The Greek Legacy

Greece is the center of international attention every time we celebrate the Olympic Games, as they are the continuation of an ancient Hellenic tradition in honor of the gods of Olympus.  But what’s the origin of the Greek language?
The Greek languages form the Hellenic subfamily of the grand Indo-European family of languages.  It is the group of languages with the longest traceable historic development.  During the second millennium BC the first wave of people speaking Greek dialects arrived on the Greek peninsula and some islands of the Aegean Sea.  Homer referred to them as Achaeans and their language seems to be the base for what came to be known as the Ionic-Attic dialects.  Very little is known about the Pelasgian peoples, who inhabited the peninsula before the arrival of the Greeks.  Of the pre-Greek speakers the  -nth- and the -ss- group are still conserved, as in Knossos, Korinthos, Zakinthos, akantha (thorny bush), kyparissos (Cyprian).  Little is known about the Minoic inhabitants of Crete who left behind numerous inscriptions in Liner A, a language probably from outside the Indo-European family.
The Achaeans gave birth to the important Mycenaean civilization which flourished during the Bronze Age, stretching from 1500 BC to 1100 BC.  This culture developed Linear B, based on the non-Indo-European inscriptions of Linear A.  The languages of this civilization are known as the Arcado-Cypriot dialects.  In the 11th century BC the Minoic civilization reached its end due to the invasion of the Doric dialects that occupied the Peloponnesus and Eastern Greece.  Between the 9th and 8th centuries BC the Homeric poems were written, based on a previous oral tradition stretching all the way back to the Mycenaean era.  These poems present a mixture of Aeolian and Ionic dialects in a Phoenician-model alphabet.
The Attic dialect of Athens and a strong Ionic influence form the basis of Classic Greek, the language used in the literary flurry without paragon which would be carried out by the likes of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Sappho, Anacreon, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.
Around the beginning of the present era, Classic Greek had suffered certain phonetic changes and certain peculiarities had been eliminated that distinguished the Athenian variety, thus creating Common or Hellenistic Greek which was to be used by the authors of Alexandria and Byzantium.  During the Byzantine period certain phonetic changes occurred once more, resulting in the Byzantine Greek variety, the basis of Modern Greek.