Thoughts on Greek and Latin

I have big dreams for my study of Greek and Latin.

I’m currently reading through what are effectively two graded readers, one each. For Latin I’m reading through Ørberg’s famous Familia Romana. For Greek, after way too much trial and error, I’ve finally settled on the ubiquitous Athenaze; it feels silly to have arrived at such an obvious choice after so much searching, but I guess there’s a reason it’s so common! I’m using the English version of Athenaze, not the Italian; I know many people love the Italian one and I hear from knowledgeable people that it has real advantages over the English, but I’ve found that for me, for this moment, the English is the better option for self-directed study.

I’m a fair bit further along in my Latin book than I am in the Greek, since I had several false starts in looking for a Greek resource. However, because of the way the two books are set up, I’m also progressing through the Greek book considerably more quickly than the Latin, so at some point, probably not too far away, I’m pretty sure I’ll overtake my Latin progress.

Each book has a second volume, a sort of sequel. I don’t yet know whether I’ll choose to resume in the second volume for either Greek or Latin, or if I’ll just feel ready or eager to go straight to reading ancient texts once I reach that point.

I was thinking recently that once I reach the end of the textbook (whether that means the end of the first volume, the end of the second, or some point in between), I will hover for a time, and then branch in two directions.

When I say that I will hover, I mean that I hope to spend some months just rereading the last three to five chapters, again and again until their vocabulary and grammar have been really internalized.

When I say that I will finish by branching in two directions, I mean that when I’m feeling comfortable, I will pick an ancient text that feels around the right level for me and will begin reading through it. At the same time, on alternating days, I will spend time studying the grammar of the language. Currently I’m not spending much time on grammar, since I’ve studied it in the past for both languages and know it “well enough” to be able to read what I’m reading. One day, though, I’d love to know the grammar of both languages inside out.

That’s the plan. It will take years of patient, frequent efforts, if it’s going to be possible at all. But if it works, that will hopefully still leave me decades to enjoy reading the vast literatures of both languages. I am so excited at the thought of it.

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