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Lucian's On the Syrian Goddess: An Intermediate Greek Reader: Greek Text with Running Vocabulary and Commentary Paperback – September 29, 2012
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Hayes/Nimis continue their patented format--glosses beneath the Greek text and beneath that brief but very helpful grammatical notes. Since every thing is on one page, quickly scanning the info with ones eyes and then rapidly returning to the Greek text replaces the drudgery of flipping through lexicons and commentaries and translations. Several charts are placed throughout the text explaining the differences between Ionic and Attic/Koine. The Greek text has a large and straight font. One improvement in this latest installment in the series is that the English "spoilers" printed in the beginning of each section of the Greek are shorter and no longer give away details of the stories.
This text lacks the outrageous Lucian humor of the earlier offerings, but the story is really one long extended inside joke. Very simple and straightforward narrative is told in a mock Herodotian style, and at the very end of the book "Lucian" reveals that he is himself a participant in the all-too-human bizarre religious practice which he subtly mocks. More pulp fiction than classic, this story, along with the editors innovative helps, will improve the Greek of readers at all levels.
Early this year (2012) I started teaching myself Greek with the aid of John Taylor's wonderful books (Greek to GCSE: Part 1, etc.). Shortly after finishing my basic grammar books, I tried Lucian's A True Story. For the first few pages I felt I'd bitten much off more than I could chew, but once the prologue ended and the story started things got a lot easier, if only because of the very generous assistance the book provides in terms of on-the-fly grammar and vocab.
I enjoyed it a lot, though I felt the story dragged a bit in places.
Then I read Lucian's The Ass. This provides the same fulsome assistance, but was (IMHO) a vastly more entertaining story - perhaps because of one quite funny sex scene! Personally I felt this book had never a dull moment.
Syrian Goddess follows the same pattern, but has one MAJOR difference that hugely disappointed me when I first opened it: Lucian (showing off, perhaps) chose to write it in the style of Herodotus - a bit like a modern writer composing a book in the English of Chaucer, I suppose. I really, REALLY didn't feel ready to take that on, but since reading Herodotus is one of my ultimate goals, I decided to take a deep breath and dive in.
I'm glad I did. The book provides a VERY helpful opening section on the differences between Ionic and Attic Greek (which turn out not to be quite so major as I'd supposed), and again provides lots of page by page assistance.
I'm still working on this one, but it's fun. Lucian is a great storyteller. I've just finished his account of the Great Flood according to the Greeks, and I'm looking forward to seeing what more he pulls out of the hat.
I really love these little readers, because I can read and re-read the original text over and over without wasting endless hours flicking through dictionary pages. I find I'm absorbing the vocab and grammar by a sort of osmosis rather than rote learning. I think this is perhaps a more natural way to learn. It's certainly more fun!
I'd recommend starting with either the True Story or The Ass and keeping this one until later (unless Heroditean Ionic is your flavour of choice, in which case go right ahead!)