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the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby daivid » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:41 pm

There is a condorcet voting site that allows one to make polls so I have done one
on the most essential Ancient Greek text

https://civs.cs.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/vot ... 16154c1caa
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby mwh » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:30 am

The Iliad, inescapably. I’d go so far as to say it’s the only essential one on the list.
With the others, essential to what?
I’d rank the Anabasis at the bottom, but I didn't vote except for the Iliad.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby jeidsath » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:39 pm

If you were to ask the average educated American to describe scenes from the Iliad, none of the examples that he would give you would be scenes from the Iliad. In fact, here are the scenes that he would probably list:

The Trojan Horse
Achilles killed by an arrow to the heel
The Judgment of Paris
Agamemnon killed in the bath

For the Judgement of Paris, what was the ancient version of the story? I have the impression that Herodotus’ and Homer’s version of how Paris got Helen may not have included golden apples and godesses at all.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby daivid » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:55 pm

mwh wrote:The Iliad, inescapably. I’d go so far as to say it’s the only essential one on the list.


Well it seems that almost everyone agrees with you so there must be a reason for that but I confess I'm surprised. I have never been able to read more that a few lines in Ancient Greek but even in translation there was such remorseless of the violence has meant that I have never got very far. The Attic playwrights can also be a bit grim but they do seem to have more to say.

mwh wrote:With the others, essential to what?
I’d rank the Anabasis at the bottom, but I didn't vote except for the Iliad.


I intentionally left it open expecting people would rank different things higher for different reasons but instead it has been such a landside that I really didn't have to go off site for the poll - a textkit poll would have done the job just as well.

I did only put Anabasis second but he is a good story teller and quite a lot of it is probably true and even the bits that are a bit suspect are at worse covering up the truth rather than pure fiction.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby Hylander » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:09 pm

there was such remorseless of the violence has meant that I have never got very far. The Attic playwrights can also be a bit grim but they do seem to have more to say.


If you never got very far in the Iliad, it's no wonder you're surprised it comes in first and you don't think it has much to say. And if remorseless violence is a problem for you, you might as well give up trying to read anything in Ancient Greek apart from maybe the New Testament. (Stay away from the Old, though.)
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby daivid » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:11 pm

Hylander wrote:If you never got very far in the Iliad, it's no wonder you're surprised it comes in first and you don't think it has much to say. And if remorseless violence is a problem for you, you might as well give up trying to read anything in Ancient Greek apart from maybe the New Testament. (Stay away from the Old, though.)


Well Homer goes is far more graphic then any other Greek writer. Add to that, I was reading it in Ancient Greek so I was lingering over those descriptions far more than I would if I was reading a language in which I was more fluent. I was not of course claiming that I have given Homer a fair chance.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:24 pm

For direct literary influence, the Odyssey. Not so much the prequel.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:37 am

While I do see the Illiad as a great work of literature in itself and to the ancients, it ranked last in my order of essentials based on its content. It expresses a society based on class, it glorifies the invasion and prolonged occupation of an eastern country by a western one and it talks about the primative superstitious notions of gods and goddesses.

Highest on my list is the Republic, because as an early work of humanistic philosophy it explicitly extols the superiority of reason. The plays expressing the struggle of the human soul against difficult odds and expressing uncensored, realistic and dirty human life as it is rather than as it is idealised as come next on my list. Xenophon's account of unaffliated soldiers struggling for their survival after their betrayal and abandonment in midst of a of a dynastic struggle by royalty ranks slightly higher for me than the defence of ones homeland against foreign imperialist invasion.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby certis » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:12 am

To ἑκηβόλος: I'm afraid you can't read any book if you are looking for political correctness. I think you have not understood the platonic republic if you see it more human and with better values than Homer in the Iliad
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby certis » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:36 am

To ἑκηβόλος: I didn't mean to be rude. My english vocabulary and fluency are too scarce and I can't explain well
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:16 am

certis wrote:To ἑκηβόλος: I'm afraid you can't read any book if you are looking for political correctness.

My comments are one one of many possible answers to this question.
mwh wrote:With the others, essential to what?


I think the choice of what one should read or require others to read always depends on factors outside the literature itself.

While popular culture and the entertainment industry may have reduced and popularised various memorable elements of the semi-mythological history of Ancient Greece, I think the philosophical initiatives taken by the Greeks have had the most lasting effect on our social structures and way of life.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby anphph » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:55 pm

ἑκηβόλος wrote:While I do see the Illiad as a great work of literature in itself and to the ancients, it ranked last in my order of essentials based on its content. It expresses a society based on class, it glorifies the invasion and prolonged occupation of an eastern country by a western one and it talks about the primative superstitious notions of gods and goddesses.


If only Homer had read Edward Said.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby Markos » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:36 pm

ἑκηβόλος wrote:...the Illiad...glorifies the invasion and prolonged occupation of an eastern country by a western one...

It glorifies it only so as to condemn it.

γλυκὺς ὁ πόλεμος τοῖς Ὁμήρου ἀπείροις.
οὐ μανθάνω γράφειν, ἀλλὰ γράφω τοῦ μαθεῖν.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:00 pm

Markos wrote:
ἑκηβόλος wrote:...the Illiad...glorifies the invasion and prolonged occupation of an eastern country by a western one...

It glorifies it only so as to condemn it.

γλυκὺς ὁ πόλεμος τοῖς Ὁμήρου ἀπείροις.

I would disagree with both assessments, but especially the first one. I think the author of the Iliad stays clear of ethnic chauvinism; neither party in war is considered inherently inferior to the other. As for the second assessment - I do think that Homer glorifies in a warlike ethos, but does he really condemn it? I think he considers war as a given, a part of the natural order of the universe - something that men can't change, so they have to adapt. Homer has compassion for the suffering of human beings, but he doesn't condemn things like war or slavery.

it talks about the primative superstitious notions of gods and goddesses

Who are we to judge? Unless, of course, if you say that all religion is primitive.

The foremost reason why the Iliad should be on the top of the list is that it's the one that was by far the most read in antiquity and later. There are more medieval manuscripts of the Iliad than of any other Greek text except the New Testament.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby anphph » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:32 pm

I agree with Paul. Don't really want to get entangled on this topic, but the whole "glorifies war! no, condemns war!" reminded me of this:

Rachel Bespaloff, On The Iliad wrote:Homer and Tolstoy have in common a virile love of war and a virile horror of it. They are neither pacifist nor bellicist. They have no illusions about war and they present it as it really is, in its continual oscillation between boisterous animal spirits that break out in spurts of aggressiveness and the detachment of sacrifice in which the return to the One is consummated. It is hopeless to look in the Iliad for a condemnation of war as such. People make war, they put up with it, they curse it, they even praise it in songs and verses, but it is not judged any more than destiny is. Silence is the only answer, silence and that disabused, dispassionate look which the dying Hector casts on Achilles [...].
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:05 pm

Are we all judging by the same standards here? Literature as literature, literarure as a window on another civilisation, literature as a means to acquure the Greek language, or literature for some other purpose?

My choice reflects personal values - reason, experienitality, human struggle in individual lives and history.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby daivid » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:42 pm

certis wrote:To ἑκηβόλος: I'm afraid you can't read any book if you are looking for political correctness.


One should certainly expose yourself to books that have values that we disagree with. However the poll question was which of them was "essential". That's a far higher bar. At least one person voted for Homer first because he felt Homer to be a good guide for life. If that is a valid reason (and I intended the poll to be open to that kind of interpretation) then for ἑκηβόλος to mark it down because he considers the values Homer promotes to be harmful is just as valid.


Paul Derouda wrote:The foremost reason why the Iliad should be on the top of the list is that it's the one that was by far the most read in antiquity and later. There are more medieval manuscripts of the Iliad than of any other Greek text except the New Testament.


If I understand you correctly you are saying that the Iliad is essential as a window onto Ancient Greek attitudes. That is the reason I myself read Homer. But the number of manuscripts is evidence of how it was venerated. Shakespeare is venerated today in the English speaking world yet his works do not give much insight into the modern world.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:08 pm

daivid wrote:
Paul Derouda wrote:The foremost reason why the Iliad should be on the top of the list is that it's the one that was by far the most read in antiquity and later. There are more medieval manuscripts of the Iliad than of any other Greek text except the New Testament.


If I understand you correctly you are saying that the Iliad is essential as a window onto Ancient Greek attitudes. That is the reason I myself read Homer. But the number of manuscripts is evidence of how it was venerated. Shakespeare is venerated today in the English speaking world yet his works do not give much insight into the modern world.

It's not only that the Iliad is key to understanding Ancient Greek attitudes - the Iliad is also prerequisite to understanding other Greek literature, which constantly refers to it.
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Re: the most essential Ancient Greek text poll

Postby npc » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:49 am

daivid wrote: Shakespeare is venerated today in the English speaking world yet his works do not give much insight into the modern world.


I support everything you said up until this point, with which I could not disagree more strongly.
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