Classical Greek Lesson 2- Accents


Accent Marks

  1. Ancient Greek was spoken with variations in pitch.
  2. During the 3rd Century B.C., Aristophanes of Byzantium developed a series of accent marks to help non-native Greek speakers pronounce the pitch variations of the language.
  3. These accent marks are used in digitized versions of ancient Greek texts.
  4. Modern Greek does not have these pitch variations, and instead uses an accent mark to denote stress in a syllable.
  5. There are thee types of accents: acute (‘), grave (`), and circumflex (~). Each accent denotes a different pitch variation: acute accents denote a rise in pitch, grave accents denote a drop in pitch (although this is debated by scholars), and circumflexes denote a rise followed by a drop in pitch.
  6. When used in diphthongs, accents are placed above the second vowel of a proper diphthong, and above the first vowel of an improper diphthong.
  7. Accents are typically placed in one of the final three syllables of a word. The last syllable of a word is called the ultima, the second-to-last syllable is the penult, and the third-to-last syllable is the antepenult. Acute accents can appear on either the ultima, penult, and antepenult; Grave accents only appear on the ultima when followed by another word; Circumflexes only appear on the ultima or penult and cannot be used on ε nor ο.


Transliterate the following words into Greek and place the indicated accents. Note that a long e and long o are transliterated as η and ω, respectively:

  1. harmonia, acute on penult.
  2. ainigma, acute on antepenult, proper diphthong.
  3. glotta, circumflex on penult, long o.
  4. mechane, acute on ultima, long e’s.
  5. rhapsoidia, acute on penult, improper diphthong, long o.
  6. symptoma, acute on antepenult, long o.
  7. ichthys, acute on ultima.
  8. thlipsis, circumflex on penult.
  9. exangelia, acute on penult.
  10. kinesis, acute on antepenult, long e.

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