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Traditional Second Year Greek Text

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Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Jefferson Cicero » Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:02 am

Traditionally, Latin students in America used to read Caesar's Gallic Wars in their second year. What text was used in second year Greek? I seem to remember hearing somewhere that it was Xenophon's Anabasis. Is that correct?
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Qimmik » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:21 pm

I think we read Benner's Selections from the Iliad and Plato's Apology, among other things, in second-year Greek, but this would have been in 1961-2.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby demetri » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:26 pm

It will be interesting seeing other "traditions". :D

We went from the Iliad to Sophocles' Ajax (back in '69).
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Qimmik » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:43 pm

I think we read the Antigone in 3rd-year Greek, but we may have read the Medea in 2nd-year.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby daivid » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:40 pm

It is generally said that Xenophon's Anabasis is the traditional book that students move onto once they have completed a beginners course. Hence JW White's beginner's book has the specific aim of preparing the student to read Anabasis. The other replies suggest that the tradition is often not kept to.
However, when I attended a summer school this year there was private school guy who could quote the first few lines of Anabasis off from memory which suggests in some schools at least the tradition still survives.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Markos » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:19 pm

In my humble opinion (I know that many will disagree with me) a second year text better than the Anabasis is the simplified Anabasis:

http://www.amazon.com/Selections-Adapte ... ewpoints=1

especially since we now have an outstanding audio version being produced by Bedwere:

http://archive.org/details/Esafx

In my humble opinion, if you spent the second year reading and re-reading this text, and listening to it over and over again, and asking and answering simple questions about the text in Greek, and paraphrasing it your self in simple Greek in both writing and in speech, you would internalize Ancient Greek better than you would if you slogged though the Anabasis with constant trips to lexicons, grammar notes, and English translations. The notes to the simplified version still cover lots of grammar and forms, but they do so briefly and they allow you to get back to the reading quickly. (It would be better if an edition could be produced with the notes on the same or facing pages.) Such a text and audio provide the "book flood" and "comprehensible input" recommended by SLA experts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensive_reading

Spending the second year with the simplified Anabasis would also provide an excellent preparation for spending the third year with the unadapted Anabasis.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby daivid » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:03 pm

Markos wrote:In my humble opinion (I know that many will disagree with me) a second year text better than the Anabasis is the simplified Anabasis:
<snip>
Spending the second year with the simplified Anabasis would also provide an excellent preparation for spending the third year with the unadapted Anabasis.


The question as posed was what the traditional Second Year Greek Text not the best text.
No one has chosen to disagree with me that the traditional text is Anabasis so I take it everyone agrees.

I would agree with pretty much everything you wrote as to how easier texts are good because it allows much more reading. I think some of the disagreement we have had on this forum is because some of us are much quicker at picking up a language than others. For some people after one year Anabasis is easy in the raw and for them it is a good second year text. Hence really what is a good second year text is really what is easy for the individual and so there can be no one answer.

Having said that Anabasis is good (whether in the raw or whether simplified) because it is an action story.
Harder is description stuff where things just sit there not interacting with each other. Hence Strabo is probably not good even though the Greek does not seem very hard to me (and that's saying something :P ) Hardest is theory. When I attended a summer school we did some Plato but it was a story telling bit at the start.

EDIT
oops :oops: "forum" got droped from the end of:
"we have had on this forum"
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby ailuros » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:29 am

This was back in the 80s, but after finishing our first year text, i think we started with the Apology (which I found monstrously difficult and utterly unlike any of the Greek in my first year text). It was my understanding back then that teachers more or less ignored Xenophon, at least on the undergraduate level, as too dull and uninspired. Xenophon, at that time, was like Caesar: kind of avoided. Dan
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Jefferson Cicero » Sun Nov 03, 2013 12:19 pm

Thank you, everyone, for your answers and suggestions. I think I'll try the Loeb edition of the Anabasis, and I'll certainly download those Bedwere audio files. If the Loeb proves too difficult at first, then I'll get the Easy Selections and then move on to the Loeb.

I wanted to know if the Anabasis was the traditional second year text because it seemed to me that most of the texts used in recent decades just didn't seem to fit right for a second year learner. Most seemed too difficult, some seemed too easy, etc. So I thought that maybe the Anabasis was traditional for a reason. I'll see how it works, but I'll need to brush up on my Greek quite a bit first.

I can understand why some Latin or Greek teachers didn't want to use The Gallic Wars or the Anabasis in recent times, but it appears to me that their objections seemed politically motivated, and I don't care about all that. I just need a good second year text that works.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby daivid » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:05 pm

Jefferson Cicero wrote:Thank you, everyone, for your answers and suggestions. I think I'll try the Loeb edition of the Anabasis, and I'll certainly download those Bedwere audio files. If the Loeb proves too difficult at first, then I'll get the Easy Selections and then move on to the Loeb.

I wanted to know if the Anabasis was the traditional second year text because it seemed to me that most of the texts used in recent decades just didn't seem to fit right for a second year learner. Most seemed too difficult, some seemed too easy, etc. So I thought that maybe the Anabasis was traditional for a reason. I'll see how it works, but I'll need to brush up on my Greek quite a bit first.

I can understand why some Latin or Greek teachers didn't want to use The Gallic Wars or the Anabasis in recent times, but it appears to me that their objections seemed politically motivated, and I don't care about all that. I just need a good second year text that works.


I don't think it is the politics which is the problem with Anabasis. For a 19th century teacher in an boys only school Anabasis is the perfect story to appeal to your pupils. If you have a class with a more equal gender balance then it is less ideal.

At the summer school I attended this year we read Lysias' "On the Murder of Eratosthenes". It was popular with the women, one of who described it as "like a soap". Of course the political attitudes that Euphiletos betrays - his attitude to women and to slaves - is no better than Xenophon but as he is speaking to an audience of male slave holders like himself he lets slip a lot of details that allows us to imagine how the others may well have seen him (ie his wife, his female slave(s))

It is just as much an action story and Lysias has a reputation for having a simple style so his speeches may be worth a look.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Qimmik » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:27 pm

There's an excellent selection of speeches by (or attributed to) Lysias in the Cambridge Green and Yellow series. The speeches would be an excellent choice for a second-year student, not only because they're written in a clear and plain style, but also because you can pick up a lot of information about Athenian life and institutions from them if you have a good commentary. The older commentaries, by the way, generally omit the speech on the murder of Eratosthenes because of its racy subject-matter.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Dorothy » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:05 am

For Xenophon, you can go here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/col ... reco-Roman
and scroll down to Xenophon. Pull up the Greek for the Anabasis, then "load" the English, which will appear next to it. There don't seem to be notes for Anabasis, as there are for some other texts, but you can click on a Greek word and it will give you the meaning. A pretty good resource, though, unlike the Loeb edition, won't fit in your pocket. :(
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Helikwps » Tue Nov 05, 2013 5:41 am

Anabasis is the usual second-year text but for those who find it a slog there are alternatives: Lucian's True History parts I and II, pseudo-Lucian's The A$$ (censored by textkit? honestly), the anonymous Life of Aesop, selections from Daphnis and Chloe and Dio's Euboean Hunter. All are more entertaining than Anabasis imho and the Greek is similarly straightforward.

Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Mollendorff made these and other selections in a short article for The Classical Review in 1907. I hope to type it up and submit it here in the near-future. Cheers,
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby ailuros » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:52 pm

Yeah, I don't think there was anything political about the decision to skip Xenophon or Caesar, just that they weren't considered particularly interesting writers for beginning students. I think Herodotus may be a better second year text anyways, over Plato or Lysias. The material is interesting, the Ionic is not difficult after Attic, and he might make a better transition to Homer. I think he is an easier read than Plato, but that may just be me.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Jefferson Cicero » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:11 pm

Thanks again for all the replies. I am certainly going to look at the alternatives all of you have given. I can see why Lucian or Lysias might be as good or better than Anabasis for a second year text, and I had already been wondering if Herodotus might be.

The Perseus texts are wonderful! I'll definitely be using that site, though I'm still going to get a Loeb.

The reason why I thought some people had political objections ('moral' probably would have been a better word) to using The Gallic Wars was because Ceasar was invading and brutally conquering a people who were not a threat to him or Rome. I had heard that some students and teachers had objected for that reason back in the sixtes, and for the fact that he was also seen as somewhat of a usurper, or even a tyrant, which some students and teachers in previous generations had also had trouble with. Xenophon, on the other hand, was a mercenary, killing for money. Though I understand those objections and don't really disagree with them, they are just books, after all, and they contain much that is useful, and if they are useful for a reader, then so be it.

Again, thank you everyone for your suggestions and explanations, and I'm going to look into all of them. Using the Perseus site, I may well read some of each of the suggested texts as I develop more confidence in reading Greek.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Markos » Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:36 pm

Jefferson Cicero wrote:I can see why Lucian or Lysias might be as good or better than Anabasis for a second year text...

Might be, might not. A good second year text should be relatively easy, but it should still be relatively good. And herein lies the problem. There are easy texts and there are good texts, but there are really no easy good texts. The second year student should not be struggling with a very difficult text, but having taken the trouble to learn Greek, one should not be denied the pleasure of reading good Greek.

Lucian's Ὄνος is easier than the Anabasis, but the Greek is not as good. Lysias' Greek is better than the Anabasis, but it is harder.

I would become convinced that there is a better second year text than the Anabasis if someone could come up with a text that is easier AND better Greek than the Anabasis.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Qimmik » Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:38 am

Having recently re-read a good chunk of the Anabasis, I don't think it's that bad, and I think the analogy to Caesar is not a good one. Much of the Anabasis is told quite vividly, and there is a sense of drama to the Greeks' struggle to escape from the Persian empire.

Nothing is a real struggle in Caesar--everything falls into place with little effort. That's why it's boring. But Caesar's Latin is a good training-ground because it's very stripped-down and has all of the syntactic constructions you need to read Latin prose. Vergil isn't as difficult Latin but in the old days it was felt that teenagers weren't mature enough for Vergil at 14 or 15, which is probably right. Ovid was the first Latin poetry we read, in 2d year Latin; then in the 3rd year the Bucolics (leaving out the 3rd, which contains a line that has a very crude implication, which would be difficult to explain to 15-year-olds in 1961 but probably not today).

The reason why Caesar and the Anabasis have been displaced from second-year reading lists, I think, is that today most students don't start Greek until they reach the university level, where they want to read--and are mature enough for--material with more literary or historical interest. Plato's Apology is relatively easy--easier than the dialogues--and serves that purpose--and they can start reading Homer in the second year (Homer occupied most of the second-year curriculum in my day), and perhaps the Medea, too, eventually.

I think Lysias isn't as hard as he's made out to be, and, as I've mentioned previously, he's a good window into Athenian life and institutions, as well as writing very clear, and typical, Attic prose. I think that students ought to be engaging with more difficult material in the second year, and getting used to the ways Greeks expressed themselves, even if it means something of a struggle--because ancient Greek will always be something of a struggle.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Scribo » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:52 am

Qimmik wrote:
The reason why Caesar and the Anabasis have been displaced from second-year reading lists, I think, is that today most students don't start Greek until they reach the university level


No it is because they are kakoi now:

δεύτερον αὖτε γένος πολὺ χειρότερον μετόπισθεν
ἀργύρεον ποίησαν Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχοντες,
χρυσέῳ οὔτε φυὴν ἐναλίγκιον οὔτε νόημα.


(I was going to do the whole section and edit it here and there and then realised my metre was less sweet. My point stands though!)

Joking aside, Xenophon is amazing and I read him each night before bed, eyes glued to the page as I did so. But then as I might have mentioned the way we were taught was highly divergent so reading came in the second term not year and the way I've taught is more divergent still since I use markedly different material.

AAAAH Hesiod! I love him so much I can almost forgive his betrayal! :lol:
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Qimmik » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:15 pm

Incidentally, I picked up a copy of Xenophon's Hellenica the other day and found it's written in a very straightforward Greek and reads easily. (I have to admit, though, that this was after struggling with Thucydides for a few months.) Perhaps selections from the Hellenica would make a good second-year text. On the other hand, as far as I can tell from a very cursory look, the Hellenica is a bald narrative of events, a chronicle. For that reason, perhaps it might not be as good a text as Lysias for preparing second-year students to engage with the complexities of more difficult writers, such as Plato, Demosthenes and (the most difficult of all) Thucydides.

I hesitate to recommend this because Dr. Phillips was my second-year Greek teacher, and he was anything but inspiring, even to us teenagers with a burning desire to learn ancient Greek, but this reader has a good selection of intermediate-level Greek prose from a wide variety of authors, with some notes:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0674615506/ref=dp_olp_all_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=all

Unfortunately, it's out of print, but a few copies at reasonable prices (and some at entirely unreasonable prices) are available through Amazon and Abebooks, and maybe elsewhere, too. As I recall, we actually didn't use this very much--we read Plato's Apology and a lot of Homer in Benner's Selections from the Iliad, which is an excellent text to get started in Homer if you can find an older used copy with clear type (the reprints tend to be fuzzy). It has most of the Iliad without the "boring" parts, and the difficult vocabulary is right there at the bottom of the page of text.
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Scribo » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:14 pm

So did you use Chase and Phillips as a textbook then? how did you find it?

Those HUP readers were kind of golden. They don't actually form an official series but they also did one for Sanskrit which remains the industry standard. I don't know if you've seen them but OUP have a Latin and Greek edition out "An Anthology of X Prose" by Russell. I like them well enough but the vocabulary divorced from the text and many complain they offer precious little help. I have the Latin one and it's good for a) quick review of different authors and styles to choose for further reading and b) a sort of mini chrestomathy (as far as prose can be!).

I agree with Lysias, its clear Attic prose and offers a wealth of information. Pair that with the Old Oligarch and you're golden. Personally I like to draw examples from the Oligarch, Lysias and primarily Aristotle (I know, strange but virtues and vices/poetics are some of the best teaching tools around).
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Qimmik » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:03 pm

So did you use Chase and Phillips as a textbook then? how did you find it?


No, our first-year Greek teacher, Dr. Gillespie, wisely used Crosby and Schaefer, which to me seems much richer and more engaging than the dry and uninviting Chase & Phillips. Just like Dr. Phillips himself, who seemed to have no real interest in the subject-matter and even less in communicating it to teenage boys. (And we weren't forced to take Greek--we were taking it because we really wanted to learn it.)

At the end of the first year, we read Odyssey 9, which was available in the old Cambridge Pitt Press series. The edition, still in print then, dated back to the 1890s, and, as I recall, had an appendix consisting of Fick's efforts to "translate" the text from Ionic into Aeolic. (These days, Fick, in a somewhat more sophisticated form, is back in vogue among a segment of scholarly opinion--at least the idea that the oral tradition went through an "Aeolic phase," even if the "original" texts of the Homeric poems were basically Ionic while preserving Aeolicisms in formulas that couldn't be Ionicized on account of the meter.)
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Re: Traditional Second Year Greek Text

Postby Markos » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:01 am

Qimmik wrote:...they can start reading Homer in the second year (Homer occupied most of the second-year curriculum in my day...


Clyde Pharr argues that Homer is easier than the Anabasis. He points to Homer's short sentences and relatively simple syntax, and the fact the formulas provide lots of repetition that makes the texts easier for beginners. But many of Xenophon's sentences are also short and simple, and he also provides many repetitive formulaic phrases. I think Homer is harder than the Anabasis because of the massive vocab and the volume of forms and the fact that the lack of the article makes it harder to quickly identify the cases.

But, of course, Homer is also massively better literature than the Anabasis, so he is in the running for a good second year text.

Plato's Apology is relatively easy--easier than the dialogues--...


Well, I think the Apology is significantly harder than the Anabasis, but, again, it is significantly better writing, so I have no problems with it as a second year text.

I think Lysias isn't as hard as he's made out to be...


Agreed, the Murder of E. is probably only a little harder than the Anabasis and a little better written, so it is also a good choice.

I picked up a copy of Xenophon's Hellenica the other day and found it's written in a very straightforward Greek and reads easily.


This one goes in the other direction. The Hellenica is a little easier than the Anabasis, but not as well written. I also think the unified, simple story of the Anabasis is easier to follow. But other Xenophon is certainly in the running for a good second year text. The Banquet is harder than the Anabasis but maybe a little better written.

But again, is there a text that is easier than the Anabasis AND better written?

I think that students ought to be engaging with more difficult material in the second year, and getting used to the ways Greeks expressed themselves, even if it means something of a struggle--because ancient Greek will always be something of a struggle.


I won't necessarily disagree, but I think that the Anabasis is sufficiently difficult. It is in no way "dumbed down" Greek, and it produces enough challenging syntax and forms, but I also think that simplicity in style can be the mark of a good writer. All of this is to say that I maybe the Anabasis, having once been over-rated, maybe is now being under-rated. It may deserve its spot in the second year cannon after all.
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