Sheffield ‘University of the Third Age’ Classical Greek Group (Sheffield U3A Classical Greek Group)
‘’ What is the point of learning Classical Greek? You can’t use it.’’ This encouraging reaction to what I said I was doing now that I had retired took me aback. ‘’So that I can read the writers and thinkers of the Classical Era in their own language,’’ did not dispel my questioner’s scepticism about the value of the pursuit.
Fortunately, there are other Senior Citizens in Sheffield and South Yorkshire who are equally passionate about the language and literature of the Classical Greeks: eleven of us meet fortnightly in the Sheffield U3A Classical Greek group. Roughly half of the group is learning the language from scratch following a GCSE course book. The other half is already very competent in reading and writing in the language. At the moment we are enjoying Herodotus, Histories, Book 1, especially the writer’s occasionally incredulous comments regarding the customs of peoples beyond his own experience as a Greek. Last year we completed reading the whole of Homer’s Iliad, Books 6 & 22. Two members have been sufficiently inspired by Homer to compose their own verse translations of the Odyssey and Iliad Book 22. We have also dipped into Thucydides, Euripides, Sophocles, Xenophon, Plutarch, Aristophanes, Apollodorus, Demosthenes, Lysias, the New Testament. The choice of authors and works is decided by members; we are always willing to try lesser known writers and works, as well as the more popular.
Lest anyone should think that advanced age rules out the use of modern technology, you need to see us in action exploring classical resources on-line – with Ipad, smartphone, notebook or laptop! What a difference from the ‘good old days’ fifty or 60 years ago when dust was likely to settle upon you, as you spent hours consulting dictionaries and grammar books, slowly extracting a translation for your ‘set book’. By contrast, what a pleasure the process is today!
A couple of questions for lovers of Homer: in the Iliad
Did they ever meet?
Coordinator, Sheffield U3A Classical Greek
19 September 2016