Arthur Sidgwick’s Introduction to Greek Prose Composition is arguably the best known and most widely used Greek Composition book ever written. This textbook has enjoyed continuous use since it was first written in the 1870s and modern reprints can be purchase to this day.
This textbook is intended for the intermediate Greek learner. If you’re a beginning learner and wish to practice Greek composition we suggest either Sidgwick’s First Greek Writer, which is his beginning level composition book, or North and Hillard’s Greek Prose Composition which too is less advanced.
There are many aspects of Sidgwick’s work that make his Greek Prose Composition so exceptional. Without question Sidgwick held gifted insights into the subtleties of Greek thought and his ability to express his understandings through a writing style which is simple and direct is most helpful to the Greek learner. He writes as if he were speaking to you and this style of writing is quite refreshing when compared with many other textbooks of its day.
Also, Sidgwick worked hard to craft composition lessons that were interesting and dare we say entertaining for the learner. A common criticism of composition books of this period where that they were quite dry. Perhaps none typifies dryness better than North and Hillard’s composition books in which military sentences such as, “the general resolved to advance cautiously though the enemy had left their camp” stressed the syntax and vocabulary of the more militant texts of Xenophon or Caesar. Sidgwick’s approach was to avoid dull and fragmented passages and instead present lively passages that would hold the interests of the young Greek learner. For example he writes in Exercise III entitled The Dog and the Lovers, “Once a youth and a maiden resolved to meet in a beautiful spot, where was a lake in the midst of mountains. The youth, who had a faithful dog…” This is a far more interesting story, and for the young and imaginative, it is a passage that that’s certainly inspiring.
Another great aspect of Sidgwick’s Greek Prose Composition is that the book is divided into notes on construction and exercises. Sidgwick’s notes on construction is a textbook in itself and learners will quickly appreciate his concise discussions, example sentences in Greek and English translations.