Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"On not knowing Greek"

Virginia Woolf's awesome criticism of the Greek Classics, among her other essays:

G. Anthony Gorry's contemporary essay (not quite as awesome but a sequel after a sort):


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Meter & the relevance of Homer (Forward )

From: Louis Sorenson
To: greekstudy@nxport.com; menander@letsreadgreek.com
Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 10:02:39 PM
Subject: Menander Monostichoi and Homer Meter

Hello all,

I want to mention of thanks to Beth Piepenburg for her consistent and longstanding leadership in regards to the Homeric Iliad/Odyssey group. I can't encourage new-comers and New Testament students enough in regards that YOU NEED TO READ HOMER. The Iliad and the Odyssey color all subsequent Greek literature. At some point, YOU NEED TO READ HOMER. It is one of the most fascinating and intuitive works on human nature that exist in all of literature. That said, why would the coordinator of one group encourage people to read another group?

After learning New Testament Greek at a Bible college, I began my studies in classical Greek starting with a class on the Odyssey taught by William MacDonald at the University of Minnesota. William MacDonald had led the University of Minnesota's Mycenaean archaeological expedition and was a scholar on Homeric literature. I had come from a New Testament background where Erasmus's pronunciation was used, but there was no emphasis on reading aloud. When I first came to the class, Dr. MacDonald was sitting in the class smoking a pipe (politically incorrect in today's world), along with the textbook he had written on Mycenae and the red volume 1 of the Odyssey by Stanford. There were both graduate and undergraduate students in this class. It was obvious from the start that nobody had previously learned to read aloud Greek poetry.

Right from the start, Dr. MacDonald insisted that we read Homer aloud, and that WE LEARN THE METER OF HOMER: Dactylic Hexameter (_ .. _.. _.. _.. _.. _.. with variations). As a New Testament student this was totally foreign to me. The New Testament has no concept of Greek verse and meter - it is simply not part of the mix. But if you want to read any Greek comedies or tragedies (Euripides, Aristophanes, Sophocles, Menander ((DID I SAY MENANDER?)) and many other writers - half of the artistry and elements of Greek literature will pass you by if you ignore THE METER (METRE). If you have read Emerson, Sanders, Shakespeare, Dickinson, etc., you know that you cannot read the poetry without reading it aloud and in meter. So I encourage you students of Homer - don't just do the reading, but learn the meter and try reading it aloud. Dr. MacDonald would be proud of you.

And while Menander's Monostichoi is written in Iambic trimeter (not dactylic hexameter), this is a good chance to get a handle on how to understand the elements and prosody of Greek verse - what makes a long syllable (scansion) long and a short syllable (scansion) short(?) - it is not just the vowel length. The Menander group which is starting sometime in August is a one-line-a-day group. One of the optional elements is sending in your analysis of the meter. (I know that somewhere out there - the University of Chicago's site? - the meter of Homer is available on the internet).

Can you define these terms: synapeia, metron, prosody, iambic, iamb, trochee, spondee, dactyl, dimeter, trimeter, pentameter, hexameter, colon, caesura...? These elements of Greek verse are one of the things that make learning Greek fun. Trying to 'figure out the meter' works wonders on the 'right side of the brain' (or is it left?). Greek meter stopped being based on the length of the syllable in about the 7th century A.D.; after that time, the stressed syllable (as in English poetry) became the basis of meter. But during the previous 1200 years of Greek literature, the length of syllable pronunciation was the basis of Greek meter.

So how about it? Can you take time for a line each day - or a line one day or two days a week? The upcoming Menander group is an open group; anyone can do a line any day - you can even do only one line a week. (There is a possibility that the Line-a-Day could continue longer than 12 weeks (There are about 700+ lines of the Monostichoi). So if you are interested (Don't forget to learn your Homeric dactylic hexameter), send an email to llsorenson@hotmail.com or menander@letsreadgreek.com. I will put you on the interest list for the Menander group and keep you updated on what's ahead.

The home page for the Menander GreekStudy group can by found at http://www.letsreadgreek.com/menander/index.htm . You can also send a email to llsorenson@hotmail.com to be put on the Menander interest list. (The web page and listed resources is changing daily; make sure to stop back often).

I hope to hear from you soon,
Let's Get Reading!

Louis Sorenson [upcoming Menander Monostichoi GreekStudy Coordinator]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Antebellum Japanese Songs

There is a beauty that touches one's heart in many of the Japanese songs before World War Two. Here is a pair of those lovely songs:


Monday, August 18, 2008

Confucius (Kung Fuzi)

Confucius is one of the greatest ancient philosophers. One might even consider him the Chinese equivalent of Aristotle.

Confucius is said to be returning to popularity in P.D.R.C.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Alcibiades (Alkibiades)

Reading John Dryden's translation of "Alcibiades" by Plutarch, I was struck by the similarity of Socrates' relationship to Alkibiades with Jesus' relationship with Mary Magdalene [according to the scriptures] and the misperception of both by 'scandalized', envious and/or randy others. Were they gay? No way, Jose!
I want to read the Greek text some not too distant time; perhaps after I've finished Apuleius' Metamorphoses (Golden Ass) , which I have only just begun with a happy group of internet 'latinists'. For as ancient Romans reputedly said: "Qui duos insecatur lepores neutrum capit."

fictional character???

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Wouldn't it be 'cuil' to have a search engine that quickly and efficiently finds what you want and presents the info with easy access? The very best I have found in that category isn't Cuil: http://www.cuil.com/

I still prefer www.dogpile.com

Friday, August 08, 2008

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

I've read several of Charles Bukowski's poems in his many books, but never found
anything cogent until today when I happened upon this gem in U2b, (worthy of
William Burroughs himself!):

What B. thought socially valuable:


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Clay Sanskrit Library

The Clay Sanskrit Library has published several volumes of the Mahabharata and Ramayana with the Sanskrit text transliterated in Roman characters and facing 'fresh English' translations. The plan is to have the whole of both scriptures available for the first time in this format eventually. These volumes are designed very much like the Loeb Classics Library of Greek and Latin. Publication commenced in 2005. Thirty or more volumes are available currently with more being issued each year.

View sample page in:

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"...non avem me sed asinum video."-Metam.III.25



C.S. Lewis' Apuleius connexion

Although most of us know Lucius Apuleius only through his novel Metamorphoses (even better known as his Golden Ass}, C.S. Lewis seems to have been influenced most strongly by his other works such as De Deo Socratis and Florida.


text of De Deo Socratis

text of Florida :

: about his apology

The Golden Asse, Adlington's 1566 Englishing: http://books.eserver.org/fiction/apuleius/