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Demosthenes a fit of splendid revival from later decline, and the decline that afterward proceeded again was splendid and gradual and long. Chrys'ostom, in an early Christian age, who still wielded at will that "fierce democratie" that used to muster by thousands to hear and to applaud with tumultuary cheers their favorite preacher, in the basilicas of Antioch and Constantinople, was no unworthy successor, in a lineage of eloquence that included the names of Pericles, Isoc'rates, and Demosthenes. The newspapers of yesterday and to-day contain literary tidings from modern Greece that seem to foretoken close at hand a signal renascence of Greek literature among the proudest monuments of its ancient glory, and on the very spot of its origin.
With thus much premised, in the way of general preparation and incentive, let us now push forward, confident that our aim is worthy, to make our start in learning what, with such necessarily swift touch and go, we may, first, of the beginnings in Greek scholarship, and then of Greek letters themselves by description and specimen.
THE START. We should heartily advise every reader having it in mind to fulfill the object sought to be subserved in this book to begin boldly by mastering the Greek alphabet. This is no very difficult task. The characters have many of them a considerable resemblance to the corresponding characters in English. Half an hour's brave and serious attention devoted daily to the matter for a week would certainly, in most cases, without help from a teacher, be amply sufficient. First learn the names of the letters in their order. Amuse yourself, at odd intervals, by going over the list, until it becomes as familiar as your A, B, C. Then give your attention to the characters themselves; first the small letters, and afterward the capitals, carefully noting their shape, and calling them by their names. If you will learn to print the letters, a much easier matter than you might suppose, it will be of great advantage. Then learn the power or sound of each letter, and give yourself a little practice in pronouncing them in combination; that is, in syllables and words. You can in no other way so well overcome the sense of strangeness and outlandishness instinctive with one whose eye rests in utter ignorance on a printed page of Greek.
A word or two here on Greek pronunciation. Nobody knows with certainty exactly how the ancient Greeks pronounced their language. The modern Greeks, speaking the same language as their forefathers, with less change in it than that which differences the English of Tennyson from the English of Chaucer, are themselves not wiser on this point than are our western scholars. The general rule has been for scholars to pronounce the Greek somewhat according to the analogy of their own vernacular. The resulting pronunciation has, of course, in each case been what Demosthenes, hearing it, would have felt to be barbarous, and, in all the cases taken together, a confusion of tongues to the ear like what happened at Babel. Recently the attempt has been made in some quarters to introduce uniformity at least, even if it should be uniformity in error, by securing the common adoption of the pronunciation prevalent in Greece at the present day. This pronunciation is called the Romā'ic or Modern Greek method. The currency of this method is as yet but partial. It differs quite sharply at many points from any one of the methods previously in vogue in this country.
It will thus be seen that Greek pronunciation is much a matter of fashion; fashion varying with the country and with the time. To parents, for example, we would say: If, in sounding some Greek diphthong, you should happen to hit upon a particular pronunciation that your children, at school or in college, think curious, do not suffer yourselves to be unduly abashed in their presence. Tell them that there are more ways than one of pronouncing Greek, and that your way, for aught you know, may be as nearly correct as theirs. For instance, the Greek word akovo, (akouo,) meaning to hear, was in your fathers' time given, in its second syllable, the sound of ou in sound. More lately, the diphthong has been pronounced like ou in youth. Ask them how to pronounce the English word “acoustics.” They will, no doubt, promptly reply “acoostics.” You will then have the opportunity of correcting a mistake-a mistake very common even among those whose cultivation ought to prevent their committing it. Tell them that the true pronunciation is “acowstics," and that this preserves a record of the sound formerly given by English scholars to the Greek word from which it is derived. If you wish still further to amuse and instruct your children, tell them that the pronunciation “cowcumber" for cucumber, at which they perhaps have sometimes smiled, hearing it from the mouth of a gentleman of the olden time, was once the well-authorized sound of that word in the use of the most cultivated English society.
All this has been said in order to give parents especially a sense of freedom and ease in a matter in which they will naturally feel a degree of modest embarrassment. Of course, the best way will be for them to examine what is said on Greek pronunciation in the elementary text-books which their children are using. In addition, they may quick-wittedly catch the pronunciation employed by their children, as these have learned it under the instruction of their teachers. And, by the way, an excellent plan it will be for parents to begin at once the practice of taking up the text-books of their children, and letting the latter from day to day rehearse to them the lessons assigned for recitation at school. They will thus at once confer upon their children the benefit of a little additional drill on the lesson of the day, and apply an auxiliary stimulus inciting them to master the task more thoroughly. Moreover, this expedient will be to parents a practical, effective, and easy method of acquiring themselves proficiency in the elements of Greek. We would earnestly exhort parents, even at some occasional sacrifice of a present convenience, to pursue this method without a single day's intermission. You will be both gratified and surprised to find what progress you make, and with what agreeable facility. Especially will it be desirable that you should thus familiarize yourselves with the various "paradigms," so-called, (and do not let your children pronounce this word “paradimes," as some careless teachers permit themselves, and so, of course, their pupils, to do,) which necessarily form a very important feature of every beginning-book, whatever it is, in Greek. Paradigms, literally, examples, is the technical term used in grammars to name the examples given of inflections for nouns, adjectives, and verbs, arranged in convenient tabular form for learning by heart. Hearing your children go over and over again these paradigms, will do much toward making the sound of Greek words familiar to your ears, and introducing you insensibly to the genius and idiom of the Greek language. Your children, besides, will appreciate the really valuable service you will thus render them in checking or prompting their memories, as they assiduously undertake to make themselves masters of the paradigms. Upon our readers in general, not only parents, but others, we would urge it as a further advantage, to increase the motive for the study on their part of a little Greek grammar, where this is possible, that they will thus be acquiring a more thorough knowledge of the English language. There are thousands of English words made so directly from Greek originals that you will now be able to trace the process of derivation for yourselves. Take the word alphabet, for example. That, you will observe, is formed by simply jaining the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, (äzba, Bñta,) the last letter of the second name being cut off, or elided. The names of various societies, secret and other, of which the parents among our readers will probably begin to hear much, in the conversation of their young academical or collegiate students, are merely initial letters joined together, generally perhaps in triplets, of some Greek words, adopted by the several fraternities as constituting what is deemed by them an appropriate and learned-sounding sentiment or motto. The sciences are nearly all of them named from Greek. If any new discovery is made, in science or in art, the discoverer is pretty certain to seek out some Greek word or words from which to coin for it an English name. Telegraph is so called from two Greek words, the first of which signifies at a distance, or afar, and the second to write.
To telegraph, therefore, is simply to write at a distance. The still more recent word telephone is similarly compounded, the second component in this case being a Greek term signifying sound. If now you will form the habit whenever you consult your English dictionary, (unabridged,) which we hope you will