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Learning Greek and Latin

 
 
Quincy
 
Reply Thu 1 Jul, 2010 07:02 am
Hi everyone.

I would like to learn Greek and Latin so I can read the classic works.
Which language should I start with?
And are there different forms of the two languages, e.g. is ancient Greek, say that Homer wrote his works in, different from modern Greek? Therefore which forms of the language should I learn to be able to read the classics?
And finally, and book recommendations?

Thank-you.
 
jgweed
 
  4  
Reply Thu 1 Jul, 2010 08:55 am
I'm sure you will get other opinions about this, but I would begin with Latin, if for no other reasons than 1) there are more English derivatives to help you in learning word meanings, and 2) you do not need to learn a different set of characters for the alphabet. Moreover, you will most likely find more Latin textbooks available.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  3  
Reply Thu 1 Jul, 2010 02:22 pm
I agree with jgweed that one should start with Latin. Latin is indeed
closer to English. Once you begin a study of Latin you will learn concepts
that will help with Greek.

Yes, there are different forms of Greek: the Homeric Greek of the Iliad
and the Odyssey, Classical Greek, the koine Greek of the New
Testament, and, of course, modern Greek.

Latin has its Classical form and Medieval form.

I would advise starting with the Classical for both languages.

I'm afraid I don't have any book recommendations for you.



0 Replies
 
Quincy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 06:09 am
I was thinking I should learn Greek first, because wasn't Latin infuenced by Greek? Well anyway, I'll guess I go down to the bookstore and see what books they have on Latin.
Thank-you for the replies
George
 
  2  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 06:13 am
@Quincy,
Quincy wrote:
I was thinking I should learn Greek first, because wasn't Latin infuenced by
Greek?

Only in that there are Latin words borrowed from Greek.
0 Replies
 
Quincy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2010 10:20 am
Ok, thank-you George and jgweed
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  3  
Reply Thu 8 Jul, 2010 06:56 am
@Quincy,
You say you're a mathematician, so you should know the Greek alphabet as well as the Latin one. Except for aleph which isn't Greek (used by Cantor, a Protestant in spite of his name, to denote infinities) only Greek letters are used in mathematics. I don't think Latin is of any help in learning ancient Greek; the other way around probably works better. George has already answered you on the evolution of Greek - there's a thousand years between Homer and the New Testament - and Latin evolved as well: Tacitus - easily the most elegant of the Latin authors, as Thucydides is of the Greeks - wrote in a way never duplicated by the medieval fathers of the church. Or you could start with Euclid, or the poets:
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/collections
You'll learn a lot faster if you can locate an author you genuinely want to read and not worry too much about declensions or irregular verbs.
George
 
  3  
Reply Thu 8 Jul, 2010 09:36 am
@High Seas,
High Seas wrote:
You'll learn a lot faster if you can locate an author you genuinely want to read
and not worry too much about declensions or irregular verbs.

Excellent advice
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Jul, 2010 09:49 am
@George,
Hi George - haven't seen you in a long time. Hope all is well with you, family, work - I was overseas and not looking into this site.
George
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Jul, 2010 01:42 pm
@High Seas,
Fun & Games as always, HS!
0 Replies
 
Quincy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 04:21 am
@High Seas,
Well I wouldn't call myself a mathematician, I'm just a student; but yes, I do know most of the Greek alphabet, come to think of it. (But it seems physicists and applied mathematicians are more fond of Greek letters than mathematicians are.)

Well, I want to start studying literature, and I know modern Western literature owes a lot to ancient literature, so I thought I'd start at the beginning, with the ancient Greek and Latin authors, poets, dramatists and philosophers; I didn't have anyone specific in mind. And then I would go chronologically, but I'm not sure I want to study and read Old English, I'll have to think about that.
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 10:30 am
@Quincy,
In mathematical modeling the entire Greek alphabet is in use, plus some imports from other alphabets when both caps and lower-case Greek letters run out, plus additional symbols you may not have come across yet. Depends on the branch of mathematics you work in.

On your ancient authors: on the link I posted, click on top line "Greek and Roman materials". You'll find all authors in alphabetical order. Click on small arrow before author name to see what's available and in what language. You may want to keep the original text in one window, open the translation in a different window, and size the windows so you can scroll both texts simultaneously.

I'm not a great fan of most translations, but obviously you need them if you can't yet read the original. George (who posts here, and who also knows both Latin and Greek) and I had some PMs recently on some translations - I'll go retrieve a part of one of my own posts from that PM and come back and post it so you see how to work the 2 texts in parallel on the database I linked for you earlier.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 10:37 am
@Quincy,
Here's the relevant portion of my own part of the correspondence with George; the original and first translation are from the database I linked, the second translation is mine. Now you have the complete sequence of steps for reading almost any of the ancient authors.

Quote:
It bothers me no end when the translator intervenes between original and reader by "interpreting" the author's words instead of clinging to the text as closely as possible. Take the opening verses of the Iliad >
Quote:

μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,
πολλὰς δ᾽ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν
ἡρώων, αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν
οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι, Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή,


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999.01.0133
> which the online translation renders as >
Quote:

The wrath sing, goddess, of Peleus' son, Achilles, that destructive wrath which brought countless woes upon the Achaeans, and sent forth to Hades many valiant souls of heroes, and made them themselves spoil for dogs and every bird; thus the plan of Zeus came to fulfillment


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999.01.0134
> though the original word-for-word is so much more lively - and more beautiful:

"Sing, goddess, the howling fury of Achilles, son of Peleus
Which brought great troubles to the Acheans,
Dispatched the noble souls of many heroes to Hades,
Leaving their bodies to vultures and wild dogs
So the will of Zeus was done."
Quincy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jul, 2010 05:03 am
@High Seas,
That website will be very helpful, thank-you for bringing it to my attention.

I am also not a fan of translations. I tried reading a translation of Dante but it wasn't quite working for me; apparently it's much better in the original Italian.
What you bring up I too have had experience of. I understand a bit of Afrikaans, so it's interesting to see how people translate from English to Afrikaans or vice versa, how the translator takes some liberties by not giving the exact translation but rather paraphrasing; and it irritates me when they do that. The words a person uses could be chosen for some specific reason, or have a different effect when paraphrased etc.
Another thing with translations is the loss of prosody. I can imagine when English is translated into another language all sense of metre, rhythm etc. is lost, but this is a very important part of literature. Yet another reason why I want to study texts in their original language.
But of course translations are helpful for when you're learning, and if you get stuck when reading on your own.
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 Jul, 2010 12:39 pm
@Quincy,
Will be out of the country - and not logging in or posting due to firewall / security shell settings - but was glad you found the link useful. George and others here can advise on Greek / Latin texts. Good luck, hope there will be progress to report when I'm back Smile
0 Replies
 
 

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