Our Everyday Greek: What We Can Learn from the Greek Drama


Ancient theater of Dodoni. (Photo: Eurokinissi/Leonidas Bakollas)

March was the month of the theatrical competitions in ancient Athens. Theater began as a dialogue between one performer and the chorus, which represented the citizens of the city state. It was the time when democratic discourse was also developing.

ENGLISH WORDS FROM GREEK English word Greek word Pronunciation Drama το δράμα TO DRAma Dramatic δραματικός DramatiKOS Theater το θέατρο TO THEatro Theatrical θεατρικός, ή, -ό theatriKOS, -EE, -O Tragedy η τραγωδία EE trayoDEEa Tragic τραγικό TRAgic Comedy η κωμωδία EE komoDEEa Ode η ωδή EE oDEE Odeum το ωδείο TO oDEEo Melody η μελωδία EE meloDEEa Satyr ο σάτυρος O SAtiros Satire η σάτιρα EE SAtira

DRAMA AND SATYRS Besides theatrical play, δράμα means a sad situation. “Είναι δράμα” means “Ιt is sad. It is horrible.” Τραγωδία is the tragedy. It is a compound word from τράγος (=billy goat) and ωδή (=hymn, song), a reference to the early Dionysiac rituals, from which drama was born. We characterize as tragedy a tragic situation, as the loss of beloved persons. Κωμωδία (κωμός+ ωδή) is the comedy. Κωμός was a late night parade of drunken men. Their jokes and laughter echoed in the city. The Satyrs were Dionysus followers, half men half goats. The ancient Greek satire would judge and make fun of Athens’ respectful citizens, like Alcibiades, Euripides, Pericles etc. The word satire derives from the Satyrs. MELODY AND HONEY From ωδή (ode) derive melody (μέλος+ωδή) and the Odeum Μέλος was called in ancient Greek any musical composition. Interestingly enough, the honey in ancient and modern Greek is μέλι. Odeum (Ωδείο) was the place where music performances took place; in modern Greek it is a Music school. Now, let’s use this vocabulary in our everyday Greek dialogues. The vocabulary below will help you build sentences. GREEK VOCABULARY Greek word Pronunciation Meaning Απόψε aPOpse tonight Πάω PAo I go Θα πάω THA PAo I will go Θα δω THA DO I will see, watch Για να δω yia na DO let me see, watch Το έργο TO Eryo the play Ένα έργο Ena Eryo one play Το μέλι TO MEli the honey Μου αρέσει moo aREsi I like Στη/στο STEE / STO at Αυτός afTOS this (male gram. gender) Αυτή afTEE this (female gram. gender) Αυτό afTO this (neuter gram. gender) Είναι EEne is Με ΜΕ with

Έργο means the play, the creation, the result of a work. The word is familiar to you from English words like ergo+nomic.

EXERCISE Can you translate the sentences below in English? 1.Μου αρέσει το θέατρο. 2. Αυτό το έργο είναι δράμα. 3. Μου αρέσει αυτή η μελωδία. 4. Είναι τραγωδία. 5. Αυτό το θεατρικό έργο είναι τραγωδία. 6. Αυτό το θεατρικό έργο είναι κωμωδία. 7. Μου αρέσει η κωμωδία. 8. Μου αρέσει η σάτιρα. 9. Αυτό το έργο είναι σατιρικό. 10. Θα δω μία τραγωδία. 11. Απόψε θα πάω στο θέατρο. 12. Απόψε θα πάω στο θέατρο, για να δω μία κωμωδία.

Now try to say in Greek. 1. Tonight, I will go to the theater. 2. Tonight, I will see a theatrical play. 3. Tonight, I will watch a tragedy. 4. I like drama. 5. I like theater. 6. I like this theatrical play. 7. I go to the Odeum. 8. I like this melody. 9. I like honey. 10. It is tragic.

PRONUNCIATION KEY i (idiom), ee (bee), e (energy), o (organism), oo (boot), y (yes), h (helium), th (theory), d (the). The capitalized syllables are accented.