How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

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dominics
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How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by dominics » Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:14 pm

What do you think? Shall I aim to go through it all first, or could I already start with Plato a bit early?

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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by RandyGibbons » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:02 pm

That's a hard, really impossible, question to answer, because it depends on so many thinks about you and about your circumstances.

For myself, I would be patient and finish JACT first, uncork the champagne to celebrate the milestone achievement, then try your hand at Plato.

But here is a compromise I think a lot of people do: Select the dialog you will want to read first and make it available to yourself in the format you will want (printed student edition, Loeb, Perseus ...). When you're far enough along in JACT that you're feeling your oats and getting itchy to try your hand at "real Greek", give the first few pages of your dialog a shot and see how it goes. In fact you could do this periodically every so many chapters in JACT, to gauge your progress. (I did this with the Preface and first book of Livy when I was boning up on my Latin.) Your first reading(s) are going to be difficult or at least slow going no matter what, so don't get discouraged.

dominics
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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by dominics » Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:24 pm

Thanks for your reply. It is of course impossible to accurately answer this question, but in terms of grammatical concepts introduced one could for example say that JACT covers 90% of the grammatical concepts needed for Plato in the first five chapters (just making this up). Maybe Plato doesn't use the Perfect as much (just making this up again) and doesn't have a very complicated writing style generally speaking, so statements like this would be possible

I could of course always check if it seems easy enough, but sometimes, when somebody tells you "I started reading Plato after finishing JACT chapter 4" this gives you the extra push needed to persevere.

Thanks for you answer in any case.

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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by RandyGibbons » Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:39 pm

Yeah, you're asking for an essentially quantitative answer that just isn't to be had. I doubt anybody has gone through, say, the Apology, to enumerate how many grammatical constructs it contains.

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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by jeidsath » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:17 pm

Helm comes close. You'll get Smyth citations coming out of your ears.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

dominics
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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by dominics » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:23 am

jeidsath wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:17 pm
Helm comes close. You'll get Smyth citations coming out of your ears.
I don't seem to understand your reply - could you elaborate a bit?

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:37 am

dominics wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:23 am
jeidsath wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:17 pm
Helm comes close. You'll get Smyth citations coming out of your ears.
I don't seem to understand your reply - could you elaborate a bit?
What he means is that the commentary by Helm has a lot of grammar references to Smyth, the still standard ancient Greek grammar. The problem is that real authors simply use the language, and if what they write is sufficient length, you can see any and everything in terms of constructions, and you often see primary speakers of the language using it creatively in ways that that beginning grammars don't cover, and really can't because of their limitations. Randy gave you some really good advice. My two drachmae -- finish JACT. There is a reason why primers cover what they do, and then you go to "real" authors.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by markcmueller » Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:38 am

As sensible as Barry's advice is, I'm not following it. I haven't finished Athenaze yet, but I have been dipping into a lot of different things. I figure that if you're teaching yourself you can do anything you want. The important thing in my opinion is to continue to 'read' Greek which sometimes means looking at Greek rather than fully comprehending.

I originally intended to stick to Attic until I felt comfortable and then move on. My inclinations led me elsewhere. I found Simon Pulleyn's Odyssey 1 a real delight. He provides a parallel translation and his notes are fascinating. You don't need much Greek to enjoy this book. Another enjoyable book to dip into is Hadavas's Ancient Greek Epigrams. The book has both vocabulary and notes on the same page with the text. The poems are short, generally 2 to 4 lines, so the effort to understand brings a quick payoff. When I read Simonides's "Epitaph for Megistias" I had for the first time the experience of being moved by something I read in Greek. A beginning text with Ionic, Doric and the erotic seems the antithesis of traditional approaches to Greek and is fun for that reason.

For Plato, I strongly recommend Louise Pratt's Eros at the Banquet. The Symposium is not the easiest dialogue, but it's wonderful. Pratt mildly edits the beginning third of the Symposium, but the latter part is the received text. The book is designed to be a first reading course after learning Greek, and she has a slim companion volume on grammar which she refers you to brush up on a particular construction. It doesn't matter if you don't remember the pluperfect or never learned it all, Pratt makes the dialogue accessible.

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:20 pm

markcmueller wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:38 am
As sensible as Barry's advice is, I'm not following it.
That made me smile... :D

And adding some "received text" Greek while going through the beginning text is not going to hurt and is often going to help. I started doing this when I was teaching Greek in seminary (hating the textbook I was required to use and needing to do something). I tried to pick texts relevant to what the students were supposed to be learning. So for example when learning the paradigm for εἷς (it is, after all, the number 1 paradigm in Greek):

Eph 4:5 εἷς κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα

And including the awful comment "See, paradigms are biblical!"
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by Andriko » Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:19 pm

Helm's version of the Apology is worth getting and going for fairly soon in my opinion. As others have said, it's good to have something to dip into regularly to see how you are going, and the grammatical notes that are given by Helm make it relatively approachable once you have covered a few chapters. It's also (though this might just be me) a very humorous and livley read.

I also found that Xenophon is someone who writes in a manner straightforward enough to be atleast intelligable fairly soon, and the novels from later in antiquity ('Kallirhoe', for example), is not to hard to have an attempt at. Going through them on Perseus or with a Loeb might be worth a crack.

I would say, though, that it is probably best to wait until you have at least covered participles and the Aorist before you attempt to read anything, though.

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Re: How much of JACT is needed to start reading Plato?

Post by cb » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:48 am

Hi, a great entry point for Plato, for someone who is a fair way through a major textbook (but not yet all the way), is the Crito commentary by Malcolm Campbell (unit 2 in the Greek prose reading course for post-beginners).

As well as having extensive notes, it has a self-contained section explaining constructions that are often explained in the second half of a textbook (perfect and pluperfect, syntax of constructions involving the subjunctive and optative, etc.).

I also think the Crito itself is easier to read than the Apology (putting aside commentaries). The Crito is entirely dialogue; the Apology is mostly a monologue.

Cheers, Chad

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