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Greek reader reviews

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Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:26 pm

Some readers that I have used or come across. For the readers that I really like, I've either purchased a copy, or had one bound at lulu.com (only a few dollars), rather than reading them online.

Greek Boy At Home by W.H.D. Rouse
Text: https://archive.org/details/greekboyathomest01rousuoft
Vocabulary: http://www.johnpiazza.net/greek_boy_vocab

The Greek is good and idiomatic. Parodies from very diverse sources (the Onomasticon, Philogelos, and many more common sources). The story is the best told of anything here, partly because Rouse is communicating his philosophy about learning and childhood as much as teaching the language. [See his essay "Body, Soul, and Spirit" for a direct formulation.] The stories are graduated, but it remains extremely hard to use for self-study. Lightly Atticized, but like Farnell, he does not shield the reader too much from non-Attic vocabulary. Probably my favorite reader.

A Greek Reader by W. H. D. Rouse
https://archive.org/details/greekreader00rousuoft

Lightly Atticized selections from the Greek classics. These are fun, but there is no help in the way of notes or vocabulary, making it a challenge for self-study.

Stories and Legends by F. H. Colson
https://archive.org/details/storiesandlegen00colsgoog

Highly Atticized stories and parodies, similar to Morice, but the content and spirit is Greek. Very easy to read with the included notes and vocabulary. Highly recommended.

A First Greek Reader by Charles M. Moss
https://archive.org/details/afirstgreekread00mossgoog

I haven't read this one yet. I would love to hear other people's reviews.

Tales from Herodotus with Attic dialectical forms by G. S. Farnell
https://archive.org/details/talesfromherodot00herorich

Very well done. He doesn't try to change Herodotus too much. Presents notes and vocabulary just like Morice or Colson, making this very readable. And Herodotus makes it fun.

Thrasymachus by C. W. E. Peckett
http://www.amazon.com/Thrasymachus-Gree ... 862921392/

Extremely well done. Peckett was a student of Rouse, and Thrasymachus is a combination of graduated reader together with a Greek course. The stories are not as good as Rouse, but are much more graduated. Less re-reading value there, but the presentation of accidence and syntax is extremely well done. In fact, the appendix is probably my favorite discussion of Greek syntax, nicely illustrated with example sentences (what a concept!). If I could add anything to this great text, it would be to mark vowel length, especially in the grammar tables.

Stories in Attic Greek by F.D. Morice
https://archive.org/details/storiesinatticg00unkngoog

Wonderful set of Attic stories across a number of subjects. All interesting, but more Victorian in spirit than Greek. Very useful for expanding your vocabulary.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby calvinist » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:22 pm

Thanks for this list. I just wish the format of these readers was like this Latin reader: https://archive.org/details/juniorlatinreade00sanfrich with the notes and vocabulary at the bottom of the page, I think that is the best format for self-learners.

I agree with you completely about Thrasymachus. I'm using it to improve my Attic because I almost exclusively read Koine. I'm at chapter 20 right now and I love it. The syntax section at the back is great also, like you said. It's short and to the point and uses simple examples with translations right below them. It's the best overview of the Greek constructions I've seen. The one fault with the syntax section is the lack of depth on case usage, but I'm pretty comfortable with Latin and know how the Latin cases map onto the Greek cases so I don't need that section.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:29 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Greek Boy At Home by W.H.D. Rouse
Text: https://archive.org/details/greekboyathomest01rousuoft
Vocabulary: http://www.johnpiazza.net/greek_boy_vocab

The Greek is good and idiomatic. Parodies from very diverse sources (the Onomasticon, Philogelos, and many more common sources). The story is the best told of anything here, partly because Rouse is communicating his philosophy about learning and childhood as much as teaching the language. [See his essay "Body, Soul, and Spirit" for a direct formulation.] The stories are graduated, but it remains extremely hard to use for self-study. Lightly Atticized, but like Farnell, he does not shield the reader too much from non-Attic vocabulary. Probably my favorite reader.

I didn't get on at all with this at all. The early bits were tedious to me. He describes a visit to the Acropolis that seemed to me as inspiring as an architects report. Athenaze does a much better job of describing such a visit.

Later on it does get a little less tedious but a lot harder - just as hard as real Greek for me which rather spoils the point of reading a reader rather than the real thing.

jeidsath wrote:



A First Greek Reader by Charles M. Moss
https://archive.org/details/afirstgreekread00mossgoog
Just started on this. My first impression is that they are well told simple and original stories.

jeidsath wrote:
Tales from Herodotus with Attic dialectical forms by G. S. Farnell
https://archive.org/details/talesfromherodot00herorich

The notes are really excellent - the lack of notes is what makes many other readers far less useful.

jeidsath wrote:
Thrasymachus by C. W. E. Peckett
http://www.amazon.com/Thrasymachus-Gree ... 862921392/

Extremely well done. Peckett was a student of Rouse, and Thrasymachus is a combination of graduated reader together with a Greek course. The stories are not as good as Rouse, but are much more graduated. Less re-reading value there, but the presentation of accidence and syntax is extremely well done. In fact, the appendix is probably my favorite discussion of Greek syntax, nicely illustrated with example sentences (what a concept!). If I could add anything to this great text, it would be to mark vowel length, especially in the grammar tables.

Way, way better than Rouse IMO. I especially like the way each story focuses an some point of syntax or accidence so that aspect of Greek is reinfoeced.

jeidsath wrote:
Stories in Attic Greek by F.D. Morice
https://archive.org/details/storiesinatticg00unkngoog

Wonderful set of Attic stories across a number of subjects. All interesting, but more Victorian in spirit than Greek. Very useful for expanding your vocabulary.


The stories are a bit Victorian but to me that is a plus - it gets a bit tedious reading another version of a legend that you have read before. Whether the Greek is fully in the spirit of the language I don't feel qualified to comment. I too like the fact that the vocabulary is not very restricted though that could be seen as a negative. The vocabulary is not as extensive as that of a typical Ancient Greek writer so it doesn't slow you down that much and, as you say, is one of the points of reading a reader.

And thanks for posting such a full list - I knew of most of them but not all.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Markos » Sun Jul 12, 2015 2:50 am

calvinist wrote:I just wish the format of these readers was like this Latin reader: https://archive.org/details/juniorlatinreade00sanfrich with the notes and vocabulary at the bottom of the page, I think that is the best format for self-learners.

Completely agree. Facing/bottom page format is for me a game changer on these types of resources.
daivid wrote:...Greek Boy At Home by W.H.D. Rouse...
I didn't get on at all with this at all. The early bits were tedious to me. He describes a visit to the Acropolis that seemed to me as inspiring as an architects report. Athenaze does a much better job of describing such a visit.

Later on it does get a little less tedious but a lot harder - just as hard as real Greek for me which rather spoils the point of reading a reader rather than the real thing.

Agreed. Rouse is too hard. His paraphrase of the Persians, which comes early in the book, is all in indirect discourse! What makes Rouse special of course is his monolingual glosses.
daivid wrote:Stories in Attic Greek by F.D. Morice
...I too like the fact that the vocabulary is not very restricted though that could be seen as a negative.

Morice's syntax is very simple but his vocabulary is unnecessarily rare. Intermediate students will improve their vocab this way, but I think it is better to use more common words for beginners.

I will stand by my contention that the Phillpotts simplified Anabasis is the best reader for beginners. Bedwere's audio is outstanding.
jeidsath wrote:A First Greek Reader by Charles M. Moss
https://archive.org/details/afirstgreekread00mossgoog

I haven't read this one yet. I would love to hear other people's reviews.

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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:40 am

He describes a visit to the Acropolis that seemed to me as inspiring as an architects report.


φαίνεται καὶ ἐνθένδε ἡ πόλις ἡ τῶν Ἀθηναίων· λέγω δὲ τὴν ἀκρόπολιν· ἡ γὰρ ἀκρόπολις πέτρα ἐστὶν ἐν μέσῃ τῇ πόλει, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς ἀκροπόλεως ναοί εἰσι πολλοί, τῆς τ’ Ἀθήνης καὶ τῶν ἄλλων θεῶν. ἦν μὲν τὸ πάλαι δῶμα βασιλικὸν ἐπὶ τῆς ἀκροπόλεως· νῦν δὲ δημοκρατίας οὔσης ἐπαύσατο μὲν βασιλικὸν ὃν τὸ δῶμα, οὐκέτι μὲν οὖν ἔστι δῶμα· ἀλλὰ ναοὶ ἔνεισιν ἀντὶ τούτου. ἔστι μὲν ναὸς τῆς Ἀθήνης μέγιστος καὶ κάλλιστος, ἔστι δὲ τῆς Νίκης, εἰσὶ δὲ καὶ ἄλλων θεῶν, ὧν τὰ ὀνόματα διηγήσομαι ὕστερον, ὅταν μάθῃς κάλλιον τὴν ἡμετέραν γλῶτταν. οὐ γὰρ ῥᾴδιον διηγεῖσθαι τῷ μὴ ἔχοντι ἐπιστήμην. περιέχει δὲ τὴν ἀκρόπολιν τείχη, ἅπερ μετὰ σπουδῆς ᾠκοδόμησαν εὐθὺς μετὰ τὰ Μηδικά· ἴδοις δ’ ἂν ἐν μέσοις τοῖς τείχεσιν καὶ ἐρείπια ἀρχαίων ναῶν καὶ στήλας τῶν ἀποθανόντων. ὕψος δ’ ἔχει τὰ τείχη πήχεις μάλιστα τριάκοντα.


I didn't find it too bad. Of course, the next story is how those walls were built, and how Themistocles tricked the Spartans.

Agreed. Rouse is too hard. His paraphrase of the Persians, which comes early in the book, is all in indirect discourse!


That was one of my favorite parts! But Rouse's reader is probably an efficient use of time only with an instructor who understands it. Maybe it would be worthwhile to add notes.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:37 pm

jeidsath wrote:
He describes a visit to the Acropolis that seemed to me as inspiring as an architects report.


φαίνεται καὶ ἐνθένδε ἡ πόλις ἡ τῶν Ἀθηναίων· λέγω δὲ τὴν ἀκρόπολιν· ἡ γὰρ ἀκρόπολις πέτρα ἐστὶν ἐν μέσῃ τῇ πόλει, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς ἀκροπόλεως ναοί εἰσι πολλοί, τῆς τ’ Ἀθήνης καὶ τῶν ἄλλων θεῶν. <snip>


I didn't find it too bad.

No it is just as dry as the first time I read it and, as well as that, it is quite hard
jeidsath wrote:
Of course, the next story is how those walls were built, and how Themistocles tricked the Spartans.
That does sound a bit less dry but I assume that it is an adaption from Plutarch's Themistocles. I have two sets of notes to help me with Themistocles plus there is the translation to help me if I get stuck. With the Rouse version I am on my own.
jeidsath wrote:But Rouse's reader is probably an efficient use of time only with an instructor who understands it. Maybe it would be worthwhile to add notes.


I now see that the bit on the Acropolis is exactly what a teacher would say to his pupils if he was showing his pupils round the Acropolis, speaking Greek. That would be quite cool. On the page, not spoken, without the réalité of the Acropolis itself, it is just dead.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:27 pm

daivid wrote: just as hard as real Greek for me which rather spoils the point of reading a reader rather than the real thing.


Not sure what you guys are talking about. I thought a reader was the real thing with vocabulary and syntax notes on same page, like Goffery Steadman http://geoffreysteadman.com.

There are simple sections of real authors which are still real greek. Seems kind of counter productive to read made up sentences. But I have never done it so cannot really evaluate the benefit.

I looked at a book breifly called Learning Greek with Plato, wasn't really a reader, more of a text book. But it contains plenty of samples of simple material from Plato. I didn't read all of it since it was Greek 101.

Learning Greek with Plato: A Beginner's Course in Classical Greek (Bristol Phoenix Press - Classical Handbooks)
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:00 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:
daivid wrote: just as hard as real Greek for me which rather spoils the point of reading a reader rather than the real thing.


Not sure what you guys are talking about. I thought a reader was the real thing with vocabulary and syntax notes on same page, like Goffery Steadman http://geoffreysteadman.com.

Well it is true that reader is also used also cover real Greek texts with a grammatical commentary. All those in the list, however, are either made up Greek or simplified from real Greek texts.

The advantage of reading easy texts is
1) You can read a lot more and so through repetition will better learn the words and constructions you encounter.
2) You can read them without having to look everything up so you can actually read them rather than decoding them.

These advantages, of course, assume that the reader is the right level of difficulty for you.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby calvinist » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:01 pm

Stirling, you're correct about the use of the term "reader" as pertains to Latin/Greek, but the way it's being used here is in the sense of a "graded reader" which are popular with learning modern foreign languages: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graded_reader

C. S. Bartholomew wrote: Seems kind of counter productive to read made up sentences. But I have never done it so cannot really evaluate the benefit.


Not to be silly, but all sentences are made up. Of course it's important to distinguish between Ancient Greek written by native speakers and any modern attempts at reproducing it, but if it's "passable" and a modern classicist can't discern any errors in syntax or idiom then I can't see how it could be counter productive. The goal with texts like that is to let students get more comfortable with the grammar/syntax/vocab of Greek before jumping into unadapted Plato. Steadman's readers are excellent, and we definitely need much more of this type of resource, but many of us think there is a real need for "graded readers" of Ancient Greek also, which necessitates some "fake" Greek. But that's enough of me sidetracking the thread. :)
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Bart » Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:11 am

Apart from the educational value of using readers -I don't want to spark another one of those discussions-, what about the motivational side? I study Ancient Greek to read Ancient Greek authors, that means nothing is so motivating, even at an early stage of learning the language, as reading texts and sentences in real Greek, because it's the very thing I'm doing it for. To be honest, I don't like reading made up/ graded Greek. I understand it's unavoidable to a certain extent certainly in the earliest stages of language acquisition, but to me it's more like a necessary evil. I'm no schoolboy anymore and made up Greek just bores me. I couldn't bring myself to go through an entire book of fake Greek, or even worse, several of them, as most of you seem to have done. For the same reason I have almost zero interest in things like Harry Potter translated in Greek. Why spend time on that when there's Homer to be read (and reread) and Plato, Herodotus, etcetera? Just my thoughts of course.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby calvinist » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:19 am

Bart wrote:Apart from the educational value of using readers -I don't want to spark another one of those discussions-, what about the motivational side? I study Ancient Greek to read Ancient Greek authors, that means nothing is so motivating, even at an early stage of learning the language, as reading texts and sentences in real Greek, because it's the very thing I'm doing it for.


One answer to that is children learning the languages. I'm teaching my 7 year old daughter Latin and will start Greek next year. The goal is to read the ancient authors, but for now she loves the simple stories in Lingua Latina. We've just finished chapter 33 and are moving on to reading the gospels in Latin. The "fake" Latin stories in LL that she enjoyed reading have gotten her to a level where she can read the Latin of the gospels pretty easily. There are quite a few people that want to teach their children Latin/Greek, and readers are a great bridge to the ancient authors.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:39 am

Bart wrote:Apart from the educational value of using readers -I don't want to spark another one of those discussions-, what about the motivational side? I study Ancient Greek to read Ancient Greek authors, that means nothing is so motivating, even at an early stage of learning the language, as reading texts and sentences in real Greek, because it's the very thing I'm doing it for. To be honest, I don't like reading made up/ graded Greek. I understand it's unavoidable to a certain extent certainly in the earliest stages of language acquisition, but to me it's more like a necessary evil. I'm no schoolboy anymore and made up Greek just bores me. I couldn't bring myself to go through an entire book of fake Greek, or even worse, several of them, as most of you seem to have done. For the same reason I have almost zero interest in things like Harry Potter translated in Greek. Why spend time on that when there's Homer to be read (and reread) and Plato, Herodotus, etcetera? Just my thoughts of course.


Given that the aim for all of us is to read real Greek it is a big motivational boost to be reading the real thing. Set against that is how long and drawn out reading real Greek is at the intermediate level. It is most certainly disheartening to pick up a play by Sophocles and to realize that there is no immediate prospect of you getting through more than a small extract let alone read the whole play.
Reading Aristotle is for me so laborious that I forget the point he is trying to make before I get to the end of the sentence so lost am I in decoding the individual phrases.

Easier Greek allows you to actually allows you to enjoy the story without be being overwhelmed by the syntax and accidence. On the downside, it is harder to write a good story when you restrict yourself in how much of a language you use but good writers are able to do this.

This all assumes that the reader is on a subject that you would find interesting in any case. I do enjoy the Harry Potter films but can never quite justify the time to read them in English so the Greek edition seemed like a good excuse to indulge myself. As it happens, the Greek of the Greek Harry Potter is far just as difficult as Lucian (who the translator takes his model) so I will stick with Lucian. If you are someone who would never consider reading Potter in English then it would be demotivating reading it in Greek even were it an easy read.

There are pros and cons with easy made up Greek. People will differ in how important those pros and cons are so arguments aren't going to change peoples minds. The case for easy Greek readers is worth putting as the people who are probably best able to write good made up Greek are like as not those who took to Greek so easily to not need them.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Bart » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:47 pm

daivid wrote:This all assumes that the reader is on a subject that you would find interesting in any case. I do enjoy the Harry Potter films but can never quite justify the time to read them in English so the Greek edition seemed like a good excuse to indulge myself. As it happens, the Greek of the Greek Harry Potter is far just as difficult as Lucian (who the translator takes his model) so I will stick with Lucian. If you are someone who would never consider reading Potter in English then it would be demotivating reading it in Greek even were it an easy read.


Well, that doesn't work for me. I know next to nothing about Harry Potter, but I'm a big fan of Chekhov. However, the idea of reading him in Greek offers no attraction to me at all. Most of all I would like to be able to read him in Russian, but I'm not, so - faute de mieux- I turn to Dutch translations. For me there would be no surplus value in reading him in English, German, French, Italian or Greek.

Look, I'm not trying to convince anyone, just stating my perspective and perhaps my mild surprise that it doesn't appear to be shared by quite a few people on this forum who have the same interest as me, namely reading real Greek. But that's just fine of course.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:11 pm

If we are going to review these readers, then it's absolutely appropriate to discuss whether they do us any good.

I think that the number one way that many people go wrong with Greek is to forget that they are learning a language. There are examples at all levels. If you are learning a language, the primary problem is "How do I consume ~1,000,000 sentences of that language and become fluent?"

One way to give up on fluency is to make the texts your goal instead of the language your goal. The reason being that there are too many ways to read the texts inefficiently (from a language learning perspective). It's far too easy to start relying too much on commentaries and dictionaries out of a quest for the level of understanding of a text that can really only come out of fluency.

The real question to ask yourself isn't "what Greek is best for me to read?", it's "am I reading 10 pages of Greek a day and listening to an hour of audio a day (that I comprehend decently)?"

Read lots of crap. It's quantity not quality that matters for teaching your brain to think in Greek.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:46 pm

jeidsath wrote:The real question to ask yourself isn't "what Greek is best for me to read?", it's "am I reading 10 pages of Greek a day and listening to an hour of audio a day (that I comprehend decently)?"

Read lots of crap. It's quantity not quality that matters for teaching your brain to think in Greek.


I almost entirely agree with that. The "almost" is because what we remember is what we find stimulating, Everyone remembers what they were doing when the twin towers were hit. (If you are really old you remember when JFK was assassinated :oops: ). That was because it was a dramatic event. Ten pages you find as tedious as watching paint dry is likely to go in one eye and out the other.

So if someone finds a reader simply boring it may well be that they will learn more reading a smaller quantity of something that you find stimulating.

But there is a reason that watching paint dry is proverbial for boredom - it takes a very long time for anything to happen. Sophocles is packed with drama but the speed I read him it, while it isn't actually as bad as watching paint dry, it is almost that slow.

Quantity is the most important think but if it is a stimulating read that is big multiplier. So reading a lot of crap really needs to be fun crap, ie fun for you.

But there have been great writers, Hemingway for example, who wrote great literature using a very simple style. Hence it doesn't follow that readers using simple language needs to be crap.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Vladimir » Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:32 pm

There is also A Patristic Greek Reader: http://www.amazon.com/Patristic-Greek-R ... 080104801X
All the lexical and grammar notes are at the bottom of the page, and at hte end of the book, there is a basic vocabulary for beginners.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:52 pm

@Vladamir -- Here are more, inspired by Steadman: http://patristicreaders.com/ I haven't used any of them, so I don't know the quality.

Steadman I have used. He's very good and appreciates feedback: http://geoffreysteadman.com/
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Markos » Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:14 pm

calvinist wrote:Not to be silly, but all sentences are made up.

It's funny, Calvinist, but I don't find your statement silly at all. To the extent that it reflects a certain approach to Ancient Greek that I happen to share, I see it as profound. Although I will never forgive you for resurrecting that thread, ("Sometimes dead is better." --S. King) I am happy to see you back on the Forum.
Bart wrote:Apart from the educational value of using readers -I don't want to spark another one of those discussions...

Neither do I. Is it enough to say that the same people who don't like made up Greek don't like monolinugal resources or speaking Ancient Greek? Do the three go together? They tend, to, I think, but not always.
Bart wrote:...what about the motivational side? I study Ancient Greek to read Ancient Greek authors, that means nothing is so motivating, even at an early stage of learning the language, as reading texts and sentences in real Greek, because it's the very thing I'm doing it for.

Look, if there is one thing that we know, it is that different people learn Greek in different ways, and different things motivate us. Motivation is huge in learning. Love Greek, and do as thou wilt.
Bart wrote:...Look, I'm not trying to convince anyone, just stating my perspective and perhaps my mild surprise that it doesn't appear to be shared by quite a few people on this forum who have the same interest as me, namely reading real Greek. But that's just fine of course.

I AM trying to convince people, but not here, not now. There are many people, Bart, who share your perspective. Michael Palmer wrote an on-line textbook in which all the examples and exercises are straight from the Greek NT. I actually think that more people than not would agree with you that fake Greek is a necessary evil.
jeidsath wrote:One way to give up on fluency is to make the texts your goal instead of the language your goal.

That's an interesting way to put it. I would say that the texts were my goal, but I realized at a certain point that I did not want to read (decode) the texts without learning the language, and so, yes, that became my goal.
jeidsath wrote:Read lots of crap. It's quantity not quality that matters for teaching your brain to think in Greek.

A new pedagogical term Joel has here coined. In a sense Doukas is crap. Sophocles is not. Having them on facing pages works for me. I for one think we need more crap.
daivid wrote:It is most certainly disheartening to pick up a play by Sophocles and to realize that there is no immediate prospect of you getting through more than a small extract let alone read the whole play.

Daivid, have you tried to read Sophocles via Doukas' paraphrase?
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:13 pm

Markos wrote:
daivid wrote:It is most certainly disheartening to pick up a play by Sophocles and to realize that there is no immediate prospect of you getting through more than a small extract let alone read the whole play.

Daivid, have you tried to read Sophocles via Doukas' paraphrase?

Sophocles has a reputation of being especially difficult and the odd sentence that I've sampled confirms this. Doukas, however, I imagine would be as hard as someone like, say, Plutarch for whom I can just about manage if I have the help of a good commentary. If I were to read Doukas it would be without the help of a commentary so for now I don't intend to try him.
When I can read Plutarch without help then I will look at Doukas.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Manuel » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:39 pm

I'll put in my two cents on this, since I'm of a generation taught almost completely on "fake" Greek and Latin at the elementary level.

The way I see it, there are two different approaches to teaching students through fake sentences and passages (for lack of a better adjective). The approach that Athenaze's authors take for most of the first book is one that I found helpful. As simple and silly as the stories were, they made a lot of grammatical concepts come naturally to me (μέν...δέ, etc.) with which I otherwise may have had difficulty. When I moved on to actual Greek texts with commentaries, especially ones produced several decades ago, I noticed that the editor's comments often attempted to explain concepts that Athenaze taught within the first few chapters.

The other approach is that of "adapting" original ancient Greek & Latin texts to make them easier for students. While I don't think this is a terrible practice, I think it's worse than simply creating new sentences from scratch. Wheelock's Latin textbooks and readers might be the most notorious in this regard, though Athenaze relies on it heavily for the second volume. My problem with this is how the editors try to pass it off as being "as real as possible" when it simply isn't. The Wheelock texts are most annoying with this since they put the name of the original author in parentheses next to each sentence. Even if they include an asterisk to show that it's adapted, on some level they're still trying to pass it off as the author's material when it simply is not. Even writing in the parentheses something like "Based on Cicero, De amicitia 45" would be a more honest approach. Otherwise students are misled into thinking that the editor's "adaptation" is a real representation of Latin prose when the actual text is miles apart.

I hope I didn't sound too belligerent, but I just think it needs to be said.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby marcofurio » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:44 pm

I think readers -the real thing with vocab/syntax notes as defined by Bartholomew- are a great idea, based on my own experience and the huge increase in reading speed I noticed since I started using them. The "made up Greek" is the way to learn the language as long as a progressive method is used (what else is Athenaze, Reading Greek, etc...). The alternative is a Grammar book and the unadapted text!

LuciansTrue Story (1) was the first one I read from first to last page (I advice to skip the introduction in first reading as the author's style is deliberately complicated there). In my opinion it fulfills the conditions above mentioned: Real Greek, interesting author, driving story, easy syntax, quite easy vocab but for some weird words the author himself invented and are well explained at the side page, incredibly funny once you get their meaning!. At this forum (2) Rouse's notes to Lucians Dialogues have already been mentioned and there has been a recent increase in Lucian's readers offered by Edgar E Hayes (3) which I have not tried but might be a good idea with Rouse's notes.

I tried to get something similar to these English-commented readers written in modern Greek -as here already said a brilliant way to learn the ancient tongue- and I could not find any. But almost in every bookshop in Athens you have the classical authors with a “translation” side by side to modern Greek, in fact what I was looking for without knowing!: A whole-text paraphrasis. Very useful in this sense is a great webside with a small selection of authors free for everybody to share(4). I cannot resist the temptation to include a small fragment showing Herodotos' similarities with modern tongue (25 centuries later!):

Ἡροδότου Ἁλικαρνησσέος ἱστορίης ἀπόδεξις ἥδε, ὡς μήτε τὰ γενόμενα ἐξ ἀνθρώπων τῷ χρόνῳ ἐξίτηλα γένηται, μήτε ἔργα μεγάλα τε καὶ θωμαστά, τὰ μὲν Ἕλλησι, τὰ δὲ βαρβάροισι ἀποδεχθέντα, ἀκλέα γένηται, τά τε ἄλλα καὶ δι᾽ ἣν αἰτίην ἐπολέμησαν ἀλλήλοισι.

Ο Ηρόδοτος από την Αλικαρνασσό εκθέτει εδώ τις έρευνές του, για να μη ξεθωριάσει με τα χρόνια ό,τι έγινε από τους ανθρώπους, μήτε έργα μεγάλα και θαυμαστά, πραγματοποιημένα άλλα από τους Έλληνες και άλλα από τους βαρβάρους, να σβήσουν άδοξα· ιδιαίτερα γίνεται λόγος για την αιτία που αυτοί πολέμησαν μεταξύ τους.

...did I convince anybody of the goodness of modern as a bridge to ancient Greek? :P

(1) http://www.amazon.com/Lucians-True-Stor ... tory+greek

(2) viewtopic.php?f=2&t=62519&p=168564&hilit=rouse+dialogues#p168564

(3) http://www.amazon.com/Edgar-Evan-Hayes/ ... 256&sr=8-1

(4) http://www.greek-language.gr/Resources/ ... =30&page=1
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:48 pm

Manuel wrote:I'll put in my two cents on this, since I'm of a generation taught almost completely on "fake" Greek and Latin at the elementary level.

The way I see it, there are two different approaches to teaching students through fake sentences and passages (for lack of a better adjective). The approach that Athenaze's authors take for most of the first book is one that I found helpful. As simple and silly as the stories were, they made a lot of grammatical concepts come naturally to me (μέν...δέ, etc.) with which I otherwise may have had difficulty. When I moved on to actual Greek texts with commentaries, especially ones produced several decades ago, I noticed that the editor's comments often attempted to explain concepts that Athenaze taught within the first few chapters.

The other approach is that of "adapting" original ancient Greek & Latin texts to make them easier for students. While I don't think this is a terrible practice, I think it's worse than simply creating new sentences from scratch.

<snip>.


I find that only textbooks that use completely made up Greek like Athenaze have readings that relate to the grammar being taught.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby calvinist » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:31 pm

Markos wrote:
calvinist wrote:Not to be silly, but all sentences are made up.

It's funny, Calvinist, but I don't find your statement silly at all. To the extent that it reflects a certain approach to Ancient Greek that I happen to share, I see it as profound. Although I will never forgive you for resurrecting that thread, ("Sometimes dead is better." --S. King) I am happy to see you back on the Forum.
Thanks Markos, I apologize about that thread and it seems that it is "self-resurrecting" now without input from anyone else, like a zombie or something. :lol:

I think there is an interesting question that we can ask about graded readers of Ancient Greek and Latin: Is it possible to design a series of graded readers that gradually increase the vocabulary, complexity of syntax, and idiom so that by the time one has finished the series they could jump into an ancient Greek author and read it with comprehension at the first pass without vocab/grammar helps and at normal reading speed?

To me that would be the ultimate goal of a series of graded readers: to get the learner at a level of fluency in the language so that the very first time he reads one of Cicero's speeches in Latin he understands it the way a native speaker would; he reads it just like a speech by MLK. Of course historical background and context would still be needed for deep understanding, but I am confident that a well-designed series of graded readers could take a learner to a level where no linguistic (vocab/syntax) help would be needed. It would be difficult, but not impossible.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby marxbert » Wed Jul 15, 2015 12:27 am

Thank you jeidsath. The Patristic Greek a la Steadman is extremely productive for my level of reading. Just read the first 18 lines of Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas with some confidence. Very much appreciated!
--
Though not extended readings--and thus unable to demonstrate many aspects of the language--I am of the opinion that proverbs and maxims are a good way to begin improving fluency, in Latin and Greek (the same goal of 'graded readers'). Fragments attributed to Menander are commonplace throughout introductory Greek textbooks. ~2 pages of selected monostichoi are found as an appendix in Fobes' Philosophical Greek, which someone put online:
http://www.letsreadgreek.com/menander/r ... tichoi.pdf
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Bart » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:02 am

jeidsath wrote:The real question to ask yourself isn't "what Greek is best for me to read?", it's "am I reading 10 pages of Greek a day and listening to an hour of audio a day (that I comprehend decently)?"


Just to prolong this discussion a bit (I'm in that kind of mood): instead of reading rubbish and listen to audio files why not turn to Homer? It's not that difficult to reach the stage where you can read him without too much fuzz. With the time allowance you mention you should be able to go through the Iliad in six months, possibly less. That's 15000 lines of very real and very beautiful Greek. After that you can complete the Odyssey in half the time. That's 13000 verses more.
Now you've not only read lots and lots of Greek but you've been spending time in doing the one thing you've (presumably) taken up this hobby for in the first place. That seems much more satisfying than reading crap Greek and listening to audio files.

Markos wrote: Look, if there is one thing that we know, it is that different people learn Greek in different ways, and different things motivate us. Motivation is huge in learning. Love Greek, and do as thou wilt.


Wise words indeed, Markos.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:51 pm

Bart wrote:Just to prolong this discussion a bit (I'm in that kind of mood): instead of reading rubbish and listen to audio files why not turn to Homer? It's not that difficult to reach the stage where you can read him without too much fuzz. With the time allowance you mention you should be able to go through the Iliad in six months, possibly less. That's 15000 lines of very real and very beautiful Greek. After that you can complete the Odyssey in half the time. That's 13000 verses more.
Now you've not only read lots and lots of Greek but you've been spending time in doing the one thing you've (presumably) taken up this hobby for in the first place. That seems much more satisfying than reading crap Greek and listening to audio files.


Okay I have not attempted to do more than sample Homer. However, I really can't take seriously the idea that I personally will be able to complete the Iliad in 6 months. If you are able to do this then your language learning ability is vastly greater than mine and it is hardly surprising if you should be puzzled as why others resort to easy Greek.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:15 pm

Bart wrote:Just to prolong this discussion a bit (I'm in that kind of mood): instead of reading rubbish and listen to audio files why not turn to Homer? It's not that difficult to reach the stage where you can read him without too much fuzz. With the time allowance you mention you should be able to go through the Iliad in six months, possibly less. That's 15000 lines of very real and very beautiful Greek. After that you can complete the Odyssey in half the time. That's 13000 verses more.
Now you've not only read lots and lots of Greek but you've been spending time in doing the one thing you've (presumably) taken up this hobby for in the first place. That seems much more satisfying than reading crap Greek and listening to audio.


ναὶ δὴ ταῦτά γε πάντα ἄνερ κατὰ μοῖραν ἔειπες :)
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:46 pm

By all means read the Iliad. Here is Gaza's Attic paraphrase in a parallel text: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=59559

And Aesop's fables too -- luckily Colson has Atticized a number of those. And Plutarch, also Atticized by Colson. And Herodotus, Atticized by Farnell.

I doubt anything needs to be done for simple readers in the Koine, since there is already so much simple literature there. But with all the above, I think you've got plenty of material that can be read swiftly at the 10/pages a day level.

Someone mentioned dropping the audio because you are reading the Iliad. I have no idea why that would be the case. Record yourself reading it (or use recordings of others) and then listen. An hour a day of audio is 3x the input of 10 pages of text. I'd almost drop reading before dropping audio, from an input standpoint.

Of course, all that is still useless if you can't yet consume Greek at the above rate, either aurally or visually. Use simpler texts until you can.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:50 pm

calvinist wrote:I think there is an interesting question that we can ask about graded readers of Ancient Greek and Latin: Is it possible to design a series of graded readers that gradually increase the vocabulary, complexity of syntax, and idiom so that by the time one has finished the series they could jump into an ancient Greek author and read it with comprehension at the first pass without vocab/grammar helps and at normal reading speed?

To me that would be the ultimate goal of a series of graded readers: to get the learner at a level of fluency in the language so that the very first time he reads one of Cicero's speeches in Latin he understands it the way a native speaker would; he reads it just like a speech by MLK. Of course historical background and context would still be needed for deep understanding, but I am confident that a well-designed series of graded readers could take a learner to a level where no linguistic (vocab/syntax) help would be needed. It would be difficult, but not impossible.


A reader of made up Greek focused on giving you practice with the syntax and idioms favored by a specific author is exactly what I would love to get my hands on .

The weakness of adapted text is that it is entirely negative - it cuts out the difficult stuff but that is what you need to tackle a specific author.

Everything is difficult the first time you meet it. Everything is easy if you encounter it the first time. Made up Greek can take an idiom that a specific author uses now and them and use so frequently that when you come to read the author it gives you no trouble.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Bart » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:45 pm

daivid wrote:Okay I have not attempted to do more than sample Homer. However, I really can't take seriously the idea that I personally will be able to complete the Iliad in 6 months. If you are able to do this then your language learning ability is vastly greater than mine and it is hardly surprising if you should be puzzled as why others resort to easy Greek.


Daivid, honestly, you're probably underestimating your own ability in languages and most certainly overestimating mine. Just sampling Homer isn't enough. I remember how I went through the first pages of the first book of the Iliad, very slowly, reading 20 or 30 lines in an hour and telling myself that it would take me an eternity to get to the final page. But somehow after reading 1000 verses, or maybe 1500, things get easier, a lot. You 're able to process more and more text in the same amount of time and better still, you begin to read stretches of text -first a few lines, then 10 or 20- without turning to a commentary or dictionnary at all. That's a wonderful feeling, a bit like cycling for the first time without support.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had this experience; in fact I know I'm not, for I've read several testimonies on this site to the same effect.

Paul Derouda wrote:ναὶ δὴ ταῦτά γε πάντα ἄνερ κατὰ μοῖραν ἔειπες :)


Ah, I just knew you would like my Homer based approach to reading Greek :)
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:16 pm

Bart wrote:Daivid, honestly, you're probably underestimating your own ability in languages and most certainly overestimating mine. Just sampling Homer isn't enough. I remember how I went through the first pages of the first book of the Iliad, very slowly, reading 20 or 30 lines in an hour and telling myself that it would take me an eternity to get to the final page.)

20 or 30 lines in an hour! And you think that is poor!!!!!!!!!! :o
I do not over estimate my ability and sure don't overestimate yours. If I could read 30 lines of real Greek in an hour, trust me, I would not bother with readers, but I can't so I do.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:32 pm

@david I've got some questions for you, hopefully to be followed by advice. 1) How much time + effort have you put into Greek? 2) How do you read? ie., Do you write anything down as you read? If so, what? 3) How do you re-read?
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:18 pm

jeidsath wrote:@david I've got some questions for you, hopefully to be followed by advice. 1) How much time + effort have you put into Greek? 2) How do you read? ie., Do you write anything down as you read? If so, what? 3) How do you re-read?


It depends.
The first thing I do every day is test myself with the vocab I have recently read. That test also may include tests on forms of aorists, congregations and idiomatic forms but it is the vocab I do without fail.
Then without fail I write something on the weather before I go to bed.
These two things are a habit so I even if it isn't the most effective I will keep them going because even when I feel so discouraged that I have given up Greek I still do those two things - they have become so ingrained that not merely do they not require effort but I would have to make an effort to give them up. I don't intend to make that effort because I suspect that rather than doing something else Greek, if I were to give those two things up, rather than doing something else Greek (possibly more effective) I would give up Greek completely.

Beyond that it is very variable. Sometimes I spend the whole day on Greek sometimes nothing at all or very little and those down periods can last quite a bit.

I read a mixture of readers and real Greek + commentary. The thing about readers is that they are still quite hard for me and if I get stumped there is no way to get beyond it (beyond asking here as I did this morning). Today I took several hours wrestling with a single sentence from Plutarch but at least at the end, with the help of two commentaries and the translation I ended up understanding it.

I find it really hard to reread text. Curiously actually memorizing a sentence is less daunting and does have the advantage that most of the memorizing can be done when I am doing the housework or going to the shops (I have lines printed out on slips of paper).

I always mean to read aloud more but find it hard to get round to it and when I do it is hard for me to do more than short spurts. I have never managed an hour.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:18 pm

So Whitesell has an article titled "Learning to Read a Foreign Language" which you can get here. I'd give has method a try to see if it speeds you up a bit. There is a great deal of insight there about how mechanical work can distract from the text so that you "never have more than two or three words on the surface of the mind at one time."
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby calvinist » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:18 pm

jeidsath wrote:So Whitesell has an article titled "Learning to Read a Foreign Language" which you can get here. I'd give has method a try to see if it speeds you up a bit. There is a great deal of insight there about how mechanical work can distract from the text so that you "never have more than two or three words on the surface of the mind at one time."

Thanks, Joel, I'm going to read that later. I've gradually settled into a routine that I think is helping me a lot (only time will tell), but a little background first. I started in Koine about 10 years ago and then started Latin about a year later. I used Mounce for Greek and Wheelock for Latin initially. I burned out after reaching a level where I could read the NT pretty comfortably. I put it aside for the most part for about 5 years during which time I merely dabbled here and there.

Then, a couple years ago I decided it was time to start teaching my daughter Latin and I got back into it. I found Lingua Latina and decided I wanted to really learn both languages as well as possible and get out of the "parsing" mode. I'm sold on intensive reading. Right now I'm working through Thrasymachus and I'm just finishing chapter 21. This is the way I tackle it: I go through one sentence/clause at time and initially I parse and make sure I know what form every verb/nominal is, why it's that form, e.g. dative of means/subjunctive purpose clause, etc. and I look up any words I don't know. That is sometimes slow and arduous, but then, once I've gotten all that, I want to cement it as much as possible and so I read through that sentence 8-10 times out loud until I can read it smoothly with meaning. The "scaffolding" from parsing the first time through gradually fades until I start to understand the Greek as Greek. Once I get to the end of the chapter I start back at the beginning and now I read each sentence 4-5 times. Sometimes I have to look up a word again, but that is rare. I make it all the way to the end of the chapter and then I go back to the beginning and read through it one last time, but now I read it straight through without re-reading anything and it's very motivating to get the experience of reading those 35 or so lines with understanding and at the rate I read English. After that I record that chapter so I can listen to it later.

My underlying idea is this: once I take some ground I don't want to lose it. It's tempting to keep charging on ahead, but then you may have to retake that ground again later. If I stop and fortify it once I have it, hopefully it will stay, i.e. once I come across an idiom, grammar form, construction, vocabulary item, etc. I won't forget it. I've been doing this with Latin for almost a year and my reading fluency has skyrocketed. I've been doing it for a couple months now with Greek and it's having the same effect. It's basically overlearning, and it's working well for me. I take the same approach when reading authentic Latin/Greek and because of that I can recite the 1st chapter of John in Greek from memory.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby mwh » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:34 am

I had some formal teaching but it didn’t engage me at all. In retrospect I realize that the teaching I got, however dull and soul-destroying it seemed to my youthful arrogance, was probably better than I thought at the time. But the only thing that did me any good—this is why I’m writing—was intensive reading on my own. It began to take hold, I read everything I could, first in Latin and then more excitingly in Greek (to which I came relatively late), and the grammar just sank in by a kind of osmosis. Even today, when something is wrong or odd in some way, I know it before I can say why.

Only when I got a teaching job did I have to master the grammar formally. In the first Greek class I taught in the US I was asked whether something was an articular infinitive. I had never heard of an articular infinitive (though I was perfectly familiar with the construction) and asked what an articular infinitive was. (I knew what an articulated lorry was, but an articular infinitive?) Of course the news got about among students and my new colleagues that the new prof didn’t know what an articular infinitive was. It was not a good start.

Anyway, intensive and varied reading of genuine Greek and Latin is what I found most helpful in learning the languages. My real interest was in the literature, and the language came along with it—more than just grammar and vocab: style too, so much more intriguing. I dare say that wouldn’t work for everyone. (It doesn’t accord with what are now known to be efficient memorization techniques: calvinist’s methods are much superior there.) I’m only saying it worked for me.

Sorry I can’t say anything about Greek readers, apart from myself that is. :P
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby daivid » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:38 pm

mwh wrote:Anyway, intensive and varied reading of genuine Greek and Latin is what I found most helpful in learning the languages. My real interest was in the literature, and the language came along with it—more than just grammar and vocab: style too, so much more intriguing. I dare say that wouldn’t work for everyone. (It doesn’t accord with what are now known to be efficient memorization techniques: calvinist’s methods are much superior there.) I’m only saying it worked for me.


That was how I learnt Serbo-Croat but it is failing for me completely with Greek. However, when I was in Croatia it was children's books I read initially. Greek readers are the nearest equivalent for ancient Greek. It is rather depressing that none of the readers in the list below have been recently written and indeed many (most?) are from the 19th century.

jeidsath wrote:So Whitesell has an article titled "Learning to Read a Foreign Language" which you can get here. I'd give has method a try to see if it speeds you up a bit. There is a great deal of insight there about how mechanical work can distract from the text so that you "never have more than two or three words on the surface of the mind at one time."


I am looking at the way I learn vocab in the light of that piece but it is not my key problem. I read slowly because I get tripped up by idioms and because I keep getting thrown by the word order. I have this problem because I don't read enough. I don't read enough because I read slowly. etc.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby jeidsath » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:13 pm

@mwh, since you're not being chary with your wisdom today, I'd like to draw you out a bit more on your early reading.

1) What did you read at the very beginning?

2) How did you read? Did you use a commentary and a dictionary? Did you use a translation? Did you skim, or were you thorough?

3) Did you re-read?

I collect stories like this, btw. Here's Francis Adams (1796-1861):

As far as I can think, my classical bent was owing to a friendship which I formed, when about fifteen years old, with a young man a few years older than myself, who had enjoyed the benefits of an excellent education at Montrose, which gave him a superiority over myself that roused me to emulation.

In my early years I had been shamefully mistaught. I began by devoting seventeen hours a day to the study of Virgil and Horace, and it will be readily believed that such intense application soon made up for any early deficiencies.

I read each of these six or seven times in succession. Having mastered the difficulties of Latin literature, I naturally turned my attention to Greek as being the prototype of the other.

It was the late Dr. Kerr of Aberdeen who drew my attention to the Greek literature of medicine, and at his death I purchased a pretty fair collection of the Greek medical authors which he had made. However, I have also read almost every Greek work which has come down to us from antiquity, with the exception of the ecclesiastical writers; all the poets, historians, philosophers, orators, writers of science, novelists, and so forth. My ambition always was to combine extensive knowledge of my profession with extensive erudition.



Steven J. Willett:
http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.educat ... sics/60311

Re: I wonder . . .

On Thu, 23 Jan 2014 22:39:32 +0900, Jim O'Donnell <cassiodorus <at> gmail.com>
wrote:

> I wonder how many people in the world in the year 2014:
>
> 1. Will read all or most of Thucydides in any language at all?
> 2. Will read some of Thucydides in Greek?
> 3. Will read all or most of Thucydides in Greek?

No one can answer JOD's questions, but here is the experience of one
reader.

Three years ago I had been reading so much Latin that my Greek was getting
rusty. So I decided to make a grand tour of the canon and visit old
friends or meet new ones. Here in approximate chronological order is what
I've read or reread. Let me add, these are complete texts.

Homer: Iliad and Odyssey with the OUP and CUP commentaries. I particularly
enjoyed Kirk's and Janko's volumes.

Plato: Republic 1~2.368c4, Apology, Crito, Symposium and Phaedo (each more
than once in the past). When I finish with my Hellenika project, it's back
to the Republic.

Herodotus (second traversal).

Bacchylides.

Aristophanes (third time through thanks to a great grad school teacher).

Sophocles: Medea (third time), Electra, Ajax, OT.

Pindar: Pythians and Isthmians in Gentili's editions.

Philodemus On Poems 1 and 3-4.

Pindar: Pythian 4 in Bruce Karl Braswell's well thumbed, annotated and
marked commentary (every scholar should own it whatever the price).

Euripides: Bacchae, IiT and both A&P volumes of fragments.

Plutarch: Aristeides & Cato, Malice of Herodotus.

Aeschylus: Oresteia (fourth or fifth time, with Fraenkel, Page & even
Verrrall).

The fragments of Old Comedy in the three-vol. Loeb.

Xenophon: Anabasis, Memorabilia, Symposium, Apology and Hellenika (this
last with G. E. Underhill's old OUP commentary). I'm about to do the
Cyropaedia and Agesilaus.

Thucydides (with as I mentioned the HCT and Hornblower plus several other
editions of specific volumes. Second traversal, the first being long ago.
I tried to cover 5 to 10+ pages of the OCT edition at every sitting. It
got faster as I accustomed myself to the vocabulary and style. The
narrative sections are not difficult and often wonderful, especially the
plague, the Pylus-Sphakteria campaign and the whole of the Sicilian
Expedition. The speeches can be pretty gruesome.

I usually try to devote the morning from about 10:00 to 2:00 or 3:00 for
Greek. In the case of prose, I found that reading whole works without a
break led me to internalize the syntax and vocabulary so well I no longer
translated. I simply read Greek. I even started to mumble and dream in
Greek. I also don't need to consult a lexicon except for particularly
unusual words. That is, total immersion really does work to produced
fluency. Peter Green's famous seminar at Austin where they read all of
Herodotus in 15 weeks is the kind of thing that should be done more if any
students could find the courage and discipline. And a teacher.

There's a lot more on my list: Plato, another rereading of Thucydides and
Polybius with the three-vol. Walbank commentary sitting in my library.
Then more tragedy, Plutarch, Euripides and Theocritus. I haven't reread
him in years, so he may go higher on the things-to-read list. Oh and
probably more Plotinus. I read him a lot in the past and have a couple of
specialized commentaries.

It helps to be gainfully retired and watch no television. Putting in an
hour or more of hard cardio exercise refreshes body and brain. At our
house in Oregon I usually rise around 8:00, make a cappuccino and then hit
the road for Nordic Walking. On return I work out with the weight set in
the second floor and then have breakfast. Keeping the body fit is crucial
if one is going to make maximum use of the mind.

I might add that I've also been doing a lot of other reading besides
Greek: Thomas Bernhard, Primo Levi, W. G. Sebald, Franz Kafka, Witold
Gombrowicz (essential, especially Ferdydurke, Cosmos and the Diary) plus a
lot of poetry, notably Rilke and Celan.


Schliemann:

https://archive.org/stream/ilioscityand ... 3/mode/2up
https://archive.org/stream/ilioscityand ... 7/mode/2up

I then occupied myself for two years exclusively with the literature of ancient Greece; and during this time I read almost all of the classical authors cursorily, and the Iliad and Odyssey several times. Of the Greek grammar, I learned only the declensions and the verbs, and never lost my precious time in studying its rules; for I saw that boys, after being troubled and tormented for eight years and more in schools with the tedious rules of grammar, can nevertheless none of them write a letter in ancient Greek without making hundreds of atrocious blunders. I thought the method pursued by the schoolmasters must be altogether wrong, and that a thorough knowledge of the Greek grammar could only be obtained by practice,—that is to say, by the attentive reading of the prose classics; and by committing choice pieces of them to memory. Following this very simple method, I learnt ancient Greek as I would have learnt a living language. I can write in it with the greatest fluency on any subject I am acquainted with, and can never forget it. I am perfectly acquainted with all the grammatical rules without even knowing whether or not they are contained in the grammars; and whenever a man finds errors in my Greek, I can immediately prove that I am right, by merely reciting passages from the classics where the sentences employed by me occur.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Qimmik » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:27 pm

I usually try to devote the morning from about 10:00 to 2:00 or 3:00 for
Greek.


I would love to have 4-5 hours a day to read Greek and Latin. I don't think most people who are not retired or professional classicists can muster that amount of time. Maybe if I stopped taking the time to write nonsense on this site, I might have a little more time.

But a real Greek author--any author writing ancient Greek--is the best reader.
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Re: Greek reader reviews

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:32 pm

But the only thing that did me any good—this is why I’m writing—was intensive reading on my own.

This is very similar to my experience. Not that I can claim any fluency in Greek, but at least as far as my English goes. I have studied English 8 or 9 years at school, but the only thing that did me any good was—intensive reading on my own. Come to think about it, I'm not aware of anyone anywhere who ever attained fluency in any language solely through formal teaching. Intense exposure to real language is, in my opinion, quintessential—just reading, if oral skills are not an aim (as I think it is the case with dead languages) or an actual communicative necessity, like living in a foreign country. I went to Franco-Finnish school myself (i.e. a school with lots and lots of French teaching, many of the teachers being natives); in the end, after 12 or 13 years, maybe half of my (native Finnish) classmates were still incapable of making anything but a very shallow conversation in French or avoiding the most obvious mistakes. The lesson being that it's not enough that your parents would like you to learn a language, you need to really want it yourself.

Now, the way I see it, for learning even a dead language only little grammar is really necessary. Grammar is needed to discuss different the phenomena of a language, to read commentaries etc.—the importance of which I'm not denying, but too much grammar can distract you. Maybe we should try to see grammar not as something unnecessary, but as an advanced skill, something we should try to internalize only after we are quite far in our studies?

@joel: Schliemann was one of the biggest liars of the 19th century, but yes, I don't think he's very wrong.
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