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Free Font Download: New Athena Unicode

New Athena Unicode is a freeware multilingual font distributed by the Society for Classical Studies. It follows the Unicode standard (version 6/7) and includes characters for English and Western European languages, polytonic Greek, Coptic, Old Italic, and Demotic Egyptian transliteration (and Arabic transliteration), as well as metrical symbols and other characters used by classical scholars and some required by medievalists and Byzantinists. New Athena Unicode is a "smart font" that includes OpenType ligatures allowing the display of precomposed combined characters not recognized by Unicode but needed by scholars. (For more details see below.)

LICENSE: The TrueType version of Athenian font and the TrueType version of New Athena Unicode font have long been made available to all as freeware to facilitate communication on the internet. They may be used in digital or print publication without further permission from the Society for Classical Studies (formerly the American Philological Association). The font is now offered under an Open Font License, applying both to its .ttf format and to the .woff format provided for web developers. The current license may be read in a PDF in the download package. For more details about the Open Font License see The name "New Athena Unicode" is reserved, and any modified version of the font produced in accordance with the Open Font License must use a different name.

PLEASE NOTE: downloading and installing this font is NOT the only thing you need to do to type Unicode Greek. In addition to a font including polytonic Greek characters (fonts of this kind are already present in a standard installation of Mac OS X or Windows), one needs to activate a keyboard that inputs polytonic Greek. For keyboards, the GreekKeys 2015 package is one possibility (and contains features needed by many scholars), but for basic usage or a few words only it may be possible simply to use what is already included in your OS (see the FAQ pages on this site for more information).


LATEST VERSION: June 7, 2018, version 5.005; download the .ttf version by clicking here. (For web developers, download the .woff version by clicking here.)

PREVIOUS VERSION: July 12, 2015, version 5.002; download the .ttf version by clicking here. (For web developers, download the .woff version by clicking here.)


All the SCS GreekKeys Unicode fonts contain smart font features defined in accordance with the OpenType standard. Two types of features are included.

The ccmp (glyph composition/decomposition) feature gives rules for replacing various sequences of decomposed code points for separate glyphs with a single glyph (even though the underlying data will still contain the separate glyphs). The use of ccmp in v. 5 of New Athena Unicode and v. 2 of the other three fonts replaces the use of the similar liga feature of previous versions: substitutions defined by ccmp tables act more automatically, without requiring the user to hunt for a setting to enable ligatures in the document.

For example, the sequence U+03b1, U+0306, U+0313, U+0301 (alpha, combining breve, combining smooth breathing, combining acute accent), without a substitution, would appear as a jumble of diacritics poorly placed or overlapping on top of small alpha. That is what will appear with most fonts. In the ccmp able, this sequence is defined so to be represented by a single precomposed glyph in which the combining elements are correctly placed. But the four codepoints are still in the textual data, and if you use the delete/backspace key repeatedly, then the glyph will first be replaced by alpha with breve and smooth, then by alpha with breve, then by alpha, and finally will be completed deleted. In contrast, if you input the same precomposed glyph using the PUA code point U+eb0c, then a single use of the delete key will remove the glyph. For more about the precomposed glyphs and PUA code points in New Athena Unicode, see the document FindCharacterNAU.pdf. This document contains lists of PUA characters and explains how to use the cmap listing (NAU5cmap.txt).

As of 2015 you can expect most applications to interpret and act on the ccmp instructions. This is certainly true of the word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software in the major office suites, such as MS Office for Mac OS X or for Windows 7, 8, 10, and Apache OpenOffice for both platforms. The substitutions also work in most standard modern browsers (that is, provided that the web page specifies the particular font, or the user sets the particular font to be used by default). In addition, they work in Apple TextEdit, MS WordPad, and Mellel word processor and should work in Apple Pages.

The aalt (access all alternatives) feature gives rules for allowing a choice among the various treatments of capital vowels with adscript/subscript iota in the fonts. The fonts present by default the type of glyphs with a full-size small iota adjacent to a capital vowel (or a capital iota adjacent to a capital vowel in the form without any diacritic). An application could provide access to a typography palette in which you can change this default to one of the other choices (capital vowel with subscript or capital vowel with adscript iota of reduced size). Suppport for this feature is rare in standard applications. (One application in which the choice among versions of iota subscript with capital vowel is accessble is TextEdit: use the Typography… command under the gear icon on the Fonts panel.)

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