Posts Tagged ‘Ancient Greek’

Boris Johnson and Antisthenes

July 24, 2019

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[Antisthenes] said that states are destroyed when they cannot distinguish fools from serious men.

τότ’ ἔφη τὰς πόλεις ἀπόλλυσθαι, ὅταν μὴ δύνωνται τοὺς φαύλους ἀπὸ τῶν σπουδαίων διακρίνειν.

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 6.5

We have had some discussion about this on social media.  The question would be how to interpret φαύλους and σπουδαίων, which are basically trivial vs serious, but can represent a number of related contrasts.  The original citation contains a number of discrete opinions on diverse matters and does not really help with interpretation here.

In the course of the discussion, Diarmaid MacCulloch described Johnson as Not a fool, and ultimately not very serious. Ambitious, and utterly untrustworthy.  Which may be the kind of person Antisthenes was thinking of–as far as we can ever tell…

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 2

July 23, 2019

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1023  We await two new people.  Alexandra comes to shut  off my escape.

1048  I don’t feel too bad…yet…

1052 I want to go home.  The god Νηρεύς exemplifies the classes of consonants omitted in Linear B.

1200  It is a vessel containing honey.  I want to go home.

1245  I go home!

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 1

July 22, 2019
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Linear B sign inventory

MONDAY JULY 22: 0627  Do I want to wake up now?  No.

0910  The train gets crowded and stops at Denmark Hill for a long time.   The driver announces that a passenger has fainted.

0940  UCL–there are signs to the Slade Summer School and EF. Great! I follow old people to the A V Hill Lecture Theatre.

1002 Antony Makrinos is the Zeus of the Summer School.  There are 98 participants, some male and some female.  UCL has a strict green policy, as well as catastrophically awful admin even by academic standards.

1035 Ester our lecturer goes to find someone who understands the IT.  Everyone is very young, keen and bright.

Tiryns is Ester’s favourite Mycenaean site.

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So that’s what a rhyton looks like (from Ayios Vassileios)

You can hear Michael Ventris talking on the BBC about his decipherment here.

1345 Should we have come back now (as in the programme) or at 1430 like she said?  Best to practise our silent staring at blank screen skills for a bit.

1430 When she says she doesn’t expect us to learn the 91 syllabic signs immediately she means the opposite of course.

Exercise in  reproducing the syllabic grid is just like management training where the trainer lets you get so far and then suggests it would be better if you organised yourselves rather than all doing the same thing.  Except that this is interesting and important.

1530 I set off home without pausing for  Disability in Antiquity.  It is hot.

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Ester addresses the troops over a completed Linear B exercise (in duplicate)

 

 

 

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 0

July 21, 2019

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I thought I would keep a diary of doing Linear B at the Summer School in Homer to give people an idea of what it is like.

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SUNDAY 21 JUNE

 What do they mean, registration from nine to ten?  I haven’t got a train up to Town in the morning rush for more than a year now.  Doubtless I will have to stand, and Bloomsbury is in the wrong bloody place anyway.   And what’s this talk about ‘Disability’–the ancients certainly didn’t go in for that kind of polite language.

Three-and-a-half hours less five minutes of classes.  I suppose I will survive.  But I don’t imagine there’s going to be anything interesting on at the Renoir if it does become too much.

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But then I have to admit that the Day 1 programme looks very interesting, and I would regret missing it.  The main cause for optimism is surely that all of the participants will be at the same level of not knowing anything about Linears B or A.

The Burial at Thebes, CSSD 25 July

July 26, 2018

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Picture acquired from Twitter

A large audience of thin and good-looking young people followed with interest this version of Antigone, which struck me as a mainstream translation without added Heaney.  The theatre was also quite Greek, with its curved and raked rows of seats and a bare playing space.  The production alluded to Greece at the time of the War of Independence and some effective choruses were sung in a language that was not Attic or Greek or Irish.  The production concept worked rather well and effectively captured the necessary scale of the public and the communal. Our Antigone was probably mad, certainly dangerous to know and definitely her father’s daughter.  I was not sure that Heaney’s version captured the contrast between her language and that of Creon, though he did get some dead monsters of metaphors.

Our Antigone was certainly vehement, but especially at the beginning I had difficulty following her words.  The same kind of thing applied to Ismene, and it meant that Antigone tended to come off worse in her confrontations with Creon.  Creon and Eurydice were the performers who actually dominated the stage.  The Messenger for some reason had a Scottish accent that sometimes turned Irish, especially for constructions like I was after…The production was not entirely in control of time–the narrated deaths of Antigone and Haemon passed by rather quickly, then Eurydice’s death became one more thing after another.

All in all, a production that recognised the issues in staging Greek tragedy and dealt with them thoughtfully, though it did not always succeed in resolving them.

 

Bacchae in Oxford, 21 October

October 23, 2017
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Picture from OGP20217 FB page

It cannot be said that my trip to Oxford for the Greek Play was a great success.  I discovered that the classical section of Blackwell’s had been moved up a floor to make way for the coffee shop )and the second-hand section had been reduced as well).  I felt mildly interested by a Collected Papers of Milman Parry but not enough to buy it.  I also visited the Oxfam Bookshop, as one does.

At the Oxford Playhouse, people had been moved forwards, sometimes into seats already occupied by others, and the masses of private school pupils were silent like a field of turnips.

Gosh, it was just so boring!  It seemed to have been reimagined as a ballet from the 1930s with music by Sir Arthur Bliss and an Art Deco cube for the set, but the chorus hardly moved, never mind getting off the ground.  The idea of having three Dionysuses meant there was never even an illusion of Pentheus confining them or him, and though Pentheus delivered his lines effectively that would not hold my interest on its own.

Then the thing had ground along so slowly there was an INTERVAL, so I rushed off to the station and quite by chance came across the rather lovely Chiltern Railway train to Marylebone, which also had decent free WiFi.  And there was a trilingual announcement in English, Arabic and Chinese at Bicester Village Retail Outlet.

Gosh, that was so exciting!  And not so long after I was back in South London!

Greek at Madingley Hall

October 13, 2017
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Picture from Madingley site

Janet Watson has written:

Cambridge University’s Institute for Continuing Education offers weekend residential courses in Classical Greek for Beginners’, Intermediate and Advanced levels, and will meet three times this academic year at Madingley Hall, just outside Cambridge. There will be a course for absolute beginners at the weekend of November 3-5, with the opportunity to progress through the basics of Greek grammar over subsequent weekends. For further information on all levels, see:

http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/courses/search/subject/languages

We gave an overview of the Madingley experience in relation to New Testament Greek:

This course took place over the weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime. There were 7 teaching sessions of 90 minutes each: one on Saturday evening, four on Saturday and two on Sunday. Six of these sessions consisted of the students in turn reading two or three verses aloud and translating them, while in the after-dinner talk on Saturday the lecturer gave a talk on ‘Acts and the Classical World’. […]Participants were very enthusiastic about the course (and about Madingley Hall in general) and several had already been on many previous years’ editions of the same course.

We have also shared our experiences regarding Greek Lyric Poetry, Odyssey XI, Agamemnon (Part 1) and Agamemnon (Part 2).

Hopefully this information will help interested readers work out what it’s all about…

My Middle Liddell is broken…

October 1, 2017

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Like its owner, this book has seen better days

This Middle Liddell which I bought nearly-new for £ 4.50 down the Elephant some 20 years or so ago seems to be nearing the end of its useful life.  So what to do?

Learning the bloody words instead is a noble aim but requires mental exertion.

Using my large LSJ instead requires physical exertion.

Buying a new one would cost money but it’s out of print now.  Bastards.

Buying a crappy reprint is a waste of money.

The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek costs money.  It is based upon

Montanari’s Vocabolario della lingua greca which costs more money and is rumoured on the Internet to be based on LSJ but not as good.  Also I don’t know what Turtleback is–Copertina rigida would be much more reassuring.  Internet rumour claims additionally that in Italy you’re not allowed to use it after high school–it has to be LSJ.

Robert Beekes’s Etymological Dictionary of Greek is an etymological dictionary not a dictionary dictionary and costs money even in paperback where it will hardly do for everyday reference.  But tempting.  Very tempting.

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon may be an established star of video clips and fundraising drives but does not as yet exist.  Maybe it will.  After 2020.  Maybe.  It will cost money.

Sellotape could be the practical solution.

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Sellotape…looking good….

So what is the Polis Method?

April 21, 2017

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I did inquire of the Polis Institute what the Polis Method was, and they kindly sent me a link to Christophe Rico’s page on academia.edu.  There is what seems to be a full account here and you can enjoy a lesson on YouTube here.  I especially enjoyed the comments left under the video, redolent as they are of stale pedantry and hatred of the human race…but I’m not saying that they’re wrong, at least about the pronunciation…

Immersive Ancient Languages In Jerusalem

April 12, 2017

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Etti Calderon writes (1 NIS = £ 0.22/$ 0.27):

Polis- The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities is based in Jerusalem, Israel and was established in 2011 by a group of academics with the goal of promoting the study of ancient and Semitic languages. The founders believe the best way to understand ancient or modern texts and cultures is to become immersed in the language through listening, speaking, writing, and reading. In order to access the ancient texts without the need for dictionaries and study aids, the Polis Method (a combination of acquisition techniques including total immersion, total physical response, and story building) was developed to teach ancient and modern languages as living languages in an immersive environment. From the first lesson only the target language is spoken, written, and read in the classroom. 

We have two sessions in Jerusalem during the summer months with intensive courses in Classical Syriac, Ancient Greek, and Biblical Hebrew. The courses in Jerusalem will take place at the Polis Institute, located at 8 HaAyin Het Street, in the neighborhood of Musrara, near the Old City of Jerusalem.

Classical Syriac (Level II)

  • Dates: Monday-Friday (July 3-21, 2017)
  • Hours: 9:00-12:30
  • Academic Hours: 60
  • Cost: 2,100 NIS
  • Location: Polis Institute
  • Level: Advanced Beginner

Ancient Greek (Levels I+II combined)

  • Dates: Monday-Friday (August 30-September 28, 2017)
  • Hours: 9:00-15:00
  • Academic Hours: 120
  • Cost: 3,750 NIS
  • Location: Polis Institute
  • Level: Absolute Beginner + Advanced Beginner (knowledge of the Greek alphabet is pre-requisite)

Biblical Hebrew (Level III)

  • Dates: Monday-Friday (August 30-September 28, 2017)
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 15:00-19:30 and Friday 9:00-13:30
  • Academic Hours: 80
  • Cost: 2,800 NIS
  • Location: Polis Institute
  • Level: Intermediate

Students registering in levels above Absolute Beginner may be required to take a placement test to ensure placement into the correct level.

Please feel free to forward this information to your contacts or subscribers who you think may be interested. 

If you have any questions regarding Polis or our certificate and MA programs, please do not hesitate to contact us via email (info@polisjerusalem.org) or phone (+972-074-701-1048)!