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Agamemnon of Aeschylus

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Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:12 pm

Hi!
I was already asking about this in another thread... Who wants to read Agamemnon of Aeschylus together, the Attic tragedy you should read before you die? It is difficult, but that's why reading it together with someone is a good idea. And it's not too long, just 1673 lines - the Iliad is >15000!

I was thinking of a pace of about 100 lines per week, which would mean about 4 months in all. I'm open to other suggestions too, though.

Anyone interested?
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby NateD26 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:45 pm

I'd be interested if the pace can be reduced to 50-60 lines per week.
Are there any rules participants should be aware of? Is the use of online commentaries
(such as the ones on archive.org) forbidden or encouraged? Do we simply post our translations
or supplement them with notes about syntax, idioms and the like?
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby spiphany » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:49 pm

My copy of Agamemnon (Denniston/Page commentary) is across the Atlantic right now and having it shipped would be difficult since I don't know which box it's in. Sorry! Otherwise I'd be up for it.

Now if we were talking Antigone, on the other hand...
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:30 pm

I don't have any very particular rules in mind, and I wasn't thinking about anything very formal. Just that we agree about a reading pace and discuss anything we find difficult or interesting as we proceed, by translating or by other means.

Personnally I like to use commentaries (as many as I can get my hands on!) and would use at least Denniston & Page. I might also get the recent one by Raeburn & Thomas. But people are different, so if you're not using a commentary that's okay by me... On a web forum study group, you'll necessary have people from more heterogenous backgrounds than in a school setting. Different people have different approaches and different interests, and that's just the point of doing it together, to see aspects of the text you'd never have thought about alone.

So my primary goal is just to read the whole text and understand the whole story from a linguistic viewpoint, but it's fortunately unavoidable to learn a lot more in the process.

I didn't have any particular edition in mind either, not yet at least. Personnally I wouldn't mind people reading different editions. (Sometimes I even think it's rewarding to discuss the differences between different editions, though usually that just goes way too deep if you ever want to get to the end...).

So... How about 65 lines per week? That would enable us to read it in 26 weeks, half a year!
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby NateD26 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:22 pm

I think 65 lines per week is a reasonable pace. Consider me in! :)

Spiphany, I actually read Antigone in ornate, archaic, and metrical Hebrew on my lunch brakes.
I've always loved the theme of the play and would love to try my hand at reading the original. :)
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:00 pm

Ya know, setting a target rate of reading doesn't really improve the experience in my humble opinion. It's better to just dive into it and see how it goes. I found Agamemnon too difficult for my level of attainment a decade ago when I read something like the first 150 lines. Been dabbling a little lately in Aeschylus and it doesn't seem so bad. But the difficulty waxes and wanes. The fact that Aeschylus uses some vocabulary in a manner not found elsewhere keeps one busy with the lexicon. In some cases the Aeschylus appears to just extend the semantic domain of a particular word but in other places he appears to just invent meanings.

I read somewhere that Ezra Pound "assigned" a modern[est] translation of Agamemnon to T. S. Eliot but not sure of Eliot even started much less finished.

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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:40 pm

I'd be willing to drop in on this project now and then but can not sign up for 12 lines a day.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:13 pm

CSB, I agree that setting a target rate won't improve the experience of work of art, especially if it means spending many months reading it. Ideally, you should read to the whole play in 2 hours or preferably see it in the theatre! Unfortunately, Classical Greek is not our native tongue... Hence, 65 lines per week.

I usually use your "diving" method, and in case of Aeschylus, it always took me to about line 150, just like you, and then I always let go. If I had kept reading, it would certainly have taken me less than a month. But now, a completely different approach!

(And yes, I might consider Antigone too...)
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:52 am

Well, there's two of us now plus one "now and then". That's a good start but we could use a couple more. Come on, it's free!
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:19 am

Well, we still don't have a big crowd. But I'm willing to do it. How about you, Nate? I think we could just get started, people might hop in later too.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby NateD26 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:45 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Well, we still don't have a big crowd. But I'm willing to do it. How about you, Nate? I think we could just get started, people might hop in later too.

I'm ready to begin this journey, slow and difficult though it may be.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:29 pm

Ok, let us embark! I think it's pointless to read exactly 65 lines per week, because that means you often have to stop in the middle of the sentence... So I cut up the play into 26 chunks. I avoided dividing individual speeches into different chunks to keep reading them "meaningful". Also, some lines are longer than others, which I also tried to take into account. In the beginning the chunks are slightly shorter in average and get a bit longer as we proceed. What do you think?

1-39, 40-103, 104-159, 160-217, 218-280, 281-319, 320-384, 385-474, 475-537, 538-586, 587-635, 636-680, 681-762, 762-809, 810-854, 855-930, 931-974, 975-1071, 1072-1135, 1136-1213, 1214-1294, 1295-1371, 1372-1447, 1448-1520, 1521-1611, 1611-1673
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby NateD26 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:36 pm

I think it's a manageable schedule although you should be aware I do not own any commentaries
or translations and I'm going to rely on whatever I can find online for help so my progress would
most likely be slower than expected. Hope it's OK with you.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Koehnsen » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:06 pm

Hello Paul, Nate and C.S,

Pleased to meet you. I am interested. I have Fraenkel's edition and would like to be the fourth member of this group.

In the absence of a specified format I was thinking about writing out my translation and then writing accompanying notes about what I found difficult or questions below the translation. Are we skipping over the Ἀγαμέμνοωος ὑπόθεσισ ? In my edition there are 25-26 lines of this introduction.

When are our translations due and in what format? Do we just post them here on the due date? That might be the best option since perhaps passersby might be inclined to comment and/or help with questions.

Tschüß!
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:57 pm

Welcome, Koehnsen!

I wasn't planning to do any systematic translation myself, but only translating to illustrate some particular point when necessary. Translating can be very rewarding, but it's also a lot of work. The way I thought I'll be working is just discussing passages we think difficult, interesting or otherwise challenging. Translation is of course a good way to do this, so of course you should do it as much you feel necessary.

Ἀγαμέμνονος ὑπόθεσις seems to be missing from many editions, I have it my OCT but not in my Loeb and Denniston & Page, and it also seems to be missing from Perseus. But we could start by that. Maybe we shouldn't dwell too long on that though, as I suppose it's not an organic part of the work. By the way, do you know where it comes from, who do they think wrote it?

You said you read Fraenkel - from the introduction to Denniston & Page, I got the idea that it's an impressive instance of German scholarship! I guess you are German-speaking yourself. English is not my native language either, so I'll have to excuse myself if I don't always express myself properly. This makes me work my English too.

Nate, like I said we have different backgrounds and different working methods and that's fine by me. We are not doing a school project or anything like that, we're planning to read Agamemnon. And as far as backgrounds go, from your previous posts you seem to know a lot more Greek than I do! And I think that counts in this kind of entreprise...

I propose this schedule: We start with Ἀγαμέμνονος ὑπόθεσις, now. October 1st we start with Agamemnon proper, chunk #1, lines 1-39, "deadline" October 7th, and then one chunk per week. Is this ok for you?
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby NateD26 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:21 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Nate, like I said we have different backgrounds and different working methods and that's fine by me. We are not doing a school project or anything like that, we're planning to read Agamemnon. And as far as backgrounds go, from your previous posts you seem to know a lot more Greek than I do! And I think that counts in this kind of entreprise...

I propose this schedule: We start with Ἀγαμέμνονος ὑπόθεσις, now. October 1st we start with Agamemnon proper, chunk #1, lines 1-39, "deadline" October 7th, and then one chunk per week. Is this ok for you?

Yes, Paul. I will begin working my way through the hypothesis tomorrow after work.
Here's something I've found in Google books regarding the hypothesis and how it somewhat
differs on the extant version of the play:
Agamemnon in Performance 458 BC to AD 2004 (p.57)
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:41 pm

NateD26 wrote:Yes, Paul. I will begin working my way through the hypothesis tomorrow after work.
Here's something I've found in Google books regarding the hypothesis and how it somewhat
differs on the extant version of the play:
Agamemnon in Performance 458 BC to AD 2004 (p.57)


This link is context sensitive. Doesn't work for some of us. Common problem with google books.

You going to to this Agamemnon thing in one huge thread like Thucydides?
Seems kind cumbersome. Easier to follow if you just have a thread on each problem
you want to discuss.

With an extraordinary level of distraction I have plowed through 30 lines from 539-569. Some of it was borderline incomprehensible but the majority was in the same ball park with Sophocles, who can also approach the incomprehensible. What I mean is, it really isn't impossible to read. Just tedious amount of lexical work. No problem if you use a hypertext and point an click your way through. I put hypertext at the end of the process after all other methods have been exhausted. You learn more, I think.

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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Koehnsen » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:58 pm

Hi Paul. Thank you for your welcome and kind comments.

The Fraenkel edition is written by the esteemed German professor, but it is in English and I believe he was still a professor at Corpus Christi College at Oxford when the set was published around 1950. I do have a great set on the Herakles by his mentor Wilamowitz-Mollendorff that is excellent, and that one is in German and Greek.

I like your ideas regarding procedure and I look forward to posting around 01 October on the Ἀγαμέμνονος ὑπόθεσις. The schedule is perfect for me, too.

In the spirit of Nate’s contribution, I found this online pdf of the 'Agamemnon' of Aeschylus; with an introduction, commentary, and translation, by A. W. Verrall (1889)

http://archive.org/details/agamemnonofaesch00aescrich

Tschüß,
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:37 am

NateD26 wrote:Yes, Paul. I will begin working my way through the hypothesis tomorrow after work.
Here's something I've found in Google books regarding the hypothesis and how it somewhat
differs on the extant version of the play:
Agamemnon in Performance 458 BC to AD 2004 (p.57)

There's also a translation and discussion of the hypothesis on pp. 25-26. The Greek is quite straightforward though, I already read it. I have couple of questions/thoughts, but I maybe I should wait a bit before posting...

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:You going to to this Agamemnon thing in one huge thread like Thucydides?
Seems kind cumbersome. Easier to follow if you just have a thread on each problem
you want to discuss.

I think you're right, we shouldn't do this in one huge thread; but let's still try keep some kind of limit to new threads or we'll overflow the forum and people will get sick of Agamemnon and us...
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby NateD26 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:44 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:
NateD26 wrote:Yes, Paul. I will begin working my way through the hypothesis tomorrow after work.
Here's something I've found in Google books regarding the hypothesis and how it somewhat
differs on the extant version of the play:
Agamemnon in Performance 458 BC to AD 2004 (p.57)


This link is context sensitive. Doesn't work for some of us. Common problem with google books.

CSB

Most of the days, I do not have access to previewed books. Even with this link I've posted,
the next day I didn't have access to this page. Sorry about that.
In any case, it mentioned something about a distinct way in which Aeschylus had killed Agamemnon
that is missing in or is different from the version present to us today. I've only read the
play once in metrical Hebrew in 2008 for a university course so I'm a little fussy about the scene
in question.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Koehnsen » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:09 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:I think you're right, we shouldn't do this in one huge thread; but let's still try keep some kind of limit to new threads or we'll overflow the forum and people will get sick of Agamemnon and us...


What if we linked offsite to some place. We could make a new thread directing people to an offsite link and the four of us and any new additions or passerby could post there. It could be as easily as enabling a new blog just for this purpose.

I could also write Jeff and see if he has any suggestions. He is always testing out new features and maybe he would have an idea or preferences.

What do you guys think?

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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:59 pm

I don't think it's necessary to create anything new for this purpose - I think this is the kind of thing Textkit all about. (Or I suppose so...) I mean I guess there's probably not a few people at Textkit who are interested about Agamemnon and might want to follow our thread and even post now and then, but don't want to commit themselves, but I'm afraid that we might lose those people if go offsite, whether we post a link or not.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Koehnsen » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:18 pm

OK, so then let's post in a new thread for each assignment. All comments related to the introduction, then lines 01-39, etc, would go in their own threads. There isn't so much traffic at Textkit that they will get very separated from the other.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby cb » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:46 am

hi, i'll join too. i have fraenkel, denniston & page and martin west's studies in aeschylus. cheers, chad
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby cb » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:05 am

also my non-existent willpower just crumbled and i just ordered the raeburn & thomas. cheers, chad
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Koehnsen » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:11 pm

cb wrote:also my non-existent willpower just crumbled and i just ordered the raeburn & thomas. cheers, chad


Hi Chad, wow…great that you can join us. I thought of you the other day. I was looking at the introduction to Steadman's Homer's Odyssey 6-8 and he mentions you in the introduction. But I am sure you know that already!

I happened upon the Raeburn and Thomas yesterday and have been going back and forth about buying it due to the cost. Let us know what you think of it…if it's excellent I may have to splurge too.

Bis später,
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby cb » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:25 pm

hi, looking forward to working through this play with you and the rest of the group. no i didn't know that about steadman's odyssey, v nice of him. i'll let you know my thoughts on the raeburn & thomas book & audio CD when they arrive. cheers, chad
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Koehnsen » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:03 pm

NateD26 wrote:I'm ready to begin this journey, slow and difficult though it may be.


My sentiments as well. I expect to be lagging behind everyone else, but I'm not really worried about how my efforts look as long as I am learning.

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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:07 am

cb wrote:also my non-existent willpower just crumbled and i just ordered the raeburn & thomas. cheers, chad

Welcome, Chad!

My willpower did the exact same thing. I also reserved West's Studies in Aeschylus at the university library. West is like a god to me...
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:38 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:
cb wrote:also my non-existent willpower just crumbled and i just ordered the raeburn & thomas. cheers, chad

Welcome, Chad!

My willpower did the exact same thing. I also reserved West's Studies in Aeschylus at the university library. West is like a god to me...


You guys have some books I had never heard of, not being up to date on Agamemnon secondary literature. I'm going to plod along using the local library which amounts to Denn/Page and a hand full of versions.
For some reason I have reverted to transcribing the text, something I quit doing in 1990. I think it helps me internalize it, writing it down.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby cb » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:47 pm

hi, i think it would be a good idea to collect at least the online resources that we've found for agamemnon, as a future reference for everyone in the group. i'll start a new thread on this and people can add to it. cheers, chad
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby pster » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:01 pm

OK, I'm in. I ordered the book and the CDs. I've put aside a couple of hours a day for it, so I should be able to contribute a lot of...questions! Indeed, I don't even have the book yet and here are a few that come to mind:

1) What are the main differences between tragedy and for example Plato and Demosthenes? I have never read a tragedy in the original. Is there a convenient discussion somewhere? Is it like the difference between Hobbes and Shakespeare? Or more like the difference between contemporary academic prose and say Wallace Stevens?

2) What is the right way to go about it? So suppose you get stuck on a line. OK, so you look up any words you don't know. After a while, say an hour or two, I start looking at the translations on Perseus. Then, if I am still confused, I start looking at commentaries. But I get the sense listening to some of you folks that you don't look at the translations until much later, perhaps even after you have put questions to the forum. Is there any consensus about this? What do they tell upper level undergraduates to do? Do any of you have any method or rule(s) of thumb?

Thanks in advance.

OK, I'm starting to answer 1) for myself by reading the chapter on tragedy in the Blackwell Companion to the Greek Language.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby spiphany » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:43 am

1) Tragedy uses a fair amount of vocabulary that you don't see in Attic prose -- when I did prose composition in Germany a couple of years ago the prof kept marking my word choice as "poetic" because most of my reading had been epic and tragedy. You'll see forms that are familiar from reading Homer, and generally the syntax is not as full of subordinate clauses and paragraph-long sentences that you get with some prose authors.

2) My methods depend on what I'm reading and why. If when I was reading texts for a class, I would go through the text pretty thoroughly, making a note of everything I didn't understand &c. If I'm reading for personal satisfaction, I'm more inclined to read for comprehension & enjoyment and not worry too much about determining whether a particular construction is a genitive of separation or attributive or or or. Unless I need to in order to figure out the meaning of a passage. When I refer to a translation it's mostly as a way to figure out the Greek when I've gotten stuck, but this varies, too. In some genres (philosophy, history) it can be really important to understand everything or you lose the thread of the argument and then a translation can be helpful in determining not so much the sense of the individual sentences but how they connect with each other. With plays I generally know the overall plot beforehand so a translation doesn't provide so much additional information in this respect.

I have occasionally used a bilingual edition, referring to the translation to get the vocabulary rather than looking it all up in a dictionary. This can be a nice break from dictionary slogging, if I want to just read for a change, but it's definitely a less intense way of engaging with the text & I'm not sure I actively learn as much vocabulary this way in contrast to looking it up and writing it down.

ETA: My experience is also that once you've read a lot of a language (or in Greek, a lot of a particular genre of literature) it becomes less important to refer to translations and other aids to comprehension because you've become accustomed to the style and know how to construe stuff that would have puzzled you before. I don't see anything wrong with using whatever references you need to make sense of a text -- as long as you're still learning and engaging and making progress (even if "making progress" is something that can be hard to judge yourself).
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:49 pm

My approach to reading Greek is (usually) this: I try to read as much as I can as fast as possible. I first use a dictionnary, and if I don't get it, I don't hesitate to look up in translation and/or a commentary almost at once. As soon as I think I have really understood the meaning of a sentence, I go on. My aim is to get an instinctive feel of the language by being exposed to as much Greek as possible. I believe this is a natural way of learning a language. It certainly is for children (this is how I learned English as kid, by playing computer games), and I believe up to certain points it works for adults too. I've often wondered if I should go on even faster, if I should set a time limit after which I go on even if I haven't understood the meaning of passage.

I have never spent an hour of my life in Greek class, and I have read textbooks and grammars as little as possible; but I think relative to the amount of time spent studying Greek, my ability read, understand and translate a passage is good, probably above average. On the other hand, my grasp of grammatical concepts is rather poor and often I can't explain what a particular construction is or why it has been chosen for the particular occasion, although I can understand it. I understood an epic τε when I encountered one long before I knew there was a name for that. I don't mean it's ok not know your grammatical concepts; on the contrary, I think's it's especially beneficial when we're talking about a dead language. It's just that it has not been my number one priority.

So, that's my method. A systematic reading of Agamemnon like we're starting is of course quite different from what I usually do - and I welcome it!
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:01 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:My approach to reading Greek is (usually) this: I try to read as much as I can as fast as possible. I first use a dictionnary, and if I don't get it, I don't hesitate to look up in translation and/or a commentary almost at once. As soon as I think I have really understood the meaning of a sentence, I go on. My aim is to get an instinctive feel of the language by being exposed to as much Greek as possible. I believe this is a natural way of learning a language. It certainly is for children (this is how I learned English as kid, by playing computer games), and I believe up to certain points it works for adults too. I've often wondered if I should go on even faster, if I should set a time limit after which I go on even if I haven't understood the meaning of passage.

I have never spent an hour of my life in Greek class, and I have read textbooks and grammars as little as possible; but I think relative to the amount of time spent studying Greek, my ability read, understand and translate a passage is good, probably above average. On the other hand, my grasp of grammatical concepts is rather poor and often I can't explain what a particular construction is or why it has been chosen for the particular occasion, although I can understand it. I understood an epic τε when I encountered one long before I knew there was a name for that. I don't mean it's ok not know your grammatical concepts; on the contrary, I think's it's especially beneficial when we're talking about a dead language. It's just that it has not been my number one priority.

So, that's my method. A systematic reading of Agamemnon like we're starting is of course quite different from what I usually do - and I welcome it!


Sounds a little like Randall Buth and his friends. I find it ironic that Buth, a linguist who taught workshops in discourse analysis with Stephen Levinsohn now parades around making "analysis" sound like the original sin of language study. What is natural for ESL students isn't natural for linguists who habitually analyze texts even if they can read them without analysis.

In my humble opinion, using Buth's second language learning (SL) method to read Agamemnon of Aeschylus would probably be about as successful as giving the Cantos of Ezra Pound to a student from Turkmenistan who is trying to learn to speak English. In other words, Agamemnon isn't a good text for SL learners. For one thing none of the secondary literature will be intelligible to an SL learner, I find the the 19th century stuff difficult to comprehend just because the linguistic frameworks I use are from the second half of the 20th century. I have a number of old grammars, but I read them with difficulty.

I am not say that Paul or anyone else shouldn't read Agamemnon. I suspect that no one would be reading posts in this forum if they were not interested in hearing language analysis of some form. I'm just taking another shot at the SL purists. There is no question that humans learn language without the aid of metalanguage. Everyone one in Europe who grows up talking to people from neighboring countries can attest to the fact that metalanguage is not required for children to grow up multilingual. On the other hand until recently large portions of the USA were monolingual unless you lived in port city.
Last edited by C. S. Bartholomew on Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby arthad » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:48 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:Sounds a little like Randall Buth and his friends. I find it ironic that Buth, a linguist who taught workshops in discourse analysis with Stephen Levinsohn now parades around making "analysis" sound like the original sin of language study. What is natural for ESL students isn't natural for linguists who habitually analyze texts even if they can read them without analysis.

In my humble opinion, using Buth's second language learning (SL) method to read Agamemnon of Aeschylus would probably be about as successful as giving the Cantos of Ezra Pound to a student from Turkmenistan who is trying to learn to speak English. In other words, Agamemnon isn't a good text for SL learners. For one thing none of the secondary literature will be intelligible to an SL learner, I find the the 19th century stuff difficult to comprehend just because the linguistic frameworks I use are from the second half of the 20th century. I have a number of old grammars, but I read them with difficulty.


It's all about level. My ESL students wouldn't know what to do with Pound, but they all read the literature in their fields, since as graduate students they have to. On the other hand, a student whose English is at a very high level and who perhaps is studying comparative literature would profit from Pound, or Shakespeare, or any other complex English text.

CS, you seem to be distinguishing between "second language learners" and "linguists" -- but in fact we're all second language learners of Greek or Latin or both, unless there are some time travellers from Rome or Athens lurking on these boards. Buth advocates using a language in order to learn it, rather than memorizing paradigms and grammatical rules. The idea is that internalization, the ability to use a language, is essential. In his view, there's nothing wrong with analysis and close reading of texts -- Buth's posts on B-Greek make that clear -- it should just come at the right time. No learner of English would likely read Shakespeare without knowing how to get directions or order food, so why should it be different with Greek?
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:57 pm

Buth advocates using a language in order to learn it, rather than memorizing paradigms and grammatical rules.


On this I totally agree. I never learned any paradigms by rote, I was spared the experience of taking seminary greek by doing an end-run around biblical languages. Reading has been my method from the beginning. Started reading phrases, moved up to clauses and moved up to sentences and paragraphs. Read read read. There was and is no one to talk greek with. Buth's method assumes you can find other people to talk with. Bad assumption. There a hundred language groups within a 10 mile radius of my place. Not one of them speaks ancient greek.

I should qualify this, I haven't been reading Buth's posts for quite a while. He may have toned down his rhetoric or softened his positions on some subjects. I just kind of tuned him out about a decade ago. Now days I perhaps look at a post of his once a month or less.

I spent this morning reading James and Matthew in the NT. It's really easy reading. Makes me wonder why I want to do Agamemnon. Reminds me of the guy I know from the park who climbed Curtis Ridge on the north east corner of Mt Rainier. I have friends who have done Liberty Ridge and Ptarmigan Ridge but this man who walks very slowly up the the hill from Puget Sound did Curtis Ridge in the '60s. If you meet two people who claim they have done Curtis Ridge, at least one of them is lying. Agamemnon is the Curtis Ridge of Attic Tragedy.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby arthad » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:07 pm

Yeah, I won't go to bat for Buth specifically because I don't know every aspect of his position. My sense, though, is that there's no contradiction in advocating language use (not analysis) for beginners, so they can internalize the language, and also teaching linguistic analysis to people who either can already use the language communicatively or have no desire to learn how.

Regarding having a community of Greek speakers -- it's certainly nice if you do, but it's not a prerequisite to using materials by Buth or Rico successfully. Comprehensible input and producing the language yourself, whether through speaking or writing, goes a long way. I really doubt that Buth would say his materials are useless if you don't have someone to talk with in Greek.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:43 pm

I can't comment those earlier discussions, since I haven't followed them. Above I said "A systematic reading of Agamemnon like we're starting is of course quite different from what I usually do". When I read that again now, I notice it doesn't sound quite like what I wanted to say. (English is not my native tongue, that's my usual excuse...) Almost all the texts I read in Greek I read with a commentary. Probably I spend more time reading commentaries and other side literature than the texts themselves. You just can't read these texts out of context, they are all about the context. I hope nobody thinks I think I can just read Agamemnon and pick up Greek as I go like I was reading some kind of Ancient Winnie the Pooh!

Let me put it like this: I don't believe in being stuck. Thorough reading has it's place, and there is probably no point in reading Agamemnon without it in the original or even in translation. I want to analyse Agamemnon, otherwise I wouldn't be posting here. But I don't believe in endless analysis - it makes me think of the guy in Camus' The Plague who was writing a book; the plague killed him and they found out that he'd never gotten beyond the first sentence, which he had been writing again and again hundreds of times.

There aren't actually so many authentic ancient "easy reader" texts for the beginner, because only the good works have survived. I suppose Plato is often rather easy from a linguistic point of view, but that's not the whole picture. The only thing that comes to my mind now that sort of qualifies is the Batrachomyomachy, which has probably survived because it was used as a student's introduction to Homer.
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Re: Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Postby pster » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:30 pm

Since it is still the first week of October, I am assuiming that we are officially working on lines 1-39. Am I correct? I have been working hard on Agamemnon, but I just want to make sure that I am on schedule. :D
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