Written by Paul Bates, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

The ancient Greek language is believed to have been in use between the 9th century BC and 6th century AD, which spans the Archaic period, Hellenistic period, and the Classical period in Greece. It was preceded by the Mycenaean Greek and replaced by Medieval Greek, which is the language of modern-day Greece.


Ancient Greek contained many dialects, among them Doric, Attic, Ionic, Aeolic, and Arcadocypriot. These dialects were discovered in various ways, some presented in inscriptions while others were found in literature, such as history books. There is also a different dialect of the ancient Greek language called Homeric Greek. This dialect was believed use for entertainment.

Writing Method

From different artifacts discovered written in ancient Greek, there is evidence showing that the language was written from right to left, having adopted the modern Arabic and Hebrew form. However, over time, the language evolved, and the writers changed the format and started writing from left to right. Many plays and poems that were written using ancient Greek show these features.

For example, Greek epics such as the Iliad and the Odyssey were written from right to left and contain some of the longest Greek words in written literature. Not the longest, however. That can be found in the play Assemblywoman by Aristophanes. It contains the longest-known written word in ancient Greek literature, consisting of 171 letters.

Illustration of Aristophanes

Influence in English

The English language is very influenced by the ancient Greek language. Numerous words — such as mathematics and biology — find their origin in Greek words.

Word Genders

All words in the ancient Greek language had one of three genders: feminine, masculine, or neutral. This was purposeful: in ancient Greece, there was a belief that all aspects of life took up three forms (Bakker, 2010). Therefore, the adoption of three genders meant that a word would take either the male, female, or neutral form.

A blackboard asks, “do you speak Greek?”

Different punctuation

In ancient Greek, punctuation was used to differentiate it from other languages. For example, the semicolon in ancient Greek was used as a question mark. Additionally, using different punctuations for different meanings meant users could communicate secretly, without passing their literature on to anyone they did not intend to.

In conclusion, the ancient Greek language is seen by many researchers as the origin of modern Greek and instrumental in the development of many languages.

Paul Bates is a freelance history writer at TOK Paper Writing and College Essay Writing Service. He is also an online tutor and provides historical research as well as full-service editing at MLA Format Service.


Bakker, E. J. (2010). A companion to the Ancient Greek language. John Wiley & Sons.

Silk, M. (2010). The language of Greek lyric poetry. A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language, 424-440.