac poet, Mimnermos wrote short polished poetry on a variety of themes including age, death, and love. He influenced Kallimakhos and the Alexandrian poets and Properitus and the later Roman poets. Alexandrian scholars collected his poems into two books. Today only paltry scraps remain. As is the case with most of the ancients, what little we know of Mimnermos comes from what we glean from the small bits of his writings that have survived.

Module 4 Practice Reading Aloud. Practice reading this poem by Mimnermos. Read the poem a few times, paying attention to the sound each syllable makes and trying to hear the rhythm of the words.

Mimnermos, Fragment 1

τίς δὲ βίος, τί δὲ τερπνὸν ἄτερ χρυσῆς Ἀφροδίτης;

τεθναίην, ὅτε μοι μηκέτι ταῦτα μέλοι:

κρυπταδίη φιλότης καὶ μείλιχα δῶρα καὶ εὐνή,

οἷἥβης ἄνθεα γίνεται ἁρπαλέα


ἀνδράσιν δὲ γυναιξίν· ἐπεὶ δὀδυνηρὸν ἐπέλθῃ

γῆρας, ταἰσχρὸν ὁμῶς καὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα τιθεῖ,

αἰεί μιν φρένας ἀμφὶ κακαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι,

οὐδαὐγὰς προσορῶν τέρπεται ἠελίου,

ἀλλἐχθρὸς μὲν παισίν, ἀτίμαστος δὲ γυναιξίν·


οὕτως ἀργαλέον γῆρας ἔθηκε θεός.

Verse Translation

What’s life? Where’s joy without golden Love?

I welcome death when these delights depart:

Secret love and pleasing gifts and tangled beds,

The blossoms youth provides to grasping men and

Women. Aged pain then creaks its self in

And brings an ugly face and evil grin,

Rubbing sharpened cares upon our dulling minds.

No more do we enjoy the rays of day

Rather hostile lives we live despised by

Young loves. So god decreed pained age to be.

To hear me read, followed by Stefan Hagel’s expert reading with a pitch accent, follow the link below:

Mimnermos’ What is Life.2

1 A minimal and indivisible morphological unit that cannot be analysed into smaller units: e.g. in (prefix), come (stem), -ing (suffix), forming the word incoming (Oxford English Dictionary).

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