Homer’s Odyssey Part 4 | Books 13-16 | #GreekMyths

odyssey part 4

Last time we followed Odysseus in the kingdom of the dead and we learned how he was able to save himself from the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis. What will happen next? Today we will cover the fourth part of Homer’s Odyssey. Make sure to stay till the end and comment down below your thoughts after watching this video. And subscribe for more videos on Greek mythology!

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“The Odyssey” Book 13: Odysseus Reaches Ithaca

The 13th book of Odysseus’ journey starts in present time, with the Ithacan king finishing narrating his adventures in front of the people of Phaeacia. The hospitable islanders sympathized with Odysseus and they offered him a boat ride home, along with various gifts and resources. Odysseus thanks king Alcinous and the rest of the Phaeacians and gets on board. The boat finally arrives at Ithaca the next day, while Odysseus is asleep. The Phaeacians leave Odysseus on the shore and return to their peaceful island. Soon enough, Poseidon notices that they helped Odysseus reach Ithaca and he gets filled with anger. After asking permission from Zeus, god Poseidon turns the Phaeacian ship into stone few moments before it arrives in the harbor. As a result, the ship sinks and the Phaeacians who helped Odysseus reach Ithaca were never seen again. King Alcinous realized that helping Odysseus enraged the gods and swore to never help strangers ever again.

At the same time, king Odysseus wakes up and finds himself on a land he could not recognize. Goddess Athena appears in front of him as a shepherd and explains to him that he is indeed in Ithaca and that his people need him. Odysseus at first tries to conceal his identity, the goddess reveals her identity and advices him to use his tricks to eradicate the suitors who conspire against him and his son. To protect him, she transforms him into an old man and leaves Ithaca to go find Telemachus in the Peloponnese region.

“The Odyssey” Book 14: Eumaeus, The Loyal Friend

The transformed king of Ithaca follows Athena’s advice and hides into a hut that belongs to Eumaeus, a local farmer and loyal friend of Odysseus. There he meets Eumaeus, who not only feeds the transformed Odysseus but confesses to him how much he misses the king of Ithaca and how much he detests the men who have taken over his palace, trying to convince Penelope to marry one of them. Odysseus promises Eumaeus that his beloved king will return – his own identity is not revealed yet. He narrates a different story regarding his background and finally learns that his son is in danger, since the suitors are conspiring to kill him. Once the night arrives, Odysseus sleeps in the hut and Eumaeus tends to his herd.

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“The Odyssey” Book 15: Telemachus Returns

While Odysseus sleeps, goddess Athena find Telemachus in the Peloponnese region and urges him to travel back to Ithaca to prevent his mother from marrying a suitor. She warns him of the dangers he might face and suggests that he visits Eumaeus first and let him visit Penelope to announce his return. As he leaves, an eagle flies off holding its pray. Is this a sign?

Back in the hut, Odysseus learns about the death of his mother and how lonely his father, Laertis, is. Eumaeus then narrates his own story. He was abducted by pirates when he was a child. King Laertis purchased him to save him and Odysseus’ mother raised him. While the farmer narrates his story to the transformed Odysseus, Telemachus arrives on the island.

“The Odyssey” Book 16: Father and Son Reunite

The young prince of Ithaca reaches Eumaeus’ hut, where he is greeted by the friendly farmer and is introduced to his father who had the appearance of an unrecognizable old man.  Odysseus soon understands that his son does not feel confident enough to stand against the suitors. With Athena’s intervention, Odysseus regains his appearance and reveals his true identity to his son. The men embrace and cry together. United they can eradicate the hundreds of suitors that roam the palace. Father and son spend the whole night talking and coming up with the right plan that can help them regain power over their palace.

Will they succeed? Can father and son win against hundreds of suitors? If you are interested in hearing the rest of the story, don’t forget to subscribe (free). Also, if you enjoyed watching this video, feel free to like, comment and share.

Now, before you go, I need to make an important announcement. In case you don’t know this already, helinika offers a complete video course for learning Greek. Well, if you are a subscriber you can now benefit from a lot; you can watch the course with a discount, just by clicking on the link in the description down below! Last but not least, feel free to check helinika’s shop, where you will find some unique Greek-inspired artwork, tote bags, reusable bottles, and notebooks, all designed by me.  

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Greek Lessons for Erasmus Students | Erasmus in Greece

Are you preparing for your Erasmus semester in Greece? Is it your dream to study the classics in Athens or spend an adventurous semester on a Greek island? Then you might be wondering whether it is necessary to speak, write, and read in Greek on a proficient level.

The short answer to this is: no, it is not necessary. There are plenty of classes and seminars or entire programs that are held in English in Greek Universities. At the same time, most people can communicate in English. So, learning Greek is not a matter of survival.

But you should ask yourself:

  1. Is it possible to get the ultimate Greek experience without speaking the language?
  2. Will you be able to hangout with the local students?
  3. Are all the classes you are interested in available in a language you are familiar with?

Greek Lessons for Erasmus Students | Greek for Erasmus

If you are interested in spending a semester in Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, or any other place in Greece? Then you should consider getting started with at least the basics of the Greek language. And once you finally land there, you will be able to immerse yourself in Greek by attending classes, seminars, and by building relationships with Greek people.

We understand that learning Greek might be more challenging than learning French, Spanish, or Italian. And that is not necessarily because of the complexity of the language – once you get familiar with the alphabet, the rest will unfold- but mostly because of the lack of language schools that include Greek in their curriculum. The same goes with native Greek language instructors – they are not a lot out there. And here is where Helinika comes into place with its complete video course that is perfect for Erasmus students.  You can now teach yourself Greek with easy-to-follow videos and learn one of the oldest languages in the world anytime, anywhere. All you need is access to a computer or a tablet.

Start learning Greek now and prepare for an exciting semester in Greece! Greek lessons for Erasmus students:

Homer’s Odyssey Part 3 | Books 11-12 | #GreekMyths

The previous part ended when Odysseus was about to depart the island of Circe, where he learned that, in order to find a way to reach Ithaca safely, he would have to visit Hades, the ancient Greek kingdom of the dead.

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“The Odyssey” Books 11-12: Odysseus and The Souls of Hades

Odysseus sails away with his crew and lands on the region of Cimmerians, where the men of Winter resided. There he follows Circe’s instructions and performs a ritual that would open the veil that separates the land of the living from the land of the dead, allowing him to talk to the ghost of the blind clairvoyant Tiresias.

The area was surrounded by thick fog. Odysseus performed the ritual, which involved sacrificing animals and offering milk and honey. He was warned that if he did not feed the souls of the dead, they would try to drink his blood. From the pit he had dug, countless souls appeared and started to consume the offerings. Odysseus came across many people he had met in his life, including his dead mother Anticleia. The Ithacan king had to sit far away from the pit until the fortune teller Tiresias appeared. He cried while watching his mother feast on the blood, without being able to talk with her.

All of a sudden, Theban Teiresias appears. “Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, what now, hapless man? Why hast thou left the light of the sun and come hither to behold the dead and a region where is no joy? Nay, give place from the pit and draw back thy sharp sword, that I may drink of the blood and tell thee sooth,” he said.

Teiresias tells Odysseus that he should not touch the flocks of Helios when he lands on Thrinakia and he predicts that he will manage to kill Penelope’s suitors when he finally reaches Ithaca. Teiresias also consoles Odysseus to make a sacrifice to Poseidon once he reaches a land where the people do not know of the sea. This is the only way to appease the god of the sea and live a trouble-free life.

Teiresias then allows Anticleia to drink from the blood and finally talk with her son. Odysseus had left Ithaca knowing that his mother was alive. He was unaware she was dead. Anticleia explains that she couldn’t bear waiting for her son’s return; her constant worries killed her. Odysseus tries to hug his mother at this point but she vanishes into thin air. The souls of the dead start surrounding Odysseus, telling him their stories of how they died. The king of Ithaca starts running away from the pit and sails away with his crew.

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The Sirens | Odysseus’ Journey

They first stop at Circe’s island where they make a funeral pyre for the soul of Elpenor who had died there and whom they met when talking with the souls of the dead. Circe then warns them of a great danger they might face during their trip. On their way to the island of Helios, the Sun, the Ithacans might come across the Sirens, a group of dangerous creatures that lured sailors with their beautiful voices on the rocks they resided on. Contrary to the popular belief, the Sirens were not mermaids but gigantic birds that had women’s faces.

The Ithacans were advised to wear earplugs and therefore never listen to the irresistible song of the Sirens. And that is exactly what they did. However, Odysseus was very curious and wanted to have this experience before settling to Ithaca. Instead of wearing earplugs, he asked his sailors to tie him to the mast and commanded them to not listen to him or untie him until they are far away from the Sirens.

The sailors soon noticed the rocky island of the Sirens in the horizon. They tied Odysseus to the mast, put some wax in their ears, and started paddling faster than ever. The blood-thirsty Sirens tried seducing the men with their beautiful voices, asking them to make a stop on their island. Odysseus was begging his men for mercy – he was asking them to untie him and let him swim towards these magical and seductive women. But his sailors could not listen to him. After some time that felt like an eternity, they were able to sail away from the Sirens and finally untie their leader.

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Scylla and Charybdis |Odysseus’ Journey

The next obstacle they had to surpass was a pass between Scylla and Charybdis, two deadly sea monsters that had caused countless deaths in the sea. The narrow pass was located between Sicily and Calabria. On one hand, there was Scylla, a six-headed dog-like creature that would eat sailors that accidentally sailed closed to it and, on the other hand, there was Charybdis, a monster that lived under a small rock and created whirlpools that sank any nearby boats.

Odysseus had to make a difficult decision here. Which option was the least dangerous for him and his crew? He realized that by avoiding Charybdis and approaching Scylla, he would loose fewer men: Charybdis would sink the entire ship, whereas Scylla would only be able to grab and eat a few men. That was a sacrifice that had to be made.

The crew passed by Scylla and Odysseus tells his men to not fear – he didn’t want them to panic; panic could be deadlier than the sea monster. Scylla managed to eat six men to the horror of Odysseus and the rest of the men. The crew managed to stay focused and sailed away, approaching the island of Helios, mourning their dead friends.

Teiresias and Circe had warned Odysseus to not eat the animals that resided on the island, since this would enrage Zeus. However, the winds were not in their favor and the crew remained stranded on the island. There was almost no food left and some of the men decide to eat the cattle of Helios, without asking for Odysseus’ permission. That action enraged Zeus who conjured a storm and targeted Odysseus’ ship with a thunderbolt, wrecking it. The men fell into the water and the enormous waves managed to separate them from each other. Odysseus managed to grab onto a floating piece of wood and watched the waves take him towards the whirlpool of Charybdis. The lucky Ithacan managed to escape and, after passing by Scylla, he ends up in Calypso’s island.

And this is when Odysseus ends his story, thanking Alcinous for his hospitality. It is time for him to get on board and leave Phaeacia. What will happen next? Will Poseidon and Zeus allow Odysseus reach Ithaca?

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Odysseus’ Nostos Part 2 | Homer’s Odyssey Summary | #GreekMyths

odyssey part 2

Last time we followed Odysseus from Troy to the land of the Lotus Eaters. We also saw what was happening in Ithaca during his absence. This time, we will continue with book nine of the Odyssey and follow Odysseus’ journey across the Mediterranean.  

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“The Odyssey” Books 9-12: Continuing the Wanderings of Odysseus

After managing to leave the land of the Lotus Eaters, wily Odysseus and his crew reached the land of the Cyclopes, which is estimated to be located in Sicily. The Cyclopes were giants with one enormous eye on their forehead. They were violent and lawless creatures and they were not the brightest either.

Odysseus and his man explored the land, ate some of the livestock, and found a cave that seemed occupied. They wanted to ask for help and entered the cave which was the home of Cyclops Polyphemus. The latter not only denied helping the men but ate some of them and trapped Odysseus and the rest of his crew in his dark, terrifying home. Little did he know that Odysseus was not only brave but blessed with the ability to find solutions in the most difficult situations.

Wily Odysseus offers some of his wine to Polyphemus and introduces himself – he says his name is “Kanenas” which translates to “Nobody” in Greek. Polyphemus soon falls asleep after drinking the wine and Odysseus finds the opportunity to create a sharp spear from Polyphemus large club. With the help of his men, he blinds Cyclops Polyphemous who wakes up, opens the door, and screams for help. This is when the Ithacans manage to escape and run towards their ship. The other Cyclopes visited Polyphemus asking him who hurt him. “Nobody” he screamed. The Cyclopes get confused and leave Polyphemus alone, thinking he blinded himself.

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Odysseus and his men were already on their boats, staring and pointing at the giant man who was tricked by a group of tiny humans. Odysseus was ecstatic; he had fought men in Troy but managing to win against a giant creature like Polyphemus was a great achievement. And that is when he began insulting Polyphemus while sailing away. He was unaware that he had committed an hybris and he was soon going to face the wrath of Poseidon, father of Polyphemus and god of the sea. Poseidon throws an enormous rock at Odysseus that nearly hits his boat. Odysseus is now cursed to never return home – at least alive.

Odysseus and his crew manage to reach the Island of the Wind, where Aiolos, the god of the Winds, resides. Aeolia was located close to Sicily and Aiolos was very kind and hospitable towards Odysseus and his crew. The Ithacans stayed there for one month and before they sailed away, Aiolos gifted Odysseus a bag containing winds that could help them reach Ithaca faster.

With the westerlies at their back, the boats start approaching Ithaca within ten days. Odysseus stared at the starry night over Ithaca knowing he would step foot on his beautiful kingdom probably within a day. And he fall asleep peacefully on the dock. Some of his men though could not sleep that night. What was in Aiolos’ bag? Did it contain winds or treasures? What is Aiolos’ had given gold to Odysseus and the latter did not want to share the gifts with his men? These greedy men decided to open the bag, just like Pandora opened the box containing all evils. The winds were forcefully released, creating a hurricane that lead the boats back at Aeolia. Aiolos speculates that Odysseus’ journey is cursed and explains that he can’t help him any further.

The Ithacans start sailing without any wind and they soon reach Lamos, a place that was inhabited by a group of aggressive cannibals called Laestrygonians. The Laestrygonians attacked and ate many of Odysseus’ men in front of the rest of the crew who watched in horror. The Ithacans run back to their boats, however, the hungry cannibals started throwing rocks at them. The rocks destroyed all ships but one. Odysseus and the rest of the survivors managed to escape by paddling faster than ever.

The next stop was the island of the witch Circe, Aeaea. Odysseus’ men were terrified to search for the inhabitants, since they had been meeting only dangerous, inhospitable individuals. However, Odysseus sends some of his men to follow a smoke trail that was coming from the depths of the woods. The men found a home that was guarded by wolves and mountain lions. A woman was singing inside the house – she invited the men inside, welcomed them, and prepared a feast for them. Little did they know that she was the witch Circe.

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The men start eating and drinking, except for sailor Eurylokhos who was hesitant towards strangers after witnessing his mates being consumed by giants not once but twice. Suddenly, the men start turning into pigs – their drinks contained a powerful potion that Circe had prepared for the men who displeased her. Eurylokhos informs Odysseus and the latter visits Circe and threatens her that he will kill her unless she takes the hex back. Circe explains that the curse will break only if Odysseus spends a night with her – a proposal that the king of Ithaca found quite fair.

Odysseus ended up spending an entire year at Circe’s island, which had turned into a paradise for him and his men (who were not only turned back into men, but their looks were also enhanced). Eventually, the Ithacans realize that it is time to go home. Odysseus asks Circe to help them return to Ithaca and she reveals to him that, in order to break the curse, he would have to visit Hades, the kingdom of the Dead, and speak with Tiresias, the well-known fortune teller and prophet. She explains what he would have to do there and how to protect himself from the blood-thirsty souls of the dead. How will Odysseus travel to Hades? Who is he going to meet there? Stay tuned because Part III will be coming soon!

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Part I of the Odyssey:

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How to Immerse Yourself in Greek

Immersion is a language learning method, in which the student is exposed to the target language with little to no instructions in their mother tongue. The students learn the language like native speakers. Audiovisual elements and repetitions are used to help the students understand the context. In this video, the students are not given a list of colors and their translation. They listen and read phrases along with videos and images that can help them easily memorize the colors and other words that are used in the sentences. A big focus is given on the structure of the sentences.

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Odysseus’ Journey Part 1 | Homer’s Odyssey Summary | #GreekMyths

You may know him as Ulysses or Odysseus. He was the legendary king of the island of Ithaca in Greece, husband of Penelope, and father of Telemachus. He is known as being resourceful, cunning, adventurous, brave, and determined. He was the person who came up with the idea of the Trojan horse in the Iliad after all. Sometimes, he appeared to be overconfident and faced the wrath of the gods. Today we will be exploring his nostos, his adventurous homecoming journey across the Mediterranean – known as “The Odyssey”, an epic poem attributed to the ancient Greek poet Homer.

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Nine Facts about Homer’s Odyssey:

  1. It is estimated that the Odyssey was composed around the 8th century BC;
  2. It is an epic poem and was meant to be verbally narrated but was documented on 24 books;
  3. The epic is the sequel of the Iliad, which revolves around the Trojan war;
  4. The Odyssey begins “in medias res” – instead of following a linear chronology, the story begins in the middle of the story (how many Netflix series have been inspired by Homer?);
  5. The epic poem starts with the invocation of the muse prompt – a prayer or address that acts as a prologue;
  6. It follows Odysseus (his Latin name is Ulysses) on his ten-year journey from Troy to his kingdom, Ithaca;
  7. Odysseus is brave and strong, but his greatest qualities are his cleverness and his ability to come up with quick solutions to gigantic (no pun indented) problems;
  8. The Odyssey serves as a cautionary tale for those who tend to brag about their achievements – hybris, the dangerous overconfidence, will lead you away from your path;
  9. Homer’s Odyssey stands as an inspiration for countless books, movies, and other forms of artwork. The most popular book is James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, one of the most important works of modernist literature.

The Summary of the Odyssey | The Odyssey in a Nutshell

Maybe you are preparing for a test or you are simply interested in getting the gist of the epic poem. Whatever the reason might be, here is the summary of Homer’s Odyssey – one of the most breathtaking adventures of all time.

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“The Odyssey” Books 1-4: What is Going on in Ithaca?

The first four books of the Odyssey describe the situation in the (real) island of Ithaca during king Odysseus’ absence. Odysseus took part in the ten-year siege of the city of Troy and his kingdom at the hands of his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus. Penelope is described as loyal, faithful, and patient. She awaits her husband’s return and hides away from the countless suitors that visit their kingdom in the hopes of marrying Penelope and ruling Ithaca. Although she dislikes the presence of the 108 suitors, she remains passive. She had told the suitors that she will remarry only once she completed a burial shroud for Odysseus’ father. However, every night she unravels the weaving to make sure that it will never be completed. Telemachus is in his teenage years and has started to get angry with the suitors who disrespect his father and create a sense of anarchy in the kingdom.  

 That is when goddess Athena decides to intervene. As the goddess of wisdom, she was in favor of the extremely intelligent Odysseus who had come up with the idea of the Trojan horse. After asking permission from Zeus, she travels to Ithaca in the form of Mentor, Odysseus’ friend. Athena reveals to Telemachus that his father is still alive and will return to the island soon. Telemachus asks for the gods to punish the suitors and soon two eagles appear on the sky, fighting. This was not the final punishment but rather a bad omen for the greedy suitors who chose to ignore it.

Telemachus follows goddess Athena’s advice and visits the Peloponnese region, specifically Pylos and Sparta, to investigate his father’s disappearance. He had been missing for over ten years after the end of the Trojan War – the trip should have lasted a few weeks or months.  King Menelaus, husband of Helen of Troy,  reveals to Telemachus that his father is stranded on the island of Calypso and really wants to come home. At the same time, while Telemachus is gone, the suitors start plotting his assassination. All they want is to take over the beautiful kingdom of Ithaca.

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“The Odyssey” Books 5-8: Odysseus Escapes Calypso’s Island

Books five and eight focus on wily Odysseus. The king is stranded on Calypso’s island, Ogygia, which is believed to be the island Gozo in the Maltese Archipelago. Calypso is a beautiful nymph who became Odysseus’ lover when he got stranded on her island and refused to let him return to his wife. Odysseus was in Ogygia for seven years with Calypso trying to convince Odysseus that she was much more attractive than Penelope. Although Odysseus did not agree with that statement, the nymph made him feel powerless and he acted as if he was her husband.

Thanks to Athena’s intervention, the gods of Mount Olympus agree to help Odysseus return home. Hermes, the messenger god, visits Calypso and orders her to let Odysseus go. However, Calypso is not the only one who wants Odysseus to stay away from his kingdom. Poseidon, the god of the sea, is mad at him – the reason is revealed later.

Odysseus is now free to leave Ogygia and, with the help of Calypso, he builds a raft within four days. With a magical breeze sent by gods, he is able to sail away from what we now know as the Maltese Archipelago. The 17th day of his trip, Poseidon sees him and conjures a storm that tosses Odysseus in the water – the king is almost drowned. With the help of the goddess Ino, also known as queen of the Sea,  and the goddess Athena, he manages to survive and get ashore.

The place he ends up staying is Phaeacia which is ruled by the king Alcinous, and many scholars believe is located near the island of Corfu. In Phaecia, a storm-tossed Odysseus meets Alcinous daughter, princess Nausicaa. Her female friends are all afraid of him; Odysseus looks similar to Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”.  But Nausicaa is instantly attracted to him. The princess wants to lead him to the palace but is afraid that people will start gossiping if they see him with her.

Odysseus is finally led to the palace with the help of Athena who is in the form of a little girl. At the palace, he is welcomed by Alcinous who is angered when he learns that his daughter left him find his way alone. After being bathed, clothed, and fed, Odysseus is encouraged to tell his adventures. And that is when the most interesting part of the epic poem begins.

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“The Odyssey” Books 9-12: The Wanderings of Odysseus

Odysseus starts narrating to the people of Phaeacia how he ended up stranded on their land. It all started ten years ago, right after the end of the Trojan War. He and his seamen started their nostos, their homecoming trip. Twelve ships sailed away and their first stop was the land of the Cicones, which was located in Thrace. Odysseus’ seamen start stealing and eventually the local army turns against them. Odysseus lost six men per ship and left as soon as possible.

Their next stop was the land of the Lotus Eaters, which is estimated to be located on the northern coast of Africa. The Lotus Eaters are very friendly and peaceful people. However, they lack motivation and ambition. All they want to do is eat their beloved lotus fruit all day and all night. The locals offer the lotus fruit to Odysseus and his crew. The fruit was apparently a narcotic and it was very addicting. Odysseus, a very ambitious man, could not bear see his men laying on ground all day, having forgotten their goal of reaching Ithaca. The men did not want to return to their duties on the ship and Odysseus had to organize a literal intervention and force his crew back to their ships. Their next stop was in Sicily, on the land of the Cyclopes, a group of gigantic, cannibalistic men with one huge eye on their forehead. What happens when Odysseus comes in contact with them? How wily Odysseus manages to free himself and his men from the barbaric Cyclops Polyphemus?

Stay tuned because we will be following the storyline in another video! Don’t forget to subscribe to stay updated!

Interested in reading the entire story? Here are some recommendations:

The Odyssey (Penguin Classics)

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What Does Greek Sound Like?

greek-speech

Are you debating whether you should start learning Greek, you may be interested in listening to what Greek sounds like.

In the above video, I am reading Greek aloud and specifically a part if the first paragraph of the book “The Secrets of the Swamp” by Penelope Delta, which is found in the repository of the Open Library (small part – in Greek).

Penelope Delta is the first Greek writer of children’s books. “The Secrets of the Swamp” is a book that anyone who is Greek or interested in the Greek history should read once in their lifetime. The book recreates the fierce Macedonian Struggle of the early 20th century, enacted “on land and water” at the swamp of Lake Giannitsa.

Buy the book in English.

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