A very Greek November

Greek was definately my language of the month in November. First I saw Lysistrata performed by the Actors of Dionysus at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. The play was performed in modern dress and in English. The translation skillfully enabled modern audiences to access the play and enjoy its humour. I took my daughter with me and it was her first introduction to Greek drama. She had agreed to go with me as a favour, expecting something rather dry and old but was pleasantly surprised at how relevant it was to today.

Just over a week later and another Greek play, this time “Clytemnestra” (actually “The Libation Bearers”) at the Oxford Playhouse, performed in Greek. I was most impressed by the musicality of the language. The surtitles were of course an essential accompanyment without which we would not have understood what was going on, but they were unobtrusive. There were times when I just wanted to listen to the Greek and not worry about what it meant. It was amazing that most of the chorus, who were on stage throughout and litterally carried the action, had never studied Greek before, yet here they were speaking it as if they had been doing so all their lives. My husband who accompanied me to this play and who knows no Greek, thoroughly enjoyed it. The roots of our own drama and in particular Shakespeare were clear.

In between the two plays I had a weekend reading Plato in Greek at Madingley Hall. This was a leap from the Intermediate class to the Advanced class for me, not because I had in any way deserved to be promoted but because there were not enough people to run the Intermediate class. Having said that, there was no shortage of Greek students overall, which is extremely encouraging. I had had very little time to prepare, which showed. Every time I come back from one of these classes I resolve to go back to Reading Greek. This time I have done just that – well the Reading part of it anyway. It has been very useful because I have been able to actually read the early texts, rather than work them out laboriously. This has meant that I can see the text as a whole. The intention was to build my vocabulary but it has also had the benefit of giving me confidence, before I embark on the text for next year.

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