Of course, Fitzgerald points out that, no matter the power of the translation, something is seriously lost by not reading the original Greek. One of the sadnesses of the limitations of a chosen life...
I'm greek and I still can't read the original, Homer's language is very difficult. I can only imagine how hard it must be for people with no exposure to any form of the Greek language
Of course, it’s an absolutely massive time commitment, but not a terrible way to spend a sunday afternoon.
That's correct, but katharevousa was nowhere close to ancient Greek, it was really a bastardized language created to sound more ancient-y in an era when the nation was searching for identity (Greece was heading for its revolution against the Ottomans).
But it was forced and unnatural. There's an era around the turn of the 20th century where many prominent scholars, poets and novelists formed a movement against it but nationalistic reasons (and thick headed archaists) made it stick until the 70's.
It's true that previous generations (like my parents') had a better classical education, but that has nothing to do with katharevousa
The easiest for modern greek speakers to grasp is Koine greek, the language of the new testament. The grammar is familiar, as is the syntax. For an educated person it's almost effortless
The trouble with ancient greek for me is mainly the syntax. Grammar is different as well (more complex than modern) and although many words are the same they have different meanings.
It's still closer to moder greek than eg. Italian or French is to latin
I think suggesting to put together such a play for grade school would be absurd, even in the relatively affluent Chicago public school that my son goes to. Many of the otherwise well-educated parents would hardly be acquainted with the book!
I believe it started as a reaction to the teaching rigidness and the over-reverence of classic texts by previous generations, people just got fed up. But more importantly there's now a variety of texts that explain, enhance or abridge the classics in a more approachable manner and an overabundance of new knowledge and art to explore.
However, there's still lot to earn by reading the original texts. I reread the Iliad and the Odyssey in my late twenties and I felt this fuzzy feeling of familiarity, that human nature hasn't changed that much (if at all) through the ages. Wrath, love, courage, friendship, betrayal, revenge, vanity, wisdom, ingenuity, stupidity - way too familiar.
One of my favorite parts of the Odyssey is when Odysseus' dog recognizes him. In a few words Homer describes the special bond between dogs and humans, a relationship that spans millennia and keeps strong even (more so) to this day.
As far as things to skip due to an abundance of choices go, those are perhaps unwise ones to avoid, if some part of the other "paths" you'll walk include pretty much any other areas of Western art.
Maybe you decide your "path" is 19th century French literature. Guess which two bodies of work are foundational to that? OK, so you just like sci-fi. Well, there are the Bible and the Classical writers again, at least in the better stuff. Medieval studies? Yeah, obviously. Film—like, pretty much any of it that comes from the West and has artistic value? Oh god, yes.
Well screw all this, I'm gonna focus on Arabic or Persian works. Oh. They have significant cultural ties to the Greeks too, thanks to Alexander, so I'm back to that again.
Fine art. There aren't even words so I'm safe there. Oh, wait, no I'm not. Damn. Music? Ugh, there's Achilles and Abraham and Aeneas and all the rest. Philosophy? Nope, too much of that assumes the same common, smallish set of common experience as everything else.
OK, fine, I'm so over this, I'm just gonna play video games. This Deux Ex thing is supposed to be good for some reason, let's start there. Oh... oh no... not again!