I thought this was a good and interesting post. It is something that I've been thinking about personally. In the last year or so, I haven't used translations much or at all for Greek. Before that, I used them extensively for the Anabasis, which now I can generally pick up and read like any English novel. As my Greek got better, however, I felt less need for translations. I don't think that I looked into a translation of Andocides even once while reading On the Mysteries.Timothée wrote:I have to admit something. This is emphatically only I, but I have great difficulties in using translations, which results to my own detriment, no doubt. I do check translations of ancient literature every now and then, but for some reason whenever I consult them, I always feel very filthy afterwards. I feel I have cheated, let myself down. That I should be able to go through this without cheating. And I fear I will be found out. Of course the counter-argument is that it is in the same way actually also cheating to consult dictionaries and grammars. The mind is full of cognitive dissonance.
Therefore I would probably only allow myself to use nothing but dictionaries, grammars, monographs, and commentaries (and possibly articles) even with Thucydides. That no matter how big a difficulty and how long ever it takes, I have to get to the meaning by my own effort, unaided. That would no doubt result in failure. I don’t write this to say Paul cannot use translations, as he definitely can and quite probably should. I suppose I write this for my own psychoanalysis...
But in the last few weeks, I decided to shake up my learning methods again, so that I don't get too complacent. I've been reading Homer in the Greek, while listening to Lattimore (other translations are less useful for this practice). And I've done the same, to a limited extent, with Herodotus and Plutarch using some old 19th century translations. Reviewing Medea the last couple of days, I've also been using the translation, looking at it whenever I don't remember a word or a construction, so that I can review a few dozen lines very quickly.
For me, I guess, the goal remains fluency. Translations aren't a cheat so much as a tool. They expand the amount of Greek that I can expose myself to at once.
The only thing in my fluency quest that I feel that I'm not picking up through reading, is basic "utility" Greek. At some point I need to sit down and perfect my accidence and syntax and usage with the 100-200 basic Greek verbs, so that I can speak and write them all fluently in all basic constructions.