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Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

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Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby jamesbath » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:41 am

Hello Everybody,

I'm looking for advice on a good Greek/English Loeb Classic to use while very leisurely beginning to learn ancient Greek. Perhaps Plato or Plutarch? Any recommendations?

Thanks,
James Bath
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby Damoetas » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:51 pm

It depends on your tastes and interests to some extent. For many decades Xenophon's Anabasis was the standard beginners' Greek prose text. When I was teaching myself Greek as a teenager, I got the Loeb of the Anabasis from the public library and read almost the entire thing: mostly in Greek, referring to the translation where I didn't know words, looking up syntax and forms in Goodwin's Grammar wherever I got confused. Looking back I can see that this gave me an extremely good foundation.

Some people think Xenophon is boring, because it's all about marching and fighting. If you're interested in philosophy, Plato is a good choice. Check out Lucian also; he's written a lot of short, whimsical stories that are some of the most entertaining things in Greek!
Dic mihi, Damoeta, 'cuium pecus' anne Latinum?
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby jamesbath » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:50 pm

Thanks for the ideas, Damoetas.

I think I'll probably settle on Plato. I've already read translations of his works, especially Socrates' dialogues, which ought to make learning the Greek language a bit easier, having already wandered down that road in English. But Lucian sounds very enjoyable too -- and ironically, even before I finished this sentence, I stumbled across a parallel English and Greek version of "A True Story" in Google Books, from the Easy Reading Series, with the Greek running down the left side of the page and the English running next to it down the right side. How fortunate!

Thanks again,
James
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby Adelheid » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:03 pm

Hi James,

I would personally advise you to go for Herodotus. Plato is not the easiest Greek text to start with, and besides more accessible Greek, Herodotus has a lot to offer in historically interesting topics (not to mention the discussion how trustworthy his acccounts are. Some appear more trustworthy than expected ... but that has not really got anything to do with Greek plain and simple, I will grant you that).

Xenohon's Anabasis is no favourite of mine, a "boy's book", as my teacher told me, and I have to say, as much as that taunted me into reading it (I am a girl obviously), I have to say it did nothing for me. A lot of marching, indeed.

Plutarchs "Lives" would also be quite nice, by the way. Lucian, yes, I would also second that.
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby Markos » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:53 pm

The problem is the best Greek is not the easiest Greek. The best ever, by far, without question, and there is no room to argue here, is Homer and Plato, in that order (or maybe the other way around.) Homer is much easier than Plato in terms of syntax and is much harder in terms of vocab. Xenophon is easy and boring. Herodotus is sort of easy but he is very boring and if you bother to learn Ionic, why not read Homer? Plutarch and Lucian, I think are a little harder than people say. The easiest Greek of all is the Apostolic Fathers and of course the Greek NT (actually, the Greek OT is even easier.) A very, very easy book in terms of syntax is Chariton's Calirhoe, although the vocab may be a bit tough. Chariton's Greek is not very good, but his story is fairly interesting. Epictetus is great but his Greek is very pedestrian.

So I would go with Chariton and Plato's Symposium and both of Homer's Book. If you put a gun to my head and made me choose between the Iliad and the Odyssey, I would let you shoot me.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby Adelheid » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:00 pm

Markos wrote:If you put a gun to my head and made me choose between the Iliad and the Odyssey, I would let you shoot me.


:D Oh, the Odyssey, no doubt!

By the way, Herodotus, boring, hmmmm. Can't agree. But I am an historian, perhaps his histories offer me more because of that.
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby jamesbath » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:48 pm

Markos wrote:So I would go with Chariton and Plato's Symposium and both of Homer's Book. If you put a gun to my head and made me choose between the Iliad and the Odyssey, I would let you shoot me.


You've all given me much to think about. The Iliad and the Odyssey are indeed tempting. But so is Plato. I want to start with Attic, and something written during that time, to better catch the soul of it, if you will.

Gratias tibi ago.
James
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby jamesbath » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:08 pm

Adelheid wrote:Hi James,

I would personally advise you to go for Herodotus.


Herodotus does sound fascinating. He wrote in ionic, right? Would it not be better to learn attic first? But if I do decide on Herodotus, which work of his would you recommend?

SCRATCH THAT LAST QUESTION. Sometime after I asked it, I found "Herodotus Histories Book 1, Greek Text With Facing Vocabulary and Commentary" at Amazon.com (Books 1 and 2 having previously eluded me); so this would be the obvious beginning. I put it on my list of things to read.

Gratias tibi ago,
James
Last edited by jamesbath on Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby Scribo » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:06 pm

jamesbath wrote:
Adelheid wrote:Hi James,

I would personally advise you to go for Herodotus.


Herodotus does sound fascinating. He wrote in ionic, right? Would it not be better to learn attic first? But if I do decide on Herodotus, which work of his would you recommend?

Gratias tibi ago,
James


Clearly the Istoriai my friend. I wouldn't personally recommend Herodotos myself, the stories are interesting but as you said, it's Ionic rather than Attic. I'm personally on my second year of intensive Greek, on a reading course and I think I can add some recommendations from one student to another:

1) It depends entirely on your interest. If you want Plato stuff like the Apologia is REALLY accessible. Xenophon is easy, some may find it boring but it's GOOD ATTIC prose and I think gives a solid foundation. Lucan's True History has been mentioned, also rather fun. Lysias, I can't believe no one has mentioned him, relatively simple with some entertaining moments. Believe it or not after a while Euripides is not SO far out of your reach, true there are a few weird words and the word order is more awkward than prose but with time it's doable.

2) You don't HAVE to read a whole text! This is often overlooked! Get a good reader, give yourself a grounding in a variety of authors and styles, I think this is infinitely more rewarding at the beginning.
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby jamesbath » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:59 pm

Scribo wrote:Lysias, I can't believe no one has mentioned him, relatively simple with some entertaining moments.


Maximas tibi gratias ago, Scribo (or should I say "Scribe"?)

Anyway, upon your recommendation, I searched out a Wikipedia article on Lysias, which I found intriguing. Then found a Loeb classic book on the same person at Amazon. Among all the very good answers I got from everybody in this discussion, I think I will probably start with Lysias because he seems to have been closer to the street, to the common man, and hence to the common mind and attitudes which should give me a better feel of Athenian life then. And he seems to have lived in very interesting times, what with the Sparta influence and during the life of Socrates. So in studying the work of Lysias I might also obtain a better feel for Socrates and Plato.

James
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Re: Which Greek Loeb Classic for starters?

Postby thesaurus » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:22 pm

Maximas tibi gratias ago, Scribo (or should I say "Scribe"?)

Anyway, upon your recommendation, I searched out a Wikipedia article on Lysias, which I found intriguing. Then found a Loeb classic book on the same person at Amazon. Among all the very good answers I got from everybody in this discussion, I think I will probably start with Lysias because he seems to have been closer to the street, to the common man, and hence to the common mind and attitudes which should give me a better feel of Athenian life then. And he seems to have lived in very interesting times, what with the Sparta influence and during the life of Socrates. So in studying the work of Lysias I might also obtain a better feel for Socrates and Plato.

James


It's not a Loeb, but I used this edition of Lysias's "On the Murder of Eratosthenes," which I found quite useful and accessible:
http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Prose-Readi ... 1853995371
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