Tuesday, July 05, 2016


A Stone Thrown into a Pool

D.S. Carne-Ross (1921-2010), "Three Preludes for Pindar," Arion 2.2 (1975) 160-193 (at 166):
In great poetry a word is like a stone thrown into a pool; it is very difficult to cut off its spread of meaning at a predetermined point.
Id. (at 174):
Let us suppose we are reading the passage with a beginner.*

* I play this game (as it must seem) quite seriously because I think it the best way not perhaps, quite, of learning Greek but of discovering that you very much want to learn Greek.
Id. (at 180):
He has the reputation of being "difficult" and no doubt he is; one should add that he is also, sometimes, simply very odd, author of some of the queerest Greek in the canon.
Id. (at 182):
We all learn to read Greek by looking up words in the lexicon. We know or think we know what Greek words mean because the Greeks themselves seem quite soon to have had trouble understanding their classical literature and needed the help of the commentaries which the learning of Alexandria provided. Our own tradition of scholarship is built up from that base. What this means is that almost from the beginning the difficult Greek of the great writers was faced by the easy explanatory Greek of the commentator.
Id. (at 184):
Greek literature has of course been studied with enormous care for centuries but one sometimes suspects that too often it has been the object of the wrong kind of attention. There are things in the ancient poets which a quite ignorant reader could catch and enjoy but which the learned seem not to notice.
Id. (at 185-186):
Greek scholarship, it sometimes seems, is almost over, its long task nearly done. There is also a sense in which the understanding of Greek literature and of the Greek language has hardly begun. Or needs beginning again, along different lines. I do not dare to say that we should begin by throwing away the lexica and commentaries and libraries of learned studies—while jealously preserving the concordances. What we should try to do is risk as direct a confrontation with the words of the texts as we can, resolutely setting aside everything that stands between those texts and ourselves.

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