After a long absence, a bit of reflection on the past few months is in order.

This spring, I took four classes, in addition to TAing an ancient history course and doing some editorial work for the Library of Early Christianity.  I was quite busy, but it turned out to be a fun semester.

My only straight-forward translation course was Survey of Greek Literature, which I greatly enjoyed.  We started with Homer and Hesiod, and then did some Pindar and Bacchylides.  After a spell in the pre-Socratics, we then did some Plato (the myth of Ur and the myth in the Phaedo). Following this, we read some Tragedy: some from Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes and then from Euripides’ Phoenissae.  We concluded with Aristophanes’ Pax, though we’d hoped to get a bit farther.  The course added depth and breadth to my knowledge of classical Greek lit.  It can be frustrating to skip around so much, but I enjoyed covering a huge swath of material rather quickly.  For my final research paper I wrote about Gregory’s use of Sophocles and Euripides in his long autobiographical poem, De Vita Sua.  I’ll be presenting a version of this paper this fall at the CAAS meeting in Washington, DC, along with several other CUA folks, in a panel on the reception of Sophocles.  

I also took Greek Prose Composition, which was a detailed review of Greek Grammar paired with English->Greek translation exercises.  This was enormously helpful, especially as much of my grammatical knowledge was self-taught, and hence patchy.  

My Latin course for the term was Latin Textual Criticism.  This was an introduction to both theory of textual criticism and the praxis of creating an edition.  We worked on a sermon by Robert Grosseteste, who was bishop of Lincoln from 1235-1253.  I was able to give presentations for the class on a variety of digital tools, including Juxta and the Classical Text Editor.  I’d made some forays into editing before, but this was the first time I went all the way from mss reproductions to complete text and apparatus. As I hope to edit texts eventually, I’m quite thankful for the experience.

My final course was an introduction to Patristic Theology.   We started with the apostolic fathers, and got up through about Boethius in the West, and Iconoclasm in the East.  I was familiar with much of the material, but I also learned plenty.  A knowledge of Greek is enormously helpful when studying the theology of the period: nearly all the difficult vocabulary and concepts are Greek words.  

This summer, I’m spending most of my time preparing for my MA comprehensive exams.  I’ll be taking the Greek exam in the fall, which comprises passages for translations drawn from classical authors and a series of essay questions on literature and history.  I’ll do the Latin test the following spring.  The reading list is quite extensive, but I’m enjoying working through it.  I recently finished Aeschylus’ Choephoroi and book 1 of Herodotus, along with Odyssey 19 and 23.  I’m currently reading Thucydides book 1, which has me enthralled.  Thucydides is difficult, sometimes maddeningly so, but he’s also brilliant and a terrific pleasure to read (when I can figure out what he’s actually saying!).  I’m also working through Aeschylus’ Eumenides with several of my συμμαθηταί, and re-reading Euripides’  Alcestis with a friend.  There’s plenty to keep me busy on the Greek front!

Of course, my temptation is always to neglect Latin in favor of Greek.  As I’ll be teaching an intermediate Latin course later in the summer, I can’t neglect it entirely, so I’m currently reading through Aeneid IV with several condiscipuli.  I’ll also be going to the conuenticulum dickonsoniense in July, a spoken Latin workshop in Pennsylvania.  I’m very excited about that: I know that the immersion in Latin will greatly enhance my facility in the language, and hopefully stoke my passion too.  

I’m also continuing to work on Library of Early Christianity material.  I’m also trying to translate steadily more of the exegetical material on Luke attributed to Eusebius of Caesarea.  I’ve been meaning to post some of that here, but have yet to get around to it.  

ἐν αὐτῷ,

Spring Semester Finished:

My classes ended fairly well. I enjoyed my courses on Cicero, Latin Paleography, and Socrates. Part of Latin Paleography includes script identification, and for this I created digital flashcards. One side of the flashcard presents you with the plate, and the reverse has the script type. If I can find a reasonable way to share these, I’ll post them somewhere. Someone else may find them useful.

Fall Semester to Come:
I’ve signed up to take four classes: 2 Greek, 1 Latin, and a German for reading knowledge course. For Greek, I’m taking a course on the Greek Tragedians, and a Patristics seminar on Clement of Alexandria. On the Latin side, I’m taking a Survey of Roman Literature. Contra the normal meaning of “survey,” this will be an intense romp through several hundred years of Latin literature. I’ll be doing lots of prep over the summer!

Summer Plans:
This summer, I’ll teach my first class: Intermediate Greek II. We’ll be reading Homer, and perhaps a sprinkling of later stuff. This will no doubt be a learning experience for me. I hope it will be good one for my students!

My presentation at NAPS was well-received. I argued based on digital stylometrics that the homilies I examined from the new Origen codex (homilies 1-3 on Ps. 76, and homily 1 on Ps. 67) are consistent with Origen’s style in his other homilies. This was my first NAPS, and it was enjoyable. I met quite a few people (including those from CUA whom I’d not met before!). I also saw a few familiar faces, like fellow North Carolinian and Patristics geek Josh McManaway, who blogs here.

My days have been split between a several tasks. In the morning I’ve been doing a bit of devotional reading from the Greek psalms. Then I move on to Homer. It’s been rather slow-going, as I’ve forgotten a lot of my Homeric vocabulary from the fall. I’ve just finished book 1 and have started book 3. In spite of my vocabulary shortcomings, Homer is a lot of fun to read. The hexameter is a pretty easy meter, so I’m trying to read every line out loud at least once. Along with the Greek reading, I’ve been doing some secondary reading. I’m also reading through Butler’s prose translation. I have a more recent verse translation (Fagles’s), but I find it rather difficult to read more recent translations. Something about the meter of Fagles’ just rubs me the wrong way: it doesn’t always sound properly poetic. That’s probably more an indictment against my aesthetics than his verse, but since I’m getting the poetry in Greek I don’t feel the need to read solely verse renderings in English.

After Homer, I move onto mondern languages. I try to do 30-45 minutes a day of both German and Italian. I started with some workbooks, but I’m now using It’s a fun way to get basic vocab and grammar down. The interface is rather nice. From my experience, I like it much more than Rosetta Stone, and it’s free! They have French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portugese, so I’d recommend it to anyone wishing to learn any of those languages. This is probably my third time having a go at German. I get a bit better each time, but it’s a frustrating language. I find it odd that a language genetically closer to English can prove so much more challenging. In some aspects, it’s rather different than English. There’s not as much vocabulary overlap as there is with French or Spanish, and the case system is much more active in German than it is in English. But sometimes, it’s quite close, but just different enough to throw me off (the interrogatives!). The fact that “wen” means “who” will drive me nuts! That said, I’m slowly improving. Italian, on the other hand, is quite easy. That’s not surprising, as I’ve had a large quantity of French and Latin, and a moderate exposure to Spanish. The pronunciation is different, and the orthography initially poses some challenges (like using ‘h’ to keep ‘c’ and ‘g’ hard), but once those are internalized it’s not bad. I was happy to find a bilingual edition of Dante’s Inferno at a used bookstore the other day. One day I hope to read the original!

My afternoons are generally given to Latin and either Greek translation or other summer work. Along with several of my fellow CUA grad students, I’m reading through book 13 of Tacitus’ annals. The narrative is quite interesting, but the Latin is rather taxing. I’m also trying to get a head start on my Roman Lit survey. I recently finished reading Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus in English, and started Catullus 64, his mini-epic. I’ve not read much Latin poetry in the past, so I need to get some under my belt! On the translation side, I continue to plod through Eusebius’ fragments on Luke. Eusebius’ prose is circuitous, pleonastic, and confusing, but his exegesis is usually interesting. He certainly keeps me on my toes.

ἑν αὐτῷ,

Lots of changes in my life have taken place recently. After working at IBM for over 3 years, I’ve left to focus on my studies full time. I have moved to the DC area, and am slowly settling in. There are plenty of things to unpack, and plenty of new items to adjust to in a new city. Most of all, I’ve to adjust to my wife still being in Raleigh. She still has a semester left to finish her B.S. at NC State, which means we’ll only see each other on weekends. Fortunately the train ride isn’t bad.

Speaking of studies, graduate orientation was today. I got to meet the majority of the entering Greek and Latin students, which was a treat. I’ve also taken placement tests for both Greek and Latin this week. The tests were long (3 hours a piece), and quite detailed. I believe I did well, but I’m still waiting on the results. Results pending, I’ll be taking the following courses this fall:

  • Latin Prose Composition– A detailed review of Latin grammar, and close analysis (and imitation) of classical Latin stylists like Cicero.
  • History of the Ancient Mediterranean– A historical overview of the Mediterranean region from ca. 200 to about 800.
  • Homer– We’ll primarily be reading from the Iliad, as I understand it.
  • Intro to Syriac

Classes begin next week, and naturally I’m excited. As I come across interesting items in my work, I’ll try to share them here.

Of course, interesting items abound elsewhere. The Origen codex remains a vital interest, though I’ve neglected it. Likewise, I photographed plenty of interesting Chrysostom material while I was in Oxford. My photos aren’t the best, but they are good enough to read from, so I hope to post some transcriptions and translations as time permits. Hélas, tempus fugit!

ὁ ταπεινὸς ἁμαρτωλός Ἀλεξάνδρος