So here's my candidate for another reader. It's unabridged text from ancient authors, without grammatical or linguistic help, yet it occurs to me in some ways it is an ideal bridge from preparatory Greek and Latin to the real thing. I'm speaking of Edelstein and Edelstein's Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies.
For those unfamiliar with this work, as I was until quite recently, here's a brief description. Ludwig and Emma Edelstein were a man and a wife team. On the personal side, they were German Jews who got out of Nazi Germany in time and ended up at John Hopkins in Baltimore. A few years after the war, Ludwig accepted a coveted position in the classics department at Berkeley, but when he got there he immediately lost the job because he refused to sign the new loyalty oath required by the Board of Regents (one of eighteen out of a total of eight hundred faculty members). So I immediately like the guy.
He and his wife published Asclepius in 1945, in two volumes. The first volume collected virtually all the known ancient literary and epigraphical references to Asclepius - 861 to be exact, most of them Greek, but a good dose of Latin too. The testimonies range from one sentence to about two pages maximum. Each was given an English translation. They are conveniently and instructively grouped under the categories LEGEND, DESCENDANTS, DEIFICATION AND DIVINE NATURE, MEDICINE, CULT, IMAGES, and SANCTUARIES. There is an Index Locorum, so you can easily find the full editions from which the testimonies are taken. The second volume presented the Edelsteins' interpretation. It is considered a landmark study. The two volumes were combined in a 1998 paperback edition with a new Introduction that is available new on Amazon for $35.80, less for used.
As a "reader," here's what I think it has to offer:
- + For those who want "real" Greek and Latin rather than "crap" (and I hope I made it clear in my earlier reply, I've nothing against "crap"!), this is it.
+ The testimonies cover a wide range of authors, historical periods, genres, and styles. As such it is an excellent introduction to the vast array of Greek writing.
+ Within the categories I described, there is repetition of theme, narrative, and vocabulary that has a real reinforcing value as far as learning both the language and the subject matter. For example, the first category, LEGEND, begins with nine biographical accounts. The first is the first 58 lines of from Pindar's third Pythian. The second is the relevant part of Ovid's Metamorphoses concerning the Raven and the Crow. Then Apollodorus's Bibliotheca, Diodorus Siculus, Theodoretus, Cornutus, Pausanias, Cyrillus, and Lactantius' Divinae Institutiones. I wasn't especially familiar with the myth, and I can't claim that my Greek is fluent enough to read Pindar as if it were the daily newspaper, so I had to spend some time with the Pindar. My rule for this particular project is that I don't look up any word in the dictionary. I use the English translation as necessary and just make sure I understand the grammatical structures (you know, like who or what is the subject and stuff like that). Then on to Ovid. What a difference in style! By now I understand the outlines of the myth from Pindar, and I can spot the variances - as such, this is also a pretty good introduction to mythology and the fact that there are usually many versions of the story. I realize from Ovid's account one fundamental mistake I made in interpreting Pindar's. Etc.
+ While honing your Greek and Latin reading skills, you are taking a deep dive into one of the most important aspects of Greek and Graeco-Roman religion and medicine. Isn't this what it's all about?
- + The final testimony (no. 121) in the category LEGEND is the story in ps.-Eratosthenes about how the Snake Carrier (Ophiucus) became a constellation identified by some as Asclepius. This made me remember to go back to Bedwere's reading (no. 6) of the Katasterismi.
+ Having read the testimonies for MEDICINE and incubation, I have set up a little Asclepieion in my bedroom, and I believe Asclepius has visited my dreams on at least two occasions and cured me of my illness.