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Hellenisteon! Students Speak Ancient Greek in New Club

IRVING, Texas (Nov. 27, 2023) — Thanks to a Braniff student, the language of the Gospels comes alive every Monday in Anselm 224.

Anand Mangal, MA ’25, a first-year student of classics in the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts, recently created an ancient Greek-speaking club called Hellenisteon, which roughly translates to “we should speak Greek.”

Mangal said he wanted to help students of ancient Greek, including himself, acquire the language to improve reading knowledge.

“The way that I learned Greek was as a living language, as much as possible,” Mangal says of the Greek program at his alma mater, Ralston College.

“Our classes were conducted in Greek, we would ask our questions in Greek, and we would get responses back in Greek, from the beginning.”

He hatched the idea for an ancient Greek club with classics professor Teresa Danze, PhD, BA ’01. Mangal was talking about his experience of learning Greek — and trying to shake his modern Greek accent — when Danze suggested that he consider starting a colloquium. 

Mangal reached out to Martin Ellison ’24, a curriculum assistant for the St. Ambrose Center’s K-12 Curriculum Project, and promoted the new club in a newsletter to classics students.

After that, it was just a matter of announcing the club in class and showing up with Greek to read.

Like English, Greek has changed grammatically since the days of its earliest written literature. Meaning is expressed more by word endings than by sentence position in ancient Greek; in other words, modern Greek is about as far from the Evangelists as English is from Beowulf.

Mangal’s club gives students wrestling with this ancient grammar a chance to cement it in memory the same way people learn their native languages: conversation.

“It’s pretty relaxed; not much raising our hands or fact-checking. It’s just a lot of shouting out words and trying to have the Greek bubble up as much as possible,” Mangal said.

“We’re going through Aesop’s fables right now. We read and immediately do exercises based on that: What does this word mean? How would you describe it? Trying to do these things in ancient Greek has been helpful. … It’s simple, but it forces you to learn.”

Mangal’s journey to the University of Dallas has followed an unusual route. Mangal formerly worked as a software engineer for Facebook through Deloitte and at Amazon Web Services.

Now, Mangal is pursuing his love for literature as a master’s student in the Braniff Graduate School, specifically with an interest in Arthurian and medieval literature.

After they finish their fables and a few scenes from the Odyssey, the club plans to turn to Theophrastus or the Gospels.

Mangal encourages newcomers to drop in. The club meets every Monday at noon.

“You don’t really need a certain level of strength to do this. Even if you don’t talk the entire time, it’s still beneficial,” Mangal said.

“It’s like how we are as babies. We’re not talking; we listen to English first. … It’s been great to see students come by at different experience levels.”

About the University of Dallas

The University of Dallas is the premier Catholic liberal arts university in the country, known for its rigorous undergraduate Core Curriculum and robust graduate and professional programs in business, ministry, education and the humanities. According to national rankings, the University of Dallas has one of America’s most challenging, comprehensive undergraduate interdisciplinary programs, offered at an excellent value to some of the happiest students in the country. With campuses in Texas and Italy, UD stands apart as a thriving community of learners committed to an education that forms students intellectually, socially and spiritually for a life well-lived. For more information, visit udallas.edu.

About the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts

The Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts is committed to the renewal of the Western heritage of liberal arts and the Christian intellectual tradition. Through master’s programs in American studies, art, classics, classical education, English, humanities, leadership, philosophy, politics, psychology and theology, students receive an academically rigorous education for virtuous leadership. At the doctoral level, the Institute of Philosophic Studies offers degrees in literature, philosophy and politics rooted in a Great Books core curriculum. For more information, visit udallas.edu/braniff.

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