Shirley Rollinson wrote:If Attic Greek is all they offer, then go for it.]
RandallButh wrote:I recommend starting with starting ancient Greek through a spoken medium. Attic Greek would work fine, if spoken in class, otherwise an artificial language will be set up that may never quite 'lead to the water.'
I can well understand what's being urged here, but there's something about both of these exhortations that I find disturbing. I'm reminded of an adage whose author I cannot remember: "Knowing the best and doing the second best is the beginning of spiritual decay." With respect to getting a start with ancient Greek, that would seem to mean, "Don't do it until you can do it the right way." But most of us don't ordinarily live and interact in a world where "how" we are to begin Greek is a simple choice between a variety of alternatives. So I say, (1) beginning the study of ancient Greek with Attic may not be what one had in mind, but it's not
a matter of making the best of a bad situation, and (2) learning Greek by immersion is very desirable but is unfortunately not an option for every one who wants to learn it; an opportunity to get a start with ancient Greek, whether in Attic or Koine, shouldn't be put off until one can do it in a classroom where the ancient language is used conversationally.
Speaking for myself alone, I started Greek sixty years ago; I began with Koine when I would have preferred beginning with Attic. I learned to pronounce it originally using the damnable American academic Erasmian method; I learned morphology and syntax and vocabulary the old-fashioned way; I went through rough transitions to reading Homer in my second year and Aristotle in my third year. I wouldn't recommend that sequence for others, but I had a teacher who inspired and motivated me and I came to love ancient Greek. Can I speak it today? No, I can't. Can I read it? Yes, pretty well, thank you, and write it tolerably. We can fantasize about the ideal learning experience for ancient Greek and work toward making that available for more of those who want to learn Greek, but surely we don't want to tell them to put off starting until they can do it in the only way that's right and proper. So, I guess that I'll second Shirley's "]If Attic Greek is all they offer, then go for it" -- but I wouldn't fash myself because I couldn't go right into an immersion classroom to start Koine Greek.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085