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Introduction to Attic Greek 2nd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520275713
ISBN-10: 0520275713
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald J. Mastronarde is Melpomene Professor of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his many books are The Art of Euripides: Dramatic Technique and Social Context, Euripides, Medea, and Euripides, Phoenissae.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2 edition (February 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520275713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520275713
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.3 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The truth is that Mastronarde's text is really not much more thorough -- other than in a handful of places -- than any number of good, traditional "grammar-translation" methods on the market (e.g., the excellent new Learn to Read Greek: Part 1, Textbook and Workbook Set, Greek: An Intensive Course, Learning Greek With Plato (Bristol Phoenix Press - Classical Handbooks), or any number of tried and trued older school texts, many of which have been revised in recent years). It is MUCH more austere, though. Mastronarde seems to be from the school of pedagogy where the teacher gives student long lists of things to learn (say 25 prepositions, with English meanings in various cases), but does not offer him or her help in any way in learning them. It is the student's job to learn the material -- the teacher doesn't care how this is done, and it's not his job to provide practice and exercise along the way! And this is the crux of the problem with Mastronarde's text: he presents Greek grammar and morphology carefully and in great detail, but does not provide nearly enough practice with it afterward. Most people -- even serious, hard-working students -- just can't learn this way.

The choice does not have to be between Mastronarde and an modern, reading approach (like Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary, though I think this is a very good text, especially the second edition).
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Many Greek texts (and, for that matter, texts for many other disciplines) take great effort to make their presentations fun for the student. This is certainly not a fault, provided this motive is not overriding to the detriment of mastering the discipline itself. Indeed, enjoyment is a major factor effective learning. Enjoyment, however, can come from many sources, and it would seem that by the time a student is beginning to tackle Classical Greek, it should find its origin in the delight for the language itself. "Introduction to Attic Greek" by Donald Mastronarde does not dazzle with multi-colored illustrations, humorous anecdotes or invented stories about the life of a farmer. What it does do is present an admittedly difficult language in a clear, well-organized and thoughtful manner. It is linguistically very thorough, goes out of its way to explain clearly concepts that used to be understood by most people with a high school education (this is no longer the case), and helps the student who puts forth the effort to make rapid progress in reading real Attic Greek. The complaints to the effect that Mastronarde's text is dry suggest a lack of real interest in putting forth the effort to master the language. The serious student will find in this text a wealth of detail, vocabulary lists of very acceptable length, and grammar concepts clearly presented, with an abundance of exercises designed to cement the material in the student's mind, not excluding English-to-Greek sentences in moderation for those who seek a greater challenge (these need not be done, but as a teacher I find them excellent for students who really want to check their mastery). I might add that, as with most texts, the material can be entertaining if offered by a good classroom instructor.Read more ›
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I studied classics in college and taught Latin for thirty years before retiring. I used this text and the corresponding answer key to revive and, more importantly, to reestablish my ancient Greek skills from forty years ago. The book is very demanding of your time, but rightly so. By using these two books as well as the incredible textbook website, I was able to successfully resurrect my 1970 skills. The website enables students to test themselves on vocabulary and grammar. I am now able to translate ancient Greek texts!
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The greatness of Mastronarde's text suffers a compromise but probably through no fault of the author. UC Press sewed the pages of the first edition but unwisely chose not to for this lovely second. Despite this poor choice in production design, Mastronarde's text possesses a precision and thoroughness of no equal. Granted, the reader will need to bone up on grammar and prepare to learn detailed linguistic concepts along the way! But above all, Mastronarde, the man himself, possesses a marvelous magnanimity, and this special quality communicates itself through his exposition of the beautiful Attic Greek language. Perhaps UC Press will consider reissuing the second edition Smyth sewn?
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Format: Paperback
Be careful - the cheaper paperback versions are actually the answer key, which you want anyway, but it's not the textbook.

I used the first edition to teach myself Greek over two years. When I finished I was able to read (slowly) the Anabasis and Appian's history of Rome. I'm now working on Xenophon's Hellenica with an online group at [...] I don't see much difference between different textbooks - it's all the same material, in different order, and you still have to memorize and practice no matter which you use. I found this a very thorough text that I still go back to all the time for review or to puzzle out a passage. He also has a website, ancientgreektutorials@attic.org, which is great for grammar practice. Highly recommended.
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