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CLYDE PHARR
HOMER AND THE STUDY OF GREEK

In Print:
The Original Greek New Testament

Excerpts from a study contained in Homeric Greek - A Book for Beginners, University of Oklahoma Press 1985. The text contains some words in Greek, download Greek fonts, if you don't have. 

ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT



Page 2

      IT IS only fair to state that although this idea of beginning Greek with the reading of Homer is original with the writer, it is not new. This was the regular method employed by the old Romans in teaching their boys Greek, and it was highly commended by that capable and judicious old schoolmaster, Quintilian, as the best possible plan. [Also in the whole history of Byzantium, Homer was used as the foundation of learning Greek - (Elpenor's note)]. Since that time it has been used now and then by some of the world's ablest educators and scholars. It was thus that Joseph Scaliger (de la Scala), one of the most brilliant names in the whole history of classical scholarship, taught himself Greek at Paris, and many more of the great scholars of the past learned their Greek through Homer. It was tried also by Herbart, who began a series of experiments in Switzerland, in 1797, where he employed this method with marked success in private tutoring. Later he continued his experiments on a larger scale in the teachers' training college at Koenigsberg, with such good results that he was thoroughly convinced that this was the only suitable method of teaching beginning Greek. At his suggestion it was tried by Dissen, by Ferdinand Ranke, and by Hummel, all of whom were hearty in its praise ; and, most important of all, by Ahrens, at Hanover, where it was used for thirty years (1850-1881), with great success, but was finally abandoned because of the lack of suitable text books and because of the opposition of other Gymnasia which refused to adopt such a revolutionary plan. It has also been recommended occasionally, but without success, by other scholars and humanists, notably by Goethe, by Andrew Lang, and by Wilamowitz, in Europe ; while in America it has been advocated in one form or another by Seymour, Bolling, Shorey, Lane Cooper, and others.  (...)

      In the first place it is essential that we disabuse our minds of the once prevalent notion, long since exploded, but still more or less consciously held by many, that the Attic dialect is the norm by which all other Greek is to be judged. The language of Homer is earlier and naturally differs from it in many essentials ; therefore it was long maintained that Homeric Greek is irregular, crude and unfinished. Hellenistic Greek, which represents a later development of the language, has its differences ; therefore Hellenistic Greek must be degenerate. Such an idea is utterly unscientific and ignores completely the modern historical point of view of the development and growth of languages. Any period which has given birth to literary productions of surpassing merit and artistic excellence is justified by its own works ; it contains its own linguistic standards, and will richly repay those who take the trouble to study it. To call Homeric Greek anomalous and irregular, because it differs in some particulars from the Attic dialect, is as misleading as it would be to say that the language of Shakespeare is immature and eccentric because he does not write the same type of English as does George Ade or Stephen Leacock. (...)

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    Cf. The Complete Iliad ||| The Complete Odyssey

    Related:  Andrew Lang, We need Homer and the Study of Greek   Homer Bilingual (Greek English) Anthology  Homer : Greek - English Interlinear Iliad  A Commentary on the Odyssey Homer: Achilles' Grief, Returning to Ithaca & The Underworld Cavafy, The Horses of Achilles Helen Keller, It was the Iliad that made Greece my paradise,  Plato Home Page 

The Greek Word Course : Lessons in Ancient Greek


Cf. The Complete Iliad * The Complete Odyssey
Greek Grammar * Basic New Testament Words * Greek - English Interlinear Iliad
Greek accentuation * Greek pronunciation

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