Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Understanding Greek

Van Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England, 1815-1865 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1940), p. 83:
What a mortification, the grievous distance between an American and a German scholar! America had never known, not only what a Greek scholar was, but even the process by which a man became one. At Harvard, they thought they knew how to work, heirs of the Puritans as they were, but it was plain enough that, beside these Germans, they cared for nothing but their own convenience. They were more indolent than the English scholars. They thought two years sufficient to make a Grecian, and here was little Dissen of Göttingen who had spent no less than eighteen years, at sixteen hours a day, on Greek and nothing but Greek, and who said that even now he could not read Aeschylus without a dictionary. It all depended on what one meant by "knowing." No one who had ever seen a German could ever again call a man a scholar unless he was willing to follow Eichhorn's program: 5 A.M. to 9 P.M., with half-hour intervals for meals.
Arthur Darby Nock, St. Paul (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1938), p. 236:
A great classical scholar, Eduard Norden, has remarked, 'Paul is a great writer whom I, at least, understand only with very great difficulty.'
D.S. Colman, Greece & Rome 7 (1960) 72:
Sometimes I am reduced to shame and despair by my own endless ignorance of the classical languages, but then I am comforted by reading a passage in the Life of Bishop Christopher Wordsworth which tells how the Bishop, when a young man at Cambridge, was told by a friend that 'the late Professor Dobree had nearly given up reading Sophocles, as there were scarcely ten lines together where he did not meet with some impediment.'

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