EHOBBS at WELLESLEY.EDU
Wed Dec 20 14:37:06 EST 2000
Thanks for the several kind messages, mostly off-List, about my brief post
on the aptness of Trevor Peterson's citation of Juliet's "Wherefore art
thou [Romeo]?", so as to show exactly the opposite point he was making.
Please understand that I meant no disrespect to him, or indeed to anyone
who misundersatands that question; my point was simply that even in the
short time since Shakespeare, modern readers do not readily grasp the
precise meaning of what he wrote. Several mentioned that "anyone who
carefully reads" Juliet's speech, or anyone who carefully "examines the
context" will be able to see what is meant. Precisely! And that careful
examination is necessitated by the fact that the modern reader does not
readily and easily understand everything he reads from 400 years ago.
Steven Craig Miller asks whether any of us have taught students from Greece
in our Greek courses. I have, dozens of them. Students here are not
allowed to read the Greek Bible with me until they have had Greek through
Plato (three semesters); but often our students from Greece ask to take the
course without studying Attic, since they already speak (Modern) Greek.
With (increasing) reluctance, I admit them. But with only one exception,
they do badly in the course, because they constantly make assumptions about
both vocabulary and syntax (that they are identical to what they grew up
with). The one exception was a student who had studied the Greek classics
in her high school in Athens.
Carl Conrad has probably had even more experience of this than I have,
unless he had the courage simply to turn them down.
(who loves Shakespeare almost as much as the Bible)
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