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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 4

      If we leave aside the irregularities and look at a few regular formations which must be memorized, the evidence is none the less conclusive. For example, the "regular" declensions of such words as πόλις, βασιλεύς, ναῦς, πῆχυς, ἄστυ, comparatives in - ιων, and other forms which will readily occur to any one who has studied Attic Greek, are so complicated that they are not ordinarily mastered by students of beginning Greek, and it would be rather remarkable if they were. Or let us consider a single class, such as typical words of the third declension in υς, as πῆχυς, δίπηχυς, ἡδύς, ἔγχελυς, ἰχθύς. If the student learned the declension of any one of these, and attempted to decline the rest accordingly, he would go far astray; for of these five words, all of the third declension, and all ending in υς in the nominative, no two are declined alike throughout. A comparison of the declensions of ἔγχελυς (eel) with that of ἰχθύς (fish) will illustrate the point. It seems that the old Athenians were never able to decide definitely whether an eel was a fish or a serpent. Accordingly, we find that they declined ἔγχελυς the first half of the way like ἰχθύς, while the other half was different. What a pity that there are not a few more such convenient mnemonic devices to help the student keep his bearings on his way through the maze of Greek morphology! If a student finally learned to decline such a word as ναῦς, he would not know how to begin the declension of another word formed in the same way, such as γραῦς; nor would a student who had learned the declension of βοῦς in Attic Greek know the de­clension of the next word like it, χοῦς, and he might be led very far astray by such a simple and common word as νοῦς. All of these forms, and many more which could be cited, are highly interesting to philologists, as they illustrate so beautifully certain abstruse principles in Greek phonology and morphology. Un­fortunately they do not usually have the same strong appeal to the beginner who is trying very hard to learn how to read Greek.

      The whole system of contraction, which is regular at times, and the variations caused by it in the general rules of accent and quantity, all of which are so confusing and so difficult to the ordinary beginner, are so little used in Homer that they can very profitably be omitted, or else touched quite lightly, and the time saved can be invested elsewhere to much greater advantage.

      In the field of syntax Homer is so much simpler than Xenophon, that students ordinarily find him a great deal easier. Thus Homer lacks the articular infinitive ; long and involved passages in indirect discourse never occur, as well as many other strange and foreign characteristics of Attic Greek and Xenophon, all of which give a great deal of trouble to the ordinary beginner.

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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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