CZ:Romanization/Ancient Greek

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This a draft recommendation on how to romanize Ancient Greek words and names within Citizendium. It is not yet official Citizendium policy. You may edit this as you would any other page within this site. Discussion of the issues should take place on the Talk page.

Ancient Greek has been read and discussed in English since the Renaissance. In terms of the sounds used, however, English and Ancient Greek are not particularly close, and the transliteration of Greek words and names is never quite satisfactory. One can either stick with well-established tradition, at the expense of phonetic similarity, or one can strike out, as many have, in search of a more accurate form of transliteration.

Citizendium is an encyclopedia and reference work for the general public, and the expectations of our readers must be balanced with the desire of some scholars for a less barbarous form of transliteration. To that end, Citizendium contributors should use a two-fold system of transliteration: the traditional transliterations for proper names, and a slightly more accurate method of transliteration for Ancient Greek words and text.

We may want to have slightly different rules for Byzantine Greek.


Despite the efforts of a number of revisionists, the standard spellings of proper names in Ancient Greek are the traditional ones. This is the usage of the Oxford Classical Dictionary and the usage of the vast majority of Classical scholarship, past and present. Thus, the central hero of the Iliad is named Achilles rather than Achilleus or Akhilleus. Names should usually bear Latinized rather than Greek endings, except in the rare case that the Greek ending is the standard Romanization: Olympus rather than Olympos, but Photios rather than Photius.

Epithets are somewhere between proper names and normal words, but are not likely to be a source of great confusion to the lay reader. Contributors are encouraged to provide the Greek, and to romanize epithets as they like: it does not matter much whether he is Phoibos Apollo or Phoebus Apollo.

Other words

Words besides proper names should be rendered in the standard (albeit imprecise) method of transliteration. That is to say, Greek letters should be rendered with their closest Roman equivalent, and with the usual two-letter transliterations for χ, φ, ψ and θ (ch, ph, ps and th, respectively). The rough breathing (spiritus asper) should be transliterated by h (as with compounds where a rough breathing occurs word-internally-- prohairesis rather than proairesis, e.g.). ρ with a rough breathing at the beginning of a word should be transliterated rh. Vowel length should not be marked, and macrons (long marks) should only be used to signal the presence of η and ω (ē and ō, respectively).