How long have you been studying the classics?

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thesaurus
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How long have you been studying the classics?

Post by thesaurus » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:40 am

I'm interested to know how long you all have been studying Latin, Greek, etc. and what you would rate your relative level of proficiency.

Personally, I just discovered the joy of Latin less than 5 months ago. After an accelerated summer class I've started working on Caesar's Gallic War with my class (my first real text!). I am in my junior year of college and I wish that I had started earlier. I feel like I have to make up for lost time, not to mention trying to learn Greek.

Thanks to your wonderful site (which I also just discovered) I hope to keep this passion burning for years to come.

Hu

Post by Hu » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:03 am

I'm nineteen and a college sophmore.

I started Latin in tenth grade and took it up to Latin III (I was in Latin IV, but I dropped it for AP Biology II...what a mistake). That was in the second semester of my senior year, and I took Intermediate Latin (my first real exposure to authentic Latin) in my first semester of college later that year. I then took Latin lyric poetry (Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid) earlier this year. Generally I shied away from real Latin in high school because I got discouraged at how little I could understand...it didn't help that I was always ahead of everyboddy else in the class and so mainly worked by myself.

I'm also learning Greek (it took long enough, as I taught myself the alphabet, along with Cyrillic, in eighth grade) and am up to Iliad 1.125 in Clyde Pharr's book (Chapter 35). I wish I had done more with Latin when I was first learning it, which is why I'm keeping up the pace now.

Bonam fortunam.

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Post by bellum paxque » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:28 am

Salve!

I graduated from college this past May with a degree in English literature. Like you, I discovered Latin around the beginning of my junior year in college. So I guess that I'm just beginning my third year of Latin study. Greek, I haven't started yet. That will have to wait for a while, since I'm pretty busy with a full time job teaching English to Korean kids, keeping my Latin going, and learning Korean on the side.

My current proficiency with Latin? I've read bits of nearly all the major authors - I've read half of the Aeneid, large chunks of Tacitus, slightly graded passages from Livy, several of Cicero's speeches and some of his philosophy, a lot of the Vulgate, and the Cupid & Psyche tale from Apuleius. This doesn't include snippets of Sallust, a number of the poems of Horace and Catullus... welll, you get the picture. Two years of hard work, and a dictionary is just about all I need to make sense of most Latin. (Of course, commentaries are essential for the nuances, the customary & historical references, the mythological implications, and all of those other tricky things that connect a foreign language with its foreign culture).

ego quoque te ad Latinam studendam optimam fortunam habiturum spero!

Regards,

David
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:44 am

I started seriously studying Greek in the last week of October 2004. Sure, the notion of studying Ancient Greek had been boiling at the back of my head since September 21, 2003, but it took a while for the steam to seep through to the part of my brain which Actually Makes Things Happen. Yes, I can remember the dates that precisely - oddly enough I have poor short-term memory, but really good long-term memory. Most of my memories from the year 2000 which I still have are more vivid than my memory of what I had for lunch today. Fortunately I also have a good temporal memory to mediate between my short-term and long-term memory, but even my temporal memory can get mixed up now and then (actually, I suppose the dates are coming from my temporal rather than my long-term memory - but you probably know more about my memory than you ever wanted to know).

My proficiency in Ancient Greek is ... far past beginner, but several levels short of my goals, which haven't changed much since October 2004. My goal was and remains to read Ancient Greek (paticularly pre-Koine drama and poetry, though also the histories) at 90% of the speed/comfort I could read an equivalent English text. As I have said before, my username is a prophecy (hopefully of the self-fulfilling variety), not an accurate description of present conditions.

All the Latin I know is extremely vulgar. It's so vulgar, most people call it French or Spanish.

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Post by Carola » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:01 am

Well, I "started" in about 1960 at high school - but had a bit of a gap in between my next start in about 2001! Since then I have completed 3 years of university level Latin and am in my 1st year of Greek, whilst completing the world's longest running Batchelor of Arts degree. My Latin is reasonably good, although I would like to be spending more time on it. My "real life" has a way of taking over at times.
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Post by jjhayes84 » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:09 pm

I started studying Greek two years ago. I've read a few interesting Attic things (Plato, Lysias, etc.), but most of the Greek I read is Koine: NT, LXX, Church Fathers.

I started studying Latin a little over a year ago. I've read several authors so far including Vergil, Cicero, Pliny the Younger, Ovid. I've also read parts of the Nova Vulgata and several Reformation era authors of whom one of my favorites is Martinus Chemnitius (Martin Chemnitz), whose image is my avatar.
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Post by vir litterarum » Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:07 pm

I started studying Latin four years ago as a freshman in high school and am currently taking AP Latin Lit: Catullus and Ovid, but I do most of my studying on my own. I have translated the first six books of the Aeneid, 62.5 of Catullus' Poems, a few books of the New Testament from the Vulgate, and a couple of myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses. I used Hansen and Quinn's Greek course to teach myself Attic over the summer, and I am currently translating Aeschylus' Eumenides. I feel I have an excellent grasp on Latin grammar and syntax and a moderate knowledge of its vocabulary. As concerns Greek, I think I have a competent knowledge of its grammar and syntax and a poor knowledge so far of its vocabulary. I plan to enroll in college as a Classics major next fall.

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Post by Bert » Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:17 am

Amazing how quickly some of you have learned Greek.
It has taken me a long time to get where I am now (which is not as far as where some of you are in half the time) but I am enjoying it just the same.
I think it was about 9 years ago when I started Greek.
I have been consistently doing some every day.
Just the last 3 weeks I have only been able to study Greek about 3 days per week. Other duties have started to eat up a lot of time. This will continue probably into June.
I am starting to notice that I recognize some of the more or less unusual constructions without having to analyze it.
This makes for more enjoyable reading.
It is the vocab that is holding me back.

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Post by Fabiola » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:38 pm

After she decided to start homeschooling my brothers and me, my mom did a lot of research on different types of educational methods and curriculums and decided she wanted to give us at least a partly classical education. I was first introduced to both Latin and Greek very early on- I can only guess, but I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade. We didn't go over much, but that exposure was very good for me. I had a Latin tutor for a number of months in 7th/8th grade, and I finally took it upon myself to fully learn the language last year (11th grade). I'd still classify myself as a beginner- there's much I have forgotten, but I'm making fairly good progress (if only I could memorize more quickly!)

My mom also let me do Greek and Roman history while I was still in middle school, something that I loved and which has helped me in my current history courses more than anything else (I'm reading Livy, Tacitus, etc. this year- read some of the Greek histories last year. Yay Herodotus!). And already knowing the general characters and names of the Greek and Roman gods has been a tremendous help in reading Classical literature- I can't imagine going into those works "cold"!

The early exposure to the classics is undoubtably what sparked my now avid interest- I loved the mythology then as much as I do now, and classical history is still way more interesting to me than modern history is.
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Post by cantator » Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:17 pm

I took a junior high-school Latin class when I was 13, but since my girlfriend sat behind me I learned very little (about Latin, that is).

I graduated from high school in 1969. Shortly afterwards I read Ezra Pound's "ABC Of Reading" and realized how ignorant I really was. In my early 20s I started studying Latin and Greek privately with Dr Richard Hebein, then-chairman of the Romance Languages department at Bowling Green State University in Ohio USA.

I'm 55 now. I've not been so particular about Greek, though I have taken it very seriously at times throughout my life (I once read 18 books of the Iliad with the help of Samuel Clarke's Latin translation). OTOH, I've consistently read Latin for about 35 years now. My primary interest is Latin poetry from all periods, and I'd say I'm a fairly fluent reader.
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

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Post by thesaurus » Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:20 pm

cantator,
I find sotries like yours to be a great inspiration. Sometimes I get frustrated with Latin and it helps to remember that, relatively, I'm still a total beginner. I hope to still be studying Latin when I'm 55.

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Post by cantator » Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:46 am

thesaurus wrote:Sometimes I get frustrated with Latin and it helps to remember that, relatively, I'm still a total beginner.


My t'ai chi teachers used to tell me: "Ten years is a good beginning". Or as the I Ching puts it, "Perseverance furthers".

Fluency is a matter of time. Your mind can only encompass and process so much, and you'll have to trust in persistence. I was fortunate to have had a good foundation in the basics of English grammar, so grammatical concepts themselves were not so alien to me. Many contemporary students meet grammar for the first time in a foreign language class, so they're not just learning Latin (for example), they're also trying to absorb fundamental concepts of grammar. Alas, all too often the instruction conveys little beyond grammar, and even motivated students may find it difficult to proceed.

The classics are so-called *not* because they illustrate the principles of grammar. They are considered literary pinnacles for their depth and graces, beauties without compare, but the Way into this consideration is long and arduous, *and* it requires an extent of mastery over at least basic grammatical principles. It's all very much like studying music: there's no getting around technique, you *must* have it before your expression can attain its greatest heights and depths.
I hope to still be studying Latin when I'm 55.
To paraphrase Helen Waddell, I walk with good companions. :)

When I was in my early 20s I decided to devote myself to the acquisition of abilities that would last for my entire lifetime. Music, Latin, and t'ai chi are the elements that keep this aging body & soul together. And love, of course. :)
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

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Post by richc » Mon Oct 09, 2006 2:48 pm

Cantator wrote
When I was in my early 20s I decided to devote myself to the acquisition of abilities that would last for my entire lifetime. Music, Latin, and t'ai chi are the elements that keep this aging body & soul together. And love, of course.
Fantastic. I feel the same way, but it's taken the hangover from a misspent youth to
pick this up.

I started Greek about 3 years ago using "John Williams White" from here at textkit,
and while I"ve read a pretty large volume, they were Loebs. While I can read quite a
bit with the english crutches on the right hand page, I find it a lot tougher to read, say,
a Bristol Press book. I think it's time to start weaning myself from the Loebs and start
ploughing my way through without the help they've been giving me.

Also. I actually enjoy reading at a somewhat lower level of proficiency. Decoding, I
should say. There's nothing more fun than sitting at a table with a Chinese or Greek
text, a dictionary and a large cup of coffee, working my way through the pages. As
I grow in fluency, there is a different feeling to reading the books. Maybe less about the
language and more about the text. .. I dont know for sure.

Cheers
Rich

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Post by Amadeus » Fri Oct 13, 2006 9:58 pm

I don't mean to derail this thread, but I'm curious... Has anyone actually used the free classical texts available on the web (e.g., thelatinlibrary, Bibliotheca Augustana) for study (not reading, but study)?
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.

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Post by cantator » Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:21 pm

Amadeus wrote:I don't mean to derail this thread, but I'm curious... Has anyone actually used the free classical texts available on the web (e.g., thelatinlibrary, Bibliotheca Augustana) for study (not reading, but study)?
I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by the differentiation. However, I have used various on-line texts that typically include few if any critical notes or other apparatus.

I didn't know about the Bibliotheca Augustana though. It's nice resource, thanks for the tip. I owe you one. :)
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

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Post by Amadeus » Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:32 pm

Id est, not only for a casual read or to look something up, but to actually practice, study the latin language, philosophy, religion, etc.
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.

Hu

Post by Hu » Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:58 pm

Amadeus wrote:Id est, not only for a casual read or to look something up, but to actually practice, study the latin language, philosophy, religion, etc.
It's hard for me to read long passages on a computer screen, so I generally print things out when I want them for anything more than a quick reference.

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Post by Carola » Sun Oct 15, 2006 10:57 pm

Amadeus wrote:Id est, not only for a casual read or to look something up, but to actually practice, study the latin language, philosophy, religion, etc.
I found it very useful to have a "straight" text (ie no annotations etc) when I was studying Latin at university. This way I could try to read the text without any distractions, looking at it as a piece of writing, not something to be dissected and picked over! The annotated texts are wonderful, but imagine trying to read a book for pleasure with all those footnotes.
Yes, I also find it hard to read from a screen as I like to sit in a comfortable chair when I read, not upright at a desk. Roll on the electronic book reader!
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Post by Amadeus » Mon Oct 16, 2006 5:01 pm

I asked because I plan to build a library of my own. Money is sometimes an issue with me, so instead of buying hard-to-find books from the "middle man" I'm going to print many of the free books from thelatinlibrary.com, The Perseus Project, etc, and bind them myself. My only concern was missing out on the critical analyses of experts. But now I decided to print the very rare, and buy the most important, like, say, The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Summa Theologica, The Summa contra Gentiles... Man, it's gonna be so much fun!

Valete!
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.

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Post by richc » Mon Oct 16, 2006 5:28 pm

I just checked out latinlibrary.com, and it seems like the domain name's for sale,
and no longer functioning as a repository. That's too bad, great idea tho. Are you
really going to bind these books, or have them done at the local printomat in spiral
bindings.

Rich

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Post by Amadeus » Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:05 pm

richc wrote:I just checked out latinlibrary.com, and it seems like the domain name's for sale, and no longer functioning as a repository.
You must've typed the wrong address. Here's the real one: http://thelatinlibrary.com/ But even if it went for sale, I have it covered: I downloaded the whole website to my hard disk. :wink:
Are you really going to bind these books, or have them done at the local printomat in spiral bindings.
No spirals, I hate them. At first I was going to send it to a bookbinder, but after seeing their prices, I thought: why not do it myself and in the process learn an ancient craft? So that's what I'll do.

Vale!
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.

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Post by thesaurus » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:44 am

Does anyone have advice on how to stay focused when studying becomes a chore? I'm just starting on Greek, but I sometimes lose heart when all I'm studying is declensions and such. Add in my official school work and Greek can slip through the cracks. How do you keep yourself productive?

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:53 am

Well, for dredge work like memorising morphology (which is what you're doing), I reserve it for times when I feel pretty dull - it does not take an great deal of intellectual capacity to memorize morphology - merely repetition. I spare my more fertile time for syntax or actually tackling an ancient greek text. Try morphology work right before you go to sleep - you'll be pretty tired after a demanding day and people often memorize things better/faster if they do it right before they sleep. Of course, nowadays Ι don't really deal with the morphology head-on anymore - I merely review every now and then.

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Post by Kinadius » Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:08 am

thesaurus wrote:Does anyone have advice on how to stay focused when studying becomes a chore?
When studying becomes a chore, I just stop studying until I feel like doing so again. But then, that's why I chose to be an autodidact. ;)
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Post by Bert » Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:41 am

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:Well, for dredge work like memorising morphology (which is what you're doing), I reserve it for times when I feel pretty dull - it does not take an great deal of intellectual capacity to memorize morphology - merely repetition. I spare my more fertile time for syntax or actually tackling an ancient greek text.
I can't do memory work when I am feeling dull. (Maybe my fertile time is comparable to your dull moments.) When I feel more motivated I can concentrate on the drudgery of memory work but when I feel less motivated, tackling a Greek text might get me motivated again.
Because it is more fun I guess.

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Post by cantator » Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:46 am

thesaurus wrote:Does anyone have advice on how to stay focused when studying becomes a chore? I'm just starting on Greek, but I sometimes lose heart when all I'm studying is declensions and such. Add in my official school work and Greek can slip through the cracks. How do you keep yourself productive?
1) Learn some yoga, t'ai chi, or ch'i kung (aka qi gong). I find that a few minutes of breathing exercises clears the mind wonderfully. Even just taking a walk can help.

2) Memorize some short passages from the literature, recite them aloud to yourself (maybe while you're out on that walk) at opportune moments. The practice encourages further practice. Try memorizing a few lines every day.

3) My t'ai chi teachers used to say that ten years is a good beginning. They meant it. The truly good and valuable things in life take time and patience to acquire. Don't give up, and know always that you *can* achieve fluency. It's all a matter of patience and time.

Btw, make sure you don't fall into the "grammar trap"[1]. You will not achieve fluency in the literature by focusing only on the grammar. Alas, at the same time you *will* need to master some possibly very foreign linguistic concepts, and the grammatical approach is the only one that serves in that respect. Sorry, no way around memorization of the basics. Just remember that by definition what is difficult is not impossible.

[1]: A classical guitarist once told me that he was going to concentrate on scales and arpeggios for two years, that he should be able to play anything after that amount of exercise. Do I need to add that he was marvelous good at scales and arpeggios and equally bad at musicality ? In fact, his playing was awful. His experience was demonstrative: Yes, you absolutely need to master scales and arpeggios to play well, but it's just as necessary to bear in mind that the building materials are not the only things that go into making the building itself. And in the end it is the building we admire, not its construction materials (unless you are yourself a builder, of course).
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

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