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Polybius' Greek

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Polybius' Greek

Postby pster » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:41 pm

Polybius was writing in the first half of the second century BC (mostly while living in Rome but mostly for a Greek audience back home). What are the main differences between his Greek and Attic?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby daler » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:00 pm

I am also interested in this topic. I am learning Koine and wonder if I will have difficulty with non-biblical texts. I am mostly interested in Hellenistic sources such as Polybius and Plutarch. Should I shift to Attic? I have to say that while the new testament would be interesting to read, it is not my main goal for learning Greek.
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby Scribo » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:40 pm

The Greek is pretty Attic, shouldn't pose much of a problem to anyone familiar with Classical Greek anyway. After a few pages you'll get used to whatever you're unsure of anyway.


daler wrote:I am also interested in this topic. I am learning Koine and wonder if I will have difficulty with non-biblical texts. I am mostly interested in Hellenistic sources such as Polybius and Plutarch. Should I shift to Attic? I have to say that while the new testament would be interesting to read, it is not my main goal for learning Greek.


How odd, why learn Kini first then?
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby daler » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:59 pm

Haha, because I had the Koine book, mainly. It's a question I've had for awhile, though. I know Koine, is supposed to be the "Common" spoken after Alexander, but a LOT was written in Greek after Alexander. How come people only seem to mention the NT with Koine? Did Attic overlap with it? I'm interested in the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the Roman Republic. I've read that the lingua franca (I love using that term anachronistically) of the eastern empire was Koine. Is that true or would Attic still have been prevalent? I'm fascinated by the Ptolemies and Alexandria etc.
I guess this isn't a life or death decision for me, but it's just that almost ALL of the Koine instruction is geared to the NT and it's vocabulary. I imagine my secular interests might not be best served studying these books designed to teach the NT, but Attic intimidates me with it's reputation. Is Attic the best way to go to read late Greek authors?
so much confusion.
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby Scribo » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:50 pm

daler wrote:Haha, because I had the Koine book, mainly. It's a question I've had for awhile, though. I know Koine, is supposed to be the "Common" spoken after Alexander, but a LOT was written in Greek after Alexander. How come people only seem to mention the NT with Koine? Did Attic overlap with it? I'm interested in the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the Roman Republic. I've read that the lingua franca (I love using that term anachronistically) of the eastern empire was Koine. Is that true or would Attic still have been prevalent? I'm fascinated by the Ptolemies and Alexandria etc.
I guess this isn't a life or death decision for me, but it's just that almost ALL of the Koine instruction is geared to the NT and it's vocabulary. I imagine my secular interests might not be best served studying these books designed to teach the NT, but Attic intimidates me with it's reputation. Is Attic the best way to go to read late Greek authors?
so much confusion.


Well...define late Greek authors? I mean...are we including things like Erotokritos here? Still written in Greek...still written by peoples who ethnically identified as Romans.

The thing is, naturally Attic wasn't being used that late but people were still writing in it, Attic became the gold standard to which many people aspired to. So Procopios etc are easily decipherable if you know our Attic. On the other hand things like the Akritic songs are not. What are you interested in reading?

No Greek is bad, but you can be a little better prepared at the very least. Attic is usually the best bet btw unless you specifically want the bible for those very reasons.
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby daler » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:23 pm

oh NOW you're being pedantic. : ) I have little interest in anything after Byzantine Greek.

like, I posted originally. Hellenistic period. So... you're saying that the ideal was to emulate Attic by most people writing in Greek during that time. Now, I know most people writing latin in the middle ages were thinking they were trying to emulate golden age latin, but not always succeeding, hence people studying church latin more for reading texts from that time period.

You are implying to me that Attic was still closer to what people were writing in at the time than Koine.

If I want to read Polybius and Plutarch and Lucian, I should study Attic because their writing is closer to that than Koine?
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby Scribo » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:41 pm

daler wrote:oh NOW you're being pedantic. : ) I have little interest in anything after Byzantine Greek.

like, I posted originally. Hellenistic period. So... you're saying that the ideal was to emulate Attic by most people writing in Greek during that time. Now, I know most people writing latin in the middle ages were thinking they were trying to emulate golden age latin, but not always succeeding, hence people studying church latin more for reading texts from that time period.

You are implying to me that Attic was still closer to what people were writing in at the time than Koine.

If I want to read Polybius and Plutarch and Lucian, I should study Attic because their writing is closer to that than Koine?


Well it never hurts to study whatever you can. Hellenistic literature is a broad term...Kallimakhos is considerably more difficult than, say, Plutarch which is very easy going. I think Attic is definitely the way to go since, as I say, it was still the literary standard, provides a sounder philological base and..well gives you broader access. It's easy to pick up bits of the common dialect with the aid of a student commentary/having learnt Attic first then the other way around.

I don't think the relationship between Latin and its later emulative forms and Greek is in any way comparable, incidentally. Certainly not as early as the Hellenistic period.

Any of the books on this site should be a good start. If you're looking to spend some cash though the JACT Reading Greek is good, especially if you have some experience.
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby daler » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:44 pm

Thanks!
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby Damoetas » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:36 pm

I'll second what Scribo is saying: if you want to read Greek authors from the Hellenistic and Roman period, you should definitely learn Attic. Attic was the standard that most writers in that period were aiming for, even though they didn't always get very close to it. The deviations are usually simplifications; so you're better off if you learn the (slightly) more complicated and rigid rules of Attic first. Somewhat surprisingly, the later you get, the less Koine the writers are; Lucian, for instance, (2nd cent. AD) is very good at writing almost pure Attic.

Koine is usually associated with just the New Testament because the NT is one of the few literary texts that embrace their "Koine-ness" and aren't trying to be Attic.

If you want to read more about the sociological implications of people's choice between Attic and Koine, see the first chapters of Simon Swain, Hellenism and Empire: Language, Classicism, and Power in the Greek World AD 50-250 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996). Especially fascinating is his discussion of Galen, the 2nd century AD physician, who felt the need to write a treatise justifying his use of Koine instead of Attic in his medical writings. He wrote in Koine for clarity of terminology, and because it was more in line with the earlier Ionian medical tradition; but by his time period, if you didn't write in Attic people thought you weren't a "real intellectual."
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Re: Polybius' Greek

Postby daler » Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:14 am

That is quite interesting. Thank you very much. I will look for that book. FYI I ended up getting a copy of John Taylor's Greek to GCSE. I am enjoying it immensely and making steady progress through it. I contacted the author for the answer key, and he very graciously responded that day with it and invited me to contact him in the future with any questions. My plan so far is to finish the series of his three books.
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