(gnomic) These two positions don't even seem close

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Aug 28 12:27:18 EDT 2000

Rather than respond to any individual who has said something in response to
Mark's original question, this may be a point at which it's worth repeating
that the teaching of Greek (beginning--and advanced as well?) is made very
difficult if not nigh-unto-impossible by the heritage of inadequate
terminology that has been used over the centuries to describe Greek
morphology and syntax. In this I think I find myself in the same boat with
Clay Bartholomew (and being carried by the flood ever farther away from the
main?), indignant (AGANAKTOUMEN GAR hHMEIS AMFOTEROI) at the inadequacy of
the terminology we seem obliged or forced to use to teach and describe
tenses, aspects, voices, moods, cases and usage of cases. And we see that
others who teach all too readily resort to inventing new names (I too am
guilty!) for old things or subdividing categories on the dubious assumption
that by inventing new names and subdividing categories we are making it
"easier" for students to learn. I suspect we should say of Greek what
Euclid said of geometry when asked to give a course in it for princes that
was a bit easier than what commoners need to take, "There is no royal road
to Greek." I'm even inclined to think regarding Greek as Socrates seems to
have thought about virtue--however paradoxically: Anybody can LEARN Greek
(given time, effort, and patience) but Greek cannot be TAUGHT. That's why
I'm almost glad now that I have taught my very last formal course in Greek,
even if there's no end of trying to answer the questions of others who,
like myself, are still trying to learn Greek.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu 

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