CO 70.3 [Spring 1993], pp. 106-109: Greek instructional programs;Perseus, Greek Tools, HyperGreek, Greek Practice,MacLang, Aristotle's Greek Tragedy Construction Kit, ScriptureFonts,Multilingual PC Guide; Update on Latin Skills; CLASSICS e-maildiscussion group
I know that teachers of Greek have been getting a little frustrated withthe fact that the ACL's Committee for Educational Computer Applicationshas so far only published a Survey of Latin Instructional Programs for theMicrocomputer. For a while this was due to the fact that there were absolutelyno instructional programs available for Greek, which in turn was largelydue to the smaller enrollments for Greek in the high schools, where instructionalsoftware use has been strongest in the last ten years. But it is also dueto the complexities of getting a modern American computer to be physicallycapable of printing and displaying the ancient Greek alphabet. (For a detaileddiscussion of the technicalities involved, see CO 69 [Spring 1991]: 102-104.)
Now and then I have snuck into this column an announcement for a new Greekprogram when I discovered one, but it has finally come time to expand thefull Survey booklet to include Greek. Therefore, with the release of theJanuary 1993 update, the software survey will now be called A Survey ofInstructional Software for the Classics. It will also include non-languageprograms for classical studies in general.
Any discussion of software for Greek should probably begin with Perseus,which has been under development since before I started writing this column.During the 1990-91 academic year a number of schools and colleges were ableto participate in "beta-testing," the last stage of developmentbefore publication. ("Alpha-testing" is done by the developer'sstaff.)
Perseus was publicly released by Yale University Press in April 1992, butthe development process continues for two more expected updates in the nextfew years before the end of the project. The currently available Perseus1.0 contains roughly one-third of the texts planned for Perseus 3.0, andthe same is true of the number of slides included on disk.
The drum roll that has accompanied the development of Perseus has made itvery difficult for the first public release of the software to live up toexaggerated expectations, but the significance of its accomplishments shouldnot be underrated. Perseus is a unique creation which experiments boldlywith the broad range of opportunities offered by the new technologies ofhypermedia. It is an extremely powerful piece of software, and it is nowrealistically accessible to a wide spectrum of users, be they students,teachers, or researchers.
The best way I know of to test out the userfriendliness and applicabilityof any new program is to just pop in the disk and give it a whirl. Likemost powerful programs today, though, there is an installation process requiredto put certain parts of the program onto your computer's hard disk for speedierand simpler usage. Perseus makes use of HyperCard, the standard Macintoshdatabase program, and so HyperCard (along with its accompanying "Homestack") must be present in the Perseus "folder" in orderto run properly.
There are two different ways to deal with the video graphics of Perseus.You can purchase just the CD-ROM package ($150) and have digitized imagespresented on the computer's monitor, or you can buy the videodisc package($350, including the CD-ROM disk) and have slide-quality images presentedon a separate TV/VCR monitor. The latter option is good for class presentations,but the former can be sufficient for an individual user. The minimum systemconfiguration to run Perseus is a Macintosh Classic with 2Mb-RAM and a CD-ROMdrive, but in order to run any video images you need an 8-bit graphics cardand a Mac II or LC is highly recommended.
The Greek font issue does indeed come up with Perseus, too; if you wantto be able to do more with Greek than just view the literature provided,you will need to have a Greek font such as GreekKeys installed on your computer.
Once you have all the hardware and software needed, it is really quite easyto move around within Perseus. When you first start using it, you may beasked by the program to specify where the Perseus data files are. Usuallyyou will be running the program from the hard disk, but the data files areall generally stored on the CD-ROM disk. Once you have told the programwhere the data files are, it will make a note of it and not ask again; however,there are several different types of data files, and the question will ariseeach time you use a different type. Most of this hassle can be avoided byaddressing the "Settings" option as soon as you start up the program.Much of the Perseus "menu bar" at the top of the screen will befamiliar to those who have used HyperCard. The significant additions arethe "Links" and "Perseus" menus. The "Perseus"menu is most useful to the student who is using the program to follow ateacher's preset "path" and taking notes. The "Links"menu lists all the resource categories available and provides a research-orienteduser with the means to jump from a literary search to an archaeologicalsite plan (Figure 1). Other menus may become available for special applications,such as the Atlas.
The ability to create "paths" is one of the chief applicationsfor Perseus in the classroom. Teachers can plan ahead, gathering and markinga sequence of materials provided by Perseus (such as maps, vase photos,and literary references) and then use that sequential path in a class presentationor assign students to review the path outside of class in the computer lab(Figure 2). Once students become familiar enough with Perseus, they canbe asked to create their own path sequences to coordinate with a paper topic.
The other major application for Perseus is the facilitation of research,and that research can range anywhere from a brief literature search in asurvey course to a detailed review of a certain topical allusion throughouta large body of Greek art, architecture, and literature. Until the fulldatabase of materials is further developed, it is not possible to do anexhaustive search; but, for the purposes of most student projects, thereis more than enough to work with now.
Within the context of Greek language courses the support tools providedby Perseus are extremely impressive: an electronic parser and the complete"middle Liddell" lexicon are both available on-line, so that studentscould in fact do reading assignments with Perseus and receive a substantialamount of tutorial assistance. Literary texts can be viewed in Greek, English,or both languages. The authors included in Perseus 1.0 are Aeschylus, Apollodorus,Herodotus, Hesiod, Homer, Pausanias, Pindar, Plutarch, Sophocles, and Thucydides.(Most are taken from the Loeb Library editions.)
A few cautionary notes are in order for those first trying out Perseus.When following or creating a path, you will generally be using the Navigator"palette" to move forward and backward and move through the sequenceof images. The Navigator is a sort of movable control panel. The help optionis signified by a question mark icon, but there is no help yet availablein this version of Perseus, so don't waste your time trying it out persistently(like I did). Another icon on the Navigator is a Greek key or maze witharrows pointing right and left. This single symbol actually contains threedifferent option buttons which allow you to move forward (right arrow) andbackward (left arrow) in a preset path or to add a new piece to a path (centerof maze), depending on what part of the icon you click on. These mattersare explained in the user manual, but I wish they were dealt with more clearlyon screen.
All things considered, I think that Perseus is a truly valuable new toolfor the profession, and I look forward to the further development of itsdatabank. For more discussion about the development of the artistic andarchaeological resources provided by Perseus, see CO 67 [Winter 1989-90]:42-48. For further information on the current release of Perseus 1.0, contactMary Coleman, Yale University Press, 92A Yale Station, New Haven, CT 06520;tel. 203-432-0912.
In the past I have pointed out that I considered Perseus to be an educationaltool, but not specifically a piece of instructional software, which takesa more active, directional hand in its presentation. Now it is evident tome that, by using the path creation facility within Perseus, a teacher cancertainly prepare instructional sessions for students, though the levelof interactivity during those sessions is still limited. Perseus is notintended for elementary language instruction.
A couple of years ago I wrote about Swanson's Paidagogos (IBM), Wooley'sreVerberations (IBM), and Erickson's Koine Greek (Macintosh), as the onlyprograms I knew of for Greek language instruction (see CO 68 [Spring 1991]:101). There are now a few more options available (but still none for AppleII that I am aware of). Many of them have grown out of New Testament study,so their vocabulary and grammar tend to be based on Koine Greek.
Greek Tools is an IBM-compatible program that provides a large flashcard"lexicon" which can be easily edited and used for drilling eitheron-screen or by means of the printed flashcards that it can create. Paradigmcharts of declensions and conjugations are available for reference but notfor drilling. The program also provides a number of tools that are speciallydesigned for biblical text analysis, including a built-in Greek-Hebrew wordprocessorfor note-taking. Greek Tools is very fast and easy to use but takes up overa megabyte of memory on a hard disk (cost: $41). For more info, contactParsons Technology, P.O. Box 100, Hiawatha, IA 52233; tel. 800-223-6925.
HyperGreek is a HyperCard-based program for Macintosh that covers most ofthe elementary basics: first and second declensions; articles and prepositions;personal, demonstrative, and reflexive pronouns; and most indicative verbforms. There are ten chapters of material, each including a vocabulary listof about a dozen words. The vocabulary is not correlated to a specific textbookbut is fairly common, so that the paradigm chart drills and translationexercises could be useful in many elementary courses. Unique options availablefrom HyperGreek include the printing of vocabulary flashcards (which requiresthe installation of a Greek font) and computer vocalization of almost anyGreek word, letter, or phrase in the program (which requires the installationof the MacinTalk utility). There are still some bugs to be worked out ofthe program, but these do not prevent it from being a useful program forbeginning Greek students (single copy: $45; lab pack: $180). The programwas written by Don Wilkins of Biola University. For more info, contact Intellimation,P.O. Box 1922, Santa Barbara, CA 93116; tel. 800-346-8355.
Greek Practice, also HyperCard-based, is designed more as a review for intermediateto advanced students. It provides a vocabulary list of over a thousand Greekwords (listed by frequency of usage in the New Testament) which can be addedto by the user. Flash cards of any kind can be printed out if the appropriatefont software has been installed. Otherwise, on-screen drilling may be sufficient.
Besides the topics covered by HyperGreek, Greek Practice includes comparativesand superlatives, contract and irregular verbs, participles, numbers, andpassive and middle voices. The format employed in most of the drills isstandard parsing by means of checklists. A score is kept but not recorded.The user has complete control over progress through the drill. She can moveforward in the set order or ask for a randomly chosen word at any time.When she decides that she has had enough practice, she can choose anotherword set or another topic to work on. There is very little competitive pressure,just an abundance of options for unhurried practice--for which the programaptly received its name. This abundance of material fills up five disks($89.95) and really needs to be loaded onto a hard disk for easy running.For more info, contact William C. Brown Publishers, P.O. Box 539, Dubuque,IA 52001; tel. 800-351-7671.
If you are looking for an authoring system to use to create your own exercisesfor Greek, I would point once again to the MacLang program, created by Prof.Judith Frommer (Harvard). It provides very easy means to type Greek exercises(as well as Russian, Japanese, Latin, and most European languages) on-screenwith no extra font software. Format options include simple vocabulary drilling,fill-in-the-blanks, paragraphs (cloze), multiple choice, and "jumbles"(scrambled sentences). Version 4 now makes it possible to tie in multimediaresources, such as audiotapes and videodiscs (single copy: $99; lab pack$396). For more info, contact Intellimation (above).
The way Aristotle methodically picks apart dramatic ingredients in hisPoetics, it should come as no surprise that someone has created a programcalled Aristotle's Greek Tragedy Construction Kit. James Bierman (Univ.of Cal.-Santa Cruz) decided to use HyperCard to make it easier for studentsto get a comprehensive view of the main elements in Aristotle's discourseand apply those to the tragedy of their choice. Excerpts from the Poeticsare used along with illustrative examples to clarify the meaning of themajor ingredients: character, plot, verbal expression, thought, song composition,and staging. Each topic has anywhere from two to twenty pages of expositoryinformation embellished with button-click choices and graphic displays.The program includes a built-in notebook and an analytical quiz utilitywith a sample set of questions. The application of this program may be limited,but it is a good example of a complete lesson module (single copy: $45;lab pack: $180; also from Intellimation, above).
Two people have written to help me fill out my recent discussion of Greekfonts and wordprocessing (see CO 69 [Spring 1992]: 102-4), both of themusing WordPerfect, probably the most popular standard wordprocessor forIBM-compatibles.
Bette Ruellan is very happy with a font program called ScriptureFonts, whichincludes both Greek and Hebrew fonts for screen and printer. It is memory-residentand allows you to toggle easily between Greek, Hebrew, and English at anytime. She purchased it a few years ago for under $100 from Zondervan Publishing,1415 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506; tel. 616-698-6900.
Winthrop Dahl has found several options for producing Greek with WordPerfect,all of which he obtained from a handy book called The Multilingual PC Guide(Intext Systems, P.O. Box 3068, Stamford, CT 06905). He speaks highly ofthe Greek module that WordPerfect Corp. itself now offers for $90. (WordPerfectCorp., 1555 N. Technology Way, Orem, UT 84057; tel. 801-225-5000) Ruellancautions that you make sure it will work with your particular printer beforepurchasing--and this is probably good advice for any font software.
Gerry Culley's "Latin Skills" software package has now beencompletely converted for IBM and also has a new distributor. The IBM versionis quite fast and makes good (optional) use of the mouse for quick selectionson menus and parsing checklists. The format and pricing on the IBM versionhas changed slightly from the Apple II version. The individual program disksare priced at $95 each ($75 for Apple II), but they now include the datafilesfor all five textbook versions. (Note: The Apple-Jenney version was forthe 1984 edition, while the IBM-Jenney is for the 1990 edition. The Eccetext version is only available for Apple, while a new Moreland & Fleischerversion is now published for IBM.) The original Apple package of five programsis still priced at $295 for the first set and $195 for additional sets.There are two separate IBM packages priced at $250 each. "Latin SkillsI" includes the first three original programs (Verb Factory, CursusHonorum, and Mare Nostrum), and "Latin Skills II" includes theother two (Translat and Artifex Verborum) and the later published Lectorprogram (which is also available separately for Apple). For more information,contact Falcon Software, P.O. Box 200, Wentworth, NH 03282; tel. 603-764-5788.
Since the demise of the APA's Classics bulletin board system on HumaNetseveral years ago, there has been a growing interest in recreating its networkingcapability. A new opportunity arose last summer, and interactivity has beensteadily increasing during this academic year.
It was the students at the University of Washington who established CLASSICS,an electronic discussion group for topics in Greek and Latin. The groupis unmoderated, and a background in ancient Greek and Latin is assumed.
The Bitnet and Internet addresses of the group and the list server are:
To subscribe, send an Email message to the list server address containingthe single line:
subscribe classics "your name"
with your own name (not your Email address) and no quotes. For more info,contact Linda Wright (email@example.com).
My parting question is: Have you or your students run into any convincingmythological characters in cyberspace yet?