Claxton's "Attica: Intermediate Classical Greek

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Aetos
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Claxton's "Attica: Intermediate Classical Greek

Post by Aetos » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:30 pm

This probably belongs in the textbook forum, but I think it may be relevant to this specific circumstance. I've started Cynthia Claxton's "Attica: Intermediate Classical Greek" which is a reader designed to bridge the gap between beginning Greek and reading texts unassisted except for reference grammars and lexica. It also serves as a review of morphology and syntax with some exercises thrown in. The exercises are not "mandatory"(you do as much as you think you need) and the morphology and syntax review are included as a handy reference. The core material of the book consists of readings from Xenophon's Hellenica, Antiphon, and Euripides' Electra. Each reading unit starts with a section called "Focus on Reading" and this is what I think is most helpful.
First, the passage is presented in its entirety and the student is asked to read it, noting things like word order, word groupings and clue words. Then each sentence is analyzed grammatically, with references to the review grammar in the book as well as Smyth's Grammar and finally a literal translation is given of the sentence. Analysis complete, Dr. Claxton then gives a polished translation of the passage. Following this, another passage is given, this time with analysis but translation is left to the student. As the learner progresses through the readings, he will find that his recognition of the various constructions will become more automatic. There is no need to do all the readings (although they're interesting enough), just enough of them that one can work through a passage quickly and accurately. Once this ability is achieved, then it's time to move on to more advanced texts, armed only with the LSJ and Smyth.
The real value of this book is that it gives one a method for mastering reading Greek, or for that matter, any heavily inflected language (such as Latin or Sanskrit or Russian) and impresses upon the student the necessity of understanding the structure of the language in order to capture the full meaning of what one is reading.
I picked up my copy for $15.43.

Aetos
Textkit Member
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Re: Bowen's Advanced Greek Unseens

Post by Aetos » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:48 pm

Hi Mark,
I just want you to know that it was on your recommendation that I purchased Claxton's "Attica". It's everything you said and more. Hey, and the price was right!
BTW, how are you coming along with it?

markcmueller
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Posts: 18
Joined: Sat May 12, 2018 11:43 am

Claxton's Attica & my progress

Post by markcmueller » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:41 pm

Aetos wrote:Hi Mark,
I just want you to know that it was on your recommendation that I purchased Claxton's "Attica". It's everything you said and more. Hey, and the price was right!
BTW, how are you coming along with it?
Hi Aetos,

I hope I have managed to create a new topic by changing the subject. I'm glad to hear that you find Claxton's Attica useful. The truth of the matter is that I am the opposite of who TextKit was originally intended for. Rather than reading texts online, I prefer to have the physical books. If some people have aspirational books, I have an aspirational bookshelf.

Many years ago in college I studied Greek without having taken Latin. It was not easy. Since college I have keep my Greek library, thinking I would come back to it someday. I decided several years ago to do a major trip to Sicily (ideally a month). I figured it was an ideal time to pick up Greek again and read Thucydides books on Sicily. Needless to say, I had no idea how hard that would be. Based on the recommendation of a friend, I'm working through the Italian Athenaze. While I'm doing that I'm enjoying plotting out what I'm going to do next. I took a break during volume 2 and read almost all of "Easy Selections from Xenophon" and almost all of "Thrasymachus". I'm back to Athenaze now.

Part of my buying spree is the feeling that the quality of Greek reprints is not good -- the text is often blurry -- "Thrasymachus" feel apart in a week or two -- and the good prices I've found on viaLibri on used books. For little money I bought Dodd's "Bacchae", Barrett's "Hippolytos", Mather & Hewitt's "Anabasis", all based on recommendations on TextKit. It all started when I discovered that I could get the big Liddel 1940 imprint for around $45 -- you can feel the letters on the page!

Regarding Athenaze, I remember reading in TextKit that it ain't "Fun with **** and Jane". Boy is that true. I'm working though the account of Pericles' speech urging the Athenians to go to war with the Lacedaemonians. For example, if you don't understand that ἀφίημι can mean a number of different things (and they are all used in the same reading), you get lost. Now it turns out that a lot gets explained in the grammar after the readings, but it makes for tough slogging to get there. That's not, BTW, a reason not to use the text to learn. It's very good and the stories are interesting.

It was at this point where I decided to take a break from Athenaze and try doing some reading without necessarily having to work out the Greek -- my take on Krashen's foreign language acquisition based on "comprehensible input". At first I figured that "Easy Selections Adapted from Xenophon" might do the trick. Putting aside mwh's objection that you're doing yourself no favors by reading Greek that has been rearranged in English word order, in the end, I didn't find that it was "comprehensible input" either. Unless you have experience building a pontoon bridge starting with animals on the hoof, for example, the meaning itself is foreign. For one passage Mather and Hewitt have a diagram with labels a-j to help you understand what Xenophon is talking about. The "Easy Selections" book offers little help. In one other case, I found Xenophon's original text easier to understand because the "Easy Selections" left out the motivation which would have made the passage easier to understand.

"Thasymachus" is much better for "comprehensible input", but in the end the book moves too fast. You'd wish there would be a lot more reading material at each level. I do recommend the book -- it's fun -- but you've been forewarned that my copy fell apart almost immediately.

My current plans are still up in the air for when I finish Athenaze. Strictly Attic and Hellenistic until I return from Sicily. I do dip into Claxton from time to time to gauge where I'm at, but I might try reading a bit first before I fully dig in. I like Geoffrey Steadman's advice to use another commentary besides his when reading one of his books. He helps you though the reading; a more advanced commentary helps you appreciate what you're reading.

Right now that I'm back working on Athenaze, I'm thinking of reading Lucian's "Dialogues of the Gods" in parallel. Afterwards, I'm tempted to go with Steadman's Symposium. Soon afterwards I'll start on the Anabasis again, the unsimplified version. I'm trying to get a hold of Lee's "A Greek Army on the March: Soldiers and Survival in Xenophon's Anabasis". It seems to me that understanding the context better will make the text easier to understand. There are no library copies of the book in New Hampshire, but a friend associated with a university might be able to get it via inter-library loan. It could, of course, be my Christmas present....

Mark

Aetos
Textkit Member
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Re: Bowen's Advanced Greek Unseens

Post by Aetos » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:16 pm

Hi Mark!
Thanks for the status report! I prefer hard copy myself. Aspirational books? I carried 2 in my overnight bag for 30 years: Pharr's Homeric Greek and Scudder's 2nd Year Latin! I'm happy to report I've achieved those 2 aspirations in retirement. Barrett's Hippolytos is now residing on my "aspirational bookshelf",along with Aeschylus' Agamemnon, the Odyssey and for when I get really good "Ἅρειος Πότηρ καὶ ἡ φιλοσόφου λίθος"!
Enjoy Italy!
P.S. I hope you get your Christmas present!

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