Coulter George

Professor of Classics


Professor of Classics. His chief area of research is the historical development of the Greek language, and he is particularly interested in the syntax of the Greek verb, particles and prepositions, and the role of bilingualism in shaping Jewish and Christian Greek. He is the author of Expressions of Agency in Ancient Greek (Cambridge, 2005), Expressions of Time in Ancient Greek (Cambridge, 2014), and, most recently, a general introduction to six different ancient and medieval languages, How Dead Languages Work (Oxford, 2020).

Research Interests

My research is centered on the historical development of the Greek language.  Why does a Greek author use one syntactic construction rather than another similar one?  How do the reasons for the choice of construction change over time?  To what extent do the genre of the text and contact with other languages play a role in such variation?

In Expressions of Time in Ancient Greek (CUP, 2014), I analyze the conditions under which Greek authors, especially writers of Classical prose and Koine, use not only the genitive, dative, and accusative of time, but also the numerous competing constructions with prepositions. For a wider audience, I have also just published How Dead Languages Work (OUP, 2020), a guided tour through the features that give Greek, Latin, Old English, Sanskrit, Old Irish, and Biblical Hebrew each its own linguistic personality. Currently, I am working on a linguistic history of Greek prose style, and future projects include a reference handbook on Greek prepositions.

Selected Publications


  • How Dead Languages Work (Oxford University Press, 2020)

  • Expressions of Time in Ancient Greek (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

  • Expressions of Agency in Ancient Greek (Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • Greek and Latin from an Indo-European Perspective, co-edited with M. McCullagh, B. Nielsen, A. Ruppel, O. Tribulato (Cambridge Classical Journal suppl. vol. 32, 2007)

Articles and Chapters

  • "Homeric ἄρα: An (in)consequential particle," Classical Philology 113: 241-54 (2018)
  • "Verbal aspect and the Greek future: ἕξω and σχήσω," Mnemosyne 69: 597-627 (2016)
  • "Lexical aspect (Aktionsart)" and "Verbal valency" in Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, ed. G. Giannakis et al. (Brill, 2014)
  • "The temporal characteristics of the historical present in Thucydides," in The Historical Present in Thucydides: Semantics and Narrative Function, ed. J. Lallot, A. Rijksbaron, B. Jacquinod, and M. Buijs (Brill, 2011)
  • "Jewish and Christian Greek," in Companion to the Ancient Greek Language, ed. E. J. Bakker (Blackwell, 2010)
  • "Greek particles: Just a literary phenomenon?" in Discourse Cohesion in Ancient Greek, ed. Gerry Wakker and Stéphanie Bakker (Brill, 2009)
  • "The spatial use of ana and kata with the accusative in Homer," Glotta 82: 70-95 (2006)


  • review of Greek Interjections: Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics, L. Nordgren (BMCR 2016.11.17)
  • review of Early Greek Relative Clauses, P. Probert (Classical Review 66(1): 1-3 (2016))
  • review of Entre conjonction, connecteur et particule: le cas de πε en grec ancien, D. Muchnová (Gnomon 86: 264-6 (2014))
  • review of Bilingual Notaries in Hellenistic Egypt: A Study of Greek as a Second Language, M. Vierros (The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, 50: 343-8 (2013))
  • review of Latin Embedded Clauses: The Left Periphery, L. Dancakert (BMCR 2012.12.49)
  • review of Etymological Dictionary of Greek, 2 vols., ed. R. Beekes (New England Classical Journal 38(1): 49-52 (2011))
  • review of Greek Prepositions: From Antiquity to the Present, P. Bortone (Linguist List 22.728)
  • review of The Language of Literature: Linguistic Approaches to Classical Texts, ed. R. J. Allan and M. Buijs (Mnemosyne 63: 492-7 (2010))
  • review of The Non-Literary Latin Letters: A Study of Their Syntax and Pragmatics, H. Halla-aho (The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47: 323-7 (2010))
  • review of Word Order in Greek Tragic Dialogue, H. Dik (Gnomon 81: 481-4 (2009)
  • review of The Moods of Homeric Greek, J. Willmott (Classical Journal Online 2009.04.01)
  • review of The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction, 3rd edn, A. Rijksbaron (BMCR 2008.02.24)
  • review of Suppletion und Defektivität im griechischen Verbum, D. Kölligan (BMCR 2007.08.20)


I was an undergraduate at Rice University (B.A. 1997 in Classics and German). I then went to graduate school in England at the University of Cambridge (M.Phil. 1998, Ph.D. 2002). I then taught at Rice for two years, before returning to Trinity College, Cambridge, for a four-year research fellowship. I joined the department here in Charlottesville in 2007.