Posts Tagged ‘Greek’

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…

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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….

Why did I tear myself away from you before it was time?

September 29, 2017

iliad6

So now I’m worrying about the remark in Barbara Graziosi’s edition of Iliad 6 that Mandel’shtam describes the encounter between Hector and Andromache from Andromache’s point of view in the following line:

‘Why did I tear myself away from you before it was time?’ (the translation is by Nina Kossman).

We can perhaps believe that Andromache did the tearing:

ἄλοχος δὲ φίλη οἶκον δὲ βεβήκει
ἐντροπαλιζομένη, θαλερὸν κατὰ δάκρυ χέουσα. [Il 6.495-6]

though she was of course just doing what Hector told her to:

ἀλλ᾽ εἰς οἶκον ἰοῦσα τὰ σ᾽ αὐτῆς ἔργα κόμιζε
ἱστόν τ᾽ ἠλακάτην τε, καὶ ἀμφιπόλοισι κέλευε
ἔργον ἐποίχεσθαι: πόλεμος δ᾽ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει
πᾶσι, μάλιστα δ᾽ ἐμοί, τοὶ Ἰλίῳ ἐγγεγάασιν.  [Il. 6 490-4]

so who was really doing the tearing is not so clear to us.

But in the Russian original the speaker has to be a man: Зачем преждевременно я от тебя оторвался! and the same holds true in Italian translation:  Perché mi sono separato da te prima che fosse tempo?

It could just be a misprint [Andromache ~ Hector], or more interestingly it’s what Andromache thought Hector should have thought, which would be atypical either for Mandel’shtam or for lyric poetry in general.

Rather than a misprint, the mistake is surely the idea that the poem is about Troy rather than about Mandel’shtam’s own experience. Mikhail Gasparov investigates this point rather systematically and concludes that the speaker cannot be any Greek or Trojan, not even Paris in relation to Oenone.

So perhaps it was a misprint, but the intended meaning was wrong as well…

 

Church Slavonic and Septuagint Greek versions of Genesis 2:7

April 18, 2017

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A solid enough display of Biblical scholarship

Question 

Here is a paragraph in progress regarding versions of Genesis 2:7. What bothers me is note 2. Is it the case that the Church Slavonic is ultimately based on the Septuagint rather than on some Hebrew original? I discovered that the current Synodal Russian translation is actually utilizing Gospod’ in 2:7, unlike the Church Slavonic edition I have. Any assistance on this would be much appreciated.

Biblical scholar Ronald A. Simkins writes of Genesis 2:7: “… YHWH’s forming of the human creature (the male ’ādām) from the dirt of the arable land (the female ’ădāmāh) serves as a metaphor for humankind’s birth out of the earth.”[1] Again, the earth gives birth, but not without God. Here it is worth noting that, like the grammatically feminine Hebrew word for “earth” (’ădāmāh), the equivalent words in the Septuagint Greek (gē), Vulgate Latin (terra), and Church Slavonic (zjemlja) – are also grammatically feminine. It is worth noting as well that the grammatically masculine Yahweh (YHWH) is matched by its grammatically masculine Greek (kurios), Latin (Dominus), and Slavonic (Gospodь) equivalents.[2]

[1] Simkins 2014, 48 (cf. also Simkins 1998, 39-46).

[2] However, these equivalents do not turn up until the next verse (8) in the Septuagint Greek and Church Slavonic texts.

Response

It is certainly the case that the Church Slavonic text comes from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew text.

The standard Hebrew text in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia gives the equivalent of ‘the LORD God’ (YHWH elohim, if you like) at both 2:7 and 2:8–the first occurrence that I can see of this pairing is at 2:4, before that it’s elohim (God). LXX has ho theos (God) in 2:4 and 2:7, then kurios ho theos (the Lord God) in 2:8.

I think that Jewish tradition has often tried to distinguish YHWH elohim on the grounds that one is God in the aspect of justice and the other in the aspect of mercy, but I’m not aware of anything being made of grammatical distinctions. Alternatively elohim may be interpreted as the creator and YHWH as the god of the covenant in relationship to Israel. ‘Elohim’ is notoriously plural in form but governs a masculine singular verb–to over-simplify, grammatical number and gender didn’t have the definitive character in Biblical Hebrew that they do in (say) modern Russian.

Another issue here is that LXX in some cases appears to be based on a more ancient (Hebrew) text than the standard Masoretic text we have, though BHS doesn’t give any textual variants at 2:7.

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)!

 

 

Prometheus Bound, Greenwood Theatre 1430 8 February

February 8, 2017

**

prometheus

At the end:  chorus–Prometheus–Io

Prometheus Bound certainly made an interesting choice for this year’s KCL Greek Play in Greek.  One question is whether it actually is a play or merely a scene-setting for following parts of a trilogy.  Nothing much happens apart from various characters coming to sympathise with or talk sense into Prometheus and him referring to the injustices he has suffered and the dark secret he knows.

I remember a production at the Soho Theatre where the clientele were expected to be satisfied by a combination of the manly heaving of the hero’s bare breast and chains.  Lots of chains.  But here it wasn’t quite like that.  We had a female Prometheus, and Oceanus, and whichever it is of Force and Violence that doesn’t actually say anything.

More generally, I’m afraid that there was no sign of a solution to the severe problems posed by staging this piece.  It started off with projections of various modern figures, especially Donald Trump, and you could see how Prometheus might be a kind of Nelson Mandela in captivity, but his captors needed him more than he needed them.  Or Trotsky perhaps, who thought he had the earth-shaking prophecy and was a prisoner to his own well-founded fears. But nothing came of this possible line of thought.

Rather than being chained to a cliff with a wedge through her chest, our Prometheus had to top of a table to call her own.  For some reason sound effects and lianas suggested that this was in the jungle somewhere.  Loud sound effects meant you couldn’t hear what was being said, though the Greek verse sounded to be spoken competently enough.  At the end, Prometheus’s final defiance got lost in underwhelming stroboscopic effects..

On the positive side, the entrance of the chorus was effective, as were some of their choreographed moves.  Likewise for Io’s entry and exit, though I’m afraid she did rather remind me of the domovoy from Morphine.  And indeed there were similar surtitling issues, with lots of text appearing some time after the event.

If you ask what I would have done–well, have a much larger chorus and have them sing and dance.  In fact, have them on stage the whole time and have them  hold up the surtitles on placards, to give the idea of a debate of some importance not people  coming on stage and exchanging words about mouldy mythology…But making something out of Prometheus Bound would be difficult with the best performers and technical resources in the world…

 

 

 

 

 

The Suppliant Women, Northern Stage Newcastle, 04 November

November 5, 2016

****

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Picture from Wear Valley Advertiser–don’t blame me if it’s from another location

 

You have to admire the sheer audacity of this production, and the attempt to make Greek drama the central event in the life of the city, the way it used to be.

As everyone knows, the basis of the story is that the 50 daughters of Danaos have fled to Argos from Egypt to claim sanctuary in their ancestral homeland (though they look foreign–it’s complicated) and avoid marriage with the 50 sons of Aiguptos, their cousins.

At the beginning, Omar Ebrahim introduced the play and a local dignitary in charge of Arts and Education who thanked the audience for providing 50% of the funding, the taxpayer for 40%, private donors for 5% before suggesting that the remaining 5% could be made up from bar takings.

The standout feature of the evening was of course the chorus of local women (well, lasses more like) who sang beautifully and danced effectively–when the chorus sang in parts accompanied by drum and aulos that really was something alien and beautiful.  We did also get to enjoy Aeschylus as a religious thinker, coming to the idea of a supreme god and the doctrine of grace without benefit of revelations in the Judaean or Arabian desert.  And as a convinced proponent of democracy–Pelasgos although king refers the decision as to what to do about the Danaids to the citizens of Argos, and  they decide, well,…

What didn’t work so well for me was the way that towards the end the adaptor David Greig after holding out valiantly could no longer resist falling into modern feminist and human-rights attitudes–Aeschylus is more complicated than that, and so is our life.  The whole point of Greek tragedy is to abstract and distance and transcend the categories of thinking they normally used (never mind us). But a production that realises the main thing is the ideas, not some sordid family misfortune, and the main way of conveying it is  the chorus is very very close to the right path.

And what daring, what audacity, what vision…

Antigone/Lysistrata, Cambridge Arts Theatre 13 October

October 14, 2016

**/****

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Set for Antigone (picture acquired from Twitter)

So this year’s Cambridge Greek Play (in Ancient Greek, with surtitles) was a double-bill of Antigone and LysistrataAntigone is these days as close to being unsinkable as a Greek play can be, while productions very often make a mess of Lysistrata by taking it literally–seriously, even.

Things turned out rather differently this time round.  Antigone displayed a fine collection  of the clichés that even the London stage has finally managed to just about rid itself of:  fences, barbed wire, battledress, battery-powered torches, submachine guns, men in suits…I closed my eyes and endured.  To be fair, it got better as the thing went on and they performers relied more on their native wits.  And there was a standout performance from counter-tenor Jack Hawkins as Teiresias with very beautiful counter-tenorial music too.  But why (for instance) did Antigone dart anxiously upstage and downstage when she was supposed to be processing towards her bridal tomb?

I would have given up and gone home at half-time but I didn’t want to disturb the couple of old dears who had me wedged in.  The young woman of East Asian heritage sitting on the other side of me asked whether this was it–I replied that there was another play to come, a comedy indeed.

Then we had Lysistrata done as a musical comedy, and very funny it was too.  This time, we had the standout performer (Natasha Cutler-a real musical comedy princess) in the title role, and that helped a lot of course.

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ἀφεκτέα τοίνυν ἐστὶν ἡμῖν τοῦ πέους. (=it is necessary then for us to give up cock).

The audience also got to sing along with οὐδεὶς οὔτε μοιχὸς οὔτ᾽ ἀνήρ (line 212=no-one, neither lover nor husband), while the surtitles promised a Cambridge Scholarship in Classics for an explanation of the lion-on-a-cheesegrater position. (Line  231 οὐ στήσομαι λέαιν᾽ ἐπὶ τυροκνήστιδος = I won’t crouch down like the lioness on a cheesegrater. You’d better ask Simon Goldhill about that gender reassignment.)

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No.  Not like that.  Not at all like that.  (Picture from Twitter.)

The pedant could of course cavil–once Boris Johnson and Donald Trump had appeared on stage they should have been properly savaged, especially in respect of diminutive and deformed genitalia, while a headless pig looking for David Cameron would have been a good Aristophanic joke. The famously…well, tedious…ball-of-wool metaphor was interpreted via interpretive dance, when one thing it certainly recommends is favourable treatment of useful foreigners–surely an opportunity for further kicking of the Brexit-Trump gang. You can also ask whether a production largely attended by pupils of fee-paying schools could ever permit itself proper Aristophanic obscenity…

Belfast Summer School in Classics, 4-8 July

April 5, 2016
Gratuitous picture of Belfast by night

Gratuitous picture of Belfast by night

An announcement on the CLASSICISTS list says:

The Classical Association in Northern Ireland is delighted to invite you to the first Classical Greek summer school in Belfast.  The school is open to all over the age of 18.  This year, courses will be offered to complete beginners and those with a rudimentary knowledge of Classical Greek. 

There will be two hours of teaching each morning, at 10-11am and 12 noon-1pm, Monday to Friday, and afternoon classes from 2-3pm on Monday and Wednesday, allowing time for private study between sessions. 

The fee for the course is £75 and the closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 3rd June 2016.  For further information and an application form, please contact the co-ordinator, Helen McVeigh by email

There’s also a Facebook page here.

Alkestis, Greenwood Theatre 1900 10 February

February 11, 2016

***

We have been asked whether we would recommend a visit to the 2016 Greek Play, on the basis of the Wednesday evening performance–after all, Edith Hall did tweet 2016 King’s College London Greek play better than ever.

I think it would be worth seeing as a reasonably typical example of the KCL Greek Play, illustrating the difficulties one faces in staging such a thing and the way one might go about solving them.  One of these issues is that one does not have actors experienced in voice projection and dominating the stage.  So having them follow what I think was ancient performance practice by miming what the were talking about was a good idea, while having Alkestis deliver many of her lines at the stage rather than the audience was not.

It’s worthwhile noting that, in contrast to the Alkestis-derived Cocktail Party I recently saw in Notting Hill, none of the actors fluffed their lines–advanced electronic prompting may have been employed to this end.  But there was systematic underplaying, especially from Heracles, who may perhaps have been reading his lines from the label on his bottle of wine.

The dance passages were the most effective and some of the choreography was very good.  I’m not sure that the director ever came to a clear idea about what she was trying to do–the programme made great play of a contemporary setting, which in the event appeared only in the form of cocktail glasses and a wind-up gramophone–and she hadn’t established control over time, so that some important passages (such as Herakles asking who had died or indeed Admetos finding out who Heracles had brought to him) passed by quickly and some more routine passages didn’t.

It looked like the choral odes had been solved at the last moment by getting one person to read them via a recording over a musical backing, which may have been somewhat of a last-minute expedient.

We had certain technical problems on the night.  The scene changes lasted a long time, which may have been deliberate but if so that still wasn’t a good idea. There were also problems with the lighting cues, and especially with the surtitles, which were often a line or more early or late and ceased entirely towards the end, leaving the audience rather puzzled as to what if anything had happened to conclude the piece.

There was indeed a facility to buy tickets at the door, to answer another question…