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Should the Teacher of Latin Know Greek?

(The following article is reprinted as it appeared in 1912. Although lengthy, it is asking a question that is still being asked—Should the Teacher of Latin Know Greek? To which we at Greek Too add—Should the Teacher of Latin Teach Greek?)

Bulletin of The University of Texas
no. 225
Four Times a Month
general series 25
April 1, 1912

Should the Teacher of Latin Know Greek?

[The answer of Latin teachers to the question.]
[The value of Greek to the General Student

by George Miller Calhoun, Ph.D.

In the case of the university of college teacher, it may be asserted without hesitation that a knowledge of Greek is indispensable. The finished Latinist must have Greek, whether his specialty be historical grammar, scenic antiquities, the development of oratory, Roman religion, or the Roman house.[i] On the other hand, there is the individual who “teaches” because in another field of endeavor competition would the sooner discover his incompetence, whose classical interests do not stray far beyond the beginners’ book and the Gallic war, to whom the Catilinarian orations are a Great Dismal swamp and Vergil the Ultima Thule of linguistic exploration.[ii] He has certainly not the inclination and probably not the intellect really to learn Latin; for him Greek is admittedly useless, impossible, unattainable. But there is another class of Latin teachers, men and women of intellect and purpose, who have made deliberate and voluntary choice of a profession and a field, who have a genuine sympathy and enthusiasm for the beauties of the language they teach, and who are deeply sensible of the importance of the trust reposed in them. These are the teachers who will ask themselves whether they should know Greek in order to teach Latin, whether they can attain the highest degree of efficiency and usefulness in the one language without a knowledge of the other. That these men and women should ask this question early in their careers and answer it rightly is of grave consequence to the future of the classics, not only in our schools, but also in the universities and colleges.

It may, I think, be taken for granted that no teacher should voluntarily limit his preparation to the language which he is to teach. The study and comparison of several languages are best suited to the produce the habit of careful observation and nice distinction, the keenness and sureness of linguistic perception, the feeling for idiom, and the appreciation of literary form, which are the prerequisites of good scholarship.[iii] Greek more than any other one language cultivates and increases these powers.[iv] It is perhaps the most perfect medium for the expression of ideas that the world has known. In every country and in every age of our civilization, it has stimulated the thought, provided the symbolism, enriched the diction, and prescribed the literary forms, of the great writers. To the English, Romance, or German teacher, a first hand knowledge of the Greek language and literature is tremendously valuable, though not absolutely indispensable. But for the Latinist the case is different.

The necessity of Greek for a proper understanding of Latin is in part determined by the historical relation between the two languages. There are in the Indo-European group tongues which are more closely allied to the Latin than is Greek, for example the Italic dialects. But the specimens of these languages which we possess are at present scarcely sufficient for the circumscribed investigations of the historical grammarian. They are almost without artistic importance, and have little or no bearing upon the literary development of Latin. But in Greek we have thousands of pages of a language so close to the Latin in forms and usage that it furnishes the secondary teacher with ample material for the illustration of the chief facts of historical development, and a literature of superlative excellence in which are found the sources and models of every literary form known to the Romans. Even in the restricted field of morphological and syntactical analysis, Oscan and Umbrian cannot suffice. The student who has not Greek will meet with much to bewilder and confuse. He will find many inflectional forms almost incomprehensible, he will have to take etymologies largely on faith, and for him the literature of historical grammar will be well-nigh a sealed book.[v]

But the understanding of minute points in the historical development of Latin is perhaps of less import to the secondary teacher than is the thorough mastery of the literature which as knowledge of Greek can alone bring within his reach. To comprehend and appreciate the literature of Rome without knowing that of Greece is impossible, for Latin literature as it is known to us had its beginning from Greek sources, its subject matter and forms of composition were borrowed for the most part from the schools of Hellas, and its masterpieces were modeled directly and definitely upon Greek originals. The Latin alphabet came from the Greek cities in Italy. The first name in the history of Roman literature is that of a Greek, Livius Andronicus, and his first production was a translation of the Odyssey into Latin. Q. Fabius Pictor, the first Roman historian, wrote in Greek, fifty years before the Latin annuals of Cassius Hemina were composed. The tragedies and comedies of Naevius, Ennius and Paeuvius, and Aecius were for the most part translations of Greek plays. Plautus, Caecilius, and Terence, the three great masters of comedy, attained success by the presentation of plays which they translated or adapted from the new Attic comedy of Menander, Philemon, and Diphilus.

In the second century, “the conquest of Greece and of the countries in which Greek civilization existed worked a complete transformation in the life and character of the Romans.”[vi] Greek influence became supreme in every branch of literary activity, and from this time on it is almost impossible to find an author or even a single work not dominated by Greek thought, style, and literary form. This is clearly seen in the development of poetry. Lucilius, although he satirized the “Grecomania” of his contemporaries, was familiar with the masterpieces of Greek literature. Lucretius expounded the philosophy of Democritus and Epicurus in his great didactic poem, which shows familiarity with Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Thucydides, Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, and writers of less note. Catullus and the “new school” did little more than reproduce in Latin the words of Greek poets, particularly the Alexandrians. The debt to Greece of the elegists, Gallus, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid, can hardly be overstated. Vergil imitated the Idylls of Theocritus in the Eclogues, and in the Georgics drew freely from many Greek poets, especially Hesiod. The Aeneid shows at every turn the influence which the greatest of all epic poets exercised upon him, and evinces a knowledge of Sophocles, Euripides, and Apolchilochus of Rhodes as well. Horace in the Epodes followed Archilochus, in the Odes Aleaeus, Sappho, and Anacreon, for the most part, and the Ars Poetica was said to have been based upon the work of Neoptolemus of Parium. The debt, even of Martial and Juvenal to Greece was not slight.

In the same way may be traced the influence of Greece on the development of prose. Cato the Elder, although a vigorous opponent of everything Greek, as tradition tells us, learned the language and studied the literature of Greece in his old age. The general trend toward Greek culture was encouraged by the group of brilliant and cultured men who composed the “Scipionic circle.” As early as 164, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus delivered a speech to the Rhodians in Greek. His sons are the first of a long line of brilliant orators who were carefully trained in Greek rhetoric and familiar with the ten orators of the canon. The Greek studies of Stilo, Varro, Cicero, Caesar, the two Senecas, the Plinies, and Quintilian, and the indebtedness to Greek authors of Nepos, Sallust, and Livy, can only be mentioned in passing. In the oratory of Rome, in her history, her philosophy, and her literary criticism, the influence of Greece is at all times dominant and all-pervading. Much was taken bodily from Greek sources, more was imitated, and all was colored by Greek thought and practice.[vii] Only of satire could Quintilian say “tota nostra est,” and even this statement may need qualification.[viii] As Professor Wilkins has observed, “In science, in art, in philosophy, in mythology, above all in literature, the Romans had to go to Greece for the lessons that were nowhere else to be learnt.... This is the first great fact to be remembered in reading the history of Roman literature. From the beginning to the end, it never shakes off the effects of this influence of Greece.”[ix]

It was not in the field of letters alone that Greece reigned supreme at Rome. The religion of the Romans became in time largely Greek, and from Greece came the philosophy which  was to supersede the old religions, and with philosophy the natural sciences. Roman architecture was an imitation and adaptation of Greek forms, with a comparatively slight admixture of native elements. Roman sculpture was in great part limited to copies of Greek statues, and even these were generally executed by Greek artists. A majority of the wall paintings which have been preserved deal with Greek legend and mythology, and there is reason to believe that they are with few exceptions reproductions of Greek originals. The education of the Roman youth was almost entirely in the hands of Greeks or of native masters trained in the Greek schools. The social and private life of Rome showed in every phase the predominant influence of Greece. Cato the Elder inveighs against the Hellenism of his contemporaries, and nearly three centuries later we find Juvenal satirizing in bitter vein the prevailing affectation of things Greek. From the end of the Pyrrhic war to the fall of the Western empire in the fifth century of the Christian era, the course of Roman development in literature, science, philosophy, art, architecture, education, all that is most real in the life of a people, was so completely dominated by Greek life and thought that it is thoroughly intelligible only in the light of the older civilization. This it is which makes Greek and some knowledge of Greek culture a necessity for the Latinist. The first and greatest qualification of the real teacher is an exact and thorough knowledge of his subject, for what he does not know himself he cannot teach. This qualification the Latin teacher cannot possess if he has not Greek.

The secondary teacher may perhaps object that while this is all very true it does not apply to him; that this scholarship is indispensable to the university professor who conducts seminars and directs investigations, or even to the collegiate instructor, but that it is not requisite for the successful teaching of Caesar and Cicero in secondary schools; that he has to teach his pupils only the forms, the syntax, and the vocabulary of school authors, and not the relation of Caesar to the purists, or the Greek philosophy and rhetoric of Cicero, or the sources of Vergil; that the presentation to his classes of facts which they are not expected to retain only confuses them and hinders their progress in the language. In this there is a measure of truth, but also much which is fallacious and which leads to the dangerous position that the teacher need know no more than he is to impart to his pupils. The limited powers of comprehension and retention of the average high school student cannot be a serious argument for ignorance in the high school instructor. Let the teacher be guided by his judgment and by the results of his experience in determining the amount of information which may advantageously be laid before elementary pupils, but let him at the same time take pains that his own stores of knowledge be at all times ample for any demands which may be made upon them. The presentation to an elementary class of carefully chosen information within reasonable limits will probably do no harm to those who forget it, and, in the case of the brighter pupils, may do a great deal of good by stimulating interest and establishing a feeling of confidence in the teacher.[x] The teacher must know more than any one pupil, even the most capable, will gather from the course, more even than all of the class will carry away in the aggregate. It does not take long for the alert and able pupil to “size up” the intellectual capacity and equipment of an instructor, and the impression he gets will largely determine his interest in the work of the course. The teacher of sound and broad knowledge never need fear to confess his ignorance of some minor point which has escaped him, for the admission will not prove prejudicial. On the other hand, no amount of “bluffing” will suffice to veil real incompetence.

These generalizations may be applied briefly to a few specific points in the teaching of secondary Latin. No sensible instructor will unload upon an unfortunate class of ninth grade pupils a store of minute erudition culled from the field of comparative Indo-European philology or historical Latin grammar. But he will find almost priceless the knowledge of the more important facts in comparative grammar which will enable him to answer questions readily and accurately and to make the connection of Latin with the modern languages which his pupils chance to know vivid and real. It will give him confidence and poise. The teacher of Caesar very properly will not fatigue his class with a discussion of Caesar’s studies in the schools of rhetoric at Rhodes or a technical consideration of probably borrowings from the Rhodian Posidonius in the account of early Gaul. But his teaching of the Commentaries will be far more intelligent if he understands the place of Caesar in the development of Latin prose, and he will be able to make the campaigns and battles more interesting if he is himself familiar with Xenophon’s splendid military narrative of the expedition of Cyrus and the retreat of the Ten Thousand from the heart of Persia. Cicero’s philosophy and the technique of his Greek rhetoric are obviously not the topics which should be emphasized in teaching the orations. But how colorless and vapid will be the portrait of Cicero developed by one who knows nothing of the atmosphere of Hellenism in which he lived and thought, of the philosophy which shaped his conduct, and of the rhetoric which determined the form of his eloquence. And what a keen and lively appreciation of his masterpieces and what a sympathetic view of his life and aims can the teacher convey who has read in the very authors who composed Cicero’s library, who is familiar with the great Attic orators, and who has traced the fortunes of Cicero’s great predecessor, the patriot orator of Athens. Vergil can be only half appreciated and only half taught by one who does not know Greek and the magnificent epics of Greece. The points which will arise to perplex the teacher and which only a knowledge of Greek will completely resolve away are countless and diverse—third declension accusatives in –a and –as, Greek declensions of proper names, the free use of the genitive, the Greek accusative, the infinitive of purpose, the extension of the complementary infinitive, infinitives with participles and adjectives, the “middle” voice of verbs and the accusative with the middle voice, the rhetorical devices, the use of epithets, the dactylic hexameter, the general plan and details of arrangement, these and many other points will be more fully mastered by the teacher who has read in the literature of Greece. But far greater than any and all of these is the understanding, the sympathy, the enthusiasm, which the teacher of the Aeneid brings to his class room from his readings in the greatest of all epics. The peculiar beauties and excellences of the Latin poem are not dimmed but rather revealed by a knowledge of Homer.

A bare enthusiasm of the specific problems which rise to confront the secondary teacher at every turn and which his Greek will aid him in solving would far transcend the limits set for this discussion. And, after all, important as they are, both individually and in the aggregate, the plea for Greek cannot rest upon any or even upon all of them. It cannot be based upon considerations of mere expediency, but must appeal to the ideals of scholarship and usefulness which every teacher should have and to the high standard of efficiency which should be his constant aim. To put this concretely, that broad and sound scholarship in the classics which is for the secondary as well as the collegiate instructor the prerequisite of the highest efficiency cannot be attained without an understanding of Greek.

Unfortunately, under the conditions which at present prevail in secondary education in the United States, this standard of scholarship is not very generally demanded. [xi] But let us see what is the practice of other countries in this respect. I quote from Professor Bennett’s account of the preparation of Latin teachers for the German schools:[xii] “Let us look a moment at the preparation of the Latin teacher of the German secondary schools, the Gymnasien. In the first place, such a teacher has studied Latin for nine years and Greek for six years at some Gymnasium. This work extends ordinarily from the ninth or tenth to the eighteenth or nineteenth year.  During this period the pupil reads, with a thoroughness unknown to us in America, substantially the following authors and works: Nepos, Caesar (Gallic War, i-vii), Ovid (Metamorphoses, selections), Virgil (Aeneid). Cicero (seven orations and selections; Epodes, Satires, Epistles, selections), Tacitus (Annals, i. ii; Histories, i; Germania). Besides this there is an extensive amount of private reading in Sallust, Livy, Curtius, Cicero, and other authors. The language, too, receives constant attention not only in the minute study of the grammar, but also by the way of writing Latin. In this latter exercise a wonderful facility is gained by the students of the higher classes of the Gymnasien. I have witnessed students in the highest class translate two solid pages of continuous German into Latin within thirty minutes. This was an oral exercise, and the German was not closely modeled on any original Latin, as is often customary with us.  I remember well the fine disdain of the rector of this particular school, when I asked him whether this was a review lesson.

“With these attainments in Latin and with corresponding attainments in Greek as a result of a six years’ study of that subject, the student comes to the university at the age of eighteen or nineteen to specialize more closely in his chosen field.  Yet up to this time, he has not devoted himself exclusively to classics; these have been the chief and most exacting studies of the gymnasial course, but mathematics are pursued through quadratic equations, solid geometry and plane trigonometry; much attention is paid to the German language, literature, and history; French is pursued for several years; natural science, including natural history, physics, and chemistry, is pursued two hours a week for the entire nine years; writing, drawing, singing, and gymnastics are also included; English and Hebrew are elective.  Such is the liberal foundation of the young man of eighteen or nineteen who leaves the Gymnasium for the University, and who, I assume, is intending to fit himself for the career of a teacher of Latin in German secondary schools.  Arrived at the university, he devotes himself almost exclusively to the study of the classical languages, literatures, and civilizations.  He takes courses in historical Latin grammar, in historical Latin syntax, on Roman literature, Roman history, epigraphy, private antiquities, political antiquities, archaeology, metric, palaeography, Roman comedy, etc.; he becomes the member of one of the seminaries and devotes days to preparing a paper on perhaps only twenty lines of a Satire of Horace, endeavoring to constitute the text with scientific precision and to interpret the passage, in the light of all accessible information, in the most thorough and accurate fashion.  His courses in Greek are similar in character.  Besides this, he must take some work in philosophy, ancient or modern, and in the science of education.

“The minimum period of residence for those preparing to become teachers is legally three years, but in practice the period is more often four years, or even five.  When he has finished his period of study, the candidate presents himself for the trying ordeal of the teachers’ examination, without passing which no one can secure a license to teach.”

The searching examinations, both oral and written, in the classics, philosophy, and education, involving the writing of an elaborate essay in Latin, are followed by two years of apprenticeship, during which the candidate receives special instruction in the art of teaching and conducts classes under the supervision of an experienced teacher.  When all this is successfully accomplished, he may teach Latin in the secondary schools.  Austria, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and France, require of their secondary teachers preparation scarcely less rigorous than that which has been sketched.[xiii]

There is no need to emphasize the high valuation of sound scholarship and broad knowledge or the unreserved recognition of the absolute necessity of Greek which is implied in these requirements.  The reader may draw for himself the contrast which inevitably follows with the standards that prevail in our own country.  Fortunately those standards are gradually being raised.  There is a constantly increasing tendency to demand adequate preparation and to insist that high school teachers be at least college graduates.  The time is not far off when no one will be allowed to give instruction in our high schools in a subject to which he has not devoted several years in college, and when the majority of our teachers will have had the advantage of considerable graduate work When that time comes, the high school teacher who has not qualified himself to meet these higher standards will have to give place to the one who has.

But the teacher who is worthy of the name, who appreciates the nobility of the profession he has chosen, will not delay until he is driven to the performance of his duty by the instinct of self-preservation.  His ideals will not let him rest until he has made a serious and earnest effort to achieve them.  “The good teacher will almost in the same breath translate a great poetic sentence, bring out its relations to the whole of which it is a part, make its musical rhythm felt by appropriate declamation, explain a historical or an antiquarian allusion, call attention to a dialectic form, put a question about a peculiar use of the optative, compare the imagery with similar figures of speech in ancient and modern poetry, and use the whole as a text for a little discourse on the difference between the classical and the modern or romantic spirit; so that you shall not know whether he is teaching science or art, language or literature, grammar, rhetoric, psychology, or sociology, because he is really teaching the elements and indispensable prerequisites of all.”[xiv]  This is an ideal which but few of us may even approximate, but we shall all do our work the better for having it before us.

The acquisition of Greek is not beyond the reach of anyone who combines average intellectual ability with serious purpose, even if he has been long out of college and has passed the age at which languages are most easily learned.  The establishment of beginning Greek courses in practically all of our leading colleges and universities and the preparation of modern text-books which present the essential facts within a small compass have made it possible to complete the authors usually included in the sub-colegiate study of Greek in two years or even less time.  These courses are credited toward the bachelor’s degree, and are usually more thorough and scientific than was the work in secondary schools.  They are offered in the summer schools of the leading universities, or may even be taken by correspondence.[xv]  When college freshmen of good but not remarkable ability, and in some cases almost without previous linguistic training, can read ordinary Attic prose with accuracy and a fair degree of ease at the end of two years’ study, the teacher of Latin, trained in dealing with languages, need have no hesitation in attacking Greek.[xvi]

It is not proposed that the teacher allow his study of Greek to interfere with or take precedence of wide reading in Latin.  The two lines of study should go hand in hand, and it will be found that they supplement rather than interfere with one another.  Even the ‘few months’ study of forms and syntactical principles which precede the reading of Greek authors[xvii]  will be of great interest to the Latinist.  As his knowledge of the language increases, he will find himself more and more regarding his Greek reading not merely as a means toward increased power in Latin, but as an end in itself.  And in a surprisingly short time, for Greek is much easier to read than Latin, he will be looking forward to the hours which he spends in his study, in communion with the poets, the orators, the historians, and the philosophers of Greece, as to the keenest and most precious of pleasures.



While some of the statements here presented are from published articles, the majority of them were prepared in response to letters in which was asked the specific question, “Should the teacher of Latin know Greek?” An attempt was made to reach those professors of Latin in universities and normal colleges who have given particular attention to the problems of secondary education, the authors of text-books for the study of Latin in secondary schools, and some of the teachers of Latin in the Texas high schools.  In nearly every case a response was had, and, as will be seen, the verdict was practically unanimous.  It is believed that the opinions cited fairly represent the earnest convictions of the class best qualified to pronounce upon the question.


Edwin W. Fay, Professor of Latin, University of Texas:  “The benefits to be derived from at least two solid years of Greek are, in my opinion, so great that every high-school Latin teacher should consider that amount of Greek indispensable to his professional training.  I cannot conceive a reason why any one should wish to teach Latin without a real interest in the language and an active desire to gain some mastery of it, and the intending teacher might take the word of those who have studied Latin most that the study of Greek does give increased power in the mastery of Latin.  The time ought to come before long at the University of Texas when it will be the rule for intending Latin teachers to include Greek in their preparation.  I even hope that the time may come in our Texas high schools when the Latin teachers will be free to organize at least one Greek class for the ambitious few who might wish to begin on their Greek at home.

“If our Latin teachers now unacquainted with Greek but realize that after the initial difficulty with the forms is got over -- and this would mean in three or four months for the vigorous and capable mature student -- Greek is far easier than Latin for most persons.  Besides this, Greek is the language of a literature far superior to the Roman, and unsurpassed in masterpieces by the combined literatures of the world.

“From none of my own teaching have I got better results, nor results that brought me more pleasure, than from my summer courses in Beginners’ Greek here.  It causes me constantly renewed surprise to realize how substantial a Greek foundation may be laid in six weeks, and I have been able to recommend two or three students of exceptional quality for admission to Greek 1 (second year Greek here) after the completion of the six weeks introductory course.”


Miss Roberta Frances Lavender, Instructor in Latin, University of Texas:  “The instructor who knows no other language than the one he is teaching is circumscribed.  If he can get but one other language, logically, for the teacher of Latin, Greek is that language, because of the inter-relation.  My own experience will illustrate this point.  Excellent training in Greek enabled me to teach high school Latin with more than ordinary success, though my record in Latin as a student in college had been unsatisfactory to myself.”


Frank Frost Abbott, Professor of Latin, Princeton University:  “I have always believed that the fortunes of Greek and Latin are closely related and that the neglect of Greek would lead to a decline in the teaching of Latin.  We have felt here the inter-dependence of the two subjects to such an extent that the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is not granted in Latin without Greek.”


John C. Rolfe, Professor and Head of the Department of Latin, University of Pennsylvania:  “Unhappily the degree of Ph. D. is sometimes conferred upon students who make a specialty of Latin (save the mark!) without a knowledge of Greek.  Can anyone doubt that such students would more profitably spend the time required for a dissertation in the study of the Greek language and literature?” Presidential Address, American Philological Association 1911, to be published.


Carl D. Buck, Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit and Indo-European Comparative Philology, University of Chicago:  “There is no doubt whatever in my mind that all teachers of Latin should have at least some acquaintance with Greek, and that, where this is not the case, a vigorous effort to bring this about, as rapidly as circumstances permit, will result greatly to the advantage of Latin teaching.”


Bernadotte Perrin, Professor of Greek, Emeritus, Yale university:  “The chief reason, to my mind, why teachers of Latin should know Greek also, is the fact that Latin literature is based so thoroughly on Greek literature.  No one can teach Vergil or Horace well without knowing the great Greek poets whom they took for models, and from whom they drew their inspiration.  The greatest Romans were educated in Greek.  And it was of Greek literature that Cicero said:   ‘Haec studia adulescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solatium praebent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur,’(Pro Archia Poeta, 16).  Yale University does not grant the Doctorate in Latin without Greek, and all her graduate students in the classics are encouraged to pursue Latin and Greek courses, with differing emphasis only.”


Gonzales Lodge, Professor of Latin and Greek, Teachers College, Columbia University:  “I am unable to understand how any serious teacher of Latin can hesitate an instant about the necessity of some knowledge of Greek.  From the point of view of literature as well as philology, a Latin teacher must be greatly handicapped without Greek.  Many Latin constructions are much simplified to students of Greek, while without Greek literature Latin literature is a labyrinth without a thread.  To appreciate Cicero adequately, to understand Vergil thoroughly, Greek is essential.  On the assumption that that high school teacher is most effective for true education who has the widest experience, the broadest outlook.  I should like to see the study of Greek compulsory upon all who expect to teach Latin.”


Francis W. Kelsey, Professor of Latin, University of Michigan:  “A knowledge of Greek is of  fundamental importance for the prosecution of Latin studies.  No teacher of Latin is properly equipped without a reading knowledge of Greek, and a first-hand acquaintance with at least a few masterpieces of Greek literature.  In cultural value for the student Greek is not merely the equal of Latin, on the literary side it is superior.”


Theodore C. Burgess, Director, Bradley Polytechnic Institute, Peoria, Illinois:  “I most firmly believe that it is of great advantage to a teacher of Latin to have at least an elementary knowledge of Greek, and I always feel like making that particular requirement of any one whom I take as a teacher here.  Aside from the value of the study of Greek in itself, I believe that the light that it throws upon the syntax and inflection of the Latin language is a very important help.  I do not know how one could teach Vergil well without a knowledge of Greek on account of the Greek forms, constructions, and ideas which are so frequently met.  This would be far more true of Horace.”


E. P. Morris, Professor of Latin, Yale University:  “I do not see how it is possible to understand Latin literature without a knowledge of Greek literature also.  The two are really one and indivisible.  To try to interpret Vergil without a knowledge of his Greek sources, seems to me quite absurd.”


William C. Collar, formerly Head Master of the Roxbury Latin School, Roxbury, Mass,:  “I regard Greek as the backbone of the highest liberal culture, and without it that highest culture would become absolutely invertebrate.”


Charles E. Bennett, Professor of Latin, Cornell University:  “For the purposes of satisfactory work in Latin, experience has shown me that Greek is practically indispensable.  This is true at all stages of Latin study in college, but it becomes increasingly true as pupils advance.  Scarcely a day passes that I do not in my own college teaching make a direct appeal to the Greek, while the tacit appeal is of course almost constant.  I have repeatedly assured my pupils that the Latinist cannot dispense with Greek.  I regret that it is not possible to insist that all who take Latin in college should bring to the study a good preparation in Greek also.” --Ithaca Daily News, April 27, 1911.


Benj. L. D’Ooge, Professor of Latin, Michigan State Normal College:  “I wish you all success in your effort to convince the Latin teachers of Texas that they should have Greek.  The position is absolutely unassailable.  During the last year I have been trying to persuade the college and university teachers of the classics in this state to take the stand with me that they will refuse to recommend anyone for the teaching of Latin who has not had at least two years of Greek.  We are all agreed on the general principle, and only the details remain to be worked out.” (Ypsilanti, Feb. 24, 1912.) [xviii]

“As the student (who is preparing to teach Latin) progresses, avenues of investigation open in every direction which he must follow or be limited to the dry bones of the language and miss the larger values of classical study.  He cannot go far before he finds it necessary to know Greek, the noble foundation upon which Roman culture stands.  Teachers of Greek may be able to do without Latin, but the Latin teacher cannot do without Greek.  That many are trying it, is no evidence that they are succeeding.  The two classical languages should not and in fact cannot be divorced and German universities are on undebatable ground when they refuse to examine a candidate for a degree in one and not in the other.  In our own state university (Michigan) a teachers’ diploma is not granted in Latin unless the student has had some Greek.  The decline of the study of Greek in our country is deplorable for many reasons, and it is due to some extent to the fact that so many Latin teachers are themselves ignorant of Greek and are a positive detriment rather than a help to its retention in the curriculum.” –“Qualifications of the Latin Teacher,” Western Journal of Education, I (1908), pp. 182-83.


William Gardner Hale, Professor and Head of the Department of Latin, University of Chicago:  “In the introduction to my ‘First Latin Book,’ the following passage occurs:  ‘Moreover, our civilization comes mainly from Rome.  It was Rome, and not England or Germany or Norway and Sweden, that first conquered the world; and Julius Caesar, who subdued France and Belgium (you will some time read his own story of his wars), enormously influenced your life and mine.  Rome spreads its modes of living, its laws, its forms of literature, and its ways of thinking over the whole world.  We are really, in all these things, Romans, or, more exactly (since Rome got its own arts and letters in part from Greece), we are Greeks and Romans.  The story of our various forms of literature, -- history, the oration, the essay, lyrical poetry, epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, everything, in short, except satire, -- begins with Greece: and satire began in Rome.  Science and philosophy, too, -- the first methodical thinking, in the part of the world to which we belong, about the processes of nature, and the meaning of life, arose in Greece.’

“This was addressed to the student of Latin, at the age when he begins the study.  But it is obvious enough what the underlying conviction must have been with regard to the study of Greek.  Our intellectual life goes back through Rome to Greece.  We put ourselves in possession of the whole current only if our studies include Greek.  Nearly the whole of Latin literature is interpenetrated by Greek literature, and a knowledge of one is necessary for an appreciation of the other.  Moreover, quite apart from the idea of completeness of comprehension of the forces which have made our life what it is, a treasury of enormous value and the greatest charm is opened up to the student of Greek.  The Greeks have left behind them the most perfect and the most delightful examples of literary art that the world has known.

“A minor reason, though still an important one, for knowing Greek lies in the fact that acquaintance with the language helps the student to a better understanding of Latin.  A knowledge of Greek forms and syntax makes Latin forms and syntax much more intelligible.

“For these reasons, I am constantly urging my students, if they haven’t had Greek, to begin it at once.  And, while our Master’s degree may be taken without Greek, there is never any thought of admitting any one as a candidate for the Doctorate of Philosophy with Latin as the principal subject, unless the study of Greek is carried on at the same time.”


Charles Knapp, Professor of Classical Philology, Columbia University:  “The severance of Greek and Latin is a sad thing for Latin itself, in that so many of those who attempt to teach Latin know no Greek.  I fail to see how one can teach Latin with real understanding and real effectiveness if he does not know Greek.  Those who insist on the dependence of Latin on Greek are bound to study Greek; else what do they really know of that dependence?  Those who hold that Latin literature has an independence and a value of its own are likewise logically bound to know Greek, in order to be able to prove that independence.  I should welcome with joy the declaration from appointing boards that no one could expect a position as teacher of Latin in high schools who did not also know Greek.  If this holds good in any degree of the high school, it holds good in far larger measure of the college.  The most grievous obstacle to the right teaching of Latin in the college -- I mean to the teaching of Latin as literature, not merely as a language -- is the fact that so few students know Greek.  Neither the dependence of Latin on Greek, nor the independence of Latin -- in its final form, its original and creative character -- can be fully explained by a teacher who is not well versed in Greek or be fully understood by a class that knows no Greek.” -- Classical Weekly, I (1908), pp. 161-62.

“The student who would master Latin must know his Greek as well; the tendency of so many Latin teachers in school and college alike to neglect Greek is most deplorable.  On the loftiest of grounds, therefore, the teacher and student of Latin are bound to take account of Greek as well.  To intrude merely sordid considerations into this discussion, I may point out that the instinct of self-preservation should prompt teachers of Latin to uphold the cause of Greek, for the complete elimination of Greek from the school and college course will be but preparatory to a curtailment of the amount of Latin done in school and college.  Indeed, already in the Middle West such curtailment of Latin has in some places followed on the heels of the displacement of Greek.” Ibid., p. 201.


N. R. Crozier, Superintendent of Schools, El Paso, Texas:   “In my opinion Greek is absolutely necessary as part of the equipment of first-class Latin teachers.  The relation of the two languages is so close that certainly an all-around classicist would not take one without the other.  Furthermore, it has been my observation that the most successful secondary Latin teachers have been well grounded in both languages.  Personally, I can say that the study of Greek was of vast assistance to me in teaching Latin.  I took a four year university course in Greek, and freely state that I learned more Latin in studying Greek than I did in a two year college course in Latin.  The Greek was of special benefit to me as a basis of comparison.”


F. A. Hauslein, North Texas State Normal College, Denton, Texas:  “I believe the teacher of Latin should know Greek.  He has a broader foundation if he has a knowledge of Greek.  Greek is a background for the Latin.  The teacher of Latin will have better success because of his knowledge of Greek just as a teacher of English will have better success if he knows a foreign language.”


S. J. Jones, Principal, Thomas Arnold High School, Salado, Texas:  “Every high school teacher of Latin ought to have some knowledge of Greek, and the minimum of said knowledge ought not to be less than one college course.  I can to some degree understand how one can have a fair knowledge of Greek without Latin, but to me it is absurd to speak of scholarship in the latter without some training in the former.  I have been a high school teacher of Latin for twenty-five years, and have found my slender knowledge of Greek indispensable.”


Miss Frances Eggleston Ottley, Austin High School, Austin, Texas:  “Let me say a word as to the necessity of Greek to the teacher of Latin.  As I hold that no one really knows English who does not know Latin, so too I hold that no one knows Latin who does not know Greek.  Pupils from my department who intend being teachers of Latin will be found in the Greek classes at the university.  I have no stronger argument than that to offer concerning my attitude about Greek being a necessary part of the training for teachers of Latin.”


T. B. Kendrick, Dallas High School, Dallas, Texas:  “Owing to the fact that much of Latin literature is copied word for word and idiom for idiom from Greek, it is quite necessary for a Latin teacher to have some knowledge of Greek in order to be able to explain the thought and structure more clearly to his class.  The Greek teacher can do very well without a knowledge of Latin, but the Latin teacher ought to have a knowledge of Greek.”


Miss Clara M. Parker, Wichita High School, Wichita Falls, Texas:  “I am thoroughly convinced that a knowledge of Greek is helpful to a teacher of Latin.  This conviction is based upon my own experience, as I was a Latin teacher before I studied Greek.  Even the meager knowledge of Greek gained in one year widened my horizon perceptibly, adding both to my knowledge of Latin grammar and my appreciation of the classics, as well as inspiring a certain degree of confidence which had been lacking before.”


W. J. Meyes, Marshall Training School, San Antonio, Texas:  “I am firmly convinced that a knowledge of Greek is essential to the intelligent teaching of Latin.  I can see how a teacher of Greek might dispense with Latin, but I do not see how the Latin teacher can do without Greek as a part of his mental equipment.”


William Longino, Huntsville High School, Huntsville, Texas: “As a teacher of Latin, I find myself a perpetual debtor to Greek, in no small sum.  My Greek is a constant professional asset, the worth of which is well known to me, if to none other.”


Miss Edna J. Anderson, Houston High School, Houston, Texas:  “The study of Greek has been invaluable to me in my work as a Latin teacher.  It has been especially helpful in the teaching of case uses, exact tense meanings, and the uses of the subjunctive mode.  In my opinion, no teacher of Latin should be without some knowledge of Greek.”


Miss Edith C. Symington, San Antonio High school, San Antonio, Texas:  “In my opinion, the teacher of Latin who has no Greek not only misses the most charming part of his reading, but is, in his teaching, in the position of a workman deprived of half of his most necessary tools.  From beginning to end of the high school course, I teach Latin in the light of Greek.  For example, the mutes in their places as gutturals, etc., prove far more fascinating and are much more readily remembered as ‘kappa,’ ‘gamma,’ ‘chi,’ etc., than as ‘c,’ ‘g,’ ‘ch,’ etc.  Mystery has its charms for the beginners as well as for us all. The use of Greek for purposes of comparison and example is invaluable all through the course, and, I believe, absolutely essential in the teaching of Virgil.  The teaching of expressions of purpose becomes delightful to instructor and to class when it is done by means of comparison of English, Latin, and Greek. All possible work in etymology is made doubly interesting and profitable when Greek is combined with Latin.  Every term shows me more definitely the need of Greek and of an intimate knowledge of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Greek plays, for the teacher of Latin.  The literature, the geography, the history, the life, art, poetry, of the Greeks and Latins are too intimately associated for a real “teacher” of either to be able to pass a really profitable year without the other.  Not a day goes by that I am not thankful, for more reasons than one, that I have such little knowledge of this most perfect and beautiful language as I have acquired, and that I am daily acquiring more.

“For the teacher of Virgil, especially, who is without Greek, I have a great pity, and I say to him, ‘Go to it, hard and fast!  You are losing at least fifty per cent. of your efficiency every day you are without Greek.  You are cheating your class of half its enjoyment and profit.  Get Greek!’ If I could think of words strong enough to express my conviction of the importance of Greek to a teacher of Latin, I should like to put them into this brief.  If the teachers who are now without it, when they have put a year’s honest study into Greek, will compare their present capability, power of holding the interest of the children, enthusiasm, value to themselves, their school and their classes, with what they find themselves possessed of at the end of the year, not only will they gladly continue their study, but all who come within their influence will be inspired to want Greek, and to get it as soon as may be.  Not a year passes but I find myself compelled to meet the demand of my senior class for a ‘week of Greek.’  They learn to read and write the alphabet, and study voluntarily from twenty to fifty simple words and sentences.”


On September first, Charles Mills Gayley, Professor of the English Language and Literature, and William A. Merrill, Professor of the Latin Language and Literature, in the University of California, issued a circular addressed to the teachers of Latin and English in the secondary schools of California, in which the importance of Greek to the intending teacher of those languages is emphatically stated.  All secondary teachers are urged to impress upon candidates for teachers’ certificates in Latin or English the necessity of beginning Greek in the high school if possible.  From this circular, which has been reprinted in the Classical Weekly (III. p. 73), the following may be quoted:

“We therefore earnestly recommend to teachers of English and Latin, particularly to those in charge of the work of the first two years of the high school curriculum, that they lose no opportunity to impress upon their pupils early in the course, that for future teachers or specialists in Latin or English, no subject, outside of these languages themselves, is so important as Greek.   A neglect to avail themselves of the opportunity (if offered) to begin Greek in the high school will surely be attended with constantly increasing embarrassment and regret.

“The high school curriculum is now sufficiently elastic in most of our cities, to permit each pupil to choose at least some elective work.  The purport of the foregoing advice, therefore, is to the effect that, for prospective teachers of English or Latin, Greek is the elective subject first in importance.  The student’s general culture in other lines is adequately provided for by the required studies of school and university, so that this advice, to future specialists in Latin or English, may be given with the utmost emphasis, and without fear of too great limitation of the student’s range....

“We earnestly hope that you may see your way to giving effective assistance in the direction indicated, for the sake of deepening and strengthening the work of instruction in Latin and English in our great State.  This is not a plea for Greek, from the standpoint of the Greek specialist, but for better Latin, and better English.”


Apropos of the value of Greek as a general propaedeutic for the professional, scientific, or general student, the following quotations from an article which appeared in the Ithaca Daily News of April 27, 1911, will be of interest:

“Fifty professors of the (Cornell) university have signed a statement which Dr. Lewis L. Forman made public today and in which they say they prefer that students in their respective departments shall have studied both Latin and Greek.  Similar indorsement [sic] is presented by Doctor Forman from Dr. Andrew D. White, formerly president of the university, and from Charles E. Bennett, professor of Latin; while letters from Professors Nichols, Trevor, Young, Rowlee, Merritt and Tarr express the hope that Greek may be reinstated in the Ithaca High School.”

“The letter from Doctor White follows:

“‘My opinion, formed by long observation of the careers of university and college graduates, is that by the study of Greek, even if it be only through the Greek Reader, the probabilities of success in the professional study of law, medicine, theology, teaching, and of all the natural sciences, are very decidedly increased.

(Signed)                                                                       ‘Andrew D. White.’

“Here is the statement signed by 50 professors:

“‘We, the undersigned professors (or one-time professors) of Cornell University, should prefer as students of our respective subjects those who have included both Greek and Latin among their preparatory studies in the High School rather than those who have neglected these studies in favor of modern languages or of our own respective subjects.’”

The professors who signed the petition represented the romance languages, zoology, ancient history, German, English, mechanical engineering, oratory, law, mathematics, Semitic languages, philosophy, civil engineering, American history, economics, architecture, botany, medieval history, Latin, medicine, chemistry, physics, etc.

[i] The German universities refuse absolutely to permit the separation of Latin from Greek in the work leading to the doctorate. Of our own graduate institutions, the University of Chicago insists that the candidate in Latin offer Greek as his minor; Princeton, Yale, Michigan, and other universities, while not specifying Greek as a minor, refuse to confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the candidate who does not know Greek. I have been able to find no case of a university which does not recognize the fact that the type of scholarship which the degree presupposes cannot be attained in Latin without a fair knowledge of Greek. See the opinions of Professors Abbot, Rolfe, Perrin, Hale and others in the appendix. 

[ii] “There are teachers of Latin whose knowledge of Caesar is limited to the first four books, who have never read but six orations of Cicero and six books of Vergil. Year by year they repeat this weary grind.”—D’Ooge, “The Qualifications of the Latin Teacher in Secondary Schools.” Western Journal of Education. I (1908), p. 185. I myself have had in my classes teachers of this kind, and have even heard from trustworthy sources of those who rely upon translations to get them through their recitations.

[iii] The student of languages will recall many instances in which his knowledge of one language has enabled him to understand a phrase or construction when first met in another. For example, the student of English who has not met either the “male audire” of Latin or the “kakos akouein” of Greek will not be likely to understand Milton’s “For which Britain hears ill abroad,” or Spencer’s “If old Aveugles sonnes so evil hear.” The helpfulness of a knowledge of one foreign language in learning another may easily be tested by ascertaining the previous linguistic study of individual pupils and comparing their work and ways of attacking language problems.

[iv] “For the encouragement and stimulation of an appreciation of literary form at its very best, Greek stands unrivalled.” Morgan, Psychology for Teachers (London, 1894), p. 187. President Stryker, of Hamilton College, says of Greek (Hamilton Record, January, 1908; reprinted in part in Classical Weekly, I (1908), pp. 201 ff.): “Pause for a moment to consider the language itself as a wonderful instrument of exactness and also as a great vehicle of that master faculty, imagination. As a discipline toward a just perspective and a refined taste it is incomparable. It is the tongue of delicacy and of accuracy, and these are parts of power. It trains discrimination in the use of terms an din the sureness of touch which goes with that. Training in tense and particles is directly tributary toward precision of thought. Greek does notably, pre-eminently offer this training. However insistent, the contention “that for mental discipline one subject is as good as another” is a crudity. The exercise, development and nutrition of the mind, as the constant implement of life, demands a training table. Pie and croquet do not build athletes. Steel cannot be forged and tempered and polished, except by definite and well-adapted apparatus.” See also Latin and Greek in American Education (New York, 1911), pp. 152-153, 220, and The School Review, XX (1912), pp. 179 ff.

[v] Cf. the discussion of points of historical grammar in Lindsay, or the article on any Latin word in Walde’s etymological dictionary of Latin.

[vi] Abbott, Short History of Rome(Chicago, 1906), p. 124. On the invasion of Greek influence at this time, cf. Ibid. pp. 124 ff, and Merivale, General History of Rome (New York, 1890), pp. 212 ff.

[vii] “Roman literature, though possessing qualities exclusively its own, is yet to a striking degree the child of Athenian art, and , as it were, the transliterated Italian representative of Athenian ideas. Roman poetry and Roman philosophy are of Grecian mould. Roman oratory reflects much of Demosthenes and Lysias. Even satire finds a distant source in the caricatures of Aristophanes, and as for the ‘Latin drama,’ we all know that it was fashioned directly on the dramatic masterpieces of Greek genius. It is not till we come to the department of law that we find the Romans able rightfully to declare, what Quintilian, with more patriotism than verity, said of satire, ‘This is all our own’.”—Ashmore, The Classics and Modern Training (New York, 1905), p.30. See the histories of Latin literature, passim.,  and especially Teuffel-Schwabe-Ware (London, 1900), I, pp. 118 ff.; Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship (Cambridge, 1906), I, pp. 167 ff.; Merivale, History of the Romans, II (New York, 1889), pp. 417 ff.; Mommsen, History of Rome, II (New York, 1891), pp 492 ff. The Romans themselves were not unaware of the dependence of their literature upon that of Greece, as is shown by countless passages, which may be well summed up by the famous lines of Horace,

“Gracia capta ferum victorem cepit et artis
Intulit agresti Latio.” –Ep. 2. 1, 156-157.

See also Quintilian’s discussion of the different forms of literary composition in the tenth book of his Institutio Oratoria, and especially his statement (1. 1. 13): “A sermone Graeco puerum incipere malo, quia Latinum, qui pluribus in usu est, vel nobis nolentibus perbibet, simul quia disciplinis quoque Graecis prius instituendus est. unde et nostrae fluxerunt.”

[viii] Inst. Or. 10. 1. 93

[ix] Primer of Roman Literature (London, 1905), p. 3.

[x] What teacher has not noticed how immeasurably more efficient is his teaching of the particular subjects which he knows well and broadly than those with which he is not very familiar? As Professor D’Ooge, of the Michigan State Normal College, well says (Western Journal of Education, I (1908), p. 180), “The teacher whose attainments are superficial is sure to fail in two essential particulars: interest and enthusiasm. Instead of these we find dullness and depression. The very elements to a scholar who has the perspective of his field become links in a system of knowledge and teem with interest, and this he can impart to his pupils. A teacher with no perspective, who must learn one day what he teaches the next, finds the elements empty and dull, they arouse no interest and to teach them is drudgery. Interest is akin to enthusiasm, and the teacher who has neither can arouse neither and will not succeed. Both spring from mastery of the subject and from nothing else. A man may know nothing of psychology and may never have read a history of education nor heard of child study, but if he knows his subject, the chances are that he can teach it and the greater his scholarship the greater his power.”

[xi] Cf. Bennett, The Teaching of Latin (New York, 1901), pp. 202ff.: “In the preparation of our teachers is to be found the weakest point of American education. * * * The fact, I believe, is incontestable that we are far behind the great nations of Europe—Germany, France, England, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and even Russia—in the loftiness of our conception of the teacher’s function and in the seriousness of our preparation for the teacher’s duties.” Cf. also ibid., pp. 207 ff.: “In my judgment, the greatest defect in American education today is the prevailing superficiality in the attainments of American teachers. They do not know their subjects. At least they do not know their Latin as well as they ought in order to teach it even with a moderate degree of success. There are noble exceptions to this sweeping statement, which is meant only to characterize the general field of Latin teaching.” Cf. D’Ooge, op. cit., pp. 178 ff.: and Brown, The Training of Teachers for Secondary Schools (New York, 1911), pp. 207 ff.

[xii] Op. cit., pp. 202 ff.: cf. Brown, op. cit.,  pp. 3 ff.

[xiii] Brown, op.cit., pp. 293pff.

[xiv] Shorey, “The Case for the Classics.” Latin and Greek in American Education (New York. 1911), p. 311. For a good example of this ideal standard of teaching applied to a lesson in Caesar, cf. Holmes, “Teaching of the Classics.” in Proceedings of the Classical Association of England and Wales. 1905, pp. 27 ff.

[xv] It is not advised that Greek be begun by correspondence, though after one or two terms of careful residence work non-resident courses can be carried with very good results.  Residence work done in the summer may be admirably supplemented by correspondence courses during the school year.

[xvi] Cf. Shorey, op.cit., pp. 341 ff.:  “Students of good but not extraordinary ability have, while keeping up their other work, read six books of the Anabasis in the first year of study; have completed in three years the A. B. requirements of the University of Chicago, including eight books of the Odyssey, two Greek tragedies, and Plato’s Apology and Crito, and have in the fourth year of study read the entire Republic of Plato with intelligence and delight.” This is what the good average student can accomplish.  I remember one young woman who went from my ten weeks’ course in beginning Greek, by special permission, into the Apology class.  While making as high a grade as any one in this class, which read the Apology, Crito, portions of the Phaedo, and selections from the Memorabilia of Xenophon, she did her Xenophon course equally well, and at the same time carried a difficult course in mathematics.  She completed the requirements for the A. B. degree (University of Chicago) with credit in three quarters, while taking other work and at the end of the year could read ordinary Greek prose with ease.

[xvii] Text-books in elementary Greek which begin actual reading in the Anabasis after only two or three weeks of study can now be had.

[xviii] The Seventeenth Michigan Classical Conference, held at Ann Arbor last spring, “expressed itself as strongly in favor of the position that hereafter recommendations to  teach Latin should be restricted to those graduates of colleges who have had at least two years of Greek.” -- School Review, XX (1912), p. 176.

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