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Günther Zuntz's Griechischer Lehrgang: A Review

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Günther Zuntz's Griechischer Lehrgang: A Review

Postby rmedinap » Sun Dec 11, 2016 3:44 pm

Professor Günther Zuntz wrote a Greek Course (or a primer, as he called them) named Griechischer Lehrgang in three volumes. The first edition (1983) of his course is available free online at the Munich’s Digital Library:




(There is a second edition (1991), very hard to come by, which I have only been able to consult in libraries, in which I have only been able to detect the correction of a few misprints, mainly spirits or accents.)

There's a short German review of the first edition by Marius Reiser in the Theologische Quartalschrift (1985), as well as a French one by Maurice Leroy in L'antiquité classique (1986).

There is also an English translation by Stanley E. Porter (Paperback ISBN 1850757208, Hardback 1850753415) but it is practically impossible to find anywhere, I got my own copy out of pure luck. This English translation was reviewed by J. G. Randall in The Classical Review (1996).

In addition to the introduction of his course (his Vorwort was sadly “reduced” in the English translation), professor Zuntz also wrote several articles reviewing other Greek Courses, exposing his own views on several methods and tendencies, he pondered vastly on the needs of the student and the teacher of Greek. I list them here:

On Greek primers. Didaskalos 4.2 (1973) pp. 360-374 [I can provide a digital copy of this article upon request]

Griechischer Anfängerunterricht - Gestern, heute und morgen. Der altsprachliche Unterricht. Reihe XVII, Heft 5 (1974) pp. 41-64 [I can provide a digital copy of this article upon request]

Linguistics and the Teaching of Greek. Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, New Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1973/1974), pp. 381-400.

On First Looking into Chase and Phillips: Notes on the Teaching of Beginners' Greek. Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Autumn, 1967), pp. 362-373.

I firmly believe that Professor Zuntz’ Griechischer Lehrgang is the best method to teach and to learn Ancient Greek, despite its shortcomings, namely the little attention payed to particles or temporal clauses, which are easily solved with the aid of Hermann Menge’s Repetitorium der griechischen Syntax (ISBN 9783534240333) or any other competent method or grammar.

That Professor Zuntz’s method is not perfect and can always be improved with the aid of additional material (for instance the Anthologies of Greek texts made by Francisco Rodríguez Adrados and Manuel Fernández-Galiano, which contain original Greek sentences arranged by grammatical topics) is self evident, but still remains the best I’ve ever encountered.

I’ve used many other methods (both as a student and as a teacher or private tutor) and it is in my experience that the best possible complement to Zuntz’s Lehrgang is the Italian version of Athenaze and Athenaze II, along with its exercise books Meletemata I and Meletemata II.

I’ve combined both methods differently (depending on the needs, time and taste of the pupils), but often depending on the Athenaze for the younger pupils (no older than 15 or 16) or for the first lessons after they have mastered (or while they are still mastering) the first two declensions and the indicative present of the regular verbs.

Once they have lost all fear of reading and understanding several pages of Greek (even if it is the home-made Greek which Professor Zuntz so despised) I turn entirely to the Lehrgang and use the Athenaze simply for review and exercise or let the pupil read it alone at home at his own pace and pleasure (for if the Athenaze has one unbeatable quality, is that it is fun to read).

If the pupil simply wants to read and not ponder to much on grammatical subtleties, it as also possible to use the Athenaze as the main course and Zunt’s method as a reference for the indispensable and to show the pupil some authentic Greek. This variation is of course impossible for those who study Greek with an academic goal in mind, specially philologists, in which case strict adherence to Zuntz’s Lehrgang as the main method is indispensable, though one need not relegate the Athenaze too much.

An alternative to Athenaze is Peckett & Munday’s Thrasymachus (ISBN 0-86292-139-2), already praised and critiqued by Zuntz in his articles, but I believe it has been long surpassed by the Athenaze. The second volume of the Athenaze is full of big excerpts of Plato, Herodotus and Thucydides and will serve as good as any anthology.

As a staunch supporter of the so called “active method”, I also can attest to the Lehrgang’s adequate qualities to be used intimately with Athenaze (or on its own) for the purpose of teaching Greek while speaking and exercising in Greek.

If I may say a couple words about myself, I'm a humble undergraduate student of classics at the UNAM (Mexico). I spent the academic year of 2012 in the Vivarium Novum Academy in Rome. I'm currently working near Hamburg, Germany as a volunteer and finishing my bachelor's thesis. I have spent the last two years as private professor of Greek and Latin and a semester as Assistant Professor of Greek at the UNAM.

I wrote the present "review" because I found myself amazed at the lack of attention the Lehrgang's got. In fact, a part from a couple of reviews on some hyper specialized journals and recondite blogs there is a general ignorance of Professor Zuntz's (a world renowned scholar) Lehrgang.


A call for help:

I have spent the last three years, unsuccessfully searching for the recordings which Professor Zuntz meant to use in conjunction with his method (he mentions them in the pages 373-374 of his article On Greek primers (1973) and elsewhere).

I have not been able to find any reference to them being in any format other than tape. Since he worked mainly at the University of Manchester and at Austin, TX, while he wrote his Lehrgang, I'm positive that there must be at least a copy of the recordings in the libraries of any of those Universities.

It is also possible that a copy exist in the University of Tübingen (where Zuntz actually finished the Lehrgang). I'll ask around.

Do any of you study in Manchester or Austin and can help me find out if those tapes still exist? (And if it is possible to borrow them or request they be transferred to mp3 or CD?

To my knowledge, they were never released to the general public.
Last edited by rmedinap on Tue Dec 20, 2016 4:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Günther Zuntz's Griechischer Lehrgang: A Review

Postby jeidsath » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:45 pm

Thank you for this post. I've been reading through Zuntz's articles and the German versions of the textbooks that you link above, and enjoy his approach. For getting a hold of audio tapes, I've had success writing emails to university librarians.
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Re: Günther Zuntz's Griechischer Lehrgang: A Review

Postby jeidsath » Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:30 pm

I was able to find a copy of the English translation, and it's a lot of fun to go through it. In some ways, it's the sort of graded reader that Daivid is talking about in the other thread. I'm considering a lessons thread about this in the Greek Textbook forum, along with images of the lessons, for those who can't get the book.

However, I notice that in the vocabulary to lesson 3 Porter has:

μανθάνω to teach

The German edition has (correctly):

μανθάνω erfahren, lernen, verstehen

This is such a blunder that I have difficulty understanding how it came about.
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Re: Günther Zuntz's Griechischer Lehrgang: A Review

Postby polemistes » Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:44 am

It is not very difficult to understand the blunder knowing that the words for teach and learn in German are quite similar ("lehren" and "lernen"). In my language, Norwegian, the words are identical "lære", and therefore saying "I will learn you how to..." is a typical mistake in English made by Norwegians. Although my German is good enough for reading anything, and I would probably have used the right word while speaking, I have not been aware of this distinction in German until now...
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Re: Günther Zuntz's Griechischer Lehrgang: A Review

Postby Ursinus » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:40 pm

Looks interesting. I am getting the English translation on ILL and attempting to get my library to get the English translation (they have it in the original German, but my German is not good at all).
In hoc enim fallimur, quod mortem prospicimus" -- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Gratia et Pax,

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