James Morwood, Stephen Anderson, A Little Greek Reader. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xvii, 293. ISBN 9780199311729. $19.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Antonia Ruppel, Cornell University (antonia.ruppel)
[A Little Greek Reader is based on Mary C. English and Georgia L. Irby's A Little Latin Reader. (BMCR review at 2012.09.11 (http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-09-11.html) .]
We learn ancient languages so that we may read texts written in them; and for the most part, these texts will be literary: polished, crafted, complex, meant to impress and please their readers, often having survived only because of just those qualities. The obvious result of this is the lack of ancient language materials suitable for beginners, and while textbook authors have for a long time been writing their own practice sentences, the appeal of Caecilius est in horto and its word order will only take us so far.
This pedagogical desideratum has led to introductory textbooks such as Athenaze or JACT’s Reading Greek and Reading Latin, which, rather than relying on example sentences, impart new grammar and vocabulary through continuous stories written by the authors, or Learn to Read Latin and later, Learn to Read Greek, which offers the usual kinds of practice sentence written by the authors themselves, but then adds a large choice of well-annotated original text passages more or less from Chapter 1. The textbooks we have available thus fit a variety of teaching styles, be they motivated by the desire to get through the grammatical material as quickly as possible (at the risk of a rather dry first few weeks or months of instruction), or by the desire to keep the reason why we are learning classical languages right in front of student eyes the entire time (even though that may initially slow things down and result in large and heavy teaching materials: Learn to Read Greek, for example,
comes in four big volumes).
BMCR 2015.05.44 (http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/05/20150544.html) on the BMCR blog