Beginning Greek, Again and Again

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Beginning Greek, Again and Again

Post by cwconrad » January 3rd, 2016, 9:02 am

From this morning's (Jan 3, 2016) New York Times Opinion page, a memoir familiar to many who have taught ancient Greek in the classroom, especially by traditional methods: ... ght-region

I was particularly moved by the remarks about the dialogue between Ismene and Antigone from Sophocles' Antigone. There certainly are gems in Greek -- or any other rich literary tradition, the savoring of which seems to justify the effort expended to gain the ability to appreciate -- and so many of them are in the text of Sophocles.

This professor gleefully notes how many of students working through the first semester have voluntarily committed themselves to continuing into a second. I sadly remember a young lady who surpassed all measures of success in Beginning Greek who wasn't going to continue it because, she said, she'd taken Greek only because she believed than exposure to it was a valuable part of her undergraduate experience. I should have been happy with that response, but of course I passionately wanted her to continue, and she wasn't going to do that.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stirling Bartholomew
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Joined: August 9th, 2012, 4:19 pm

Re: Beginning Greek, Again and Again

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 3rd, 2016, 8:11 pm


I read this. It was good. I am not sure if it would be better to teach at a school where Greek was a required subject and failure to complete a three to four year Greek & Hebrew curriculum resulted in a failure to obtain your degree. The element of coercion doesn't sit well with some students. Having students read Sophocles in the first term sounds ambitious. Perhaps carefully selected passages would be ok. Aiming the course at one or two students (among 30-40) with proper background and stellar aptitude for the subject isn't going to make for a high return rate next year. I took a course like that at the age of 21 from Dr. Frank Kline SPU on Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Taught from the greek text. Didn't understand most of it.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

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