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15 Reading Passages

Reading Passages



For each of the following Greek sentences: 1). Read it aloud; 2). Parse each verb and noun; and 3). Translate each sentence into English. To download the Classical Readings as a pdf, click here: AGE Readings 4. To download the Biblical Readings as a pdf, click here: AGE Readings 4b.


Classical Readings

1. The Titan Prometheus has been bound to a cliff face in the Caucasus mountains on the orders of Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Once he is bound, Prometheus sings about his suffering, but then suddenly stops and says:

καίτοι τί φημι;

καίτοι  = form of καί used to change topics

Aeschylus Prometheus Bound 101


2. A chorus of the daughters of the god of the Ocean come visit Prometheus and learn of his punishment. When Prometheus explains that his punishment can end only when Zeus wills it so, the chorus asks in despair:

τίς ἐλπίς [ἐστιν];

Aeschylus Prometheus Bound 259


Is τίς an interrogative pronoun or adjective here?


3. During the Trojan War, the great Greek warrior Ajax becomes embroiled in a controversy and eventually commits suicide. His wife (and former prisoner of war) says of his enemies:

Αἴας γὰρ αὐτοῖς οὐκέτ’ ἐστίν…

Αἴας Αἴαντος ὁ Ajax

οὐκέτ’ = οὐκέτι no longer

Sophocles Ajax 972


4. Ajax’s half-brother, Teucer, defends the fallen warrior’s reputation, which angers the general of the Greek forces, Agamemnon. Here Agamemnon sarcastically quotes Teucer to his face:

ἀλλ’ αὐτὸς ἄρχων, ὡς σὺ φῄς, Αἴας ἔπλει.

Αἴας –αντος ὁ Ajax

ἔπλει (3rd sg) sailed

σύ (nom sg) you

Sophocles Ajax 1234


5. After the Trojan War, Agamemnon returns home and is murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra (in retaliation for Agamemnon murdering their daughter Iphigenia before the war). Two of their other children, sister Electra and brother Orestes, later meet and conspire to take vengeance on their own mother. In preparation, Electra sings in part:

δαιμόνιον αὐτὸ τίθημ’ ἐγώ.

δαιμόνιον (nom/acc sg) τό divine

ἐγώ (nom sg) I

Sophocles Electra 1269-70


δαιμόνιον and αὐτὸ are in apposition.

τίθημ’ in this context is best translated as “ordain, reckon”


6. After Electra and Orestes kill their mother, Orestes falls ill and hallucinates. At one point, his uncle Menelaus (Agamemnon’s brother) visits and asks:

τίς σε ἀπόλλυσιν νόσος;

νόσος (nom sg) ὁ disease

σε (acc sg) you

Euripides Orestes 395


7. Ion is a young man who has been raised as an orphan at a temple, ever since he was left there as an infant. Now the priestess of the temple is giving Ion the cradle in which he was found, so that he can search for his parents:

ὦ παῖ, καὶ τάδ’ ἀποδίδωμί σοι.

σοι (dat sg) you

ὦ παῖ “Oh child,”; παῖ is the vocative case (we learn this later) of παῖς

Euripides Ion 1358


Is καί a conjunction or an adverb here?


8. Another famous orphan was Oedipus. In this scene, he is trying to discover who his birth parents were. He has found the shepherd who originally took the baby Oedipus from his original parents. At one point the shepherd says that the queen of the city (who is also Oedipus’ wife) knows the origin of the baby Oedipus. Oedipus then asks:

ἦ γὰρ δίδωσιν ἥδε σοι;

ἦ (sets up a yes/no question)

σοι (dat sg) you

Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannos 1173


9. Later, Oedipus, old, blind and in exile, comes to the Athenian suburb of Colonus, along with his daughter Antigone, where his other daughter, Ismene, joins them. Then Antigone tells Oedipus that Polynices (their brother/son/uncle) has just arrived.

…πάρεστι δεῦρο Πολυνείκης ὅδε.

Polynices enters and says: 

οἴμοι, …

δεῦρο here

οἴμοι (a cry of pain)

πάρειμι be present

Πολυνείκης (nom sg) ὁ Polynices

Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1253


10. As he prepares to invade Thebes and attack his brother, Polynices responds to his mother’s request that the brothers meet and try one last time to settle their differences. He says:

μῆτερ, πάρειμι …

μῆτερ mother

Euripides Phoenician Women 446


11. In Euripides’ satyrical version of Odysseus’ encounter with the Cyclops (originally from Odyssey book 9), Silenus takes the bowl of wine and the Cyclops asks:

ἰδού. τί δῆτα τὸν κρατῆρ’ ὄπισθ’ ἐμοῦ τίθης;

δῆτα  (emphasizes preceding word)

ἐμοῦ (gen. sg.) me

ἰδού Look! Hey!

κρατῆρ’ = κρατῆρα < κρατήρ –ρος ὁ bowl (for wine)

ὄπισθ’ = ὄπισθε behind (+ gen.)

Euripides Cyclops 545


12. In an alternate (lost) version of Aristophanes’ Peace, the goddess of farming plays a role. She appears and says that she is closely related to Peace, at which point someone asks her:

σοὶ δ’ ὄνομα δὴ τί ἐστιν;

to which the goddess responds: 

ὅ τι; Γεωργία.

Γεωργία (nom sg) ἡ Agriculture, Farming

δή (emphasizes preceding word)

σοι (dat sg) you

Aristophanes Peace fr. 305


ὅ τι is an indefinite relative pronoun, here in the nominative case modifying a neuter singular antecedent. What is that antecedent?


13. In another comedy, the tragedian Euripides is in trouble with the women of Athens for his unflattering portrayal of them on stage. He sends one of his in-laws to spy on the women, but he ends up captured. Euripides later comes in disguise to rescue his kinsman from a guard:

Archer guard: ὄνομα δέ σοι τί ἐστιν;

Euripides: Ἀρτεμισία.

Ἀρτεμισία (nom sg) ἡ Artemesia (a famous naval commander from the Persian wars)

σοι (dat sg) you

Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae 1200


14. The historian Thucydides counts the ships lost in a naval battle:

αὐτοὶ δὲ πέντε καὶ δέκα ναῦς ἀπολλύασιν.

δέκα ten

ναῦς (acc pl) ἡ ships

πέντε five

Thucydides 8.106.4


Many numbers, including δέκα and πέντε, do not decline. The nouns that they modify are usually obvious from context.


15. The intellectual and teacher Isocrates is listing things that people do in order to better themselves and receive a superior education at Athens:

ἀλλὰ δῆλον ὅτι καὶ πλέουσι καὶ χρήματα διδόασιν καὶ πάντα ποιοῦσιν.

δῆλον [supply ἐστίν] (nom sg) τό clear

πάντα (nom/acc pl) τό anything & everything

πλέουσι (3rd pl) sail

ποιοῦσιν (3rd pl) do

χρῆμα –ατος τό thing (pl.) money

Isocrates 15.226


16. Here Socrates is trying to determine the nature and origin of words:

τίς παραδίδωσιν ἡμῖν τὰ ὀνόματα οἷς χρώμεθα;

ἡμῖν (dat pl) us

χρώμεθα (1st pl) use (takes a dative object)

Plato Cratylus 388d


Biblical Readings

1. From a koine Greek translation of an ancient Jewish prayer:

καὶ πτωχοῦ καὶ πένητος ἡ ἐλπὶς τίς ἐστιν, εἰ μὴ σύ, κύριε;

κύριε Lord!

πένης -ητος ὁ poor man

πτωχοῦ (gen sg) ὁ beggar

σύ (nom. sg.) you

Psalm of Solomon 5:11


The negative of a protasis (if clause) in a conditional is usually expressed by μή.


The fifth book of Moses (the last of the collection called in Greek the Πεντάτευχος “Pentateuch,” which refers to its five volumes) is known in English as Deuteronomy (from Greek Δευτερονόμιον “second law“). It consists primarily of speeches by Moses to the Israelites, renewing and refining religious practice. Substantial portions consist of rules and regulations, and as such often have a repeated pattern and formula. The next several sentences give examples of slight variations on a phrase repeated often in Deuteronomy.


2. Moses recalls that he said to the Israelites that they had come:

ἕως τοῦ ὄρους τοῦ Αμορραίου, ὃ ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν δίδωσιν ὑμῖν.

Αμορραίου (gen sg) τό Amorite

ἕως as far as (+ gen.)

ἡμῶν our

θεός (nom sg) ὁ god

κύριος (nom sg) ὁ lord

ὄρους (gen sg) τό mountain, hill

ὑμῖν (dat pl) y’all

LXX Deut. 1:20


3. Moses recalls the report of the Valley of Eshcol:

Ἀγαθὴ [ἐστιν] ἡ γῆ, ἣν κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν δίδωσιν ἡμῖν.

ἀγαθὴ (fem. nom sg) good

γῆ (nom sg) ἡ earth, land

ἡμῖν (dat pl) us

ἡμῶν our

θεός (nom sg) ὁ god

κύριος (nom sg) ὁ lord

LXX Deut. 1:25


4. Moses relays the Lord’s promise that the Israelites will consume:

πάντα τὰ σκῦλα τῶν ἐθνῶν, ἃ κύριος ὁ θεός σου δίδωσίν σοι·

ἐθνῶν (gen pl) τό nation, people

θεός (nom sg) ὁ god

κύριος (nom sg) ὁ lord

πάντα (acc pl) τό all

σκῦλα (acc pl) τό spoils, prizes of war

σοι (dat sg) you

σου your

LXX Deut. 7:16


5. At Gerasa, Jesus meets a man possessed by a spirit (πνεῦμα). After he commands the spirit to exit the man, he asks:

Τί ὄνομά σοι;

to which the spirit replies

Λεγιὼν ὄνομά μοι, ὅτι πολλοί ἐσμεν.

λεγιών -ῶνος ὁ = Latin legio (a Roman unit of 5000+ troops)

μοι (dat sg) me

πολλοί (nom pl) ὁ many

σοι (dat sg) you

Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 5:9


6. At dinner, after Jesus forgives a woman’s sins, others sitting at the table ask:

Τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν;

ἁμαρτίας (acc pl) ἡ sins

οὗτος (masc. nom sg) ὁ this

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 7:49


7. When the blind man reports that he was healed by Jesus, others ask him:

Ποῦ ἐστιν ἐκεῖνος;

ποῦ where?

Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 9:12


8. At Simon’s house, Peter answers a call from men sent by Cornelius:

Ἰδοὺ ἐγώ εἰμι ὃν ζητεῖτε· τίς ἡ αἰτία δι’ ἣν πάρεστε;

αἰτία (nom sg) ἡ cause, reason

δι’ = διά because of

ἐγώ (nom sg) I

ζητεῖτε (2nd pl) seek

ἰδού Look!

Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων 10:21


9. Paul says he is unfit to be called an apostle,

χάριτι δὲ θεοῦ εἰμι ὅ εἰμι.

θεοῦ (gen sg) ὁ god

χάρις χάριτος ἡ grace

Πρὸς Κορινθίους α’ 15:10


10. Paul warns that God destroys anyone who destroys his temple:

εἴ τις τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φθείρει, φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ θεός· ὁ γὰρ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἅγιός ἐστιν.

ἅγιος (nom sg) ὁ holy

θεοῦ (gen sg) ὁ god

ναός (nom sg); ναόν (acc. sg) ὁ temple

τοῦτον (masc. acc. sg.) this man

φθείρει (3rd sing. present); φθερεῖ (3rd sing. future) destroy

Πρὸς Κορινθίους α’ 3:17


11. Paul urges Christians to take the helmet of salvation

καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος, ὅ ἐστιν ῥῆμα θεοῦ…

θεοῦ (gen sg) ὁ God

μάχαιραν (acc sg) ἡ sword

ῥῆμα -ατος τό speech

Πρὸς Ἐφεσίους 6:17


12. From the Book of Revelation, a lamb that has:

…κέρατα ἑπτὰ καὶ ὀφθαλμοὺς ἑπτά, οἵ εἰσιν τὰ [ἑπτὰ] πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ …

ἑπτά seven (does not decline)

θεοῦ (gen sg) ὁ God

κέρας κέρατος τό horn

ὀφθαλμούς (acc pl) ὁ eyes

Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰωάννου 5:6


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Reading Passages by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.