Elpenor - Home of the Greek Word
November 6, 2007 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Elpenor - Home of the Greek Word is a site built around a bilingual anthology of all periods of Greek literature, but there's more, including ancient greek lessons, a collection of texts by non-Greeks about Greece, a gallery of Orthodox Christ icons and an online resource-guide on Byzantium.

The site focuses mostly on the texts of antiquity but along with Archilochus, Orphica, Romanos Melodos and Sappho there are some modern writers, like the poets Cavafy and Papatsonis. There's a Greek nationalistic slant to the site but it seems fairly benign and easy to ignore.
posted by Kattullus (5 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:42 PM on November 6, 2007

I fear the Greeks, even when they bring some most interesting reading.
posted by Abiezer at 8:58 PM on November 6, 2007

I don't know what to think about this site. It's obviously got a lot of useful stuff, but it also has a weird cultlike atmosphere. The grammatical explanations are so idiosyncratic as to be pretty much unintelligible unless (I presume) you immerse yourself in them completely, in which case you probably feel this is the One True Way and all other explanations are superficial or mistaken. And the poetry and translations... His translations are full of un-English constructions and semi-words like "enamoring" (enamored is perfectly good English, but as far as I know nobody ever uses the present participle in that way). And the poetry is not divided up into lines. WTF? It's as if it doesn't matter that it's poetry, it's just more sentences that happen to be broken up randomly in traditional texts and he's putting them together so you can read them as sentences.

And speaking of sentences:

Α Sentence in Greek is called πρότασις.

In Modern Greek, yes, but in Ancient Greek it was ρῆμα. I suspect he doesn't take the poetic aspect of the poetry into account because (like most modern Greeks) he reads Ancient Greek as if it were modern and thus ignores the meter (because it's unintelligible in modern pronunciation).

I dunno. I'd say if the Elpenor method appeals to you, if you've tried other approaches to Greek and not liked them but this works for you, great, go for it, but it wouldn't be my first recommendation for a would-be Hellenist. And I find it hard to imagine anyone preferring these translations to the more usual kind.
posted by languagehat at 6:06 AM on November 7, 2007

languagehat: weird cultlike atmosphere

Yes, it is.

I downplayed the weirdness because I didn't want to come off as LOLGREEKSANDFREEKS but this is site is really, really odd. I mean, it is functional but I find the deeper one goes the stranger this place is. As someone who's from a small nation with an old heritage much studied by foreigners I can understand where the cultural impulse that results in a site like this comes from. That said, there aren't many English-language sites I've come across on the internet that present Greek literature as a continuum from Homer to Cavafy. I like the site both for its functionality and its weirdness.

That said, there are some flat-out funny parts, like the tagline of the subforum about the European Union: "What do we want from Europe, what can we do to shape her, who is a European?" For that matter, "Home of the Greek Word" is a hilariously bombastic site name.
posted by Kattullus at 7:21 AM on November 7, 2007

I got contacted by a greek who didn't want to be identified:

A bit of googling will lead you here. It looks like these sites were set up by a group of people that has been involved with the web presence of the Church of Greece - this may explain the vibe.

Don't quote me, but the whole thing looks a little like a church stealth project, possibly from an earlier time when they didn't possess much clue on the ways of the interwebs.

Oh, and I asked permission before I quoted this.
posted by Kattullus at 9:14 AM on November 7, 2007

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