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Adjuva me, domini dominaeque!!

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Adjuva me, domini dominaeque!!

Postby mehercle » Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:28 am

This is my first post and in introducing myself you'll see that I have a problem.

I'm a 45 year old insurance agent--please don't hold it against me, selling insurance was not my life's dream job--married with no children. I started studying Greek in 1989 when I took a university NT Greek course for one year.

I had studied Latin intensely in 1985 at CSULB. I was enthralled to learn this language because I had a conversion experience that lead me from disbelief in god's existence into the catholic religion. Latin came so easy. I was so disciplined in those early days. I would study 1 hour a day, no matter what. In `88 I had the privilege to study under Fr. Reginald Foster in Rome and learned the language sufficiently enough to clumsily speak it.

From about 1990 to 1992 I entered a different college--you can see, if you are checking into the math, that I was a bit of a perpetual student back then--and I studied informally some Greek texts: Aristotle's De Anima and later the Greek NT with one of the philosophy professors.

Then in 1997 I took a job at that college in the admissions office. I had another great chance to study with one of my coworkers who got his PhD in classics from Stanford in the late `50s. We went through the entire Athenaze, the Apology with his and another commentary, some Xenophon and then life sort of got in the way after about 3 years.

Now I'm at it all alone with whatever time and energy I have after work. My wife is very accepting of my 'odd' interest in Greek. She's been very supportive in all my 'odd' extra-work interests, the principal one of which is philosophy.

My main goal in Greek is to read Plato and Aristotle as if I were reading a Marvel comic book. Heck, I wouldn't even mind mastering it so well that I be able to speak it so that I can seem cool, like when I speak my infantile Latin on the rarest of occasions.

But here's my problem: verbs, verbs, verbs!!

Give me 8 declensions, complicate the syntax, muddy up the moods for all I care. I could handle that.

But the verbs have undone me. Would that the simple 4 principal parts of Latin been somehow pre-adapted by the Greeks of ancient times. But then I guess the language would have been less beautiful and precise.

*I get the distinction between the primary and secondary tenses.
*I get the consistent personal endings (but please don't ask me to reproduce them to you without a handy reference grammar nearby).
*I get the aspectual distinction in the use of the aorist and the other tenses, especially, for example, the perfect.
*I also get the participles to a large degree.
*I get the epsilon addition and reduplication issues.
*I recognize my good friend the deponent from Latin and I get the middle use of the Greek verb.

But what I don't seem to get is any sense of a hint when it comes to one of those stem changes in the latter principal parts. I know there's rules about classes and orders of some consonants to determines the lengthening of vowels and all sorts of other seemingly ceaseless contingencies. It all seems so overwhelming.

I've began--and quickly stopped short of reading through Smyth's section on inflection and studied where in the text it pertains to the verb issue I'm having. And even though it's NT Greek, I've also looked at Wm Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek, but again I stopped short either because life got in the way, or I just shrank from the task.

So, what I hope for are some responses--yes, I know I even need some kicks in the hind-quarters--where members can give me some tips, a handful of simple rules, point to particular texts that aren't voluminous, insight into issues that I'm most certainly making harder than they are, and even offering a bit of encouragement.

There are just too many Greek verbs in the lexicon for me to commit to memory the six--or maybe more!--principal parts of, say, 500, or even 50 Greek verbs. When I read Greek, or look at it with mouth agape, I want to paraphrase Heraclitus and say you can never step on the same Greek verb form twice.

Now that people know that I'm an old dog trying to learn what remains a new trick (since I can never learn it), please know that I have no pretentions and will take all help. If you happen to be a first year student in high school and you've made progess in mastering the principal parts of the Greek verb and its amophousness, then I want to hear from you. If you're like me and you've had a 19 year exposure to the language and you're still stuggling to formulate what your real problem is in your encounter with the Greek verb, then, please, I want to hear from you. And of course if you're either a master or know that you're well along the way in your mastery of the verb--because you can read Greek like it's a Marvel comic book--then, please, please, please, I want to hear from you.

So, I'll stop it right there. I appreciate any help from anyone. Thanks for your time.
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Re: Adjuva me, domini dominaeque!!

Postby jadebono » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:56 pm

Hi! I'm glad you're enjoying the trip. No, but seriously, I don't think there's a single classical scholar/student who did not breeze through Latin but who did not weep blood when coming to grips with Greek.

I'm doing a college degree in Latin and Greek. We started both languages from scratch, with a year dedicated to each language and a final year dedicated to the literature of the two. I like the system my tutor uses very much. It has helped me immensely and been essential in helping me overcome the crisis point in the study of Greek.

My tutor is a product of the British public school system and Oxbridge. He firmly believes that the best way of mastering the grammar of these languages is by constant usage, not only through reading but through composition as well. For this end, he takes us step by step through progressively difficult composition texts while simultaneously exposing us to the literature we can handle at that particular stage.

We started off with absorbing the grammar by working through:

Hillard and Botting - Elementary Greek Exercises

Then, we moved onto the syntax and basic composition:

North and Hillard - Greek Prose Composition

After that, we started on the heavier stuff, mainly the:

Arthur Sidgwick books:
First Greek Writer
Introduction to Greek Prose Composition (Both available on TextKit)
Lectures on Greek Prose Composition

I memorise the grammar (Abott and Mansfield as well as the Smyth) by writing it out as much as I need to (I also wrote up my own annotated grammar) and then I work out each exercise in the books above three times each. Working like this, you memorise all the arcane stuff that worries you very efficiently. As for principal parts, well, I put together a list of 200 of the most important irregular verbs, I recorded them and bunged them onto my MP3 player which I carry everywhere and listen to in all my spare moments. Believe me, the brain absorbs even the strangest eccentricties of Greek if you follow such a methodical programme.

If you like, you can read Athenaze while you're working out the Hillard books though you don't need to work out the exercises IF you're working out the Hillards and the Sidgwicks three times each.

By the time you finish the Hillards and the Athenazes, you ought to be able to read Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and the New Testament without too much trouble. You may also be able to tackle the more narrative of Plato's dialogue. Once you finish the Sidgwicks, I doubt you'll have any more problems with Greek.

One final word of advice, you may be tempted to slog it out on your own since there are answer keys for the textbooks I cited above. Don't. Find an expert tutor willing to correct your work and guide you accordingly. The correct answers in a key will not be much help if you can't figure out how they were constructed. The experience of an expert tutor is priceless. Don't tackle Greek without it.
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Re: Adjuva me, domini dominaeque!!

Postby annis » Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:04 pm

William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Re: Adjuva me, domini dominaeque!!

Postby annis » Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:14 am

jadebono wrote:One final word of advice, you may be tempted to slog it out on your own since there are answer keys for the textbooks I cited above. Don't. Find an expert tutor willing to correct your work and guide you accordingly.

Ah... many visitors to Textkit are here because they don't have access to that expert tutor. We try to be helpful, too.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Kasper » Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:41 am

I think he was referring to you, Will.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby thesaurus » Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:34 pm

Mehercle, may I recommend a reading course? As has been discussed in other threads, I'm using a (fairly) intuitive reading course. It's the Italian version of Athenaze. While you don't necessarily need this book, I recommend getting as much reading practice as possible starting with the most simple texts possible. As Annis says, the seemingly crazy constructions will slowly begin to fall into place as you see them used repeatedly in context.

Regarding the principle parts, I don't think it's direly necessary to have all the parts memorized for every verb. Rather, some parts will be more important than others, and the rest hopefully can be inferred from context. For example, you'll do alright if you have all the present, future, and aorist stems down well, even if you're not sure about the future passive. They simply don't occur as often.

The reading course I've been using is helpful in this respect, because I read the common forms of the verbs many times before I'm exposed to their permutations, and then I can incorporate that knowledge into my existing base without having to simultaneously tackle six forms.

I've read through my "Introduction to Attic Greek" by Donald Mastronarde, but I've really cemented many of the grammatical constructions by having read what now amounts to over 500 pages of progressively complex Greek. (For the record, I'm using the two volumes of Athenaze edited by Luigui Miraglia <http://www.vivariumnovum.it/athenaze.htm>. Whether these particular books will be of use to you depends on your knowledge of Italian, but I'm sure there are other graduated reading courses out there.)
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Postby annis » Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:22 pm

Kasper wrote:I think he was referring to you, Will.

I'm nothing close to an expert, Oxford- (or Cambridge-) trained tutor.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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