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Greek reader reviews

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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:37 pm

Reply, part 2.

So here's my candidate for another reader. It's unabridged text from ancient authors, without grammatical or linguistic help, yet it occurs to me in some ways it is an ideal bridge from preparatory Greek and Latin to the real thing. I'm speaking of Edelstein and Edelstein's Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies.

For those unfamiliar with this work, as I was until quite recently, here's a brief description. Ludwig and Emma Edelstein were a man and a wife team. On the personal side, they were German Jews who got out of Nazi Germany in time and ended up at John Hopkins in Baltimore. A few years after the war, Ludwig accepted a coveted position in the classics department at Berkeley, but when he got there he immediately lost the job because he refused to sign the new loyalty oath required by the Board of Regents (one of eighteen out of a total of eight hundred faculty members). So I immediately like the guy.

He and his wife published Asclepius in 1945, in two volumes. The first volume collected virtually all the known ancient literary and epigraphical references to Asclepius - 861 to be exact, most of them Greek, but a good dose of Latin too. The testimonies range from one sentence to about two pages maximum. Each was given an English translation. They are conveniently and instructively grouped under the categories LEGEND, DESCENDANTS, DEIFICATION AND DIVINE NATURE, MEDICINE, CULT, IMAGES, and SANCTUARIES. There is an Index Locorum, so you can easily find the full editions from which the testimonies are taken. The second volume presented the Edelsteins' interpretation. It is considered a landmark study. The two volumes were combined in a 1998 paperback edition with a new Introduction that is available new on Amazon for $35.80, less for used.

As a "reader," here's what I think it has to offer:

    + For those who want "real" Greek and Latin rather than "crap" (and I hope I made it clear in my earlier reply, I've nothing against "crap"!), this is it.

    + The testimonies cover a wide range of authors, historical periods, genres, and styles. As such it is an excellent introduction to the vast array of Greek writing.

    + Within the categories I described, there is repetition of theme, narrative, and vocabulary that has a real reinforcing value as far as learning both the language and the subject matter. For example, the first category, LEGEND, begins with nine biographical accounts. The first is the first 58 lines of from Pindar's third Pythian. The second is the relevant part of Ovid's Metamorphoses concerning the Raven and the Crow. Then Apollodorus's Bibliotheca, Diodorus Siculus, Theodoretus, Cornutus, Pausanias, Cyrillus, and Lactantius' Divinae Institutiones. I wasn't especially familiar with the myth, and I can't claim that my Greek is fluent enough to read Pindar as if it were the daily newspaper, so I had to spend some time with the Pindar. My rule for this particular project is that I don't look up any word in the dictionary. I use the English translation as necessary and just make sure I understand the grammatical structures (you know, like who or what is the subject and stuff like that). Then on to Ovid. What a difference in style! By now I understand the outlines of the myth from Pindar, and I can spot the variances - as such, this is also a pretty good introduction to mythology and the fact that there are usually many versions of the story. I realize from Ovid's account one fundamental mistake I made in interpreting Pindar's. Etc.

    + While honing your Greek and Latin reading skills, you are taking a deep dive into one of the most important aspects of Greek and Graeco-Roman religion and medicine. Isn't this what it's all about?
In my own case, there have been two other benefits:

    + The final testimony (no. 121) in the category LEGEND is the story in ps.-Eratosthenes about how the Snake Carrier (Ophiucus) became a constellation identified by some as Asclepius. This made me remember to go back to Bedwere's reading (no. 6) of the Katasterismi.

    + Having read the testimonies for MEDICINE and incubation, I have set up a little Asclepieion in my bedroom, and I believe Asclepius has visited my dreams on at least two occasions and cured me of my illness.

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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:34 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:In my experience, first, there's what I call one's "OCT moment." I don't care how you've learned the grammar, the minimally indispensable vocabulary, or whether you've worked your way through one or one thousand pieces of "crap." There is still an inevitable and unavoidable gap between that and what you are going to experience when you finally take the plunge and for the first time turn to page one of an Oxford Classical Text or Teubner, with nothing on the printed page to help you except a critical apparatus. With minor exceptions, ancient Latin and Greek are, as Mary Beard asserts, difficult! What did you expect? But you know what? So what! You set out to learn ancient Greek because you passionately want to read <fill in the blank> in the original. It's going to be difficult at first. If you're fortunate enough to be able to do intensive reading over a protracted period of time, of course it gets better. But I totally reject the comparison between modern and ancient literature. Ancient literature is always going to be difficult. Take the plunge. It's worth it. Language is present in a piece of work like the sea in a single drop.


I emphatically don't accept that leaning an ancient language is fundamentally different from learning a modern language. Language arises from our genes and there has not been significant evolution in the last 2000 years to make ancient languages out of reach. Fundamentally the feeling I have experienced when I start to read a Ancient Greek text that is too difficult is no different from that which I experienced reading SerboCroat texts. The difference is that with SerboCroat I had the option of switching to a text that was easier. Then after reading easier texts for a while I was able to return to the more difficult text and I was at a loss as to what had made the text so hard.
The problem is that for Ancient Greek there are not enough stepping stones for someone like me. I actually agree that the jump in i.e. sink or swim method is a good one. Unless you try texts that are a struggle you don't learn. But if you drown you make no progress. No amount of notes or help will do any good. Once you drown in a text you make zero progress and I do mean zero. The only solution is to go to easier texts that don't drown you until you have improved sufficiently to try again and not drown. The reason why I have realized it is impossible for me to learn Ancient Greek is that there is a leap in difficulty which is too difficult for me to cross. That ravine for me isn't between text books and Oxford Classical texts, it is between the basic text books and easy stories like volume one of Athenaze and lightly adapted Greek. Every time in the past that I have found a textbook or reader that seemed to be right for me I have got so far until I hit a what-the-***-happened-there point. My explanation is that that there is such deep hostility towards anything that is not from the extant texts so even those who do offer specially written Greek are so embarrassed at having to do so that they graduate to Greek that is close to the extant texts with indecent speed.

The fact that you who do not yourself share that hostility to specially written Ancient Greek use the term fake-Greek seems to me to confirm how entrenched that attitude is.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:57 pm

daivid, you wrote
I emphatically don't accept that learning an ancient language is fundamentally different from learning a modern language.

Since you repeatedly insist you haven't learned an ancient language (to wit, Greek), I'm not sure, logically, how you would know. But be that as it may ...

What my experience rejects (and I'm only speaking for myself) is not the equivalence of LEARNING, say, Portuguese and ancient Greek, it's the equivalency of difficulty in what you read in them. I can illustrate with two books I am currently reading, a 2011 work by Rose and Gary Neeleman called Trilhos na Selva (Tracks in the Forest) and the (date?) work by (author?) called On Ancient Medicine (Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς) in the Hippocratic Corpus.

A decade or so ago I taught myself enough Brazilian Portuguese to be able to read (with a lot of help from the dictionary) the lyrics of a music I love, Brazilian popular music. I had enough of Latin and other Romance languages that this wasn't difficult. Following Kató Lomb's beautiful advice - Language is present in a piece of work like the sea in a single drop - I read one work of prose to solidify my modest acquisition, Helena Jobim's biography of her late brother (Antonio Carlos Jobim), Um Homen Illuminado, looking up a helluva lot of words as one must always do initially.

A friend of mine who is native German but who spent years in Brazil and now in the U.S. as a reporter for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and who knows my love of Brazilian music and of dabbling in Portuguese lent me Trilhos na Selva over Thanksgiving. The book tells the story of the construction of what came to be known as the "Devil's Railroad" (a ferrovia do diabo) along the Madeira and Mamoré rivers in the Amazon at the beginning of the twentieth century, in order to get natural rubber out to Brazil's Atlantic coast ports and to the U.S. and European markets. The story is very similar to the Panama Canal, especially in the horrendous number of deaths among the laborers working under the direction of mostly U.S. engineers.

Now I had known nothing about this. But there's lots of help. The back and inside covers, the authors' bio (Gary Neeleman first went to Brazil as a Latter Day Saints missionary and then as a reporter for United Press International), the table of contents, a guest writer's introduction - they all sufficiently described the book's subject matter, it's interest, it's sources, it's organization. As does in abbreviated fashion a Wikipedia article on the Madeira-Mamoré railroad. And while I knew nothing about this particular story, it turns out I have enough relevant and intersecting historical, geographical, and cultural knowledge to limp through the book, looking up words (only) when I feel it is necessary, and to be able to understand (and enjoy) what I'm reading and to converse about it intelligently.

Now I'm enjoying Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς also, but it's a totally different reading experience. It's a labor of love, but ... it's difficult! There's no publisher's back cover, author's intro, table of contents to help me out. There's a text we have in twenty one manuscripts, along with some indirect and parallel witnesses, with the usual abundance of textual variants and history of emendations, some significant. The Wikipedia article (yes, there is one!) says "In chapters 1–19 the author responds to the supporters of the hypothesis theory of medicine." I have no idea who these supporters were or what "the hypothesis theory of medicine" is; this only tells me that the author (whoever it is) has an agenda and that, in organizing my reading, I should think of chapters 1-19 as a unit.

Until now, I have not made a study of ancient Greek medicine. The point is, it takes study. Ancient writing provides a veil through which we can get a glimpse of ancient civilization, if we really work at it. We have no relevant and intersecting knowledge ("cultural literacy," if you will) that allows us to sit down and read Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς and comprehend it the way I can, for example, read in Portuguese the story of an early twentieth century railroad built in the Amazon.

I am using Jacque Jouanna's Les Belles Lettres edition and Martin J. Schiefsky's Brill edition, each with translation and commentary (and in Jouanna's edition, a critical apparatus). Jouanna and Schiefsky did not get to the point where they could write in an informed way about Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς simply by dint of becoming "fluent" in ancient Greek. They had to read a lot of ancient Greek (and Latin; whether they regarded themselves as "fluent" I have no idea), to be sure. But they also had to read a lot of scholarship and to write and think a lot. And I'm not at the point where I can simply read Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς and get more than a superficial amount out of it without Jouanna and Schiefsky, and it's not because I can't read ancient Greek.

But here's the thing: Neither can anyone else! (Yes, now I switch gears and go from speaking for myself to making a claim about absolutely everyone else :lol: .) I can pretty much guarantee you that Jouanna and Schiefsky, when they read Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς for the first time in their young careers, wrestled just as much with its first sentence (both its construction and its interpretation) as I did and you will:
Ὁκόσοι μὲν ἐπεχείρησαν περὶ ἰητρικῆς λέγειν ἢ γράφειν ὑπόθεσιν αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοῖσιν ὑποθέμενοι τῷ λόγῳ θερμὸν ἢ ψυχρὸν ἢ ὑγρὸν ἢ ξηρὸν ἢ ἄλλο τι ὃ ἂν θέλωσιν, ἐς βραχὺ ἄγοντες τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς αἰτίης τοῖσιν ἀνθρώποισι τῶν νούσων τε καὶ τοῦ θανάτου καὶ πᾶσι τὴν αὐτὴν ἓν ἢ δύο ὑποθέμενοι, ἐν πολλοῖσι μὲν καὶ οἶσι λέγουσι καταφανεῖς εἰσιν ἁμαρτάνοντες, μάλιστα δὲ ἄξιον μέμφασθαι, ὅτι ἀμφὶ τέχνης ἑούσης ᾗ χρέωνταί τε πάντες ἐπὶ τοῖσι μεγίστοισι καὶ τιμῶσι μάλιστα τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς χειροτέχνας καὶ δημιούργους.

Trilhos na Selva and Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς: Not the same reading experience. Anyone who thinks that the experience of reading most works of ancient Greek with anything more than the most surface-level comprehension is or can become or should be like reading a modern newspaper is, in my maybe not so humble opinion, laboring under an illusion. (And anyone who doesn't try is missing one of life's great pleasures.)
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:55 pm

Previously I nominated Edelstein & Edelstein as an (admittedly unorthodox) bridge reader, for those who want actual ancient text, unabridged but of manageable difficulty, and who want to actually learn something about the ancient world in the process. Since a related Textkit topic (daivid's dream) has mentioned the Hayes-Nimis intermediate readers, let me also suggest Hippocrates' On Airs, Waters, and Places & The Hippocratic Oath: An Intermediate Greek Reader (2013) in the Hayes-Nimis series.

This is the only entry in the series I'm familiar with, but I assume the formats are largely the same. In this case, though, a brief introduction includes the major differences between Ionic (Hippocrates) and Attic Greek you'll need to know (e.g., ὅκως / ὅπως), and there is a glossary of medical terms in the back in addition to the standard alphabetized glossary. In the back there's also a list of all the verbs from the text that have some kind of irregularity (the list is taken from Smyth). In the main body, each page has (1) unabridged text, and beneath that (2) an alphabetized list glossing almost all the vocabulary on the page, with very simple English definitions - the same words reappear whereever they reoccur -, and beneath that (3) some elementary comments on particular points of grammar and translation (e.g., "ἥτις (sc. πόλις): 'whatever city lies' "). In addition, fourteen fenced off sections are distributed throughout the main body, eleven on grammatical topics (e.g., Agency and Means) and three on special topics (e.g., how directions are expressed in Hippocrates).

In their introduction, the authors assert "Hippocrates' On Airs, Waters, and Places is a great text for intermediate readers. The simple sentence structure makes it easy to read ... ." Overall, I think that's a fair assessment. In addition, it helps that (1) the author provides a very clearly articulated plan of exposition that he sticks to, and (2) he flags all transitions within that plan ('ok, now we've covered that, so now I'm going to ...'). By the way, I say "author," because we don't know if this or anything else in the Hippocratic Corpus was actually written by the historical Hippocrates, about whom we know almost nothing.

In addition, the subject matter is relatively easy for us to grasp, at least superficially: To wit, the first half of the work teaches the effects of the seasons, of the prevalent winds, and of the different types of water sources on the health of a given city's inhabitants (the premise is that the student physician the work is intended for will be itinerant). In the second half, which is of a totally different nature, the author addresses the question, what are the physical and ethical differences between Europe and Asia, and what are their causes (this is considered the second famous ethnography from the ancient world, along with Herodotus).

For the more intense students of antiquity who might want to milk AWP for more than the practice of parsing relatively easy sentences (I underscore relatively) and imbibing superficially easy subject matter (I underscore superficially), as fyi, I am in the process of video recording the first half of AWP. Here are a few words of explanation:

    + This is part of a larger project that uses Comenius's Janua Linguarum Reserata and Orbis Sensalium Pictus to build Latin and Greek vocabulary simultaneously. Consistent with that purpose, I am recording both the Greek text of AWP and a sixteenth-century Latin translation.

    + The AWP is meant to be a break at a certain point in the Comenius "curriculum," so the video has occasional flashbacks to Comenian material the "student" has presumably previously learned ('Remember when you learned <this word> in the Janua topic De metallibus / Περὶ τῶν μετάλλων?').

    + I am targeting the intermediate reader who is interested in more than a dumbed-down experience. So, for example, at the end of the second chapter/video (11 separate videos for each of the eleven chapters constituting the first half of AWP), I give an overview of the AWP's textual history (Habent sua fata libelli) and some examples of variant readings in the text ranging from the inconsequential to the highly significant. I'm hoping I've done this with a light touch and made it somewhat interesting. Also, for example, I introduce into the discussion relevant quotes from other works in the Hippocratic Corpus, from Galen, and from Greek literature in general (I am getting most of this from Jacque Jouanna's commentary in his Les Belles Lettres edition). I end some of the chapters with a brief foray into other aspects of Greek medicine, for example, Asclepius.
Here is the link to the playlist on my YouTube channel. At year's end I have done the first two chapters, which comprise the author's introduction, and the four chapters that follow on the effects of prevalent winds. I expect to finish the remaining chapters, three on types of water sources and two on the seasons, in Jan-Feb (2018).

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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby mwh » Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:00 pm

I can pretty much guarantee you that Jouanna and Schiefsky, when they read Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς for the first time in their young careers, wrestled just as much with its first sentence (both its construction and its interpretation) as I did and you will:
Ὁκόσοι μὲν ἐπεχείρησαν περὶ ἰητρικῆς λέγειν ἢ γράφειν ὑπόθεσιν αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοῖσιν ὑποθέμενοι τῷ λόγῳ θερμὸν ἢ ψυχρὸν ἢ ὑγρὸν ἢ ξηρὸν ἢ ἄλλο τι ὃ ἂν θέλωσιν, ἐς βραχὺ ἄγοντες τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς αἰτίης τοῖσιν ἀνθρώποισι τῶν νούσων τε καὶ τοῦ θανάτου καὶ πᾶσι τὴν αὐτὴν ἓν ἢ δύο ὑποθέμενοι, ἐν πολλοῖσι μὲν καὶ οἶσι λέγουσι καταφανεῖς εἰσιν ἁμαρτάνοντες, μάλιστα δὲ ἄξιον μέμφασθαι, ὅτι ἀμφὶ τέχνης ἑούσης ᾗ χρέωνταί τε πάντες ἐπὶ τοῖσι μεγίστοισι καὶ τιμῶσι μάλιστα τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς χειροτέχνας καὶ δημιούργους.

What’s so very difficult about it? As I read it through I found only two minor points of difficulty (και οισι λεγουσι, where I’d have expected ὧν λεγουσι, and the lack of an explicit verb in the concluding οτι clause). It’s a fairly long sentence, to be sure, but it’s clearly articulated, the syntax is straightforward and sequential, and there’s no arcane or specialized vocabulary.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:15 pm

What’s so very difficult about it?

For you, nothing, which is great!

Some points where I expect people will have difficulty (and if I'm wrong, hallelujah!):

    + Yes, it's a fairly long sentence. This by itself seems to throw some people off. In my opinion, this is because they haven't learned or internalized the different plan of a Greek (or Latin) sentence. Maybe they need some remedial help, maybe they just need more practice. But I'm surprised at how many people that I thought knew Greek break down in the middle of a moderately lengthy sentence. (For me, this was a "turn off the TV" sentence. I realized I was going to have to read it slowly and with full concentration.)

    + Yes, just when maybe you think you've gotten the flow of the sentence -- first-person relative clause with participial phrases followed by independent clause #1: ὁκόσοι ... καταφανεῖς εἰσιν ἁμαρτάνοντες, followed by independent clause #2: μάλιστα δὲ ἄξιον μέμφασθαι -- you've got that ὅτι clause without an explicit verb, which in my first pass made me think maybe I'd missed something somewhere.

    + Also in that final clause, what's the import of ἑούσης? I'll buy Jouanna's explanation, those this wasn't obvious to me: "Le participe ἑούσης a son sens prégnant ... C'est un art qui existe réellement. [And another paragraph on the subject.]"

    + And in that final clause, how do you take καὶ τιμῶσι? Meaning, is the relative pronoun governed by χρέωνται understood to be repeated, now as a dative of respect, with καὶ τιμῶσι? Otherwise, doesn't καὶ τιμῶσι change the syntax?

    + Yes, καὶ οἶσι λέγουσι has stumped editors for several centuries. One emendation, for example, και⟨νοῖσι⟩ οἶσι. Another, drop καὶ. (Jouanna: "ce n'est pas un καὶ coordonnant, mais un καὶ adverbial intensif.")

    + My guess is that the meaning of the phrase ὑπόθεσιν αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοῖσιν ὑποθέμενοι τῷ λόγῳ θερμὸν ἢ ψυχρὸν ἢ ὑγρὸν ἢ ξηρὸν, or even recognition of it as a phrase (or, if you will, "sense-unit") will elude many people, for a variety of possible reasons. ὑπόθεσιν ὑποθέμενοι may strike one as peculiarly redundant. What exactly does he mean by ὑπόθεσιν? Since we have "hypothesis", and "hypothesis" will suffice to get you through your first pass at the sentence, maybe in that sense it isn't a specialized term. But in fact it is a highly specialized term. (Schiefsky: "The key term in the author's characterization of his opponents' method is ὑπόθεσις. English translators have generally rendered it by 'postulate' or 'assumption', but this is far from adequate to capture all the nuances of the term [and three pages of commentary follow!]. Jouanna: "L'emploi du terme dans le traité a été souvent étudié.") What are the precise meanings of αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοῖσιν and τῷ λόγῳ? Does the reader understand that θερμὸν etc. are predicates with ὑπόθεσιν and, if so, why the heck is he talking about hot and cold and wet and dry?
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:45 am

mwh wrote:
I can pretty much guarantee you that Jouanna and Schiefsky, when they read Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς for the first time in their young careers, wrestled just as much with its first sentence (both its construction and its interpretation) as I did and you will:
Ὁκόσοι μὲν ἐπεχείρησαν περὶ ἰητρικῆς λέγειν ἢ γράφειν ὑπόθεσιν αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοῖσιν ὑποθέμενοι τῷ λόγῳ θερμὸν ἢ ψυχρὸν ἢ ὑγρὸν ἢ ξηρὸν ἢ ἄλλο τι ὃ ἂν θέλωσιν, ἐς βραχὺ ἄγοντες τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς αἰτίης τοῖσιν ἀνθρώποισι τῶν νούσων τε καὶ τοῦ θανάτου καὶ πᾶσι τὴν αὐτὴν ἓν ἢ δύο ὑποθέμενοι, ἐν πολλοῖσι μὲν καὶ οἶσι λέγουσι καταφανεῖς εἰσιν ἁμαρτάνοντες, μάλιστα δὲ ἄξιον μέμφασθαι, ὅτι ἀμφὶ τέχνης ἑούσης ᾗ χρέωνταί τε πάντες ἐπὶ τοῖσι μεγίστοισι καὶ τιμῶσι μάλιστα τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς χειροτέχνας καὶ δημιούργους.

What’s so very difficult about it? As I read it through I found only two minor points of difficulty (και οισι λεγουσι, where I’d have expected ὧν λεγουσι, and the lack of an explicit verb in the concluding οτι clause). It’s a fairly long sentence, to be sure, but it’s clearly articulated, the syntax is straightforward and sequential, and there’s no arcane or specialized vocabulary.


It was difficult for me, but I have the feeling it may be less so in a few years. As it is I had to read through it a few times. Here’s my best guess for meaning.

Whoever has attempted to speak or write about medicine hypothesizing a diagnosis of their own by reason of heat or cold or wet or dry or whatever else they choose, giving in a few words the root cause to their patients of sickness and of death and for all their patients making the same one or two root causes the hypothesis, in most cases diagnosing such men they are revealed to be in error, and are certainly worthy of blame, because they practice an art which is utilized by all in the greatest times of need and an art in which all especially honor the competent hands-on practitioners and researchers.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby mwh » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:08 am

+ Yes, just when maybe you think you've gotten the flow of the sentence -- first-person relative clause with participial phrases followed by independent clause #1: ὁκόσοι ... καταφανεῖς εἰσιν ἁμαρτάνοντες, followed by independent clause #2: μάλιστα δὲ ἄξιον μέμφασθαι -- you've got that ὅτι clause without an explicit verb, which in my first pass made me think maybe I'd missed something somewhere.
(3rd-pers. not 1st, of course, and presumably μεμψασθαι not μεμφ-.) It’s helpful that the main clause starts εν πολλοισι μεν, signposting the upcoming δε clause. But yes the lack of explicit verb in the οτι clause might momentarily throw someone off balance.

+ Also in that final clause, what's the import of ἑούσης? I'll buy Jouanna's explanation, those this wasn't obvious to me: "Le participe ἑούσης a son sens prégnant ... C'est un art qui existe réellement. [And another paragraph on the subject.]"
That’s plainly right, surely, though I wouldn’t call it “pregnant,” rather existential.

+ And in that final clause, how do you take καὶ τιμῶσι? Meaning, is the relative pronoun governed by χρέωνται understood to be repeated, now as a dative of respect, with καὶ τιμῶσι? Otherwise, doesn't καὶ τιμῶσι change the syntax?
The τε after χρεωνται shows that the relative applies to τιμωσι too, though not necessarily with precisely the same function or even the same form.

+ Yes, καὶ οἶσι λέγουσι has stumped editors for several centuries. One emendation, for example, και⟨νοῖσι⟩ οἶσι. Another, drop καὶ. (Jouanna: "ce n'est pas un καὶ coordonnant, mais un καὶ adverbial intensif.")
I didn’t know this had puzzled others too. It must be wrong I think. και intensive won’t work, and dropping και is facile. και<νοισι> οισι is ingenious and fits well with the τεχνης εουσης bit. Could be right, or και<ν>οισι <α> λ-.??

+ My guess is that the meaning of the phrase ὑπόθεσιν αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοῖσιν ὑποθέμενοι τῷ λόγῳ θερμὸν ἢ ψυχρὸν ἢ ὑγρὸν ἢ ξηρὸν, or even recognition of it as a phrase (or, if you will, "sense-unit") will elude many people, for a variety of possible reasons. ὑπόθεσιν ὑποθέμενοι may strike one as peculiarly redundant. What exactly does he mean by ὑπόθεσιν? Since we have "hypothesis", and "hypothesis" will suffice to get you through your first pass at the sentence, maybe in that sense it isn't a specialized term. But in fact it is a highly specialized term. (Schiefsky: "The key term in the author's characterization of his opponents' method is ὑπόθεσις. English translators have generally rendered it by 'postulate' or 'assumption', but this is far from adequate to capture all the nuances of the term [and three pages of commentary follow!]. Jouanna: "L'emploi du terme dans le traité a été souvent étudié.") What are the precise meanings of αὐτοὶ ἑωυτοῖσιν and τῷ λόγῳ? Does the reader understand that θερμὸν etc. are predicates with ὑπόθεσιν and, if so, why the heck is he talking about hot and cold and wet and dry?
υποθεσιν υποθεσθαι cognate accusative standard Greek. υποθεσις of what’s posited common in philosophical writings (think of Plato’s ανυποθετος αρχη), and its meaning clear enough from context. The sandwiched αυτοι εαυτοισιν makes the various choices specific to their various proponents. Hot/cold etc. a dig at presocratics.

I’d have thought καὶ πᾶσι τὴν αὐτὴν ἓν ἢ δύο ὑποθέμενοι might throw inexperienced readers. — as I now see it threw Joel. Joel, I'll leave it to Randy to correct your attempt.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:00 am

I’d have thought καὶ πᾶσι τὴν αὐτὴν ἓν ἢ δύο ὑποθέμενοι might throw inexperienced readers. — as I now see it threw Joel. Joel, I'll leave it to Randy to correct your attempt.


Please someone do. That's the only reason I translate anything.

πᾶσι -- seems to go back to τοῖσιν ἀνθρώποισι
τὴν αὐτὴν -- τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς αἰτίης (but maybe νούσων or just αἰτίης, which are all fem.?)
ἓν ἢ δύο -- back to the list of θερμὸν ἢ ψυχρὸν ἢ...

ὑποθέμενοι seems to take two objects

So literally, "positing the same root cause as one or two things (heat, cold, wet, dry, etc.) for all (sick and dying) people"
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:26 pm

mwh, thanks for your incisive observations, and Joel, thanks for your game (and largely correct) attempt at translation. A few miscellaneous comments:

(3rd-pers. not 1st, of course, and presumably μεμψασθαι not μεμφ-.)

Yes and yes. Thanks for the corrections. (I have a touch of the flu, which I will blame for my carelessness as well as for ruining my New Year's Eve plans. Religion has failed me: I slept two nights in my Asclepieion, but the god did not appear in my dreams. And my regular doctor's diagnosis that I am suffering from a humoral imbalance of moist phlegm isn't doing me any good either :( .)

That’s plainly right, surely, though I wouldn’t call it “pregnant,” rather existential.

Sure, I'll go with "existential." But the import of ἐούσης and why he didn't just say ἀμφὶ τέχνης ᾗ χρέωνταί τε I don't think was crystal clear to me until I read Jouanna's comment.

The τε after χρεωνται shows that the relative applies to τιμωσι too, though not necessarily with precisely the same function or even the same form.

That's the conclusion I also came to, for the same reason, but only after analyzing it for a while.

υποθεσιν υποθεσθαι cognate accusative standard Greek. υποθεσις of what’s posited common in philosophical writings (think of Plato’s ανυποθετος αρχη), and its meaning clear enough from context. The sandwiched αυτοι εαυτοισιν makes the various choices specific to their various proponents. Hot/cold etc. a dig at presocratics.

This is really my point! You can say this, not because you are fluent in ancient Greek (though you are), but because you've acquired, with lots of reading and study over time, a "cultural literacy" that was otherwise not a part of your environment, unlike the cultural literacy that informs your reading in an L2 of a modern short story or essay or newspaper article.

Joel, the construction of ὑπόθεσιν ὑποθέμενοι θερμὸν ... is "having postulated heat (etc.) as their ὑπόθεσιν (i.e., as the underlying foundation of their medical theories)". Maybe you see that; I couldn't tell for sure from your translation or your (incorrect) statement that ὑποθέμενοι seems to take two objects.

πᾶσι goes back to νούσων or more broadly to νούσων τε καὶ τοῦ θανάτου meaning (as it is translated in all three modern translations I am aware of) "in all cases". τὴν αὐτὴν (sc. αἰτίην, or possibly, as you suggest, the phrase τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς αἰτίης). Yes, the neuters ἓν ἢ δύο go back to θερμὸν (etc.).

To restate my thesis:

I'm all for Comprehensible Input and the myriad other forms of "natural language" teaching of Latin and Greek. I feel my own Latin and Greek are better for them. But I think the notion that, if I just build up enough fluency (by reading, for example, lots of crap :lol: !), I will one day be able to read Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς with the same facility that, in my example, I can read Trilhos na Selva in Portuguese, is a fallacy. There are too many reasons why an ancient work is simply much less easy to penetrate. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try and that we don't get better. I think the best way to do that is what mwh recounted much earlier in this thread: jump in and do as much intensive reading of unabridged, unglossed text as time and circumstances permit.

Joel, you predict that in a few years you will find text like the one we've been looking at less difficult. I'm sure that will happen. What do you see as your strategy for getting there? (I'm trying to get there too!)
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:01 pm

Strategies? I try a lot of different things. I read a fair amount. I’m using cloze deletion flashcards to memorize the principle parts from the verbs in the Dickinson list (ie., typing out the missing part each time). I also have a cloze deletion deck set up for cardinals/ordinals/etc. I’m going through Blackie’s colloquial primer and making sure that I can backtranslate everything from the English fluently. (Every time I miss a sentence, I go back two sentences and start from there.) I read aloud to my daughter, and sing to her (songs from Rouse’s Chanties). I make recordings of what I’ve read and listen to them. I’ve introduced Herodotus/Plutarch/Homer in English translation to my audible playlist, so that I can get good familiarity with the stories and then use that to pick up the Greek faster. I’ve also started listening to Lattimore’s translation of the Iliad, while I read it in Greek at the same time, noting wherever I have vocabulary problems. I use a Greek Bible in Church and so follow along with all of the English readings in Greek.

6 months ago I would have had a different list for you. The Blackie work has replaced something similar that I was doing with Sidgwick, for example. I don’t have a reading group at the moment. I’ve dropped my various (non-cloze) flashcard decks built from Morwood. I’ve laid aside massive-cloze deletion of paragraphs of text for the moment.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:45 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:daivid, you wrote
I emphatically don't accept that learning an ancient language is fundamentally different from learning a modern language.

Since you repeatedly insist you haven't learned an ancient language (to wit, Greek), I'm not sure, logically, how you would know. But be that as it may ...


But my post did go on to stress one key difference between Ancient Greek and modern languages. Modern languages have in their corpus lots of texts that are written to be easy to read. If these ever existed in Ancient Greek they no longer do.

But they could.

There is a long tradition of translating modern English texts into Ancient Greek. Unfortunately it is a kind of Olympic sport in which the aim is to produce as close an imitation of the works that survive as possible. that imitation includes the extremely long and complex sentences and very diverse vocabulary of the extant texts.

You yourself seem to agree with me to the extent you give your reading of Trilhos na Selva as being one of the key things that allowed you to acquire Portuguese. Yes the cultural distance is a problem but every year the Gaisford Prize is awarded for a modern text (in this case English) being translated into Ancient Greek. I have taken the trouble to check out those texts but the prize winning essays have such long and convoluted sentences that they at least as hard as Thucydides if not harder. But people who can translate modern English into complex and difficult Ancient Greek are quite capable of writing simple Ancient Greek were they to so wish. For reasons unclear to me they do not so wish.

There is a need for graded readers and I do mean graded readers as the few that do exist tend to only a bit easier than the extant texts and that for me and I suspect for many others who gave up ancient Greek a lot quicker than me is too hard. I continue to argue for that in the hope that some of those for who have the kind of competence that enables them to win prizes like the Gaisford might think that writing easy Greek, which can help a large number of beginners, is at least as worthwhile as writing Greek that only a tiny number of people are capable of reading.

And I haven't just sat around waiting for that to happen. I have attempted to write easy Greek even though I'm not qualified and I did spend many hours doing an ancient Greek online game. However, really anything I do can have value only with huge input from others for whom the whole idea of easy Greek is dubious at best.

So really all I can do is keep arguing for graded readers in the hope that at lest one or two of those who do have the competence to write them start to suspect that to do so might have some value.

mwh wrote:What’s so very difficult about it? As I read it through I found only two minor points of difficulty (και οισι λεγουσι, where I’d have expected ὧν λεγουσι, and the lack of an explicit verb in the concluding οτι clause). It’s a fairly long sentence, to be sure, but it’s clearly articulated, the syntax is straightforward and sequential, and there’s no arcane or specialized vocabulary.


Michael, you are phenomenal in your competence in Ancient Greek. Your one weakness is that you think you are normal and really can't comprehend why what was acquired so easily for you is difficult for others. You are brilliant Ancient Greek scholar. Please, please don't let modesty blind you to that fact.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:28 pm

Modern languages have in their corpus lots of texts that are written to be easy to read. If these ever existed in Ancient Greek they no longer do.

On the other hand, no ancient Greek or Latin author that I am aware of wrote with the intention of being difficult to read.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:17 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:
Modern languages have in their corpus lots of texts that are written to be easy to read. If these ever existed in Ancient Greek they no longer do.

On the other hand, no ancient Greek or Latin author that I am aware of wrote with the intention of being difficult to read.


Never mind there intentions - they are very difficult. On the other hand in modern languages there are texts that are intentionally written to be easy. In ancient Greek when someone writes with the intention of being easy their standard is the extant texts so the result is just difficult instead of extremely difficult.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:35 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:
Modern languages have in their corpus lots of texts that are written to be easy to read. If these ever existed in Ancient Greek they no longer do.

On the other hand, no ancient Greek or Latin author that I am aware of wrote with the intention of being difficult to read.

Ever heard about Thucydides...? I'm sure his writing is difficult on purpose, to seem more dignified. Of course he's nothing compared to some modern charlatans like Jacques Lacan (exposed in Sokal & Bricmont's book Impostures intellectuelles), whose opaque style masks the fact the that they probably don't have much to say at all.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:48 pm

Thucydides. Hmm, I'm sure I've heard of him. ... Oh yes, you mean that Athenian historian?

Well, you won't suck me into that debate, but if I ever see him in Hades, I'll ask him! I think, though, that he wrote wanting to be understood.

When I was in graduate school two centuries ago, one of the requirements for PhD candidacy was to read one Greek and one Latin author (or work of significant length) in their entirety. For Greek I chose Thucydides. It was a labor of love.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:52 pm

Don't take me wrong: I didn't think you'd never heard about Thucydides, that was a rhetorical move :D , and I don't think he was a charlatan, he wrote to say something – but he could have made his points more plainly. I'm sure he wrote the way he did to seem ever smarter and more important than he was, because that's the sort of thing human beings do. I took Lacan as an example, because he's an example of the same phenomenon taken to the extreme and beyond; I have serious doubts that Lacan never really had anything to say (not that I've seriously tried to find out, but that's precisely the reason people like him tend to get away with it – nobody reads him, not even those who pretend to).

I confess I've read only excerpts from Thucydides, since I've decided I want to read him in the original, and I need to be ready before I start!

If you meet Thucydides in Hades, he would of course deny it!
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby RandyGibbons » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:15 am

Oh that we will have a historian of Thucydidaean caliber to narrate current events in the American democracy.

One reason I probably managed to read all of Thucydides, or at least convince Professor (Alister) Cameron that I had, was that I must have had Rex Warner's translation for Penguin Classics virtually memorized. My dog-eared ($1.75) copy has had the s*** underlined, highlighted, chewed up and spit out of it, and it still sits there on my bookshelf literally within arms reach of me and my laptop.

I've been reading Greek medicine, and I sort of have it in my 2018 plans to read Thucydides' account of the plague once again in the original. Maybe we can compare notes later, unless my boat ride to Hades comes even faster than expected!
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