2010 – The Iliad Plan

I’ve been flailing around with ancient Greek for over three years; now is the year to get serious. Although my original goal was to read Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in Homeric Greek, I started my study in the Fall of 2006 with Attic Greek, a quite different dialect. There are more textbooks for Attic; it is considered the most “elevated” dialect, and it is the language of classical Athens, writers like Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Lysias, Sophocles, etc. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

After three years of very slow progress in Attic, and while reading Plato’s dialog, Phaedo, I decided that I was not enjoying struggling through philosophy and that I had made as much progress in Attic as would be useful in my reading of Homer. I hadn’t mastered Attic as well as I envisioned, and concluded that, if I was fated to struggle this slowly, I might as well do so in the dialect and with the text that were my original goals.

Thus, a few months ago, I started reading “Selections from Homer’s Iliad.” And am enjoying it immensely. While the vocabulary is challenging, the grammar is somewhat simpler than Plato’s.

The plan is to read the entire Iliad, which is about 600 pages. I’ve previewed a lot of it in “Selections,” but my experience is that while re-reading goes more quickly, it is still a challenge. In fact re-reading is practically required. The first pass at a page is encumbered with looking up new words and moves very slowly. Only second and third re-readings afford me even an approximate sense of reading smoothly for understanding. βασκ` ἰθι.

600 pages in one year is almost 2 pages a day, call it 3 per productive day, to allow for some inevitably unproductive ones.