Study Notes to A Greek Boy at Home

A story written in Greek by W. H. D. Rouse and published in 1909. Translation and notes by @sdi, following pain points I had in trying to work through this text on my own. (Please note that I am very green, and so my translation is likely to be untrustworthy. Corrections have been made based on feedback, but the errors are struck through and left for posterity. Open questions are highlighted in red.)

In addition to the text itself, I have been consulting Alexandros: To Hellenikon Paidion by Mario Díaz Ávila as something of a supplement, as it is similar (easier in some ways, more difficult in others).

Who I Am

[This section took me seven or eight hours to work through, most of which was spent on wild goose chases through the vocabulary.]

¶ ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι παιδίον Ἑλληνικόν, οἰκῶ δ’ ἐν ἀγροῖς. ἐνταῦθα γὰρ ἐν τοῖς ἀγροῖς γεωργός τις Θράσυλλός¹ ἐστιν, ὅς γεωργεῖ² καὶ ἔχει χωρίον.
I am a Greek child, and I live in the countryside, because here in the countryside there is a certain farmer, Thrasyllus,¹ who works the land² and has a farm.

  1. Cf. Thrasyllus of Athens, a general during the Peloponnesian War; and Thrasyllus of Mendes, the court astrologer of Roman emperor Tiberius.

  2. γεωργέω (“I farm”) is not in the vocabulary but is meant to be inferred from the entry for γεωγρός (“farmer”), which was frustrating since I already knew γεωγρός and so shouldn’t need to look it up. It would be nice if a separate entry for γεωργέω were added to the vocabulary.

ἆρα ἐρωτᾷς, τίς μὲν ἐγώ, τίς δ’ ὁ Θράσυλλος;
Who am I to Thrasyllus, you may ask?
Are you asking, who am I, and who is Thrasyllus?

λέγω δή. τέκνον γάρ εἰμι ἐγώ τοῦ Θρασύλλου.
I am indeed telling [you], because I am Thrayllus’s child.

καὶ μὴν ἄλλα γε¹ ἔχει τέκνα ὁ Θράσυλλος. καὶ γὰρ ἐγώ εἰμι τέκνον αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔχω ἀδελφόν τε καὶ ἀδελφήν.
And besides,¹ Thrasyllus has other children, because I am myself his child and I have both a brother and a sister.

  1. καὶ μὴν […] γε (“and besides”) was difficult to find in the vocabulary, since it is only listed under καί (“and”). I again found this frustrating since I already knew καί and shouldn’t need to look it up. It would be nice if separate entries for μὴν and γε were added to the vocabulary.

ὀνομάζουσιν δ’ ἐμὲ μὲν Θρασύμαχον,¹ τὸν δ’ ἀδελφὸν ὀνομάζουσιν Θρασύστομον, τὴν δ’ ἀδελφὴν Ἑλένην² ὀνομάζουσιν.
[My parents] named me Thrasymachus,¹ and they named my brother Thrasystomus, and they named my sister Helen
They call me Thrasymachus,¹ and they call my brother Thrasystomus, and they call my sister Helen

  1. Cf. Thrasymachus of Calcedon, a rhetorician and character in Plato’s Republic.

  2. Cf. Helen, the loveliest of women and doom of Troy in the Iliad and Odyssey.

ἐσμὲν οὖν τέκνα τοῦ Θρασύλλου, ἐσμὲν δὲ καὶ τῆς Εὐρυδίκης¹ τέκνα.
Therefore we are Thrasyllus’s children, and we are also Eurydice’s¹ children.

  1. Cf. Eurydice, the ill-fated nymph wife of Orpheus in myth.

¶ ποῦ δ’ οἰκοῦμεν; ὅπου;
But where do we live? Anywhere?
But where do we live? What place?

ἔστι δὴ χωρίον ἐν ἀγροῖς, καὶ ἐν τῷ χωρίῳ οἰκία· ἡμεῖς μὲν οἰκοῦμεν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, ὁ δὲ Θράσυλλος γεωργεῖ ἐν τῷ χωρίῳ.
In fact, in the countryside is a farm, and on the farm is a house: we live in the house, and Thrasyllus works on the farm.

ἆρ’ ἐρωτᾷς, τί ἐστι χωρίον;
What is a farm, you may ask?
Are you asking, what is a farm?

ἆρ’ οὐ δῆλον; ὁ γεωργὸς γὰρ ἔχει χωρίον, τὸ δὲ χωρίον τόπος ἐστὶν ἐν ᾧ γεωργεῖ γεωργός.
Isn’t it obvious? Because a farmer has a farm, and a farm is a place in which a farmer works.

χώρα¹ μὲν γὰρ ἐστι τόπος, καὶ χωρίον ἐστὶ χώρα μικρά· λέγω δὲ οὕτως, ἐπειδὴ οὐκ εἶ σὺ Ἑλληνικὸν παιδίον. ἆρα δῆλόν σοι νῦν ἐστιν ὅ λέγω;
A “chora¹” is a place, and a farm (“chorion”) is a little “chora:” I’m speaking thus because you are not a Greek child. Is what I’m saying clear to you now?

  1. It is not clear to me what the relationship between ἀγροί, χώρα, χωρίον, and τόπος are: the vocabulary seems to define each in terms of the others. Regardless, the point here seems to be that χωρίον is a diminuative of χώρα in both word and concept. I’ve left χώρα untranslated since English doesn’t have analogous wordplay.

τὸ δὲ χωρίον ἔχει ἀγροὺς οὐκ ὀλίγους.
And our farm has many fields.

The Farm

[This section took me about five-and-a-half hours.]

¶ λέγω δή σοι, ὦ φίλε,¹ ὅτι ἐν χωρίῳ οἰκοῦμεν, καὶ ὅτι τέκνα ἐσμὲν τοῦ Θρασύλλου καὶ τῆς Εὐρυδίκης ἐγώ τε καὶ Θρασύστομος καὶ Ἑλένη.
I am indeed telling you, my friend,¹ that we live on a farm, and that Thrasystomus, Helen, and I are children of Thrasyllus and Eurydice.

  1. Etymologically, I’d take φίλος to mean “beloved”—Thrasymachus gives “dear”—but that seems much too strong, here. I tried to tone it down with “friend.”

ἐν δὲ τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἡμῶν οἰκεῖ τις καὶ ἄλλη· ἡ δ’ ἐστὶ τροφός, καὶ ὀνομάζουσι τὴν τροφὸν ἡμῶν Λαδίκην
But in our house a certain other person also lives: there is a nurse, and they call our nurse Ladice

  1. Cf. Ladice of Cyrene, wife of Egyptian pharaoh Amasis II.

ἆρ’ ἐρωτᾷς, ποῖόν τί ἐστι τροφός;
Are you asking, what kind of thing is a nurse?

καὶ δὴ λέγω. τροφὸς γὰρ τρέφει τὰ μικρὰ τέκνα.
I am indeed telling you that, also, because a nurse raises our little children.

ἡ οὖν τροφὸς ἡ ἡμετέρα¹ οἰκεῖ μεθ’ ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.
That is why our¹ nurse lives with us in the house.

  1. Even though τροφὸς looks masculine, it’s not—it’s got a feminine article! ἡμετέρα is feminine accusative singular in order to agree. This took me an embarrassingly long time to puzzle out, and A Greek Boy at Home would be improved if its vocabulary entries were like Thrasymachus (e.g. showed nominative singular, genitive singular, and the article).

¶ οὐκ ἄδηλόν¹ ποὺ ἐστί σοι ὅτι οἰκοῦμεν ἅμα, ἐγώ τε καὶ ὁ Θράσυλλος ὁ γεωργός, καὶ ὁ ἀδελφός μου Θρασύστομος, καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ Ἑλένη, καὶ Εὐρυδίκη, ἧς τέκνα ἐσμέν, καὶ ἡ Λαδίκη, ἣ τροφός ἐστιν.
Where [she lives] is not unclear¹ to you, because we live together: myself, Thrasyllus the farmer, my brother Thrasystomus, my sister Helen, Eurydice (who we are children of), and Ladice (who is a nurse).

  1. ἄδηλος (“obscure”) is not in the vocabulary but is meant to be inferred from the entry for δῆλος (“clear”). I was unable to make this connection and was simply unable to make sense of the Greek part of δῆλος entry: the words are not similar enough (different spelling, different accents) for their relationship to be obvious. It would be nice if a separate entry for ἄδηλος were added to the vocabulary.

καὶ ἐν ᾧ χρόνῳ λέγω σοι, μανθάνεις ἕκαστα· δῆλον οὖν δή πού ἐστι, διὰ τί λέγω πολλάκις ἕκαστα.
And in the time I am talking to you, you are learning about each: therefore where [each lives] is very clear, because I am talking often of each.

καὶ ἐν ᾧ ἐγὼ λέγω, σὺ ἀκούεις.
And in which I speak, you hear.

¶ ἔπειτα λέγω περὶ τοῦ ἡμετέρου χωρίου.
Next I will talk about our farm.

τὸ γὰρ ἡμέτερον χωρίον λόφοι περιέχουσιν.
Because hills surround our farm.

ἆρ’ ἐρωτᾷς τί ποτ’¹ ἐστι λόφος;
Are you asking, whatever¹ is a hill?

  1. A First Greek Course tells us ποτέ means “some time,” but it can also act as an intensifier. (I like “-ever” as a mnemonic, here, since it maintains ποτέ’s connection to time and so helps to me remember it.)

λέγω δή. λόφος γάρ ἐστι τόπος ὑψηλός, ἡ δὲ γῆ ἣν¹ γεωργοῦμεν οὔκ ἐστιν ὑψηλή, ἀλλ’ ἔστιν ὁμαλή.
I am indeed telling [you], because a hill is a high place, but the land which¹ we farm is not high, but is flat.

  1. A relative pronoun takes its gender and number from it’s antecedent, but it’s case from how it’s used. ἣν is feminine singular because ἡ γῆ is, but is accusative because it’s the direct object of γεωργοῦμεν.

ἆρα νῦν δῆλον ὅ τι ἐστὶ λόφος;
Now is it clear what a hill is?

εἰ μὴ δῆλον, λέγω ἄλλως δὴ. ἔστι γάρ τοι λόφος μάλιστα ὑψηλὸς ἐν Ἑλβετίᾳ, ὃν ὀνομάσουσι Λόφον Λευκόν·¹ ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἐν Σκωτίᾳ λόφος Νέβις, καὶ ἐν Ἱβερνίᾳ λόφοι Πυρηναῖοι, καὶ ἄλλοι ἐν Ἰταλίᾳ Ἀπεννῖνοι· νῦν που δῆλόν ἐστί σοι.²
In case it’s not clear, I’m telling you another way, because there is a very high hill in Helvetica, which they call Mont Blanc;¹ and in Scotland, there is Ben Nevis; and in Iberia, the Pyrenees Mountains; and others, the Apennines, in Italy; now some place [of these] is clear to you.²

  1. Λόφον Λευκόν (“White Hill”) must refer to highest peak of the Alps, which is called by names that translate identically in French and Italian. The rest of the mountain names in this sentence are transliterations rather than translations.

  2. Our little Greek rustic possesses a shocking degree of geographical knowledge. I would have been as satisfied if he merely said there is a very high hill in Thessaly called Olympus on which the gods dwell!

ἀλλὰ οἱ λόφοι οἱ ἡμέτεροι οὔκ εἰσιν οὕτως ὑψηλοὶ ὡς οἱ Πυρηναῖοι· μικροὶ γὰρ μᾶλλόν εἰσιν οἱ ἡμέτεροι
But our hills are not so high as the Pyrenees, because ours are rather small

  1. I’m rather uncertain of this, it’s hard to pin which thing is which part of speech, because A Greek Boy at Home’s vocabulary doesn’t include that information. I’ll have to revisit as time permits.

περιέχουσιν οὖν οἱ λόφοι τὸ χωρίον ἡμῶν κύκλῳ, ὑψηλοὶ μέν, ἀλλὰ οὐχ οὕτως ὑψηλοὶ ὡς καὶ ἄλλοι.
Therefore the hills surround our farm in a circle, high, but also not so high as others.

ἐν μέσῳ δὲ τῶν λόφων τὸ χωρίον ἐστίν, ἐν ᾧ γεωργοῦμεν.
In middle of the hills is the farm in which we work.

¶ καὶ οὐ μόνον τὸ ἡμέτερον χωρίον ἐστὶν ἐνταῦθα, χωρία δ’ ἐστὶν ἐγγὺς ἄλλα.
And not only our farm is here, but other farms are nearby.

ἐκ δεξιᾶς μὲν τὸ ἡμέτερον, ἐξ ἀριστερᾶς δὲ τὰ ἄλλα· καὶ ἐν μέσῳ ὁδός.
Ours on the right, others on the left, and a road in the middle.

ἡ οὖν ὁδός ἐστιν ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ θ’ ἡμετέρου χωρίου καὶ¹ τῶν ἄλλων, καὶ τὰ χωρία ἐν μέσῳ τῶν λόφων.
So the road is in the middle of our farm and¹ the others, and the farms in the middle of the hills.

  1. This is a variant of “τε … καὶ:” the ε is elided, and the τ becomes a θ because it is followed by an aspirated vowel.

δῆλον δὴ σοί ἐστι νῦν τὰ περὶ τοῦ τόπου,¹ ὡς νομίζω.
Now the surrounding area¹ is very clear to you, I think.

  1. Literally, “the [things] around the place.” I couldn’t think of a more literal translation which wasn’t awkward. The idea is clear enough, though.

Questions and Answers

[This was a very easy section and only took maybe half an hour to complete.]

πηλίκον¹ ἐστὶ τὸ χωρίον; μικρόν ἐστι τὸ χωρίον.
How big¹ is the farm? The farm is small.

  1. I couldn’t find πηλίκος (“how big”) in the vocabulary of either A First Greek Course or A Greek Boy at Home, and had to look it up online.

¶ τίς τροφός ἐστι τῆς Ἑλένης; Λαδίκη τροφός ἐστι τῆς Ἑλένης.
Who is Helen’s nurse? Ladice is Helen’s nurse.

¶ τίς ἐστι τέκνον Θρασύλλου; Θρασύμαχός τε καὶ Θρασύστομός ἐστον τέκνω τοῦ Θρασύλλου, καὶ δὴ καὶ ἡ Ἑλένη τέκνον ἐστὶν ἄλλο.
Who is Thrasyllus’s child? Thrasymachus and Thrasystomus are Thrasyllus’s children, and moreover Helen is another child [of his].

¶ ποῦ οἰκεῖ ὁ Θράσυλλος; ἐν χωρίῳ οἰκεῖ.
Where does Thrasyllus live? He lives on a farm.

¶ ἐν πηλίκῳ δὲ χωρίῳ οἰκεῖ ὁ Θράσυλλος; ἐν μικρῷ οἰκεῖ χωρίῳ ὁ Θράσυλλος.
On how big of a farm does Thrasyllus live? Thrasyllus lives on a small farm.

¶ τίς δ’ οἰκεῖ ἐν τῷ χωρίῳ μετὰ τοῦ Θρασύλλου; ὁ Θρασύστομος καὶ ὁ Θρασύμαχος καὶ ἡ Ἑλένη οἰκοῦσι μετὰ τοῦ Θρασύλλου ἐν τῷ χωρίῳ.
But who lives on the farm with Thrasyllus? Thrasystomus, Thrasymachus, and Helen live with Thrasyllus on the farm.

¶ ἄρα ἔχει Λαδίκη τὸ χωρίον; οὐχ ἡ Λαδίκη ἀλλ’ ὁ Θράσυλλος ἔχει τὸ χωρίον.
Does Ladice have the farm? Not Ladice, but rather Thrasyllus, has the farm.

¶ ποῦ οἰκεῖ ἡ τροφός; μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων οἰκεῖ ἡ τροφός.
Where does the nurse live? The nurse lives with the others.

¶ τί περιέχει τὸ χωρίον; λόφοι περιέχουσι τὸ χωρίον.
What surrounds the farm? Hills surround the farm.

¶ τί δ’ ἐν μέσῳ ἐστὶ τῶν χωρίων; ὁδός ἐστιν ἐν μέσῳ τῶν χωρίων.
But what is in the middle of the farms? A road is in the middle of the farms.

¶ ἆρ’ ἐστὶν ἐξ ἀριστερᾶς τὸ χωρίον τοῦ Θρασύλλου; οὔκ ἐστιν ἐξ ἀριστερᾶς τὸ χωρίον τοῦ Θρασύλλου, ἀλλὰ ἐκ δεξιᾶς.
Is Thrasyllus’s farm to the left? Thrasyllus’s farm is not to the left, but rather to the right.

¶ ποῖοι δ’ εἰσὶν οἱ λόφοι; ὑψηλοί εἰσιν οἱ λόφοι.
But of what kinds are the hills? The hills are high.

The Farm

[This section took about half an hour.]

¶ οὔκ ἐστι μέγα τὸ χωρίον ἐν ᾧ οἰκῶ, ἀλλὰ μικρόν ἐστιν.
The farm in which we live is not large, but rather is small.

ἐγὼ δ’ οὐκ ἔχω τὸ χωρίον, ἀλλὰ ὁ Θράσυλλος ἔχει τὸ χωρίον ἐν ᾧ οἰκοῦμεν.
And I don’t have the farm, but rather Thrasyllus has the farm in which we live.

οὐδ’ ἐστὶν τέκνον μου ὁ Θράσυλλος, ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ τέκνον εἰμὶ τοῦ Θρασύλλου.
And Thrasyllus is not my child, but rather I am Thrasyllus’s child.

ἡ δ’ Εὑριδίκη οὔκ ἐστιν ἀδελφή μου, ἀλλ’ ἡ Ἑλένη· εἰμὶ δὲ υἱὸς τῆς Εὑρυδίκης, οὐ τῆς Ἑλένης· ἡ γὰρ Ἑλένη ἀδελφὴ ἐστί μου, καὶ τέκνον τοῦ Θρασύλλου.
And Eurydike is not my sister, but rather Helen; and I am Eurydice’s son, not Helen’s, because Helen is my sister, and also Thrasyllus’s child.

τροφὸν δ’ ἔχομεν τὴν Λαδίκην· ἡ δ’ ἐστὶ τροφὸς καὶ ἐμὴ καὶ Ἑλένης.
And we have a nurse, Ladice; she is Helen and my nurse.

οἰκοῦμεν ἡμεῖς ὁμοῦ, οἰκεῖ δὲ καὶ ἡ τροφὸς μεθ’ ἡμῶν, ἡμεῖς δὲ μετὰ τῆς τροφοῦ.
We live together, the nurse lives with us, and we with the nurse.

ὀνομάζω μὲν ἔγωγε τὴν τροφὸν μάμμην, ἡ δ’ Ἑλένη ὀνομάζει τὴν τροφὸν μάμμην, καὶ δὴ καὶ ὁ ἀδελφός· οἱ δ’ ἄλλοι ὀνομάζουσιν τὴν τροφὸν Λαδίκην.
I, in particular, call the nurse Mamma; and Helen calls the nurse Mamma; and so too does my brother; but the others call the nurse Ladice.

¶ λόφους δ’ ἔχει ὑψηλοὺς κύκλῳ τὸ χωρίον ἡμῶν· οἰκοῦμεν δ’ ἐν μέσοις τοῖς λόφοις, οἵπερ περιέχουσι κύκλῳ τὸ χωρίον.
And our farm has high hills encircling it, and we live in the middle of the hills, which surround the farm in a circle.

ἐν μέσῳ δὲ τοῦ θ’ ἡμετέρου χωρίου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὁδός ἐστί τις· ὁρῶ δ’ τὸ μὲν ἡμέτερον χωρίον ἐκ δεξιᾶς, τὰ δ’ ἄλλα ἐκ ἀριστερᾶς.
And in the middle of our farm and the others there is a certain road: and I see our farm on the right and the others on the left.


  1. I couldn’t find κῆπος (“orchard”) in the vocabulary of either A First Greek Course or A Greek Boy at Home, and had to look it up online.

¶ τοῦτ’ ἐστὶ τὸ χωρίον ἐν ᾧ γεωργεῖ ὁ Θράσυλλος, καὶ οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ λόφοι, οἳ περιέχουσι το χωρίον· αὕτη δ’ ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν χωρίων, καὶ ταῦτ’ ἐστὶ τὰ χωρία τὰ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν λόφων.
This is the farm on which Thrasyllus works, and these are the hills which surround the farm, and this is the road in the middle of those farms, and these are the farms in the middle of the hills.

καὶ δὴ καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ οἰκία ἡ ἐν μέσῳ τῷ χωρίῳ· οὗτος δὲ κῆπός ἐστιν ἐγγὺς τῆς οἰκίας.
And moreover these are the houses in the middle of the farms, and these orchards are next to the houses.

¶ ἆρα δῆλόν σοι ὅ τι¹ ἐστὶ κῆπος;
Is it clear to you what an orchard is?

  1. Neuter of ὅστις.

ἆρα τοῦτό μ’ ἐρωτᾷς; λέγω δὴ τοῦτο ὥσπερ καὶ τὰ ἄλλα· καὶ ἐν ᾧ χρόνῳ λέγω, σὺ μανθάνεις ἕκαστα.
Are you asking me this? I am telling [you] this like the others also: and in which time I am telling, you are learning each.

κῆπος γάρ ἐστι τόπος, ἐν ᾧ φυτεύομεν δένδρα καὶ ἄλλα φυτά.
For an orchard is a place, in which we plant trees and other plants.

ἅπερ δὲ φυτεύομεν ἐν τῷ κήπῳ, ταῦτα ἐσθίομεν, ἢ τὸν καρπὸν αὐτῶν. ἄλλα μὲν γὰρ δένδρα οὐ φυτεύομεν, μόνα δὲ ταῦτα τὰ δένδρα, ἃ φέρει καρπόν· καὶ τὸν καρπὸν ἐσθίομεν τῶν δένδρων. τὰ δὲ δένδρα ἃ καρπὸν φέρει, ταῦτ’ ὀνομάζομεν καρποφόρα δένδρα, ἢ καὶ ἀκρόδρυα. λέγω δὴ συκᾶς καὶ ἐλαίας καὶ ἄλλα τοιαῦτα δένδρα. τούτων δὲ τῶν δένδρων ἡ μὲν συκῆ φέρει σῦκα, ἡ δὲ ἐλαία φέρει ἐλαίας· ἐσθίομεν δὲ καὶ τὰ σῦκα καὶ τὰς ἐλαίας, ἐκ δὲ τῶν ἐλαιῶν ποιοῦμεν ἔλαιον. καρποὺς δὲ φέρει τὰ δένδρα ἄλλα ἄλλους. λάχανα δὲ καὶ φυτεύομεν καὶ ἐσθίομεν· ταῦτα δ’ ἐστὶ σκόροδα καὶ κρόμμυα καὶ ῥάφανοι καὶ κύαμοι καὶ σέλινα καὶ ἄλλα.

[The remainder of A Greek Boy at Home will be added as I work through it.]

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