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!

NAPS:
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.

Lately:
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 http://www.duolingo.com. 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,
ΜΑΘΠ

I’ve not posted in quite some time, so I figured it might be a good thing to post what I’ve been doing these past few months. Quite a few things have changed.

First, I got married to a wonderful woman (Brianna) on May 13 of this year. (Maybe that’s my excuse for not blogging!). We have both loved marriage thus far. I’ve learned much already, and it’s hardly been four months!

In the Spring, I began working with my Religious Studies professor, Dr William Adler, on a text called the Palaea Historica. This is a 9-10th century Greek text that retells the Old Testament from Adam up to Daniel. It’s full of extra-biblical material, and a fascinating story! Just a small example: it has a large, expanded account of Melchizedek and Abraham. Instead of a priest-king, Melchizedek is a monastic figure! A Greek edition of this work was published in 1893 by a Russian named Vasiliev under the name Anecdota Byzantina Graeca. However, Vasiliev only used 2 manuscripts, and we’ve been able to locate 12-13. Dr. Adler is currently working on a proper critical edition of the text, and I’ve been able to help some. I’ve been getting to learn how to read ancient Greek manuscripts, and also trying to put my computer skills to good use. I’ve also been working on a web-app that will show differences between manuscripts, using the collateX engine. This, of course, requires transcriptions to be done of each manuscript, which we’ve been working on slowly. I haven’t done much with this over the Summer, but I’m currently looking at ways to statistically group the manuscripts into families. So far I’ve seen some potentially helpful methods here.

Over the Summer, I didn’t do much academic. I worked full-time at IBM and spent time with my wife. We watched a lot of Star Trek: Voyager. I’ve never been a trekkie, but my wife’s a fan and we’ve enjoyed watching it together. The one academic item I did do was take the GRE. I studied for a few weeks, and I was very pleased with my scores. My wife was very helpful during the process. She helped me learn the monstrous 3000+ word list in the Barron’s GRE book! There was only one word I didn’t recognize on the GRE: hangdog. (yes, I’ve already forgotten what it means, something like guilty if I recall correctly).

This fall, I’m entering the final year of my undergraduate degree. I’m currently taking two computer science classes, a technical writing class, and two French literature classes. I’m really enjoying the French lit classes. I’m also happy that I’ll have my French minor done after this semester. Going forward, I plan to start applying to graduate schools soon. I’m hoping to do a masters at Duke (probably an MTS, maybe an MA), and then apply for PhD programs. I’d really like to do my doctorate in Europe, probably at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. I’d be able to do a critical edition, which is not generally allowed in US programs. Plus I’d get to live in Europe and speak French! What’s not to love… ;-). I also really like the work going on at University of Birmingham. They’re doing some fantastic work developing software for editing and publishing scholarly texts. This would be a great fit for me, since I’m a software developer in addition to being a budding Patristics scholar. Unfortunately, studying in the UK is quite expensive for Americans, so I’d have to track down some pretty good scholarships!

So, in the mean time I’m trying to keep up with school, work, Chi Alpha (church), family, and then squeeze in time for languages. I’ve started studying Latin again, and am also working (a bit too slowly) through April Wilson’s German Quickly. That’s in addition to the Greek I do on almost a daily basis, and the French for my literature classes! Fortunately I like languages, but it’s still a stretch. Κυριε, ελεησον με!

Αλεξανδρος.