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Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

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Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby klewlis » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:32 am

I'm getting ahead of myself a bit since I am only on Lesson 4 of Athenaze.

But over the years I have collected a few Greek books, and I am curious which I should tackle first as I am learning how to read. Here's what I have:

Passages for Unseen Translation, by Cook and Marchant
Greek Literary Papyri 1 Poetry (I'm assuming these will be difficult)
Loeb edition of Marcus Aurelius (Meditations and some other stuff--maybe having the English there would be helpful, or a crutch...)
Plato's Crito
Aristotle's Physica (ha, the preface is in Latin)
Euripides' Hecuba


I also snagged the pdf today of Sidgwick's Easy Selections from Plato from this site, which may be my best place to start.

Thoughts?
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Re: Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby GJCaesar » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:47 am

Hi there,

Plato's Crito is not too difficult and in my country, 16 year old students in high school are supposed to be able to read it for exams. It's ''down to earth prose'', except for maybe a few longer and more incomprehensible sentences. The bright side on these: most commentaries deal with them and explain you how to understand the Greek and the sense. Burnett is probably the best known commentary on Plato, but it's not easy to get your hands on. I was fortunate enough to buy it for a doller fifty a year or two ago from my old teacher, but I remember struggling with finding a cheap copy on Amazon. You should check the web to be sure though.

I suggest you don't start with tragedy (Hecuba), since tragedy requires a more detailed eye and can at times be quite difficult because of the word order. Although, there are many levels of difficulty in tragedy. For example, Medea is okay, but Aeschylus' Agamemnon is a LOT harder. Euripides is widely accepted as the easiest of the three great tragici (and by far most of the tragedies we have are on his name, so you can pick diffent ones that speak about different themes), so I guess Hecuba should be do-able.

The papyri, I don't know a lot about those, but I do know that some of the lyric poetry can be quite obscure, like Sappho and contemporaries.

It's really up to you. But objectively: Crito is the easiest on the list, and I think most of the people here will agree with me. You can always try to read other stuff. If you feel like you can handle it, why not? As soon as it simply takes too much effort to comprehend the Greek, you can always fall back on easier stuff.

GJC
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Re: Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby GJCaesar » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:57 am

And if I might give you a suggestion: Dialogues of the Gods (Lucian) and Plato's Apology are great prose texts to start with. And Lucian can give you quite a laugh at times, so it's always fun to read. The great thing is that you find stories that are originally from Homer (like the dialogue between Polyphemus and Poseidon about Odysseus' blinding action in the cave).

Herodotus is difficult if you're not accustomed to the Ionic dialect, but he has some great passages as well. Really anything from the Persian history (Cyrus, Cambyses, etc.) is great fun to read and Herodotus is a great prose writer. There is a reason why most of the research that focuses on linguistic features in prose take Herodotus as research material!
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Re: Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:04 pm

I haven't read any of these books (although I don't know what "Greek Literary Papyri 1 Poetry" contains), but anyway...

I haven't read Crito, but I agree that at least the Apology is comparatively easy. In my experience, the difficulty of Plato varies a lot from the text to text, so not everything from Plato is easy.

Another "beginner's" text is Xenophon's Anabasis. But I have never really seen an easy Attic text, the way I think New Testament Greek can be (relatively) easy.

I agree that Euripides is a lot easier than Sophocles or Aeschylus. But it's still rather difficult.

I don't think Sappho is at all that difficult. It looks a bit different at first sight, but you get soon past that by just learning the basic phonetic correspondences with Attic. This is oversimplified, but it works to a certain point. After that, Sappho isn't very difficult. And the corpus is quite small – If you read only the well preserved poems, and not every one line fragment, that's only a few pages. If you're interested at all about Sappho, I think you should give it a go from early on; even if it's a struggle, you can read it quickly, because there's really not that much. Of course, you should have read some Attic poetry or even better, Homer, first. Aoidoi.org has a short but nice introduction to Lesbian Aeolic.
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Re: Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby klewlis » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:49 pm

Thanks for the input! I will start then with Crito and see what happens.

I'll also check the other suggestions offered, though I will need to find them online because I'm too broke right now to buy new books. :lol:
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Re: Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby Scribo » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:56 pm

Klew, see here: http://geoffreysteadman.com/

They are offered in PDF form as well as print on demand purchases. Personally I think these are good for students though at times I think he offers too much help. If you can read on a screen, they're free.

I keep meaning to do a serious resources post alongside a sort of "frugal Greek/Latin learning" post. I've been collecting certain posts from here (textbook reviews etc) and I need to systematise them into a sort of mega post. Sigh, and draw up an "easy" curriculum and finish writing my hints and tips (though I've only 2 years teaching experience tbh). Sigh, time time time...

For what it's worth (little) here's my advice for you: get your textbook down pat and start the "First Greek Writer" here on a lenient basis. Ignore all the crazy stuff like literary papyri to begin with get a lot of prose down - yes Marcus Aurelius is fine, or use steadman - and then finally have a crack at Euripides. Just take it slowly and eventually you will conquer.
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Re: Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby klewlis » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:20 pm

great link, thanks!

I like that it gives the high-frequency vocab, so I can work on that at the same time. I may just use it as an aid, but try to work primarily from my printed text since I find myself too dependent on the helps if they are too easy to access.

Even though I'm new to Attic, I cut my teeth on Koine so I do have some reading experience, in spite of it being easier.
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Re: Rate these books by level of difficulty :)

Postby Cursus » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:15 am

Scribo wrote:Klew, see here: http://geoffreysteadman.com/


This, this, a thousand times this! As one who is still relearning my Greek, anything from Steadman is an excellent place to start. I'm working through one of his books myself, and his notes are great at explaining many of the odd forms you will encounter.

I believe he's got a tandem Crito/Lysias edition, so you might start there.
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