Ancient Greek

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Ancient Greek is the historical stage in the development of the Greek language spanning the Archaic (c. 9th–6th centuries BC), Classical (c. 5th–4th centuries BC), and Hellenistic (c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD) periods of ancient Greece and the ancient world. It is predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek. Its Hellenistic phase is known as Koine ("common") or Biblical Greek, and its late period mutates imperceptibly into Medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earlier form it closely resembles Classical Greek. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classic and earlier periods included several regional dialects.

Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of classical Athenian historians, playwrights, and philosophers. It has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in Western educational institutions since the Renaissance. Latinized forms of Ancient Greek roots are used in many of the scientific names of species and in scientific terminology.

This article treats primarily the Epic and Classical phases of the language – see also the articles on Mycenaean Greek and on Koine Greek.


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