Learning Greek in the 20th Century

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Learning Greek in the 20th Century

Post by Ursinus » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:23 pm

I found this at the back of a copy of the Epitome Sacrae Historiae. There was an institute called Dr. Comstock's Vocal and Polyglott Gymnasium in Philadelphia. According to this institute: t"he Ancient Greek is taught according to the system adopted in the University of Otho, at Athens. By this method both the ancient and modern dialects are acquired at the same time. This plan is now used in the Universities of Germany." Would anyone happen to know what such a curriculum looked like? It sounds pretty intriguing to me.
In hoc enim fallimur, quod mortem prospicimus" -- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Re: Learning Greek in the 20th Century

Post by mwh » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:07 am

Surely 19th cent. not 20th. Sounds like quackery to me. U. of Otho is the U. of Athens.

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Re: Learning Greek in the 20th Century

Post by hlawson38 » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:08 am

Andrew Comstock's autobiography, written in conformity to the scheme of Longfellow's "Hiawatha", is available online. It begins:
I was born in Greenfield Township,

In the county, Saratoga,

In the mighty State, called Empire,
When the country was all new there,
When it was but sparsely settled,

A google search of comstock philadelphia gymnasium locates many references to this Comstock, who is not *Anthony* Comstock the famous moral-purity agitator.


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Re: Learning Greek in the 20th Century

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:06 pm

The katharevousa is not so far from the classical idiom as the current demotiki is. It might be plausible to learn those two together.
οὐ μέν πως πάντες βασιλεύσομεν ἐνθάδ᾽ Ἀχαιοί:
οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη: εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω,
εἷς βασιλεύς, ᾧ δῶκε Κρόνου πάϊς ἀγκυλομήτεω
σκῆπτρόν τ᾽ ἠδὲ θέμιστας, ἵνά σφισι βουλεύῃσι. (Illiad 2.203-206)

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Re: Learning Greek in the 20th Century

Post by Aetos » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:46 pm

Although Katharevousa was officially removed from the Greek educational system in 1976, it would have been going strong back in Comstock's day, and as ἑκηβόλος points out, there are many similarities with Attic Greek. It does not have the complexity of ancient Greek, but many of the forms and inflections as well as vocabulary are restored. Katharevousa (meaning "purified") was an attempt to remove the influence of foreign languages (such as Turkish, Italian, French) on the popular language (demotic greek). Its use, however, was restricted to official documents, newspapers, textbooks and other forms of written communication. The only place it was spoken was in the courtroom!

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