June 28, 2008

Speaking of ancient Greek, this semester I sat in on a class in Greek tragedy. The class comprised me and one actually registered student. We were originally supposed to to do philosophy rather than tragedy, but the one actually registered student said she didn’t like philosophy, so we read Sophocles’ Antigone.

Antigone is really fucking hard.

Really. The syntax is tortuous and the vocabulary is beyond obscure. But we stumbled through, though I suspect the one actually registered student cheated far less often than I by looking at the translation.

But none of this has anything to do with this post. Recall, please, that earlier in the year we got our dog A. a friend, E. Well, E., like many very young puppies, discovered that chewing up paper was the most fun thing ever in the entire world. Given the number of trees’ worth of paper I tend to leave on the floor, you can imagine how much fun she was having. Finally I wised up and put all the paper on shelves, thereby ensuring that it would never be found again, but not before E. had stumbled upon my copy of Antigone. I had two copies, actually; this one was different from the official class edition, and I used it mostly because it had a lot of commentary that didn’t overlap with the official class edition’s commentary.

But the next day, I brought both editions into class, fair bursting with excitement, because for the first time in my life I got to say that the dog had eaten my homework.

Antigone.jpg

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15 Responses to Speaking of ancient Greek, this semester I sat in on a class

  1. Logan says:

    You should have in turn eaten the dog.

  2. Ryan says:

    We had a high school teacher who just gave up trying to teach Antigone and just popped in a film version, which turned out to be this avant garde quasi-pornographic film that she hadn’t previewed. Anyway, I love Antigone.

  3. Paul says:

    Poor Antigone. Gored to death by a mastiff.

  4. ismene says:

    Faustus, which edition is that in the picture? I don’t know a lay-flat one.

  5. Logan: I don’t know, that might have felt a little too Sophoclean for comfort.

    Ryan: Why did she give up? Was the class just not into it?

    Paul: Please. E. could hardly be classified as a mastiff.

    ismene: It’s the Bryn Mawr edition. I don’t love it for tragedy. For Plato it’s fine. I have Herodotus but haven’t started it yet.

  6. Jeffrey says:

    Even in your famed life as world renowned author and one-time go-go boy, the little things still bring you pleasure. How sweet.

  7. Well, you know, if this author-cum-composer thing doesn’t work out, it’ll be good to have something really lucrative to fall back on, like ancient Greek.

  8. Andy says:

    My previous cat Zeba ate part of the orchestral score of Handel’s Lotario that I was trying to piece together into instrumental parts for a class project. We had to cut out all the lines of the score and then reassemble them on blank paper. I had them very carefully ordered, but then got up to use the restroom, and when I came back, Zeba had scattered the entire stack and was maliciously gnawing on a viola part. You may think that’s a sign I should have given up cats, but I gave up reconstructing opera scores, instead.

  9. birdfarm says:

    My dear, dear, friend, I am shocked and saddened. You have shattered all the pedestals on which I had placed you.

    “The class comprised me and one actually registered student.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Remember: the slices comprise the pizza; the pizza is composed of slices.

    Thus, correct alternatives:

    “The class was composed of me and one actually-registered student.”

    “I and one actually-registered student comprised the class.”

    I bet this is one of those comments you won’t publish, and will say cryptically, “Birdfarm, you understand I had to destroy the evidence.”

    I still love you even though I now know you aren’t perfect. My universe is shattered, but it’s the love that keeps us all going, isn’t it. Excuse me while I go drink something.

  10. Andy: What grade did you get on the class project?

    birdfarm: I am desolate to think that you and I should not be in perfect agreement on every particular of life, but I’m afraid I must insist that “comprise” means “include, contain, be composed of.” People often say “comprised of,” which makes no sense, when what they mean is “composed of.”

    I will console myself with the thought that surely this is the only point upon which we disagree.

    P.S.: Yes, you can totally stay with us.

  11. Andy says:

    I’m sure it was an A…I think Will Crutchfield gives everyone A’s, unless you suck REALLY BAD.

  12. birdfarm says:

    In view of your post script, I should just keep my mouth shut, but when have I ever done that?

    I went looking for material to back myself up and prove you wrong. I failed of course.

    My firm belief was that “comprise” could be used only as a synonym for “constitute” (meaning that we would still be in agreement that “comprised of” is nonsense). To be clearer: I thought that “comprise” could be used only as a transitive verb, whose object could only be the whole, i.e., the thing comprised. (Hence, “the slices comprise the pizza;” “I and one other comprised the class”).

    However, I find general consensus that “comprise” can also be used as a synonym for “contain,” as you use it here. In other words, “comprise” may be used as a transitive verb whose objects are the components, rather than the whole. (Hence, “the pizza comprises six slices,” “the class comprised me and one other.”)

    It is annoying to me (1) that the style manual in which I read the pizza example has so grievously misled me, and (2) that the word’s definitions have almost opposite meanings. I mean, what if it were unclear which were the components and which were the whole? How would we know, from this wretchedly ambiguous little word? — although I am unable to think of an example, so perhaps this point is moot.

    Thank you for not finding this material yourself and crushing my fragile ego with it. I am humbled and grateful.

    P.S. Thank you so much! Did you remember to ask E.S. yet?

  13. christian says:

    Antigone… is that the sister f*cker one? You sick pup, lol.

  14. kat says:

    I once had the corner of an essay nibbled off by a bunny rabbit. Feeling quite pleased with myself, I brought it in to show the class, but my teacher screamed “EWWWW, bunny germs!” and made me get rid of it.

    It was so sad.

  15. Jeremy says:

    So the Bryn Mawr commentaries are, I think, totally unhelpful for everything except for maybe Oedipus Tyrannos – you’re probably better off with a Cambridge commentary if there’s one around, or of course there’s always Fraenkel (but who has the death wish)? As for Herodotus, there’s an English translation of Asheri now, which is tip-top, since I think we were told that the previous full commentaries on H. date to the 19th century. (I found that Bryn Mawr’s I had too much dialectal commentary, though again I liked the Cambridge IX.)

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