Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Two Important Updates

These are two important updates to my previous posts.


I have been a huge proponent and user of Evan Millner's LATINUM podcast. See my first post "Teaching Yourself Latin and Greek" for how I used what I called "Adler + Millner + Ørberg." See my "Beefing up your Latin Vocabulary, and How I Learned to Love Comenius" post for the role the LATINUM podcast played in beefing up my Latin vocabulary.

Well, especially in the world of technology, things change rapidly. Evan used a hosting service to host his podcast, and has gone belly up. Without ceremony, it's gone, kaput, along with Evan's podcast, never to return. Evan is not starting a new podcast, so some recordings from the podcast are irretrievably lost. However, all is not lost, and LATINUM itself continues on You Tube. Start by subscribing to Evan's You Tube channel, evan1965. Then observe that the videos are mostly or eventually arranged in playlists of related content. Then let me point out a few more things.

Video vs. Audio

The content on You Tube is of course videos. While I enjoy from time to time seeing and watching Evan as well as listening to him, the video for me is mostly distracting. My need is mostly for audio files I can 100% focus on (often indeed with my eyes closed), whose pace I can control, and which I can listen to while walking or working out. However, some past audio and in the future new audio will be made available on the LATINUM store (you can also link to the store directly from the You Tube site), which was associated with the podcast and remains associated with the You Tube channel. Previously with the podcast and continuing with You Tube, Evan periodically creates audio books (DVDs with MP3 files plus a .PDF for the text he is reading) and puts them for sale dirt cheap on the LATINUM store. So with respect to podcast recordings I referenced in my previous posts, you'll see in the store catalog the 3-DVD Adler course, Swallowing the Dictionary and, from his Comenius recordings, the Orbis Sensualium Pictus and the Januae Latinitatis Vestibulum. Unfortunately, the other podcast recordings from Comenius are lost, though I hope he will be doing more in the future.

And doing them more comprehensively. In the last several months before the demise of, Evan announced that as much as possible he was going to try to record entire works, rather than parts of works. So far, it looks like he is sticking with that policy on You Tube, and for me at least that is a very good thing.

Greek, Crosby & Schaeffer

In my "Teaching Yourself Latin and Greek" post, one of the resources I mentioned was the venerable Crosby & Schaeffer. In that discussion I wrote, "There are no 'officially' published keys to the exercises in Crosby & Schaeffer that I am aware of. This and its brevity of exposition seriously limit its value for the autodidact."

Here is a correction to that statement. First of all, I was not aware that along with their original publication of the textbook, in 1929, the authors also published a Teacher's Manual. That 1929 Teacher's Manual is still collecting dust on some library bookshelves (see Google Books, but it's not scanned). However, I got lucky and saw on Texkit a recent discussion about the availability of the Teacher's Manual, and in that discussion you will find a link to a .pdf scan of the Teacher's Manual on SkyDrive.

That is something of a precious commodity, and I would grab it while it's still there. I haven't looked at it closely yet, but it's got a lot of interesting commentary besides just the translations of the English-to-Greek exercises.

With that said, I would still recommend to the autodidact Athenaze and JACT over C&S. (See my "Teaching Yourself Latin and Greek, Part II" post.) But many, like myself, had their first pass at Greek via C&S, remember it fondly, and will want to use it again. Having the Teacher's Manual certainly makes it a viable candidate for the autodidact. (And again, I used all three for the resurrection of my Greek; they're not mutually exclusive.)

If you're interested in seriously pursuing C&S, you may also want to check out Rob McConeghy's Yahoo study group for C&S.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beefing up your Latin Vocabulary, and How I Learned to Love Comenius

I am grateful in these times to have a job. But in whatever spare time I've had the last two years, I've done my best to resurrect my Latin and Greek, strictly on my own. Drawing on my experience, I have been using this blog to pass on some hopefully helpful information to other aspiring autodidacts.

Last year I devoted to my "Adler + Millner + Ørberg" curriculum (see my first post, Teaching Yourself Latin and Greek) for resurrecting my Latin. Because this year is my "Greek year," for the most part I just haven't had time to follow up on last year's Latin curriculum and read Latin authors. But lest my Latin lie completely fallow, I am at least trying this year to beef up my Latin vocabulary. In this post I will pass on some resources I have found effective for doing this.

I have had a very helpful friend in this endeavor: Mr. John Amos Comenius. But it took me a while to warm up to Mr. Comenius, and that story will be the bulk of this post. But first a few other excellent resources.

Word Frequency and Topical Vocabulary Lists

Carolus Raeticus has created a number of valuable vocabulary aides on his hiberna. For example, in 1939 Paul B. Diederich created a "basic vocabulary" based on a word count from three Latin anthologies. The basic vocabulary is divided into parts of speech and then subdivided by topics such as God, Time, and Food for nouns, "Verbs which express or affect the location of the subject," Constructive Activities, and Destructive Activities for verbs. Raeticus has created two .pdf's of the Diederich basic vocabulary (varying only in the English translation).

In 1930, Walter Ripman published "A Handbook of the Latin Language - Being a Dictionary, Classified Vocabulary, and Grammar." The book is not yet available online, but the Classified Vocabulary is a copious list neatly arranged under fifty topics, and Evan Millner previously recorded all fifty sections on LATINUM. (You can also purchase the readings on CD from the LATINUM store under the telling title Swallowing the Dictionary.) Raeticus has created two .pdf's of the Classified Vocabulary; the second conforms to the order of Millner's reading. The second also has an appendix itemizing a number of mistakes Raeticus detected in Millner's readings. Like Raeticus, I had had some difficulty "swallowing" Millner's readings before being able to see a printed list of the words. Raeticus's .pdf and the aural reinforcement provided by Millner's recordings are a fantastic vocabulary builder.

Of course, LATINUM is the source of many other valuable readings I take full advantage of, including Comenius, but hold that thought.

A Fable a Day

Since I spend most of my day online, I try to find a few minutes each day to read the day's Aesop's fable (and also here) from Laura Gibbs. This gives me at least a little chance to test my vocabulary and to exercise my Latin with a complete, albeit brief, unit of prose, and have some fun at the same time. Check out her web sites and blogs for Latin proverbs, anecdotes, and other fun stuff.

When reading Latin online in snippets of time, I need a quick way to look up words and get a no-frills definition. For this I use Whitaker's Words. You can run this as a free Windows/Mac/Linux local application, called WORDS (on a PC it runs like a DOS program), access it online, or use the interface to it that is part of Thomas McCarthy's Legible Latin (also free). Whitaker's Words is both Latin-to-English and English-to-Latin, it operates on any form of the word you enter (such as a particular declension or conjugation), and it compiles its ~39,000 words from medieval as well as classical sources.

But the Mother Lode of vocabulary for me has been Comenius.

How I Learned to Love Comenius

Possibly you've heard of Comenius, especially if you've explored the LATINUM podcast. Possibly not, since Comenius was a native Moravian from the first half of the seventeenth century, known mostly for his "didactic" works on education, so why would you have?

"Comenius": Fun (like my daily Aesop's fable)? Hardly. Easy? Hardly. Profitable? Quite ... with some caveats. Let me start with the caveats:

  1. The relevant writings are hard to find and, with one significant exception, without an available English translation
  2. You can waste a whole lot of time, I mean A WHOLE LOT OF TIME, establishing a personal "Comenius curriculum"
  3. The writings are dull - at least that will be the judgment of many

For those who are not already scared off, my purpose in what follows is to leverage my experience in order to minimize these obstacles for you and help you leverage Comenius to beef up your Latin vocabulary.

I won't say much about Comenius himself. There's of course a Wikipedia article. One of Comenius's best known works (though not one of the works of interest here for vocabulary building) is the Didactica Magna, or "Great Didactic." You can find on Google Books an 1896 English translation by M. W. Keatinge that has an excellent, contemporary sounding, sympathetic but also critical biographical introduction that puts all of Comenius's writings in chronological and historical perspective. In fact later I will quote some of Keatinge's judgments.

Comenius was an educational theorist. Latin still played a major role in the European schooling of his time, and sound training in Latin as well as in one's native language were critically important in Comenius's educational theories. However, according to Comenius, the way Latin was taught to young students amounted to a form of torture. To enable the practical implementation of his theories, as well as to earn a living while in exile, and to make learning Latin effective and fun (he thought), Comenius wrote a number of Latin textbooks over the years, beginning in 1631 with the Janua Linguarum Reserata ('The door, or gateway, to languages, unlocked"), which catapulted him to fame throughout Europe, and culminating in 1658 with the Orbis Sensualium Pictus ("The world of things perceived by the senses, illustrated"), which instantly and for several centuries, into the beginning of the nineteenth century, remained an enormously popular textbook.

All this would undoubtedly be of no interest if Millner hadn't beginning in 2008 started reading some of Comenius's Latin texts on LATINUM, astutely seizing on Google Books' and and others' incipient digitization of non-copyrighted books from previous centuries.

Orbis Sensualium Pictus

So let me stop here and make a recommendation: Start with Orbis Sensualium Pictus. This can be a long slog - see further below - and one I'm not finished with yet myself. But as I said, for me it's been the Mother Lode of object vocabulary (the vocabulary of interest definitely includes verbs but is mostly the names of things, that is, nouns). Get somewhere with Orbis, then see how you can build on it with the rest of Comenius. Let me help, beginning with a brief description of the Orbis Sensualium Pictus.

As I wrote above, Janua Linguarum Reserata catapulted Comenius to fame. After some experience with it, Comenius concluded Janua was too difficult a starting point for beginning students, so he wrote a number of preparatory textbooks, culminating in Orbis. Depending on whom you listen to, Orbis was either the very first illustrated children's textbook or one of the first. The Janua had attempted to present students virtually all human knowledge of the time, in a condensed form, in both the vernacular and in Latin. The subject matter was arranged in a sort of taxonomic sequence over 100 chapters, each chapter being a brief essay standalone object lesson - God, the world, the four elements, the human body, botany, animals, agriculture, trades, societal institutions, religions, etc. As for the Orbis: "Imagine the Janua Linguarum considerably shortened, simplified, and illustrated, and you have before you the Orbis Pictus" (Keatinge). Nouns in the text and objects in the illustration are cross-referenced with a number. As intended, editions of Orbis were published in many different vernaculars, including English.

A year after its inaugural publication in 1658, Orbis was translated into English by Charles Hoole. The first edition with two-column, side-by-side English and Latin was 1727. The twelfth and last English edition with the Hoole translation was in 1777: twelfth Hoole English edition on Google Books, and twelfth Hoole English edition in print on Amazon. The twelfth English edition was reprinted in America in 1810: American printing of twelfth Hoole edition on Google Books. I bought the 1810 American edition in print on Amazon over a year ago but no longer find it on Amazon or elsewhere. There are also other editions out there, but Millner reads from the 1810 Hoole, and I'm assuming (and recommending) one of your methods for memorizing the vocabulary will be repeated listening to Millner's reading. Millner's second and most recent reading of the entire Orbis, Latin only, is August, 2011.

(The only differences between the 1777 English and 1810 American editions I can detect are (1) the pictures are different, though not radically so, and (2) the 1777 edition treats Sphera caelestis and Planetarum Aspectus both as chapter CVI, whereas the 1810 breaks off Planetarum Aspectus into a new chapter, so from that point forward it misleadingly appears as if the 1777 edition has one fewer chapters.)

(For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that in 04/2009 Millner recorded from an available scan of a 1790 Leipzig variation on Orbis Pictus called Der Kleine Lateiner.)

You've got Orbis on Google Books and Millner's reading of it on LATINUM for free, so give it a shot. It's got something like 5,000 words, some percentage of which you don't know, so don't kid yourself, it will take you a long time, I would say measured in months, to master its entire vocabulary. For me, the journey has had its bumps. Here's a few observations from my experience:

  • I like using the printed edition, so I can make notes in the margins, but see the third bullet
  • My approach is to read and re-read a sequence of topically related chapters, take note of the new vocabulary, make sure I understand the Latin, then start listening to Millner for those chapters
  • The illustrations (originally woodcuts) are not to our level of graphic sophistication and resolution. Often in the printed book I can't make out all the cross-referenced numbers. As a result, I initially dismissed the value of the illustrations. But after a duh, the light bulb goes on moment of remembering that in the .pdf version I could zoom in to any scale I needed, I started enthusiastically incorporating the illustrations into my approach. There's no doubt that associating a word with a picture is a valuable mnemonic device even for an adult. I've even taken to using my screen-capture software to take a screenshot of the picture at 300% scale in Adobe, paste it into a blank PowerPoint page, and use the picture and its numbered objects to try to reconstruct the text from memory. (My wife has a lot more taste than I do and is a devotee of English literature. She thinks the illustrations are actually quite well done and finds them a fascinating view into the life of the age, so she's also opened my mind and eyes regarding the illustrations.)
  • I have a stubborn compulsion to look up, in Cassell's or the Oxford Latin Dictionary, every word I don't know. I like to see the etymology, read the example quotes, gauge the frequency and period of its use, etc. With Orbis, I've had to curb this habit, as I came to realize I was otherwise never going to get through it
    • As a corollary to the last point, I got discouraged from time to time as a not insignificant number of words I could not even find in the OLD, which means you're not going to find them in a classical author. Comenius was using what we would call the "live Latin" of his day to teach about the world of his day, so this is inevitable. At a certain point I had to make a conscious decision to not get hung up about this and to just "shut up and learn the book"
  • In reading Orbis, I've had to overcome my own narrow-mindedness and ignorance and let Comenius take me to school. I am very much a mus urbanus, so by inclination I'm not very interested in the fine distinctions of different types of grain or parts of a plough. My interest in seventeenth century trades only goes so far (and these comprise a good number of the chapters), nor is my interest in antiquity first and foremost antiquarian. But then something interesting happened on the way to the forum (or I should say on my way to the Janua). I reminded myself that Comenius intended with these textbooks to teach young students first about the world itself, in its non-abstract particulars, then how to speak about them in the vernacular, then in Latin. He did not think learning words about things you don't understand was worthwhile, much less an effective way to learn the words. And I began to ask myself: Am I, a technologically sophisticated and highly specialized adult citizen of the twenty-first century, going to be outdone by a ten-year old rustic lad from the mid-seventeenth century?! Yet I'm the one who's ignorant here! And so I started veering off on some interesting internet excursions to learn something de rebus ipsis (does anyone want to see some lovely photos showing the difference between an ear of wheat with awnes and a paniculated cluster of oats?) So my approach for mastering Orbis now incorporates the printed book, the .pdf, some software tools, and a search engine
  • The Hoole translation, which carried through all the English-language editions, was done in 1659. So of course sometimes I have to look up the English word. Not an issue. And since I'm doing this to learn Latin, I have no issue with the, to our ears, quaint or antiquated sound of the English; to the contrary, I rather enjoy it
  • Finally let me say that, with repeated reading, I have come more and more to appreciate Comenius's artistry. While the 150+ object lessons as a whole are a lot to get through, each individual object lesson is a marvel in how to pack a lot of information (vocabulary) into a few words. There is exquisite judgment about what to include, what not. The sentences and grammar are extremely simple but artfully varied so as not to be monotonous. Many of these chapters are little gems

The Rest of Comenius

So again, if you think you might be interested in using Comenius to beef up your Latin vocabulary, my recommendation is, start with Orbis Pictus, then, based on your experience with that, explore what else there is. The remainder of this post is to save you some time figuring out what that rest is.

Due to religious conflicts, Comenius spent most of his adult life in exile in various places in Europe. In 1657, when he was sixty-five years old, all his didactic works to date (as distinct from his theological writings) were published in Amsterdam - the Opera Didactica Omnia (ODO). The four ODO volumes correspond to the different periods and locations of his exile. And among the didactic works are the Latin textbooks of interest to us here, for purposes of building Latin vocabulary (you may or may not develop a broader interest in Comenius, who was a major figure in modernizing education).

Are these writings (besides Orbis) accessible to us? First, yes, a few so far have been scanned by Google Books and similar services. But nothing yet with English translations, at least that I have seen. So there is an issue of, do I have to know Latin well enough to read Comenius in order to learn Latin. Second, the University of Mannheim's CAMENA project, which is digitizing Latin books from the early modern era, has put the ODO on the internet. Furthermore, the CAMENA site presents not just a scanned copy of the 1657 book (whose font requires a little practice) but also a transcription of the text in both HTML and XML. And from your browser you can save the HTML into a variety of formats, which you can then edit and print to your heart's delight. (NB: The HTML transcription has a fair number of spelling errors.)

You'll want to take a little time to learn to navigate the CAMENA site. Go to the ODO page whose link I provided. You'll see a Pars I, II, III, and IV corresponding to the four ODO volumes. For each Part, clicking on "Titel" takes you to the scan of the title page of that volume. On the scan rendering page are left and right arrow buttons for navigating backwards and forwards a page at a time through the scan. Back on the first page, clicking on "Conspectus operis" for each Part takes you to an HTML page giving the table of contents for that volume. For each work in the toc, there is both a link to its starting page in the scan and a link to its starting point in the HTML transcript.

To navigate the toc, it doesn't hurt to have a casual acquaintance with the titles of Comenius's works. You can get that from many places, including an appendix in the M. W. Keatinge 1896 English translation of the "Great Didactic," which I linked you to way back up there somewhere.

Once you can navigate the ODO, you have to know which works are of primary interest for vocabulary building. I will describe these and then tabulate them below. In sum, the works of interest for vocabulary building are the Vestibulum (the vestibule to the gateway of languages), the Janua (the gateway), the Atrium, and the Lexicon and Grammatica associated with each level. Once you have mastered the Atrium, you are ready for the Palatium, which is the classical authors themselves.

You also need to know that some of these works exist in multiple versions. After the runaway success of the first Janua, Comenius, realizing he needed a more elementary starting point for Latin beginners, wrote the Vestibulum. Partly self-motivated, but mostly due to the demands of his different patrons, Comenius over the years then produced other versions of the Vestibulum and the Janua as well as the Atrium and the associated lexicons and grammars.

What is the nature of these textbooks? First, the Vestibulum, Orbis Pictus, and Janua were designed to be bilingual. Unfortunately, if there ever were English-Latin versions of the Vestibulum or Janua, none of have been scanned yet to my knowledge. By the time you were qualified to be in the Atrium, you were expected to use Latin to build on your Latin.

Second, as we already indicated in describing the Orbis Pictus, the first Janua established for all the future textbooks the Comenian taxonomy or organization of universal knowledge. The Vestibulum and Orbis are more elementary versions, the Atrium a more ornate treatment, of more or less the same topics. So if you've mastered the Orbis, you can go through (literally and figuratively) the Vestibulum rather quickly (there are two very different versions of the Vestibulum - see the tables below) and then explore the expanded treatment of these topics in the Janua (also two versions) and finally the Atrium.

Millner has recorded portions of some of these works. I imagine he is constrained by the unavailability of scanned English editions and by the sheer length of most of these works. Recently he has vowed to put on LATINUM complete "audio books" only (that is, only works read in their entirety, Comenius or otherwise). As part of this resolution, in addition to his re-recording of Orbis, he has re-recorded the first Vestibulum in its entirety, in English and Latin and in Latin only (the English I believe being his own translation). Look and hope for more to come.

The following tables, arranged by the periods of exile and corresponding volumes in the ODO, tabulate the Latin textbooks of interest for vocabulary building. The full title provides additional insight into the nature and intended purpose of the work. In the first column I use parentheses to indicate works that are contextually relevant as well as works that are discussed but not printed in their entirety in the ODO itself.  I've also indicated which works Millner has recorded to date.

Table 1. Lissa is the old German name for the modern-day town of Leszno in Poland. Pars I of the ODO collects the didactic works from the "Lissa period," 1627 - 1642.

ODO Pars I (Lissa period, 1627 - 1642)
Work Full Title Description Other Scans LATINUM
Janua Janua Linguarum Reserata. Sive Seminarium Linguarum et Scientiarum Omnium. ~ 8000 of the most common Latin words written out in 1000 sentences grouped into 100 topics of universal knowledge. By design, none of the words (particles excepted) are repeated. Several bi- and multi-lingual editions (sometimes with the title Janua aurea reserata) but none in English yet. If you're also studying ancient Greek, you may want to check out the Latin-Greek and Latin-Greek-French editions of Theodor Simon, though deciphering the Greek calligraphy is a project unto itself.
Vestibulum Januae Linguarum Reseratae Vestibulum, quo Primus ad Latinam Linguam aditus Tironibus paratur. 427 elementary sentences using the 1,000 most common words On you will find several scans of a Latin-Hungarian edition. Millner uses this for the Latin text. The text varies slightly from that in ODO. 08/2011 re-recorded in its entirety, first in Latin and English, then Latin only
(Proplasma) De Astruendo Comenianae Januae Latinitatis Templo, Epistola: Cum Proplasmate Liminis, Atrii, Odei, Adyti, In Titulo De Igne Efformati A David Bechner had been working on a Viridarium Linguae Latinae, an expanded version of the Janua. Beating the architectural metaphor to death, his plan was to add on a Threshold before, and an Atrium, Grand Hall, and Innermost Sanctuary after each topic in the Janua. Printed in the ODO is Bechner's letter to Comenius explaining his scheme, why he had not been able to realize it yet, but with a blueprint (proplasma) using the De Igne topic in the Janua as his example. The proplasma makes for amusing reading.

(It should be noted that in 02/2008 Millner recorded from an available scan a 1717 Leipzig variation on the Vestibulum called the Vestibulum Maius.)

Table 2. Elbing is the German-Prussian name for the modern-day town of Elblag in modern-day Poland. Pars II of the ODO collects the didactic works from the "Elbing period," 1642 - 1650. In this period, Comenius lived in Elbing while revising his textbooks for a Swedish patron, hence the "Elbing period" is aka the "Swedish period."

ODO Pars II (Elbing period, 1642 - 1650)
Work Full Title Description Other Scans LATINUM
(Methodus) Novissima Linguarum Methodus As a theoretical foundation for the new versions of his Latin textbooks that Comenius wrote for his Swedish patron, he wrote a lengthy "brand new method." You can see this reflected in the full name of the textbooks. Chapters 14 - 17 of the method delineate the Vestibulum, Janua, Atrium, and Thesaurus as they should be in conformance to this new method.
(Vestibulum) Vestibulum Latinae Linguae Rerum et Linguae cardines exhibens (ad leges Methodi Linguarum Novissimae concinnatum). Vor-Tür der Lateinischen Sprache. In the ODO, Comenius only provides a preface and the first chapter, in Latin and German, to this version of the Vestibulum, referring the reader to the third and in his estimation improved "Hungary" version published in Part III of the ODO.
(Janua) Latinae Linguae Janua Reserata, Rerum et Linguae Structuram exhibens ordine nativo. (ad leges Methodi Linguarum novissimae). Die offene Tür der Lateinishen Sprach. Same as for Vestibulum.
Grammatica Januae Linguarum novissimae Clavis, Grammatica, Latino-Vernacula. Comenius had concluded this Grammar was over the heads of students and so had created a more concise student grammar for the "Hungary" textbooks, but he still included this fuller grammar here in the ODO as of interest to teachers. Appended to the Grammar are an extensive set of footnotes (Annotationes). 04/2009 Leaves off at the fourth declension within chapter 24, out of 76 chapters
(Lexicon Januale) (De Lexico Januali Latino-Germanico.) Comenius doesn't reproduce the Lexicon Januale here, since it had been published in Frankfurt the year prior and is quite lengthy. (He also came to believe it was too prolix for students, and he rewrote a more concise version for the Hungary textbooks.) But believing it to be of interest, he does publish in the ODO the 'Postfatio' to the Lexicon.
(Atrium) Comenius had also produced an Atrium for the Swedish textbooks, but events in his life had retarded its publication, so it is also deferred to Part III of the ODO.

Table 3. Comenius spent the years 1650 - 1654 in Sarospatak in Hungary, setting up a new school for a patron there and producing yet another version of the Latin textbooks. This is the "Hungary period," aka the "Sarospatak period."

ODO Pars III (Hungary period, 1650 - 1654)
Work Full Title Description Other Scans LATINUM
Vestibulum Eruditionis Scholasticae Pars Prima, Vestibulum, Rerum et Linguarum fundamenta exhibens. Really a completely different work from the original Vestibulum. It is essentially just a list of all the words in the Janua, and hence is also much lengthier than the original Vestibulum. It follows the taxonomic order of the Janua and will look very familiar to someone who has studied the Orbis Pictus.
+Rudimenta Grammaticae Rudimenta Grammaticae. A short, elementary grammar appended to the Vestibulum. 02/2010 In its entirety (except the final chapter XII, which wouldn't make much sense to record)
+Word index to the Vestibulum Reportorium Vestibulare. Sive Lexici Latini Rudimentum. A word index to the Vestibulum, which the young student could use to practice vocabulary (and locate the word in the text if he didn't know it) and to behold the foundation for a more complete lexicon.
(+associated writings) Associated writings that give Comenius's advice on, for example, the creation of student exercises to be used in conjunction with teaching the Vestibulum, and on the proper
formation of the vernacular counterpart to the Latin of the Vestibulum.
Janua Eruditionis Scholasticae Pars II. Rerum et Linguarum Structuram externam exhibens. Comenius's "extraordinary proposal" (Keatinge - he didn't mean it in a good way) was for the student entering the Janual class to read and absorb the Lexicon Januale first, then the Grammatica Janualis, and only then the Janua itself. Hence they are printed in that order in the ODO.
+Lexicon Januale Sylva Latinae Linguae, Vocum derivatarum copiam explicens: Sive Lexicon Januale. In the original publication there were corresponding definitions in Hungarian, but they are not printed in the ODO. See further below in the blog text about the Comenius Lexicon Project.
+Grammatica Janualis Grammatica Janualis. Continens Residuum Grammaticae Vestibularis. Comenius believed this version, considerably trimmed down from the original Grammar, much better for students. 11/2010 The first five of fifteen chapters. (The grammar is arranged by seven elements of speech. The first five chapters cover letters, syllables, words in general, and nouns.)
+Janua (text) Janualis Rerum et Verborum Contextus, Historiolam rerum continens. The text of the Janua. Still 1,000 sentences distributed across 100 themes, but much lengthier than the original Janua. Unlike the original Janua, Comenius allowed words to repeat, in different contexts. 03/2010 Lesson 3 ("Aether cum Astris"), English and Latin

10/2010 Lesson 1 ("Introitus"), English and Latin, and Latin only
Atrium Eruditionis Scholasticae Pars III. Rerum et Linguarum Ornamenta exhibens. The student is now in Latin-only mode. The Atrium introduces the element of style.
+Grammatica elegans Ars Oratoria, Sive Grammatica elegans. Instruction on expressing the same thought variously, applying the nine stylistic devices of oratory. Examples are given of how the Introitus to the Janua can be rewritten in the different styles.
+Atrium (text) Latinae Linguae Atrium, Rerum Historiam elegantiori exornatam stylo exhibens. The Janua rewritten, elegantly.
+(Lexicon atriale) Lexicon Januale Latino-Latinum, Simplices et nativas rerum nomenclationes, è Janua Linguae Latinae iam notas, in elegantes varie commutare docens. The atrial lexicon is Latin - Latin. This Lexicon was not published in Hungary nor in the ODO, but separately (like the ODO, in Amsterdam in 1657). See further below in the blog text about the Comenius Lexicon Project. The Amsterdam edition is available from Google Books
(Orbis Pictus) Orbis Sensualium Pictus. Hoc est, Omnium fundamentalium in Mundo rerum, et in Vita actionum, Nomenclatura, ad ocularem Demonstrationem deducta. Ut sit Vestibuli et Januae Linguarum Lucidarium. In the ODO, Comenius explains what the Orbis Sensualium Pictus is, but that he hadn't been able to get it published yet due to the difficulty of finding a properly skilled engraver. It was not printed while Comenius was in Hungary or before the ODO, but a year later (1658).

Part IV of the ODO contains writings from Amsterdam from 1654 - 1657, when the ODO was published. Part IV contains no works of interest for our purposes.

In conclusion, once you've mastered the Orbis Pictus, a personal Comenius curriculum might be something like this:

  • Read the Lissa period (ODO Pars I) Vestibulum and listen to Millner's new recording of it
  • Read the Hungary period (ODO Pars III) Vestibulum. You won't find much you don't already know from the Orbis, but you can use it as a way to gauge how well you learned the Orbis vocabulary
  • Familiarize yourself with the Comenius Lexicon Project (see below) and incorporate the lexica into your studies of the Janua and Atrium
  • Study the Janua, the Lissa and/or Hungary versions. If Millner were to record a substantial portion of either (which would be quite an undertaking), I'd certainly go with that version. Until then, I've been working with the first, Lissa version simply because of Keatinge's judgment that "The [Hungary] classbooks, with the exception of the grammars for the Vestibulum and the Janua, were all inferior to the previous editions published in Lissa. In his effort to be scientific Comenius fell into the very trap that he wished to avoid, and became complicated and tedious."
  • Read and listen to Millner's recording of the Hungary Rudimenta Grammaticae, which is brief and easy and a good way to start thinking about Latin grammar in Latin
  • Follow up by reading the Hungary Grammatica Janualis (Keatinge's judgment: "The grammar, if not quite a model, from the modern standpoint, is yet extremely good. It is far shorter than that written in Elbing, and the rules are terse and to the point.")
  • If you're not screaming "no màs no màs" by now, try your hand at the Hungary Atrium. Read the Grammatica elegans and the examples applied to the Introitus of the Janua sufficiently to get the idea of the nine devices for stylistic variation, then read the more stylized Janua that is the Atrium

The Comenius Lexicon Project

You saw in Table 3 that the Hungary Lexicon Januale is printed in the ODO and available on the CAMENA site both in the book scan and in the transcribed HTML text. You also saw that the Lexicon Atriale Latino-Latinum, while produced during the Hungary period, was not published in the ODO but in a separate publication that is available on Google Books.

The definitions in these lexicons are in Latin only. That is by design in the case of the Lexicon Atriale Latino-Latinum. The original publication of the Lexicon Januale was in both Hungarian and Latin, but the Hungarian is omitted in the ODO. The "definitions" are also not dictionary definitions as we think of them (though they are in alphabetical order). Lexicon Januale is organized by Latin roots. For each root, given in upper case, the lexical entry typically gives various words in different parts of speech derived from this root, and an example or two illustrating the the primary sense or usage. For example, the definition of acervus ("heap"):

ACERV -us est, ubi res variae -antur -atim: praesertim -us frumenti. Sed disputator co-at argumenta in -alem Syllogismum.

The purpose of the Atrium is to demonstrate the application of style and variation to the plain expressions of the Janua. Accordingly, the purpose of the Lexicon Atriale is to give the student, for a given Latin word, similar or analogous phrases from actual authors (not always classical), to help keep the student within the bounds of demonstrated usage and taste, as he tries his hand at eloquence. The definition of acervus in the atrial lexicon is:

Acervus] Turba voluminum: Chorus virtutum, Cic. Strues lignorum, Liv. Strues malorum. Nav. apud Serv. Silva rerum. Quint. Agmen aquarum, Virg. Glomeramen. Lucr. Torus graminis, Apul. Quis fons? Quis torrens verborum? Eras.

(The late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced some very worthwhile compilations of Latin synonyms, many available on Google Books and in print on Amazon. Most seem to go back to two sources: (1) M. Gardin Dumesnil's 1777 Synonymes Latin, et leur différentes significations, avec des Exemples tirés des meilleurs Auteurs. You can find the original and several editions of an English translation by J. M. Gosset. (2) Ludwig Döderlein's Handbuch der lateinischen Synonymik, first ed. 1839, second 1849. You can find the originals and several editions of an English translation by Henry Hamilton Arnold. As an example, check their entries for acervus.)

Because the definitions in Comenius's lexicons are in Latin, they can be instructive, reinforcing, and sometimes quite clever and amusing, even when you already know the English definition of the word. They are a useful read unto themselves. But in any case if you are unsure of a word when reading the Janua or Atrium, in theory you should consult the Comenian lexica first. However, this could be slow to the point of being impractical.

The Comenius Lexicon Project is an effort to digitize these two lexicons, in order to make them easier to search and to manipulate with software tools. I believe the project is the inspiration of Laura Gibbs collaborating with Evan Millner, but I am not a participant in the project and only know what I can infer from scrutinizing the site.

The site has digitized the janual lexicon by simply pasting in the previously transcribed HTML from the CAMENA site. However, they have one remaining task. The CAMENA transcription preserves Comenius's format, which uses dashes that must be mentally replaced by the reader (or written out as a student exercise) with the upper case root. Because of the dashes, you won't find a hit searching the transcribed text on "acervus". So the remaining task is to reformat the entries. Millner did this for the first several 'A' entries, by way of example:

ACERVus est, ubi res variae ACERVantur ACERVatim: praesertim ACERVus frumenti. Sed disputator coACERVat argumenta in ACERValem Syllogismum.

The digitization of the Lexicon Atriale Latino-Latinum begins with the much more tedious process of first doing the manual transcription, then formatting, an obviously error-prone process that then requires meticulous proofreading to guarantee the integrity of the result. The end result is simply a digitized version of, for example, the book's entry for acervus shown above.

These transcribing, formatting, and proofreading tasks are being done by qualified volunteers. For the atrial lexicon they are up to the letter 'I,' and it looks like the process may have stalled, and if so, understandably.

In any case, this should suggest how you might incorporate the two lexica (three, if you count the word index to the Hungary Vestibulum) into your personal Comenius curriculum.

Good luck, hope this helped.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaching Yourself Latin and Greek, Part II

Since I created "Teaching Yourself Latin and Greek - Notes of an Autodidact," a number of additional worthwhile resources and observations have come to my attention. I would like to pass these along, with some commentary, in this post.



The seventh edition of Wheelock's Latin is now available. Nothing substantive has changed. It still epitomizes the grammar-first approach, artfully packing the foundational elements of Latin grammar into the same forty chapters. I confess I find rather amusing the statement in the Preface to the new edition, "To encourage active use of the language in the classroom, Latin is employed in the chapter titles and for section heads (Exercitationes instead of 'Practice and Review,' Vocabula for 'Vocabulary,' etc.)."

For those whose goals for learning Latin meet my definition of Serious, its clarity, compactness (though the number of pages grows with each edition), attractive packaging, and wit continue to make Wheelock an understandable and easily justified approach. My own experience, though, ever more argues against a grammar-first approach. For example, you'll know you're in the grammar-first trap if you catch yourself asking, every time you encounter an ablative case in your reading, which of the eight uses of the ablative this is (page 177).

The Wheelock web site has more information about the book and associated materials.

Learn to Read Latin, Yale University Press, by Andrew Keller and Stephanie Russell

Thanks to Mark Dawson - see his comment on this blog - for bringing my attention to Learn to Read Latin (LTRL), from Yale University Press. I'm giving the link here to the publisher's web site rather than to Amazon, because you'll want to explore the hardback, softback, and packaged set options.

With two qualifications, I find LTRL to be a terrific piece of work. First, it's approach is self-admittedly and unapologetically grammar-based. On this blog, I've made my preference clear for a natural-language approach. Second, believing this to be a greater inducement to students to continue their Latin studies, the authors have drawn as much as possible on the ancient authors themselves for LTRL's readings. I'm not a teacher by profession and I can't speak to motivational aspects. For the patient and self-motivated adult autodidact, where by "patient" I mean precisely having the patience to learn the language naturally before fully diving into the classical authors, I still feel made-up prose in the form of a continuous narrative, carefully scaled in complexity, especially when done as well as Ørberg, is a preferable way to internalize the language. But better said, for the patient autodidact not bound to a school curriculum, these different resources are not mutually exclusive.

I can see why Mark finds LTRL superior to Wheelock. It had me with this sentence in its preface: "Respectful of both teachers and students, the book assumes a serious interest in learning Latin well and thoroughly." No dumbing down here. And thorough it is. You can see this, for example, in the Vocabulary Notes, so rich that they have to be squeezed into a smaller font. I suspect they may be a little overwhelming for a young beginner in her first pass through the material, but for me they are a feast. For another example of both thoroughness and respect for the serious student, see the "Introduction to Latin Sentence and Prose Word Order" in chapter II. (By the way, LTRL also introduces poetic meter.) And at a glance, the same thoroughness is revealed in the workbook drills.

And here's some especially good news for the autodidact. The Answer Key (for both the readings in the textbook and the workbook drills) is available. The Web FAQ for the book states, "This answer key is intended for teachers, parents of home schoolers, and individual learners. For access, please contact Yale University Press by emailing [them]." At least one reviewer recounts having struck out when contacting the publisher. But Drew Keller, the co-author, generously and promptly provided me the Answer Key and writes, "anyone who is an independent learner and describes her- or himself as such in a convincing way [RG: a legitimate precaution against high school students, who get graded, getting their hands on and distributing the answers] is welcome to have an answer key."

Thanks Drew and thanks Mark for pointing me to LTRL. (And see under Greek below for the brand new Learning to Read Greek.)

"Antiquated" Adler

In the original post, I described and implicitly recommended the natural-language concoction I used, which I dubbed "Adler + Millner + Ørberg." Adler in that formula is the 1858 work of George J. Adler, "A Practical Grammar Of The Latin Language: With Perpetual Exercises in Speaking And Writing (1858)," available digitally from Google Books and in print from Amazon. A friendly source with valuable opinions has told me he can't recommend Adler - too "antiquated."

Well, if not antiquated, let's at least admit to quaint. You get a whiff of that in the very first exercise. Q: "Have you the table?" A: "Yes, Sir, I have the table." Or, selected somewhat randomly, check out this sequence from exercise fifty-five: Q: "Where is my brother?" A: "He is in the country."  Q: "Do you wish to go into the country?" A: "I do not wish to go there."  Q: "Whither do you desire to go?" A: "I desire to go to the market."  Q: "Is your brother at home?" A: "No; He is at the ball."  Q: "Whither does your son wish to go?" A: "He wishes to go to the great place."  Q: "Does the Englishman go into the country to see the fields?" A: "He does not wish to go into the country to see the fields, but in order to see the forests, the birds, the water, and to drink tea."  Q: "Does the son of the nobleman wish to go anywither?" A: "He does not wish to go anywither; he is tired."  Q: "Whither does the son of the bailiff wish to carry corn?" And here I'll stop and won't provide the answer to the last question, to keep you in suspense.

But I rise to the defense of Adler! True, I realize in retrospect, my implicit recommendation should have come with the caveat that some will be put off by such mid-nineteenth-century language (though I've always liked "four score and seven years ago," and though my wife is currently thoroughly enjoying Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Adler's contemporary and acquaintance). And I wouldn't dare recommend Adler to a high-schooler.

But for a self-motivated adult autodidact, I would say, first, A Practical Grammar is the most effectively reinforcing grammar I know of. If you think about the exercise sequence I just quoted, it is easy to see the grammatical elements it is designed to reinforce (to the point of twisting the English in ways that must have amused Adler too). It's a "practical" grammar and it progresses slowly and methodically, but there's no dumbing down, and after ninety-six chapters you will have absorbed most of the finer points of a reference grammar. The key really is the mutually reinforcing and simultaneous progress of grammatical knowledge and speaking ability, using simple and every-day language. This approach is unique to my knowledge.

That's Adler by itself. But what is there out there to beat Adler + Millner? And for FREE! For more, see Alex Sheremet's review of Adler.

One final point. Thanks to modern technology and a realizable goal of digitizing every book that's ever been published and is still extant, an inestimable wealth of books from earlier centuries is rapidly becoming available to us. If you reject Adler as too antiquated, are you not inferentially rejecting a good deal of this new treasure? I find it liberating not to be reliant solely on contemporary publications and approaches.

But I must now go thither to the forest to drink tea (with my iPod).


Reading Greek (Cambridge) and Athenaze (Oxford)

At the time I wrote the original post, I was about one-third through each of these programs. I have now completed both and only want to reiterate, wow! I can't say enough good things about both, and I recommend both, not one versus the other.

Autodidact, do not let Oxford University Press deprive you of their own wonderful creation. Get through to the owner of the Athenaze series in the marketing department, convince her/him that you are an independent and adult learner, and get them to sell you the Teachers Handbooks and audio CD.

Learn to Read Greek, Yale University Press, by Andrew Keller and Stephanie Russell

Part I of  Learn to Read Greek (LTRG) has just been published (August, 2011). This is Andrew Keller and Stephanie Russell's twin sibling to their Learn to Read Latin (LTRL - see above under Latin). Drew Keller tells me the number of readings "dwarfs" LTRL, and so the authors and publisher have split LTRG into two parts, with two ("pretty big") corresponding workbooks. Part II is expected by December. No Answer Keys yet, but these are in the works.

The authors makes no bones about the approach of either LTRL or LTRG. The Yale Press site states: "Like its Latin predecessor, [LTRG] has a grammar-based approach and is intended for students who have a serious interest in learning the language." Since I've just finished Reading Greek and Athenaze, I'm not myself in need of another grammar at the moment. But I strongly suspect LTRG is going to become my intermediate-stage Greek reader, and based on the value I am getting from the Vocabulary Notes alone in LTRL, I eagerly anticipate dipping into other parts of LTRG as well.

Greek, à la français

In the original post, I observed that for ancient Greek there didn't seem to be a resource equivalent to Adler + Miller, that is, a resource providing extended listening as you learn (the audio CDs that come with Reading Greek and Athenaze are good, but they only cover the early chapters of their respective books). Thanks to Rob McConeghy of the Latin Best Practices site for calling my attention to French Assimil - La méthode intuitive - Le Grec ancien and to Christophe Rico's Pólis - parler le grec ancien comme une langue vivante, both designed around extensive listening (via CDs that can be purchased with the books).

The audio for Le Grec ancien is 100% Greek, reading from Greek text in the book, similarly for Pólis except for a smattering of French, so in theory you could get some value from the recordings even without knowing French. For myself, I'm using these resources to dust off my French (as I have been using the Italian Athenaze for my Italian) as well as to further my Greek. For those interested, here follows a lengthier description of each work, to assist you in a "buy/no buy" decision.

Le Grec ancien

Le Grec ancien is the ancient Greek entry in the "Assimil - La méthode intuitive" series of language "sans peine" books. (I recoil at vendors' claims to have a method that makes learning a language, especially an ancient language, easy. Anyone who believes that is a fool.) Be sure to purchase the 4-CD package (the coffret de 4CD or enregistrements) along with the book.

The book is not a school textbook and is explicitly intended for autodidacts. It is a grammar book, but as a méthode intuitive, it treats the first 49 of its 101 lessons as "passive," the remainder as "active." In the "passive" first half, you are encouraged to concentrate not on memorizing grammar but, through repetitive listening and reading aloud, to immerse yourself in a feeling for the language.

The book is furthermore intended for autodidacts with only so much time in the day, and it recommends a very precise regime. It estimates each lesson should take about 30 minutes (slightly underestimated in my case because of my French). Every six lessons are followed by a seventh Review lesson, so it's designed to do one section a week. Each of the six lessons consists of (1) a handful of Greek sentences, with translations; (2) grammatical information conveyed in footnotes to the sentences, rather than in separate discussions; (3) a handful of fill-in-the-blank exercises, with answers provided; (4) the base vocabulary from the lesson listed out; and, in some of the lessons, (5) a literate and amusing essay on interesting etymologies (very well done). The Review lessons contain a fuller discussion of the grammar, plus exercises. A grammatical appendix has the usual tables of declensions and conjugations.

The sentences in the lessons do not constitute a continuous narrative, but loosely follow a group of characters through their daily visits to school, the palaestra, the barbershop, a banquet, etc.

The book doesn't claim to be an exhaustive treatment. In its own words, it is aimed to satisfy the curious (what my original post non-pejoratively calls a Dabbler) and for the more serious autodidact to provide a solid foundation from which to proceed.

There are a number of things I particularly like about Le Grec ancien. First, I like the physical book itself. It is a paperback, but with a laminate cover and sewn binding that give it both flexibility and durability. Despite being 688 pages, it is so compact you can easily grip it and wave it around in one hand, and it would fit into a purse. In other words, it's portable. I enjoy the goofy cartoon in each lesson, illustrating a phrase or sentence from the lesson, which lends the book a fun, non-stuffy tone. Each lesson is given a Greek title, and the sequential lesson number as well as the page numbers are rendered in Greek - something you'd think would be standard in language books. The introduction gives a guide to the restored classical pronunciation and provides a simple IPA-like representation of pronunciation and accent. This representation is used to give the pronunciation of each sentence in the lessons, so every assist is made to get you reading out loud and with "correct" pronunciation. In short, in every respect Le Grec ancien is très élégant.

And speaking of pronunciation, finally, there are the recordings. The lesson and exercise sentences (and only that) are read for all 101 lessons, at a nice moderate pace and with exquisite precision.


Pólis - parler le grec ancien comme une langue vivante is the relatively recent (2009) work of Christophe Rico, a Frenchman and professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. What's currently available is a relatively slim book with a single accompanying CD, and it is far short of a comprehensive introduction to ancient Greek. Rob McConeghy tells me follow-up volumes are intended, and there's a possible English version in the works, once a succeeding volume or so comes out in French.

I haven't gone through Pólis thoroughly yet, but can point out three pertinent things:

  1. Pólis is an introduction specifically and exclusively to Koine (the language of, among other things, the New Testament), more specifically, to Koine from the first century AD
  2. The instructional method is based on the principle that you should learn Koine (or any other ancient language) as a "living language," as you can see from the subtitle. The lessons are organized around conversations between a teacher (Rico) and pupils. You can read about the "Pólis method," in English, on the Pólis web site
  3. According to Rico, while the Greek text used is in terms of style and vocabulary mostly from the first century AD, the pronunciation used on the recordings is that of Koine in the first century BC (if you've listened to any Erasmian or restored classical pronunciation, you'll immediately think you're hearing something more akin to modern Greek)

In my first post I said the Greek part of this blog is primarily dedicated to resources for learning classical-era Greek, i.e., Attic Greek from the 5th - 4th centuries. Because "ancient Greek" covers more or less a millennium of different dialects and styles and types of writing, the autodidact does need to make some choices based on what her primary interests are. Pólis will be of special interest if your interest is primarily Koine, which for most people means biblical Greek. For those who intend to read classical authors too (and here I use "classical" loosely to include Homer on down), I would like to comment on Rico's stated reasons in his Preface for why he chose Koine.

Rico reasons as follows. The normal way of introducing students to ancient Greek is through an indiscriminate mix of periods and dialects. This is confusing for the student, and so one should pick a specific period and style to begin with. And why should that be 5th - 4th century Attic, especially when that period and style is only represented by about a dozen authors of importance, and that body of work represents less than 5% of extant ancient Greek? By contrast, over 90% of the corpus of antiquity is Koine. Koine is also a better choice for beginners because its grammar is much simpler, and from that foundation the student can easily do the additional learning necessary to read other periods and dialects ("Une fois le koinè maîtrisé, il est facile d'opérer certains transferts de connaissances pour parvenir à lire des textes écrits en attique ou ionien").

I happen to disagree with every step in this reasoning. Granted, if the goal is to learn to truly and comfortably speak ancient Greek, then focus on a single period and dialect, and in particular the simpler Koine, makes sense. But if you intend to read from the classical authors, you're going to have to know its, yes, much more complex grammar anyway, and I suspect it's easier to go from classical to Koine than vice-versa. I just finished Athenaze. While grounded in Attic, Athenaze does an excellent job of introducing you to the distinguishing characteristics of Herodotean (Ionian) and Homeric Greek. Its readings give you a taste of Hesiod, the Greek Lyric Poets (several dialects), etc. Finally, almost every chapter provides a reading from the New Testament. This isn't presented as an indiscriminate mix, and I feel well prepared to make the additional preparations required for some of these other dialects. I certainly didn't struggle with the New Testament readings. (And I must say I find Rico's relegation of Plato, Xenophon, Thucydides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Lysias, Demosthenes, and Isocrates to a mere 5% of the ancient corpus to be, well, shall I say risible?)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Teaching Yourself Latin and Greek

In college too many decades ago, I was a classics and ancient history Ph,D. candidate. I did not stay in the field and did not keep up with the languages. But a little more than a year ago, beginning to plan for retirement, I decided to resurrect my Greek and Latin. I have been pretty successful, teaching myself. So drawing on this experience, I would like to provide some useful facts, opinions, and recommended resources for an English-speaking person trying to decide how to learn or relearn classical Latin or Greek outside the school or university system.

Three caveats:

First, if you have no experience whatsoever with a highly inflected language, or don't know what "highly inflected" means, you should seriously consider having a teacher rather than relying entirely on self-learning. In any case, read "Latin by the Dowling Method" (see reference below) and see what you think.

Second, I am well aware there are many books and resources besides those I mention. The ones I mention seem to be among the most popular ones, but they are by no means the only ones.

Third, in my experience, I can divide folks who want to teach themselves Latin or Greek into three types I will call Dabbler, Serious, and Intense. Serious wants to have a foundation in the language as a means of understanding the culture. Serious wants to be able to read quotations as well as selections from a limited number of authors, perhaps largely in bilingual editions. Intense intends to read entire works in a reasonable amount of time, with minimal need for translation and student edition crutches. There's nothing wrong with dabbling; I dabble in a lot of things myself. But this blog is for Serious and Intense (I classify myself as Intense).

The most important resource is free

Latin or Greek, Serious or Intense, there is one indispensable resource: PATIENCE. Other than keep-you-motivated quotes from classical authors or the New Testament, you're not going to be reading unadapted Homer or Plato, Cicero or Ovid, in six months. And, especially if you are Intense, decide right now you don't want to be reading them in six months. Read on.

Two fundamentally different approaches

In resurrecting my Latin, I came to know of two fundamentally different approaches. As manifested in actual textbooks and resources, the difference isn't always hard and fast. Probably not all textbook authors make the distinction or are even aware of it, and I'm sure some teaching professionals find it a false or simplistic one, but nevertheless I find the difference profound. We can call these the grammar-first approach and the natural-language approach.

The names are self-descriptive. In the grammar-first approach, you learn the grammar first, while staying motivated via etymological tidbits and quotes from classical authors. You follow that with guided readings, that is, selections from ancient authors generously glossed with word definitions and explanations of grammar, idioms, and context. After that, it is assumed you can "read" the language.

The emphasis in the natural-language approach is to first learn to speak and read (and to some degree write) Latin or Greek as the everyday languages they were. This is not a function purely of grammar. It's more like if you were going on a year's assignment to Poland and decided to learn Polish. You would probably buy a grammar and a phrase book, but you would also learn by watching Polish TV, listening to the radio, picking up on idioms, mimicking, evolving your ability to pronounce "correctly," and reading everyday prose. At the end of your assignment, you might feel confident enough in your Polish to read and appreciate some recognized classics of Polish poetry or prose.

Going back to what I said about patience, what you want after six months of Latin or Greek is to be well on your way to a bottoms-up natural feeling for the language, a confidence that with continued effort you could read the daily Athenian or Roman newspaper and converse with the sausage seller. For example, with respect to reading, you won't have to look up every third word in the dictionary and that - Latin and Greek are highly inflected languages where word position does not determine meaning - every sentence won't feel like a jigsaw puzzle. Read on.



So let me start with Latin. The epitome of grammar-first is Wheelock's Latin, by Frederick M. Wheelock, revised by Richard A. LaFleur, available since 2005 in its sixth edition and also now in a Kindle version. (As i write this in May, 2011, I see a seventh edition scheduled for availability in June.) Wheelock's Latin gives all the foundational elements of Latin grammar in forty compact chapters. Each chapter contains one or more elements of grammar plus a vocabulary list, example sentences, brief quotes from classical authors, and Latin-to-English etymological tidbits. The example sentences are not translated, but an appendix has self-tutorial exercises for each chapter and answer keys to these exercises. In this approach, you learn the grammar first, while staying motivated by the tidbits and quotes, then follow up with guided readings from Latin authors, for example, using Wheelock's Latin Reader. (There is also a Workbook for Wheelock's Latin, which I am not familiar with.)

The sixth edition of Wheelock explicitly caters to independent study as well as to the classroom. For Serious, I think it works fine, and being in its sixth edition, it clearly has worked for many others, not just Serious. In my quest to resurrect my Latin, I started with Wheelock.

Adler, Millner/LATINUM, Ørberg

However, for Intense, I soon became aware of the natural-language approach, which in my experience yields superior, I would say far superior, results, provided you have the patience. This approach is sometimes also referred to as the immersion method, as it is similar to the immersion methods often used in learning a contemporary language. The particular method I followed I dub "Adler + Millner + Ørberg." I got my direction here from Alex Sheremet's customer review of Wheelock's Latin on Amazon and an online essay Sheremet cites by Rutgers professor William Dowling, Latin by the Dowling Method. Dowling had me with his first sentence: "The problem about Latin is that you can study it for six years and still not be able to read a Latin sentence." As a one-time Ph.D. candidate who passed all his language exams with flying colors, this brought back the gnawing guilt I felt at the time that Latin seemed to me more like a puzzle to be solved than a "real" language.

Read Sheremet and Dowling. They explain the problem better than I could. The point is to learn Latin (and Greek) as a natural and living language, not as an exercise in grammar. For my part, let me describe what "Adler + Millner + Ørberg" is.

Adler refers to an 1858 Latin grammar by George J. Adler, available digitally and in print, called A Practical Grammar of the Latin Language: With Perpetual Exercises in Speaking and Writing (1858). Notice "perpetual." Notice "speaking." In ninety-seven chapters (remember, patience!), it covers grammar as thoroughly as any book I know, far beyond foundational. But you get there in parallel with graduated ("perpetual") exercises in speaking and writing "everyday" Latin, question and answer pairs to be translated into, and spoken aloud, in Latin. (Adler provided Latin translations for the exercise questions and answers in a separate volume, A Key to the Exercises Contained in Adler's Practical Grammar of the Latin Language.) "Have we any more hay?" "We have some more." Can you say "any more" in Latin? "Some more"? Without having to think about it? The point is to learn the language first, rather than leaping from grammar directly to the high art of a Vergil or Cicero or Horace, writers who, as my graduate school Latin professor put it, manipulated the language like a late Beethoven string quartet.

The Latin content in each Adler chapter includes forms and vocabulary that haven't been covered yet but whose meaning can be induced from the context and from knowledge of cognates and similar forms. This method of inductive learning is employed to one degree or another by all the natural-language or immersion approaches.

Speaking? Here's the cool part. Evan Millner has put all ninety-seven chapters of Adler in his LATINUM podcast: grammar exposition, grammar drills, exercise sentences (that is, their Latin translations from Adler's Key). It took me about a year to get through the ninety-seven chapters, reading each, listening to the podcast, frequently hitting the pause button to repeat the Latin out loud, but believe me, at the end of the year Latin for me was a living language, not a grammatical puzzle. Not to mention I could achieve this while on my exercise bike. Check out LATINUM for many other valuable resources, and if you believe in the humanities, make a donation.

As I worked through Adler + Millner, I read Ørberg. Ørberg refers to Hans Ørberg's Lingua Latina. Lingua Latina comes in two halves: Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata: Pars I Familia Romana is the foundational Latin; Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata: Pars 2 Roma Aeterna is the reader. (English-speakers, you want the Focus edition of Lingua Latina, which you'll find on Amazon or directly from Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Company.)

You will search in vain for any non-Latin word in Lingua Latina (except for the title page and back cover of the Focus edition). Immersion. There's no preface; you dive in with the first sentence of the first chapter of Familia Romana, "Roma in Italia est." On that simple linguistic, historical, and geographical foundation, there follows thirty-five chapters of delightful, often wry stories about a family from Tusculum in the second century CE, stories that in my opinion rise to the level of art. All-Latin marginal notes and illustrations (per se illustrata) greatly assist comprehension. At the end of each chapter is a Grammatica Latina section, in which all grammatical terms are likewise in Latin. (Focus publishes various ancillary materials in the Ørberg Series, including a handy thirty-two page paperback all-Latin compendium of declensions and conjugations, Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata: Grammatica Latina. There are also CD's that are probably to be recommended, but I'm not familiar with them.)

The sophistication of the Latin and your Latin reading skill progressively build as you work your way through the fictional stories about Julius, Aemilia, and their family. The only quotes from classical authors are brief selections from Ovid and Catullus, recited in a later chapter by family and guests at a family-hosted convivium. The chapters present related vocabulary about a given subject (farming, animals, army life, the Roman calendar, etc.) together, in connected prose. This is far more effective than vocabulary lists of unrelated words as a means of building your lexicon. Your vocabulary at the end of Familia Romana is much richer than at the end of, for example, Wheelock's Latin.

In sum, obviously you need to learn Latin grammar in order to read Latin. You can learn grammar first, as an exercise largely unto itself, or in the process of learning to speak and read the everyday language. Dowling points out the danger in the grammar-first approach - not the inevitability, but the danger - i.e., that at the end you still can't comfortably read a sentence of Latin! I guess the danger of the natural-language approach is, you're itching to read Cicero and Ovid and you lose patience.

Latin, Intermediate Level

One way or the other, you'll learn the grammar and want to begin reading the ancient authors. And one way or the other, you'll need to go through an intermediate stage before confronting Latin in its full nakedness, say in a Teubner or Oxford Classical Text edition. Of course there are numerous contemporary textbooks for doing this, not to mention the proliferation of reprints of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century student editions. I read Ørberg's Roma Aeterna and Wheelock's Latin Reader in their entirety and recommend both.

Roma Aeterna provides the dual benefits of solidifying your Latin while teaching you Roman history. The first chapter is Ørberg's walking tour of the ancient buildings and monuments of the eternal city through the reign of Antoninus Pius. The remaining chapters are slightly adapted selections from Vergil, Livy, Sallust, Cicero, and others that cover the history in chronological order from the mythical foundations through the fall of the Republic. (The Vergil is mostly prose versions of the verse.) Each chapter concludes with all-Latin, mostly fill-in-the-blank exercises to reinforce specific points of grammar. I am not aware of any keys to the exercises, but they are pretty easy, and if you're not able to answer them with confidence, you've probably gotten too far ahead of yourself. To beat the immersion metaphor to death, by the end of Familia Romana and Roma Aeterna, you're swimming in the deep end of the pool.

(For some reason Roma Aeterna, unlike Familia Romana, doesn't contain an index to the vocabulary. You'll want to get from Focus Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata: Indices, which indexes the vocabulary for both volumes.)

Hans Ørberg passed away in February, 2010, almost to the day when I began Familia Romana. I am very sad I cannot email my eternal gratitude to this great and warmhearted humanist.

Wheelock's Latin Reader contains mostly unadapted selections from Cicero, Livy, Ovid, Pliny the Younger, and, what I especially like, some Vulgate and Medieval Latin. It is in the format of Latin on the right page, concise English-language guidance on the left. It would have been nice if the Vocabulary in the back was indexed to at least the first occurrence of each word. And one pet peeve I have is the asterisking of words in the Vocabulary that occur "five or more times in the book" because such words "should be memorized." Doesn't memorize mean learn? So I shouldn't learn, for example, oleum (olive oil) or operor (to work, labor), and not have to look them up again and again? There is no shortcut to learning a language. Can we please not dumb it down.

Latin Dictionaries and Reference Grammars

Though in theory not necessary while working through the introductory and intermediate texts, which have their own vocabularies, you'll probably want a dictionary. Cassell's Latin Dictionary: Latin-English English-Latin is excellent and reasonably priced. Save the $300-ish Oxford Latin Dictionary for when you are both rich and Intense Intense (Oxford Latin Dictionary replaces Lewis and Short for classical era Latin, if you go back in the day)!

Similarly, the appendices in any introductory text provide templates for all the declensions and conjugations, but eventually, if you're somewhere between Serious and Intense, you'll want a full reference grammar that covers the nuances of syntax much more comprehensively than an introductory text. Adler, while not a reference grammar, is excellent for this. In addition, many of the early twentieth-century reference grammar classics are, well, classics, and available in a number of reprints. The most thorough Latin reference grammar I know is Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar (1898/1903). I also use Charles E. Bennett's more concise New Latin Grammar (1895/1908/1918). (One advantage of having these is that many of the reprinted late nineteenth and early twentieth century student editions cite them. Except for Adler, I'm not providing links to the reprints, because there are many of them and I don't want to vouch for their quality.)


And now to Greek. Let me repeat my caveat that the resources I am about to cite, while seemingly the most widely used, are by no means the only ones. Also, some of the resources I will cite have serious drawbacks for self-study.

"Ancient Greek" covers a millennium's worth of styles and dialects, from Homer to Hellenistic and biblical Koine and beyond. Most introductions, and the ones I discuss, are for classical Athenian Greek of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. I don't cover specialized introductions to Homer, Koine, non-Attic lyric poets, inscriptions, etc.

Greek on the computer; accentuation; pronunciation

As a student in the classroom or as an autodidact, you'll want to type in ancient Greek (i.e., polytonic Greek, meaning with appropriate diacritics). Go to the American Philological Association's GreekKeys site, purchase a license for GreekKeys 2008 (2008 is the current, Unicode-enabled, Mac- and Windows XP/7-compatible version). It takes a little practice to learn the right key combination to get the desired combination of diacritics, but it's really cool (the natural-language method doesn't require writing on parchment or papyrus!).

Along with the different alphabet, accents are in fact one of the initial hurdles in learning ancient Greek. The introductory texts give you all the rules you need and perhaps will ever need. But Intense will at some point want to read Philomen Probert's A New Short Guide to the Accentuation of Ancient Greek, which is a scholarly work but also has exercises (with answer keys).

As an autodidact, you'll need to make a decision about which pronunciation to follow. The three primary choices are modern Greek, Erasmian, or classical Athenian as restored by contemporary scholarship. If you choose restored, you then have to decide whether to attempt pitch accents (classical-era Greeks spoke with pitch accents, but that is very difficult for most English speakers) or to accept the compromise of restored pronunciation but stress accents. You can imagine this becomes a hairy scholarly and pedagogical subject. Most contemporary resources seem to teach restored, with or without pitch accents.

Whatever your choice of pronunciation, or to help you with your choice, get Stephen G. Daitz's audio CD, The Pronunciation and Reading of Ancient Greek, from Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, as well as a separate disc, The Living Voice of Greek and Latin Literature: PDFs For All Recordings. (My order from Bolchazy got mixed up, and by the time it was resolved, I'm not sure how I ended up with the PDF disc, but the audio CD works off material in the PDF, so be sure to get both. The PDF contains the text for all the readings in the Bolchazy-Carducci The Living Voice recordings, including the entire Iliad and Odyssey. You'll want Daitz even if you get other resource-specific audio CD's like those mentioned below.)

Crosby & Schaeffer

The distinction between the grammar-first and natural-language, or immersion, approaches applies to ancient Greek as well as Latin. An Introduction to Greek by Henry Lamar Crosby & John Nevin Schaeffer (popularly known as Crosby & Schaeffer) enshrines the grammar-first approach for Greek. This 1928 classic is available on Amazon in a 2009 unabridged reprint from Dover. It is also available from Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, evidently with a "New Introduction" and "An Appreciation" added (I was unaware of the Bolchazy edition and bought the Dover reprint). The approach is virtually identical to Wheelock, or maybe I should say the Wheelock approach is virtually identical to Crosby & Schaeffer. Not counting review chapters, Crosby & Schaeffer packs foundational grammar into sixty incredibly concise chapters (each headed by an equally brief keep-you-motivated quote), along with limited vocabulary (primarily to prepare you to read Xenophon, as many older Latin school textbooks aimed at preparing schoolboys to read Caesar) and a limited number of Greek-to-English and English-to-Greek translation exercises. (The pronunciation guidelines in the Introduction would be considered Erasmian.)

There are no "officially" published keys to the exercises in Crosby & Schaeffer that I am aware of. This and its brevity of exposition seriously limit its value for the autodidact. It was the textbook used when I first learned Greek in college, so partly out of nostalgia and partly out of the multiple-warhead approach I have chosen to relearn Greek, I am using it along with what follows. For most self-learners, though, it's not going to suffice, especially if you're teaching yourself Greek from scratch.

Just as seriously, in my opinion, at least for Intense, Crosby & Schaeffer suffers the same drawbacks of the grammar-first approach discussed above for Latin. Fortunately, there are two outstanding contemporary realizations of the natural-language, or immersion, approach, though one is near fatally flawed for self-learning purposes.

Reading Greek/Cambridge and Athenaze/OUP

I refer to the Reading Greek series by the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (JACT), published by Cambridge University Press, and the Athenaze series by Maurice Balme and Gilbert Lawall, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). Like Familia Romana, these two Greek series teach grammar in conjunction with immediate immersion in stories about a fictional family. In fact, in both series the fictional lead character is Dikaiopolis, a character borrowed from Aristophanes's The Acharnians. The setting is the beginning of the Peloponnesian war. Woven into the story line about Dikaiopolis are threads from Greek mythology, Homer, and Greek and Attic history, threads that gradually include mildly adapted content from classical authors. Both series are handsomely packaged and rich with illustrations of ancient art and architecture and with excellent essays on Greek and Attic history and life.

(Readers beware! The stories in Reading Greek and Athenaze have a dark side to them absent in Familia Romana. Maybe it's the difference between the era of the Pax Romana in which Julius and his family live in the Familia Romana and the turbulent times in Attica at the outset of the Peloponnesian war.)

Both series are in their second editions and require the purchase of multiple volumes. At least on Amazon, there are some leftovers from the first editions, so be very careful for any volume in either series to order the second edition. (Reading Greek was first published in 1978, the second edition in 2007. Athenaze was first published in the early 1990's, the second edition in 2003.)

Reading Greek

JACT requires the following three volumes:
  1. Reading Greek: Text and Vocabulary
  2. Reading Greek: Grammar and Exercises
  3. Reading Greek: An Independent Study Guide
Strictly speaking, it requires the first two volumes. The Independent Study Guide is for the self-learner. JACT explicitly caters to self-learners as well as classrooms. The study guide gives translations of the exercises in Text and Vocabulary and keys to the exercises in Grammar and Exercises.

A criticism of Reading Greek, one I regard as trivial, is that you have to switch back and forth between the volumes when you study.

In addition, you'll want the Reading Greek 2-disc audio CD, which contains an introduction to the restored pronunciation and entertainingly dramatized readings from many of the chapters.

Finally, I would recommend the companion, The World of Athens: An Introduction to Classical Athenian Culture, thought it is not required for language learning and though it is excerpted throughout the textbooks.

Without qualification, I have found Reading Greek a perfect self-learning vehicle for learning or relearning ancient Greek.


Since Athenaze is almost identical in concept and production, I would like to make the same unqualified recommendation for it. Unfortunately, I can't. Unlike its Cambridge brethren, OUP does not cater to the self-learner. In fact, it seems this is intentional. But read on.

To pursue Athenaze on your own, you need the following volumes (Athenaze distributes its thirty chapters over two books, so you wouldn't have to get the second books immediately):
  • Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Book I
  • Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Book II
  • Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Workbook I
  • Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Workbook II
  • Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Teacher's Handbook I
  • Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Teacher's Handbook II
  • An Audio CD to accompany Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek
Unfortunately, OUP only makes the teacher's handbooks and audio CD available to teachers and institutions purchasing the set for classroom teaching. They have confirmed this is their policy, for example, in correspondence to me from their Marketing department: "For obvious reasons we do restrict distribution of any text that provides the solutions or answers to the problems in the student books. I understand that this leaves the self-taught student in a difficult position." Actually, the reasons are not obvious to me, especially since it doesn't seem to trouble JACT, but that's OUP's policy.

For the record, I was ultimately able to persuade the publisher to sell me the teacher's handbooks and the audio CD, but it was an ordeal, and you should assume you wouldn't be as lucky. The teacher's handbooks indeed are not just the translations and exercise keys; they are full of suggested teaching techniques and so in fact addressed to teachers and not students. Unfortunately, as a self-learner, I am both the teacher and the student. And the handbooks are the only source with keys to the exercises in the main books. (It's shortsighted to try to learn a language without doing exercises and without checking your answers. I continually amaze myself at how stupid, or careless, I can be.)

The Introduction to Ancient Greek Books I and II contain the stories plus grammar and exercises. As I've said, only the teacher's handbooks have the story translations and exercise keys. The complementary Workbooks I and II provide additional exercises for each chapter, with an answer key included. And no audio guidance. So it's a mixed bag. (The Reading Greek 2-CD set sweeps the Academy Awards for best performance by male and female leading and supporting actors, best sound and dramatic effects, and best documentary explaining the restored pronunciation. But the Athenaze CD serves its purpose; I especially like that it sticks with the pitch accent throughout its readings and does so at a pace you can follow and practice.)

The Italian Athenaze

If you browse around, you'll undoubtedly find references to an Italian edition of Athenaze, by Luigi Miraglia and T. F. Bórri: Athenaze: Introduzione al greco antico. You can get more information from the publishing arm of the Accademia Vivarium Novum. Miraglia took the first edition of the English-language Athenaze and Ørberg-ized it (my vulgar term, his acknowledgment): He and his co-authors added stories (without disrupting the Dikaiopolis plot line) along with Lingua Latina-like marginal notes (all in Greek, of course) and illustrations, with the pedagogical goal of learning vocabulary and grammar more by contextual induction, less by native-language glosses. In a virtuous circle, the second edition of the English Athenaze in turn acknowledges "inspiration" from Miraglia.

The Vivarium Novum web site claims a teacher's guide is in the works (Guida per i docenti), but it seems it's been in the works for over ten years. In lieu of the guide itself, the site provides Miraglia's sketch for a guide. It makes for interesting reading. Despite a classical education many of us would be jealous of, Miraglia gives autobiographical witness to what Dowling warns of: After years of diligent memorization of grammar, after many guided readings, confronted with the simplest sentence, without the aid of translation or glosses, you still have to "sweat seven shirts" and frantically consult the dictionary just to elicit a plausible "deciphering" of the sentence's meaning.

Like the English editions, the Italian Athenaze distributes its chapters over two books, Athènaze A (I) and Athènaze B (II). Each has a companion volume of additional exercises, written by Carmelo Cònsoli, Meletèmata A (I) and Meletèmata B (II). For the sixteen chapters of Athènaze A, Alessandro Barbone has provided yet more supplemental exercises, Quaderno d'esercizi (cap. I-VIII) and Quaderno d'esercizi (cap. IX-XVI). And as supplemental reading to chapters twenty and beyond, Alessandro Barbone and T. F. Bórri have added an edition of The Tablet of Cebes (La Tavola di Cebète), an allegorical work passed down in the tradition as being the work of Cebes of Thebes, a pupil of Socrates.

The Italian Athenaze has no exercise keys. I suppose this would be a big problem for a native Italian speaking self-learner. For my purposes, especially since I am also brushing up on my Italian, I use the Italian edition as a fun and useful supplement, to aid my Italian as well as my Greek. As with Lingua Latina, I find the all-Greek marginal notes and illustrations a big help in learning the Greek vocabulary.

If you live outside Italy, getting the Italian Athenaze is not necessarily easy. The Vivarium Novum web site is an eye feast and very informative (you can click on each book, enlarge the display, and leaf through its pages). But the shopping cart checkout is broken (as they acknowledged to me) and in any case only takes bank transfers, not credit cards. The only way you can hope to reach them is by phone. A well-meaning young man there tried his best to help me, but they just don't have the logistics to handle overseas orders. You can get the books through other Italian online sellers, once you struggle through trying to create a profile with a U.S. address. I got the books from

(By the way, if you're teaching yourself Italian, I highly recommend La Lingua Italiana per stranieri: Corso Elementare ed Intermedio, by Katerin Katerinov and M. C. Borioso Katerinov. [For the exercise key, La Lingua Italiana per stranieri: Chiave degli esercizi e dei test, and for the corso medio and corso superiore volumes in this series, you'll have to shop around on Italian web sites.] The book is an exemplar of the immersion method: Each chapter starts with a dialog, then grammar, without a single non-Italian word. Caveat: While still available, the publication is from 1985, so the content feels a little dated.)

So back to the English editions. Do I recommend Reading Greek or Athenaze? In my opinion, as an autodidact, you would do equally well with either, if, for Athenaze, you could get the teacher's handbooks and audio CD. If you have the patience and enjoy the readings as much as I do, you'll do even better working through both.

Speaking ancient Greek

Speaking is such an important part of acquiring a natural feeling for the language. So is there an Adler + Millner for Greek? Adler's A Practical Grammar of the Latin Language (1858) is said to follow the approach of a nineteenth-century German grammarian, Heinrich Gottfried Ollendorff (see the Wikipedia articles on Adler and Ollendorff). This approach is grounded in the verbal repetition of a progressively or perpetually growing repertoire of phrases and idioms. There is an 1852 Greek Ollendorff; being a Progressive Exhibition of the Principles of the Greek Grammar: Designed for Beginners in Greek, and as a Book of Exercises for Academies and Colleges, by an Asahel C. Kendrick, available digitally and in reprint. And indeed the same Evan Millner at least started a podcast of Kendrick's Greek Ollendorff in early 2010, as did a David Clark. (Millner's podcast also uses an 1856 work A New Practical and Easy Method of Learning the Greek Language after the System of F. Ahn). However, it appears these efforts stalled quickly. There seems to still be missing a good tool equivalent to LATINUM for learning to speak Ancient Greek.

(Kendrick's Greek Ollendorff, unlike Adler, is not a grammar. Strictly speaking, according to Kendrick's preface, it is intended to "precede the use of any Grammar." I'm also not aware of a key to the Greek Ollendorff exercises. But Kendrick's Greek Ollendorff has exactly ninety-seven lessons, just like Adler. Is 97 a mystical Ollendorffian number?)

Greek Dictionaries and Reference Grammars

The classic English dictionary for ancient classical-era Greek is the Liddell-Scott-Jones A Greek-English Lexicon, Ninth Edition with a Revised Supplement. (This was originally published in 1843. You may know that Lewis Carroll wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for Henry Liddell's daughter Alice.) So far I have been using the less expensive Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged: Original Edition, republished in larger and clear typeface, a reprint of the 1909 "Little Liddell."

The classic English-language reference grammar is Greek Grammar by Herbert Weir Smyth, originally published in 1920 and available in reprint, popularly known as Smyth.

Online learning

Are there online sites you can use to teach yourself Latin or Greek? I have not made a thorough study of this. It's to be expected that some Web-empowered individuals, some university professors and departments, some classical learning ecosystems and aspiring ecosystems have attempted an online service for learning Latin or Greek. What I've seen, I'm not impressed by, LATINUM excepted. One day maybe someone will find a successful formula. In the current state, if you're not Dabbler but Serious or Intense, my advice is to download Millner's Latin podcasts, then disconnect. Spread the printed or digital or Kindle versions of Adler, Lingua Latina, Reading Greek, and Athenaze out onto your desk - sure, Wheelock's Latin and Crosby & Schaeffer too. Close the door so you can read out loud. Resolve to be patient, get to work, have fun!