More thoughts on Greek and Latin

I mentioned recently that I’m making good progress through the Greek and Latin textbooks I’ve been reading though. I was taking stock this morning and I think it’s not overoptimistic to guess that I will be done both textbooks sometime before the end of this year (2023).

Both textbooks have a sequel volume. (Hey! I think I just figured out where the word “sequel” comes from.) And I’ve been wondering whether, upon finishing the first volume of each, I should go straight to reading primary texts, or if it would be more responsible to spend time going through the second volume of the textbook before focusing on original texts. I’ve had an idea about what I should do.

I’m really excited to read the originals. It’s truly the reason I’m doing this. The sooner I can start reading the classics in the original languages with decent comprehension, the happier I will be.

On the other hand, I’m also very interested to be disciplined and gain an excellent understanding of the languages as soon as possible. I worry that if I make the leap too soon, I might find myself a sloppy reader, relying too much on resources to help me read, where if I had just stayed on the slow but careful road laid out by the textbooks, I could have come to the classics with a more sensitive and knowledgeable understanding of the language.

Here’s my newest idea, which I wanted to write down so I won’t forget. Once I finish volume one, I will read a short, unchallenging classic work, something from Xenophon in Greek probably and something from Caesar in Latin. I will try to read the entire text.

At that point, I might want to go back and read through the last couple chapters of the textbook again. Perhaps for a while this could be my pattern, jumping from a classic to the end of the textbook and then to another textbook.

Doing this will satisfy the itch to get into reading the classics. It should also keep me rooted in the textbook progression.

Most importantly, it will give me a chance to take stock. Just this morning, after about a year of reading the textbook every second day, I looked at a text by Caesar for the first time since 2021. The attempt definitely still took concentration and effort, but I was astonished at how much more easily I could fit the grammar of the sentences together, and how many more of the words were familiar to me. And I’m still only about two-thirds of the way through the Latin textbook!

I think the best way for me to tell how much need I have for the second textbook volume is to test myself on the classics, without at first releasing my hold on the textbook’s internal progression. Then I can pick up my textbook work where I left off, if I need to, or I could launch out into the classics to learn by doing, if I find that I’m ready for that.

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