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Aeschylus reading rate ...

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Aeschylus reading rate ...

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:24 pm

I spent most of the morning studying a few lines in chapter three of Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. This afternoon a tree service crew arrived across the street and they are still there as I write. I'm supposed to get a quote from the owner — crew chief when they get done so I am not protected by my 40db industrial strength noise suppressors. After lunch decided to look at Aeschylus Agamemnon. I have been mulling over lines 540-545 off and on for several days. Today I spent with many distractions roughly ninety minutes on one line with four words trying to fit it into the flow of thought. The next line was easy, about two minutes.

There are all kinds of ways to approach an ancient greek text.

In text I am familiar with, like the New Testament or the LXX I read fast and exegete slow. In Attic Tragedy I exegete as I read because it is virtually impossible to read it otherwise. This makes reading slow. If you can read Aeschylus Agamemnon at the rate I read the Gospels then go right ahead and do it. You will probably not have a lot fellow travelers. We had this same discussion about Thucydides.

CSB
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Re: Aeschylus reading rate ...

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:44 pm

Maybe my reply was a bit provocative... My point was that in 5th century Athens, when they were playing Agamemnon for the first time, you were supposed to see it only once and only for the couple of hours the play would last. That was the original "Agamemnon of Aeschylus" experience. It's impossible to replicate this experience, because we live in a different world and different culture and speak different languages - whatever we do, we just won't get it, our background just isn't the right one. By intensely studying the play, we can try to get into the spirit, but it will never be the same for us as it was for any Athenian layman of the 5th century. I'm not claiming, though, that the play was "piece of cake" for this Athenian layman.

Some texts are certainly worth a lifetime's study, and Agamemnon is probably one of them. I think a very deepgoing study of the text can be justified and it can open a view not only to the text itself, but to what people of the past thought about life generally. But here like everywhere, life is a matter of compromises, and I think 6 months for Agamemnon is not a bad compromise - it's not really that long...
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Re: Aeschylus reading rate ...

Postby cb » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:14 pm

hi, in case it helps to get started, a while ago i did some notes on extracts of agamemnon where i put the words into an easier order, see from pg 58 here:

http://mhninaeide.webs.com/GrkIambicComp-23-Apr-06.pdf

just basic notes to accompany the main thing i was doing (the scansion of the iambics in the left column), but perhaps this re-ordering of the grk might help - i did this for pindar's 1st olympian, re-ordering the grk to make it a bit easier (on will's www.aoidoi.org site: http://www.aoidoi.org/poets/pindar/O1.pdf) which also has v tricky word order, i've heard that some uni classes have been using that doc in class so perhaps it helps a bit.

good luck, aeschylus is v hard, cheers, chad
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Re: Aeschylus reading rate ...

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:49 pm

I think it has taken me about about a week to do 15 lines with numerous distractions but working on it for an hour or so every day. Even after applying all the usual procedures to shed light on the lines 540-554 they still seem somewhat mystifying, it isn't like the text becomes perfectly lucid. Working with Sophocles taught me to be satisfied with something short of clarity. You end up consulting several translations and then demonstrating sufficiently how the author went about expressing himself.

It isn't like reading historical narrative or even Homer. A certain fog factor remains after all your work. I don't consider this orders of magnitude more difficult than Sophocles. There are numerous lexical semantic oddities which compound with abbreviated and occasionally irregular syntax, all this adds up to extra work. So it is difficult like Chad said. Don't suspect most people are going to be very happy after a few months of working with this text. Depends on what you call success. If 100% clarity and comprehension is standard of success then you will not, short of genius, get there.
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Re: Aeschylus reading rate ...

Postby NateD26 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:10 pm

I reckon there's no hope for me then. :)

Would you care to elaborate your thoughts on lines 540-554 here or on a separate
thread? I probably wouldn't know anything about it but it'd be interesting nonetheless.
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Re: Aeschylus reading rate ...

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:46 am

cb wrote:hi, in case it helps to get started, a while ago i did some notes on extracts of agamemnon where i put the words into an easier order, see from pg 58 here:


Thanks, I'll have a look once I get properly started!
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