A Cybermental Education
[Please feel free to try this yourself at home.]
Even granted the importance of revisiting the Greeks
and presupposing the hermeneutical structure of a dialogical encounter
between „us“ postmoderns and „those“ premoderns, I felt it absolutely imperative
that I prepare myself as thoroughly as possible and instill in the students
the need for a respect of the radical distance and difference between the
archaic cultures and our own. . And I had to reeducate myself quickly.
I then went to the Internet and gave myself a Classical re-education.
I had to find a way to engage in a rapid, but a flexibly thorough review
of Greek grammar. Several things I found on the Internet really did the
trick. But I must add that this isn’t a miracle testamonial.
I did not undertake this task in a vacuum, nor did I start from scratch.
While my doctorate is in Comparative
Literature, classics did comprise a respectable percentage of my undergraduate
and graduate educations. Latin was my first „second“ language. I had three
years of it in High School
and loved it (I won the New York State Regents Award for Latin during
my second year). In Germany where I was doing my last year of my BA in
German literature, I took Latin up again, in the study groups preparing
for the Kleine Latinum exam. In the summer before graduate school I took
an intensive Greek course. And much later in graduate school, I returned
to both languages in specially accelerated courses. I include this cursory
list of „classics credentials“ to explain what previous training I brought
to the Internet academy.
Online Greek Grammar
Hardy Hansen’s online syllabus materials for Greek 701, a course he
taught in 1996 and 1997 at CUNY (and will teach again in the Spring of
1999). Professor Hansen’s name initially caught my eye during my first
searches, because he is one of the coauthors of my all-time favorite Greek
grammar texts, Greek: An Intensive Course. I figured this would
be a good place to begin. As Laurie Anderson would say, „Oh boy!. Right.
This is a course for beginning graduate students in Classics aimed at
increasing and refining the students‘ reading ability in Attic Greek. The
weekly assignments were based on short selections from major prose writers
of the fifth and fourth centuries, B.C.E. Emphasis was an translation and
analysis of both grammar and style. The focus on style increased with each
unit. The 1997 version of the course reviewed the fundamentals of morphology
and syntax through selections from the speeches of Lysias. Exercises included
translation of English sentences into Greek in order to appreciate the
fine points and functions of Greek syntax. From here the analyses grew
more detailed, particularly in terms of the differences between „loose“
structured prose and „periodic“ prose. Assignments then included comparative
analyses of styles of different writers. This site was particularly suited
to self study because Professor Hansen generously has made available most
of the materials used in both years of the course taught so far. He organizes
the materials in a clear, easy-to-navigate and attractive arrangment. The
site includes: the written assignments; answer keys to the written assignments;
examples of completed [advanced] assignments; an essay detailing the „loose“
and „periodic“ styles; a „style scoresheet“; translations of excerpted
texts from the authors studied; biographical and contextual backgrounds
of each of the authors; a bibliography, and other aids. The Greek texts
are available from the Perseus
Project at Tufts University. They are hyperlinked on the syllabus and
on „selection bars“ that are placed prominently throughout the site.
Speaking of the Perseus Project, that is exactly where I went next.
In particular, to a recent addition, „A New Overview of Greek Syntax.“
Jeffrey A. Rydberg-Cox’s „Overview
of Greek Syntax,“ is a 1998 addition to the Perseus Project of the
Classics Department at Tufts University. It’s a beautifully laid-out, aerial
view of the intricacies of classical Greek. The „Overview“ could not replace
more conventional grammars for the beginning student – but it clearly was
not intended to do so. Its streamline organization makes it a terrific
review and study aid whose value will increase as the student progresses.
Selfishly, I found the structure and organization ideal for a motivated
„returnee“ to Greek.
I was particularly impressed, moreover, with the effectiveness of a Greek
grammar that focused on syntax over morphology. I originally studied Greek
in a more traditional approach, which of course concentrated on declensions
and conjugations. It was only after working really closely with this „Overview“
that I realized how much more nuanced an appreciation of the dynamics of
a Greek sentence was possible through the syntax-focused analysis of the
language. This made it much easier to understand the various uses of the
participles. Recognizing and even „interpreting“ the participles correctly
meant enduring hopelessly awkward English paraphrases that could never
reconcile what the participle „meant“ with what it was actually doing in
the sentence. Now I see the participles and their constructions as integral
elements of a morphosyntactical ecosystem.
The real accomplishment of the „Overview“ does not lay in the content per
se, but in the inventiveness and ingenuity of its deployment within the
Perseus Project. The main „text“
of the Overview is thoroughly integrated through hyperlinks to the complete,
online version of the absolute ‚classic‘ of Greek reference grammars, Smyth’s
Grammar. Furthermore, Rydberg-Cox didn’t need to envelope
his overview in reams of exercises and occasional snippets of „real Greek.“
Instead, he can draw on all of the Greek texts archived in the Perseus
Project. This doesn’t entail importing the archival texts into the „Overview,“
but coordinating the syntactical-structural information of the Overview,
with the reference grammar of Smyth, and the lexicographical wealth of
the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek Dictionary (now online from Perseus
in both the „Intermediate“ and „Great“ versions.
Visitors to Perseus can access a Greek text in three modes:  the Greek
text (unadorned);  the Greek text with each word hyperlinked to an morphological
analysis;  the Greek text with key words hyperlinked to lemmas in the
LSJ and the Great LSJ. Switching from one mode to another (or switching
from Greek to English) is accomplished with one click of a radio button.
When the visitor calls up the morphological analysis of a word in the Greek
text, she or he is also calling upon Rydberg-Cox’s „Overview“ without even
knowing it. The „Overview“ is intricately coordinated with both the Smyth
and the LSJs to facilitate all manners of philological inquiry. I found
this features of inestimable help in reading and in directing my research
interests. But I also benefited enormously from my prolonged direct contact
with the „Overview“ and would recommend it highly.
Matt Newburg’s Greek Learning Software
Matt Newburg is a software developer and former Classicist. He puts both
of his gifts together for some exception educational software for Macintosh.
I used the following two items:
JACT Plato Reader
- JACT Plato Reader
This application includes a reference grammar and the Greek texts used
int advanced Ancient Textbook from Cambridge University, The
Intellectual Revolution: Plato, Thucydides, and Euripides . It
comes with an amazingly versatile navigation lozenge that allows the reader
to steer over any section of the text and to call up specific explanations
of the grammar and syntax. It’s remarkable, and remarkably light on the
It’s also available for free download on Matt Newburg’s Web site at a location
you can reach by clicking
Greek Verb Help
An ingenious use of Storyspace to create a verbal paradigms in three-dimensional
cyberspace. The advantages of this over the typical textual charts will
be apparent in minutes.
- This is also available for free downloading if you click
Prehistory.To the Prehistory
of the „Histories of Meaning“
Metapaidia. To the Metaindex
of annotated resources for cyberclassicists.
Eikasia. Envisioning the Course.
Ethos. Envisioning the Engagement
Critical Conditions. On the conversation.
- How do you
This is a chapter from my book College
Connections Web Resources Directory. I post it here because it
details how to do versatile and time-saving searches on the Internet for
research in the humanities and other disciplines. Illustrated with heart
warming true stories of the virtual life.
say ’nephropathy‘ in Bulgarian? – Netcasting in Daily Life