Greek 101: Homeric Greek

Policy concerning the use and misuse of translations in Greek 101

Reading Ancient Greek literature in translation when taking a language course is not categorically bad. There are, however, many good reasons not to consult translations to prepare for translation assignments in this course. They include the following:

  1. Presumably you are trying to learn Greek (and to learn to use the tools for learning Greek); you are not just trying to provide translations of Homer's Iliad (there are plenty of good ones). At this stage, consulting published translations for your daily assignments or for studying for a test is unlikely to help you to learn Greek—and should be unnecessary.

  2. Producing translations in class or on exams that you have generated by consulting published translations is, in effect, presenting someone else's work as your own—in other words, a violation of MHC's principles of academic responsibility.

  3. Even writing out your own translations and studying them to prepare for an exam or quiz or recitation in class is not likely to promote the growth of your skills in Greek. Rather it is likely to lead to your memorizing your own translations. It is also the waste of precious time that you could use to reread a passage.

Of course, you will want to read (in English) the Iliad in its entirety as a work of literature, or at least read those passages of the Iliad assigned for discussions. But, unless otherwise instructed, do not consult translations of the passages you are to translate for class—or, for that matter, to prepare for any Greek homework, quizzes, or exams. If you have difficulties, turn to the many tools at your disposal, and ask questions in class or consult me outside of class.