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76 Reading Passages: Classical

Classical Reading

 

To download this assignment as a pdf, click here: AGE Readings 23.

The Greeks developed the basics of their alphabet by modifying the Phoenician alphabet in the eighth century BCE. In fourth-century BCE Athens, the version of the Greek alphabet that you are reading became standard, and the cultural impact of writing was a hot topic. Plato, at the end of his dialogue called Phaedrus, dramatizes a conversation about writing between Socrates and Phaedrus. Socrates relates a legend from Egypt about the god Ammon wanting to bestow writing to the Egyptians because it improves memory and wisdom. Plato has Socrates critique this claim about the benefits of writing.

 

ΣΩ. Οὐκοῦν ὁ τέχνην οἰόμενος ἐν γράμμασι καταλιπεῖν, καὶ αὖ ὁ παραδεχόμενος ὥς τι σαφὲς καὶ βέβαιον ἐκ γραμμάτων ἐσόμενον, πολλῆς ἂν εὐηθείας γέμοι καὶ τῷ ὄντι τὴν Ἄμμωνος μαντείαν ἀγνοοῖ, πλέον τι οἰόμενος εἶναι λόγους γεγραμμένους τοῦ τὸν εἰδότα ὑπομνῆσαι περὶ ὧν ἂν ᾖ τὰ γεγραμμένα.

ΦΑΙ. Ὀρθότατα.

ΣΩ. Δεινὸν γάρ που, ὦ Φαῖδρε, τοῦτ’ ἔχει γραφή, καὶ ὡς ἀληθῶς ὅμοιον ζωγραφίᾳ. καὶ γὰρ τὰ ἐκείνης ἔκγονα ἕστηκε μὲν ὡς ζῶντα, ἐὰν δ’ ἀνέρῃ τι, σεμνῶς πάνυ σιγᾷ. ταὐτὸν δὲ καὶ οἱ λόγοι· δόξαις μὲν ἂν ὥς τι φρονοῦντας αὐτοὺς λέγειν, ἐὰν δέ τι ἔρῃ τῶν λεγομένων βουλόμενος μαθεῖν, ἕν τι σημαίνει μόνον ταὐτὸν ἀεί. ὅταν δὲ ἅπαξ γραφῇ, κυλινδεῖται μὲν πανταχοῦ πᾶς λόγος ὁμοίως παρὰ τοῖς ἐπαΐουσιν, ὡς δ’ αὕτως παρ’ οἷς οὐδὲν προσήκει, καὶ οὐκ ἐπίσταται λέγειν οἷς δεῖ γε καὶ μή. πλημμελούμενος δὲ, καὶ οὐκ ἐν δίκῃ λοιδορηθεὶς, τοῦ πατρὸς ἀεὶ δεῖται βοηθοῦ· αὐτὸς γὰρ οὔτ’ ἀμύνασθαι οὔτε βοηθῆσαι δυνατὸς αὑτῷ.

ΦΑΙ. Καὶ ταῦτά σοι ὀρθότατα εἴρηται.

Plato Phaedrus 275c-e

 

ἀγνοοῖ ~ ἀγνοεῖ < ἀγνοέω be ignorant of

Ἄμμων –ωνς ὁ Ammon

ἀμύνω ward off

ἄν marks a hypothetical situation

ἀνέρομαι ask

ἅπαξ once, one time

αὖ “on the other hand…”

αὕτως just as it is

βέβαιος –α –ον secure

βοηθός –οῦ ὁ help, assistance

γέμοι ~ γέμει < γέμω be full of

γραφῇ “it is written”

δόξαις “you might think”

ἐάν ~ εἰ

εἴρηται perfect passive for λέγω

ἔκγονος –ον born from, descendant

ἐπαΐω perceive, understand

ἐπίσταμαι perceive, understand

εὐήθεια –ας ἡ simplistic honesty

ζωγραφία –ας ἡ painting

ᾖ ~ ἐστι

καταλείπω leave behind

κυλινδέω roll

λοιδορέω abuse, wrangle

μαντεία –ας ἡ prophecy

οἴομαι think

ὅταν ~ὅτε

τῷ ὄντι “really” “in reality”

οὐκοῦν sets up an expectation to agree

πανταχοῦ everywhere

πάνυ entirely

παραδέχομαι receive

πλέον more, rather

πλημμελέω be out of tune

που somehow

προσήκει “it belongs to”

σεμνός –ή –όν holy, reverent

σημαίνω give a sign

ταὐτόν = τὸ αὐτόν

ὑπομιμνήσκω recall

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Reading Passages: Classical by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.