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To acquire a correct knowledge of any language, it is necessary to study not only the words of it, but the manner of their combination, in the construction of sentences. Without this minute analysis, words may be learned, as by rote; but no taste for elegance of style can be formed; no understanding of apparently obscure expressions, nor general idea of the language can be obtained.
For this reason, many works have been published, introductory to the making of Latin, and used with the best effect. That which is now offered to the public, is an attempt to furnish a similar opportunity for improvement, in the most beautiful and important language of antiquity: the language from which almost all the terms of science are derived, and in which the substance of general knowledge is contained.
In the concise Syntax, which is prefixed to the Exercises, the rules, or parts of rules, which differ from Latin construction, are marked with asterisms: that the student may see, at once, the agreement, and the difference of the two languages. It is particularly recommended to the teacher, to make the pupil study the notes on syntax, and the observations at the end of the volume, to which references are made, and give an account of them, when he recites the rules to which they are annexed.
The sentences, of which the Exercises on Syntax are composed, have been selected from a great variety of the finest authors. It was judged unnecessary to insert the author's name, at the end of each sentence, as this part of the work exhibits those forms of expression only, which are common to all the Greek writers. As the understanding of the sacred Scriptures is, unquestionably, the most important object, in learning Greek, particular attention has been paid to the introduction of appropriate examples from the Septuagint, and New Testament.
The sentences are all, except in one or two unavoidable instances, in Attic prose; for it is evidently improper to distract the learner's attention from syntax, to poetic licenses, or variety of dialects.
Each chapter is divided into three parts. The first contains plain sentences, rarely anticipating any subsequent rule: these ought to be all rendered into correct Greek, before the other parts of the chapters are attempted. The second contains more variety of expression, and exemplifies the rules promiscuously, as well as the particular one prefixed to each chapter: this part is from ¶ to the end of the English sentences. Having finished these sentences, in all the chapters on syntax, the student will be able to translate the third part of each chapter, which consists of Latin sentences, with no corresponding Greek.
As there are many Elliptical expressions, which cannot be comprehended under any general rules of syntax, a selection of the most important examples has been made from Bos's excellent work on Ellipsis. The scholar is to supply the words omitted; which he will do with ease, being enabled, by the translation, to find them, and directed, by the blank spaces in the Greek page, where they ought to be placed.
In order to give a knowledge of the different Dialects, quotations from Ionic, Doric, and Æolic writers, and Homer, are inserted, which are to be rendered into the
common Attic Greek. The student will thus learn every thing of importance in each dialect, with much more ease and pleasure, than by committing a number of rules to memory.
The lines reduced to prosaic order, and to be returned into metre, are intended to form a taste for the melody of Greek poetry. And, to impress upon the mind the distinction between a poetic and prosaic style, it is recommended to exercise learners in paraphrasing, or imitating in prose, select passages of the Greek poets. This is usually called Metaphrasis. A short specimen of it is given in the last chapter. It was thought unnecessary to insert more pieces of this kind, as any poet will furnish sufficient exercises.
To this edition are added, Observations on some Idioms of the Greek Language. The understanding of the peculiar idioms of a language being, at once, a difficult and important business, it is hoped that these observations will facilitate it to the student.
In making them, no attention was paid to the technical order of syntax. The object was to show how the Greeks expressed ideas which are common to all persons, but uttered in various manners: to follow, as much as possible, the course of nature, and habit, in the formation of the language. How far the author has succeeded must be decided by those who are competent judges. Many of the observations must be, already, familiar to the Greek scholar; but he believes that several of them are original. Where he has ventured to differ in opinion from eminent writers, it is with diffidence and respect.
It will be evident, that the whole is merely a concise view of the general principles, and most usual idioms. To have gone at large into the elucidation of any one title in it, would have required a volume. But it is hoped that the student, who impresses these observations on his mind, will find both ease and pleasure, in applying them to the solution of such phrases as may occur in the course of his reading.
Those who wish for more minute and extensive investigations on this subject, may consult Middleton's Doctrine of the Greek Article; Bos's Ellipses; Vigerius's Idiotisms; Kuster on the Middle Voice; Hoogeveen's Particles; and Dawes's Miscellanea Critica.
The author feels particularly gratified in acknowledging the very kind attention paid to this work by the late Professor Dalzell, Edinburgh, and Professor Young, Glasgow. The continued friendship of the Rev. Dr. Bruce, Belfast Academy, and Rev. Mr. Hincks, Fermoy, (lately Cork), with that of many other gentlemen, who have assisted him in improving it, demands his warmest acknowledgments.
N.B. It may be proper to inform the reader that is, he, is used throughout the Exercises. This is according to Dr. Moor's Greek Grammar, and is sanctioned by the authority of Xenophon. Grammarians, in general, exhibit the substantive pronoun of the third person, as wanting the nominative, gen. où, dat. oi, &c. like the Latin, sui, sibi, &c.