What Is This Book?

This book is a collection of 11 readings from 3 different ancient Greek works written (mostly) in the Attic dialect: Pseudo-Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca, Xenophon’s Memorabilia, and Plato’s Meno. The readings have been adapted to facilitate use in introductory ancient Greek courses, the early readings being more adapted and the later readings less so. The adaptations are focused primarily on sheltering vocabulary (to an extent, but see the drawbacks below), though I’ve also simplified or restated some of the more complex syntax in the earlier readings.

My hope is that these readings can be used in any introductory course regardless of the textbook used, with the first reading roughly corresponding to the beginning of the second semester of a one year introductory sequence. However, since these readings were used over the three years that I directed Berkeley’s Ancient Greek Workshop, they are keyed to the progression of vocabulary and syntax in the book we used: Hansen & Quinn’s Greek: An Intensive Course. Each reading corresponds to a unit from H&Q, beginning with Unit 11. Any vocabulary or syntax that is not covered by H&Q up to that unit is included in a vocabulary list after each passage. Unit 12 has two parts because we regularly split that unit in two to avoid covering both the 2nd (or strong) aorist and the middle voice in the same session.

The first set of readings are taken from Pseudo-Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca, a compendium of brief retellings of ancient Greek myths. The Bibliotheca‘s language is not especially elegant (as editors and commentators are very eager to point out), but its simplicity and directness is well-suited to beginning and intermediate students. The stories will sometimes use unfamiliar vocabulary out of narrative necessity, but students who are familiar with the stories will likely be able to guess the unfamiliar vocabulary based on their prior knowledge. I strongly recommend giving students a brief summary of the myths before presenting them to avoid putting students who are not familiar with ancient Greek myth at a disadvantage.

The second set of readings are taken from Xenophon’s Memorabilia. The selections presented follow Xenophon’s description of the trial of Socrates. These readings would work well to anticipate reading Plato’s Apology in a second year reading course.

The third and final set of readings are taken from Plato’s Meno, a dialogue that discusses whether knowledge of virtue is learned, acquired, or innate. As with many of the Socratic dialogues, the discussion ends up in the realm of epistemology, inquiry into the nature of knowledge itself. The selections included here center on the theory of recollection, the idea that all human knowledge is innate and that when we seem to be learning we are actually recollecting knowledge we already had in previous lives. I really enjoy ending the introductory sequence with a reading of the theory of recollection since, as I insist to my students, subsequent years of reading courses will also involve the recollection and review of the material that we learn in the first year, even if we sometimes forget bits of it.

How Do I Use This Book?

I’ve tried to keep the formatting of this book simple to facilitate ease of use. Each section corresponds to one of the three texts and each chapter corresponds to a unit of H&Q. The readings in each chapter are split into smaller sections to make it easier to view both the text and the vocabulary lists at the same time. If you are accessing this book electronically, I encourage you to increase the font size in your browser as needed. The core vocabulary is taken from H&Q. Any vocabulary outside of H&Q up to the unit corresponding to each reading is supplied in vocabulary lists following each reading. I’ve also added a vocabulary list at the end of the book that includes all the vocabulary from H&Q. But if students find that cumbersome, I recommend using an online vocabulary list or dictionary, such as Dickinson’s Ancient Greek Core Vocabulary or

What Are The Benefits of This Book?

This book was developed as a result of my own (and my students’) frustration with exercise-based reading assignments. The more I teach ancient languages, the more problems I see with isolated exercise sentences comprising the bulk of readings done by introductory language students. These unconnected sentences contain little to no intrinsic reading motivation. I’ve met few students who are interested in and eager to read the content found in exercise sentences. Such sentences also all too frequently verge on the nonsensical (though some textbooks are better than others in this respect). The main issue, however, is that these unconnected sentences expose students to a fundamentally inauthentic reading experience. After the introductory sequence, the majority of students will be reading continuous ancient Greek, not isolated sentences or sentence fragments. Students need the practice of reading continuous stretches of text, of gauging the logical connections between sentences and using their instincts about the larger context to make educated guesses about things that are initially unclear. The readings presented in this book were meant as a bridge between the reading of individual, isolated exercise sentences and continuous, unadapted ancient Greek texts.

What Are The Drawbacks of This Book?

While I’m collating and publishing these readings now at the end of my graduate career, their creation came about early in the development of my pedagogy training. The course they were developed for had a fundamentally grammar-translation approach, perhaps even the most distilled version of the grammar-translation approach that a student can find. As I continued directing the summer intensive workshop and developing the course, I found myself kicking against the constraints of this approach.

Initially I found an adapted reader keyed to H&Q that seemed to be modeled on Groton and May’s Thirty-Eight Latin Stories Designed to Accompany Wheelock’s Latin: H. Paul Brown’s Twenty Greek Stories. I was optimistic about this reader for the reasons stated in the section above. However, as I tried to use it, I found that it didn’t sufficiently shelter vocabulary and syntax. It’s true that reading continuous texts was an improvement, but students had to sort through pages of vocabulary just to get through a short passage of ancient Greek. The readings included in this book were meant to serve a similar role, but without as much glossed vocabulary. My hope was that they would be closer to what I found in Groton and May’s Latin reader.

While I was straining against the constraints of the grammar-translation approach and I was inspired by many of the comprehensible input resources available to students looking to learn ancient Greek, the present text is still tied up in the grammar-translation approach. It shelters vocabulary more than I found in Brown’s reader, but not as much as it could. Nevertheless, my hope is that it can still serve as a helpful supplement to exercise-based textbooks, or that instructors can use the readings as starting points to more effectively scaffolded readings.



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