The Greek alphabet has twenty-four letters.
|Α||α||ἄλφα||alpha||a||ă: aha; ā: father|
|Ε||ε||εἶ, ἔ (ἒ ψι_λόν)||ĕpsīlon||ĕ||met|
|Ι||ι||ἰῶτα||iōta||i||ĕ: meteor; ī: police|
|Ο||ο||οὖ, ὄ (ὂ μι_κρόν)||ŏmīcron||ŏ||obey|
|Υ||υ||ὖ (ὖ ψι_λόν)||üpsīlon|| (||ŭ: Fr. tu; ū: Fr. sûr|
|Χ||χ||χεῖ (χῖ)||chi||ch||Germ. machen|
|Ω||ω||ὦ (ὦ μέγα)||ōmĕga||ō||note|
a. Sigma (not capital) at the end of a word is written ς, elsewhere ς. Thus, σεισμός
b. The names in parentheses, from which are derived those in current use, were given at a late period, some as late as the Middle Ages. Thus, epsilon means ‘simple e,’ upsilon ‘simple u,’ to distinguish these letters from αι, οι, which were sounded like ε and υ.
c. Labda is a better attested ancient name than lambda.2
The Greek alphabet as given above originated in Ionia, and was adopted at Athens in 403 B.C. The letters from A to T are derived from Phoenician and have Semitic names. The signs Υ to Ω were invented by the Greeks. From the Greek alphabet are derived the alphabets of most European countries. The ancients used only the large letters, called
a. Before 403 B.C. in the official Attic alphabet E stood for ε, η, spurious ει (6), O for ο, ω, spurious ου (6), H for the rough breathing, ΧΣ for Ξ, ΦΣ for Ψ. Λ was written for γ, and [lins ] for λ. Thus:
|ΕΔΟΧΣΕΝΤΕΙΒΟ[lins ]ΕΙΚΑΙΤΟΙΔΕΜΟΙ||ἔδοξεν τῇ βουλῇ καὶ τῷ δήμῳ.|
|ΕΓΙΤΕΔΕΙΟΝΕΝΑΙΑΓΟΤΟΑΡΛΥΡΙΟ||ἐπιτήδειον εἶναι ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀργυρίου.|
In the older period there were two other letters: (1) Ϝ: ϝαῦ,
Vau was in use as a genuine sound at the time the Homeric poems were composed, though it is found in no Mss. of Homer. Many apparent irregularities of epic verse (such as
Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].