It was at the end of the 1980s that I decided to produce an in-house manual for what was then called Classical Studies 250. At that time, the price of our commercial textbook had already soared beyond fifty dollars, and was still climbing. If only for economic reasons, a course manual seemed to make excellent sense.
But cost considerations were not the only factors. Although I regarded our former textbook as the best of its kind on the market, it was over forty years old, and was hardly ideal for the Canadian undergraduate of the 1990s. Moreover, it contained too much detail for a thirteen-week course, and had some inaccurate and confusing features.
Probably all of us who teach language and etymology courses get the itch to construct a textbook that perfectly matches our own approach. A successful course manual will obviously reflect the instructor’s methodology and academic priorities. However, a good one should also be well organized, clearly written, and interesting to read. That adds up to a tall order, and I can only hope that I’ve approached the goal.
I invite every student to offer criticisms and suggestions for change. Because this work has now gone through several editions, most of the glaring errors should have been caught; but there is still bound to be room for improvement. If any explanation is puzzling or confusing, please let me know. If more examples or more exercises are needed, that lack can be remedied. There are now also computer exercises available in the University Language Centre.
Part I of the book covers Latin material. Part II—shorter in length, but no less challenging—deals with Greek. Each section is designed to provide roughly six weeks of instruction, before and after Reading Break.
Students can rest assured that these materials are being sold at cost, with no financial profit to the author or the Department. Indeed, preparation expenses have been absorbed by the Department, and the price reflects only the actual cost of printing and distribution.
Peter L. Smith
University of Victoria
November 1997 (5th Edition)
- Eli E. Burriss and Lionel Casson, Latin and Greek in Current Use, 2nd edition (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1949). ↵