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Santa Fe Summer Greek Institute




Μῆνιν ἄειδε, θεά, Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
“Wrath! Sing the wrath, goddess, of Peleus’ son Achilles…”

What is the Greek Institute?

Just as Helen's face launched a thousand ships, this opening line of the Iliad launches its readers into a world both distant and familiar: the world of the Trojan War and its aftermath, as portrayed by Homer. The St. John's College Greek Institute aims to guide its participants on a journey deep into Homer's world, first by developing proficiency in Homeric Greek, and then by applying our newly developed proficiency to a study in Greek of the Iliad and its enduring themes.

The first four weeks of the class will be an accelerated course in Homeric Greek for beginners, including students who have not previously studied Greek. This part of the course will consist of grammar lessons, extensive drilling and exercises, and quizzes and examinations. There will also be opportunities for students interested in auditory approaches that complement more customary ways of learning an ancient language - an emphasis that especially makes sense for a poem that was traditionally sung, as its opening line suggests. By the start of the second week, we will also begin translating actual selections from the Iliad, with the selections increasing in frequency, size and difficulty as the course advances.

After acquiring the rudiments of Homeric Greek, we will spend the second half of the class mainly on a careful reading of selections from the Iliad and the Odyssey.  As we translate the text and continue to develop our proficiency with Homer's language, we will use seminar-style discussions to explore in greater depth the Iliad's literary and philosophical qualities. Thus, the hard work we do with Homer's language will be increasingly rewarded by primary access to the treasures of his poetry itself.  By the end of the class, successful students will have acquired a solid foundation in ancient Greek, equivalent to at least one year's college-level study.  This will constitute excellent preparation for both graduate school comprehensive exams and future reading in the original of other ancient Greek authors.

Intensive language programs across the country are known for their high attrition rate and extreme stress: that is why the Greek Institute is not an “intensive”.St. John’sbelieves that a reasonable, humane pace and engaging environment is more conducive to real thought and an overall successful learning experience than a hurried attempt to “just get through it”. The extra week in this summer’s program is meant to facilitate this healthier pace. That said, the project will still require a great deal of dedication and hard work, as one might expect of any attempt to learn over a year’s worth of an ancient language in a single summer.

Who teaches the Greek Institute?

The Greek Institute is taught by full-timeSt. John'sCollegefaculty, whom we call "tutors" instead of “professors” because their chief role in the classroom is to guide rather than lecture. Your classes will not be led by graduate students, teaching assistants, or adjunct faculty. Only tenured or tenure-track faculty with significant experience at the College teach full-time in the Greek Institute. In addition, we have a wonderful teaching assistant who helps to support the classwork.

For the summer of 2015, the first four weeks of class will be taught by Llyd Wells. Mr. Wells is an experienced instructor of classical Greek.  In the numerous ancient Greek classes which he has taught in the undergraduate program at St. John'sCollegehe has worked extensively on Plato's Meno, Euripides's Bacchae and Sophocles's Oedipus Tyrannos. Mr. Wells's love of ancient languages is long standing: as an undergraduate he majored in Assyriology with a focus on Old Akkadian texts. He also holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography.

The final four weeks will be taught by Alan Zeitlin. Mr. Zeitlin holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a degree in Law from Boalt Hall.  He has taught numerous classes in ancient Greek, ranging from beginning to advanced, at Berkeley, Bard College, and St. John's College. His special interests are Homer and Ancient Comedy. A middle fifth week will be co-taught by both Mr. Wells and Mr. Zeitlin. 

What are the dates of the Greek Institute for 2015?

The first day of class is Monday, June 8th and the last day of class is Thursday, August 6th. The Greek Institute’s schedule runs parallel to the two graduate programs during the summer semester. Because it is an accelerated, full-time course,St. John’s graduate students of the Liberal Arts and Eastern Classics will not be able to participate in the Greek Institute if they plan on taking classes in the summer. CurrentSt. John’s undergraduate students are welcome to apply.

What is the class schedule?

Days and Times: Monday through Friday: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm. These times are subject to minor changes. Wednesdays will be a half day to allow for extra study time, as well as to provide an opportunity to attend the college lecture series, for those interested. In addition to the approximately 25 hours of class-time per week, students should plan on an equivalent amount of preparation-time outside of class, memorizing vocabulary and paradigms and working on translation exercises.

Primary Text: Homeric Greek 4th edition, Edited byPharr, Wright, and Debnar. Copies are available for purchase in theSt. John’sCollege Bookstore. Prior editions of this text are not acceptable.

NOTE: Participants are asked to review English syntax and memorize the Greek alphabet before the first day of class. They are also encouraged to read Book One of the Iliad in translation before their arrival. Other preliminary study material and exercises may be sent out prior to the start of the course.

What is the cost of tuition?

The cost of tuition is $2900. A non-refundable deposit of $250 is due after your application has been accepted. Deposits will be credited toward your tuition payment. Remember that space is limited, so please send your deposit as soon as possible to secure your spot.

Is on-campus housing available?

Yes, but there is limited availability. If you are interested in living on-campus, let us know as soon as possible. Living on-campus is a great way to ensure that you devote adequate time and energy to the demands of the Greek Institute. Because the dormitories do not have kitchens, our housing package includes a meal plan. Depending on the meal plan you select, the estimated  housing total will be $2650.50-$3063.38. Please note that these values are still subject to minor changes.

Is financial aid available?

The Greek Institute is currently not-for-credit and so at this time financial aid is not available.

Who can apply?

The Greek Institute is open to any person with a high school diploma who demonstrates a genuine interest in the proposed course of study.

When can I apply?

Apply now! Email to have an application form sent to your email account or home address. The application is also available online at

Admissions are rolling, so we accept applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. We encourage you to apply by February as the class size caps at fifteen students.

Important Dates:

March 1st 2015 is the recommended date for tuition deposit. You are not enrolled in the Greek Institute until you’ve paid a non-refundable $250 deposit to hold your spot. We accept checks or credit cards over the phone. Please make checks payable toSt. John’sCollege.

May 15th 2015 is the preferred date of the tuition payment.

April 15th 2015 is the preferred date of your on-campus housing payment.

You may bring all payments directly to the Graduate Institute office in Levan Hall, or mail to:

                St. John’s College Graduate Institute

                1160 Camino Cruz Blanca

               Santa Fe,New Mexico


Withdrawal Dates and Fees: Participants who withdraw from the Greek Institute within the first week will be reimbursed 75% of their tuition; within the second week, 50%; within the third week, 25%. Participants who withdraw during or after the fourth week of classes will receive no reimbursement.

Further Questions?

Feel free to contact the Greek Institute by email or phone:



Download the application form