Lesson 2: The Greek Alphabet: more familiar than you think!

a big, red omega symbol on a blue background, with a man in a white toga, holding a staff, next to it
Photo caption

"Omega" is the last letter in the Greek alphabet.

And the Greeks took up the letters from the Phoenicians, and once they had changed their shape somewhat, they used them. And when they used them, they called them “Phoenicians”, as was just, since the Phoenicians brought the letters to Greece.


—(Herodotus, History of the Persian Wars, 5.58.2)

This second lesson of the curriculum unit, The Alphabet is Historic, is about the Greeks, who inherited the alphabet invented by the Phoenicians, and used it to write their great literature.

Guiding Questions

Who were the Greeks and where did they live?

How did they come to inherit the Phoenician alphabet?

Can we see that the Greek alphabet is starting to look more like our alphabet?

What are some other things, besides the alphabet, that we inherited from the ancient Greeks?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to: Show that the Greeks and Phoenicians both lived on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Tell that the Greeks learned the alphabet from Phoenician traders.

Say why the alphabet was important for the Greeks.

Tell one or two other things, besides the alphabet, that we inherited from the ancient Greeks.

Compare some Greek letters to our own letters.

Do an art activity or write a short paragraph related to the Greek alphabet.