How do I tell Ancient from Modern Greek

I just got my hands on a copy of a comic that is cataloged as being a translation into Ancient Greek. It came in a deal that included another Alix comic in Latin. Although this one is supposed to be in Ancient Greek, squinting at the various paragraphs the comic is sandwiched with I find the mention of ‘ancien’ in whatever form mostly lacking. There is a paragraph which includes the words “a la traduction en grec ancien de l’ouvrage <<ALIX, L’ENFANT GREC>> de J. Martin…” There was also a bit that I’m sure means “the language of Plato”. So, I’m pretty sure this is the old stuff, but I’m baffled at how I would tell if I didn’t find such a note, and why the editors saw so little need to qualify the description of the Greek as ancient.

I mean, short of actually learning Ancient Greek, of course. I mean, I’ll get around to it. But I though surely somebody here could give me the nutshell version.

This guy, discussing the pronunciation differences between ancient and modern forms of the language seems to suggest that modern Greeks can more or less read the old stuff, just with a pronunciation that would have been unrecognizable to their ancestors. So, the text would look the same? And the diacriticals? What gives?

You could read this Wikipedia article on the History of Greek–and the referred to articles on Ancient and Modern Greek:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Greek

The title sure looks like Classical Greek to me. I don’t know if it’s also good modern Greek.

Well, that fills in some detail that suggest why modern Greeks may be able to read Attic, that is, because of a somewhat successful attempt at standardization. But doesn’t tell me how to look at a piece of writing and know whether it’s modern or ancient.

Using Perseus to get the characters right (ὁ Ἀθηναῖος παῖς) I was able to get Google Translate to translate it from Modern Greek to English (The Athenian Son).

Do Modern Greeks pronounce the names of their ancient historical figures (Plato, Socrates, Leonidas, etc.) the same way as they were pronounced in antiquity?

And is there a reference somewhere the will teach me just what those pronunciations are? Did Plato’s name phonetically sound like “PLAY-toe”?

Aside from pronunciation, there are two other clues in texts:

  1. Modern Greek has abandoned the grave and circumflex accents; all accents are marked as acute, and a diaresis mark is used when a vowel collision affects the accent. Breathing marks (rough and smooth) are also gone; Greeks just “know” when a word starting with a vowel is aspirated (note that a lot of on-line Greek readers just ignore these marks anyway).

  2. If the text lacks diacritical marks, note that dipthongs are very rare in Modern Greek. The ancient dipthongs ηυ and υι, for example, are almost completely gone (the ancient greek word υιός “son” is nowadays γιος).

“PlatO” is a customary latinization. More accurate would be “PlatoN.” Similarly “AlexandeR” v “AlexandrOS” (no, I do not know Greek; all this thanks to reading Mary Renault).

Well, that would seem to distinguish them pretty reliably. The comic I have does have breathers, though the circumflexes have the form more of macrons or of tildas, but are recognizable as not not diacritics. Thanks, that’s a big help.