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Homeric Greek: A Book for Beginners Rev Sub Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0806119373
ISBN-10: 0806119373
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Clyde Pharr (1885–1972) was head of the Classics Department at Vanderbilt University.



John Wright is Professor Emeritus of Classics at Northwestern University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; Rev Sub edition (January 15, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806119373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806119373
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #671,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent way to learn classical Greek. It takes you straight to unsimplified Homer within a few lessons and if you tough it out you can end up able to read Homeric Greek quite well. It works fine as a teach-yourself book. I had had a semester of Greek many years ago, but I was essentially starting from scratch.
Each lesson provides the vocabulary for a few lines of Book I of the Iliad and sends you to the reference grammar at the back of the book to learn the grammar incrementally. Early on there are some prose sentences in Homeric Greek to translate, but these go away in later lessons. Once you have finished the book you will have read all of Book I and will be ready to continue through all of Homer (with a lexicon). My only gripe is that a few more prose sentences to illustrate the grammar points by repetition would have helped a bit. Overall a great teach yourself book.
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Format: Paperback
I learned ancient greek before I bought this book, so I can't speak to how well it serves someone just learning the language. Basically, I was a few years out of school and wanted to refresh my Greek. It really served me well, and actually gave me a better mastery of Homer's language than I ever had in college. I highly recommend it to anyone. I would say to beginners that Homeric Greek is the correct approach to learning ancient Greek: first, starting with Homer is a better foundation for learning later dialects than vice versa; second the Iliad (and Odyssey) introduces a beginner to characters, themes, phrases, and other allusions that fill nearly all later Greek literature to some extent; third, the Iliad is simply a damn good story that reads even better in the original. Expand your experience.
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Format: Hardcover
Actually, I think very highly of the text itself, and largely agree with the praise most reviewers have given to this book. However, the quality of Kessinger Publishing's reprint is so far below that of the University of Oklahoma edition of some years back that I strongly discourage purchasing it. What they are offering here is actually a poorly photocopied version of a marked-up used copy! Moreover, it does not include the revisions that John Wright made to update Clyde Pharr's original text for the Oklahoma edition. There is no point whatever in producing an unpresentable version of an out-of-date text. Students of Homeric Greek should seek out either a used edition of the Oklahoma edition (in reasonable shape) or a modern text.

Kessinger has played a useful role in reprinting otherwise unavailable books (e.g., an early novel of Dostoyevsky), but I cannot see any value in this edition at all. I am returning mine. I think the Amazon page should provide some warning about the quality of the book (as Kessinger actually does on the reverse side of the cover page).
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Format: Paperback
If you already own this book in its original form, you don't need to replace it with this edition. Despite the publisher's claim that this is a "thorough, up-to-date revision," it's hardly been touched. Not that this classic couldn't stand to be revised. As good as it is, I'm sure everyone who has used it can think of several ways to improve it. For one thing, an updated commentary and bibliography would be appreciated; the world of Homeric scholarship has certainly advanced since 1959. Yet instead of enlarging the commentary, Wright has actually reduced it. Out has gone, for instance, all the provocative parallels between episodes in the Iliad and the Old Testament. True, none of this shed light on Homeric grammar (Wright's stated but selectively applied criterion for what made the cut), but it made for good reading, especially for those with an interest in comparative religion and mythology. Gone, too, is the charming ditty that began, "Polyphloisboisterous Homer of old...." Why drain the color out of Pharr's notes this way? In its place, Wright has supplied grammatical headnotes to each chapter, ostensibly to help students along whose command of English grammar might be weak. In my estimation, though, these notes are too short to be useful--if your grammar is that poor, you're still going to need a teacher to explain everything. In some cases, Wright simply repeats, in condensed form, material that was already present in the grammar section.
Please don't get me wrong. This textbook is still a great way to learn Homeric Greek. (The initial learning curve is very steep, but by the time you make it to lesson thirty or so, it's smooth sailing to the end.) Evaluated as a revision, though, it falls far short of any standard I could name.
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Format: Paperback
This book has helped me realize a lifelong dream-- to read Homer in the original Greek. This book is a reprint, with some revision, of a text used in the early part of the 20th century. It is not, as far as I can tell "watered down" and the vocabulary started with words that allow the learner to begin reading the Iliad almost immediately. The practice lessons are sentences that relate to the first lines of the Iliad. Both Greek->English and English-> Greek are provided. The first half of the book are the lessons and explanation, the last half is a grammar and usage. The lessons take the learner through the first book of the Iliad. You begin actually reading and translating the first five lines in Lesson XIII. The author also spends times explaining the scansion of the Iliad so that the learner can begin to "hear" the Iliad as well as read it. Although Attic Greek is different from Homeric Greek, I found Teach Yourself Ancient Greek: a Complete Course helpful in clarifying some of the explanations of the grammar and syntax. This book is also available from Amazon. In fact, I don't suppose I would be reading Greek now if I hadn't discovered Amazon (pardon the plug, but I'm hooked!). Finding the complete Iliad can be a challenge. I finally located it at Harvard University Press: Greek and English on facing pages. Join the new Renaissance made possible by the Internet and read the real Homer. It is, to use a common expression, awesome!
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