The 10:00am Greek Language class caused me much agitation in the past two weeks or so; I honestly worried I might have lost too much Greek during the summer to be able to catch up with the rest of the class. I guess most people did practice their Greek since June, whereas I have not opened the textbook once. Imagine my relief when my Greek teacher announced that we won't be learning any new grammar during the first week, and will concentrate on reading texts we've done before, to randomly exercise our various fledgling Greek muscles. Good idea!
So we've read the two 'unseen' sections we were given at the finals: one a section from Herodotus (I don't like the way Greek names are Romanized in English concerning the Helen-actually-in-Egypt notion, the other a section from Thucydides on Mardonius urging Xerxes to punish the Greeks.
I was quite surprised to discover that most of my understanding is right there, albeit covered with some cobwebs. I forgot a lot of words, sure, but I can pick them up again fairly easily, with the added bonus of being reminded of things I knew rather than learning entirely new things (Socrates!). I will need to memorize some of the forms again. Some forms did not stick, like the dreaded second aorist forms, which we learned at the final lesson or the one before it, last year.
So the Greek was much less painful than I feared it would be. I live to moose another day. Then came the first highlight of the day: tutorial on Greek history with the illustrious Prof. Ze'ev Rubin! I got to the classroom early, to hook up the portable computelk, and waited to hear Prof. Rubin's booming voice, after all this time. Imagine my dismay when a woman walks in, surveys the assembled students, and quietly says: "Well, as you can see, I'm not Zeevik." [For non-Hebrew speakers: Zeevik is a nickname for Zeev showing great familiarity] I was thunderstruck. Zeevik?! And... she's not Prof. Rubin!
The woman explained that "Zeevik" couldn't make it today, and since this is the first lesson of the year, he made special arrangements for someone else to take the class, hand out the bibliography lists, and begin the introduction. She is faculty at the Classical Studies dept., mainly teaching Roman history. She was nice, but a bit confused -- it seemed that the assignment sort of caught her unprepared -- it's not that she doesn't know this basic stuff perfectly well, of course, but that she kept mixing up syllables, names, and places.
At one point, she said "For instance, Menelaus, king of Troy, ..." and I gently said "Sparta. King of Sparta.", in a tone that, I think, conveyed quite clearly that I acknowledge it is a slip of the tongue rather than ignorance on her part. She blinked, then laughed out loud, and said she really is out of moose this morning. I liked the fact she was able to take this in stride.
Toward the end of the lesson, she quoted "Francis Bacon's immortal words: 'Was this the face that launched a thousand ships [...]?'", and, when she did not realized her misattribution after a few seconds, I said "Um, Marlowe, isn't it? Christopher Marlowe, in Doctor Faustus." This time it was not a slip of the tongue, but an actual mixed up attribution on her part, but she recognized her error immediately, and thanked me again. I sympathized with her, having to take on the first lesson of a class she's not used to teaching (Prof. Rubin has been giving this tutorial for more than twenty years now), and again appreciated her ability to acknowledge her mistakes gracefully. So that was not the fireworks I had anticipated, lacking Prof. Rubin, but I formed a generally positive impression of this other scholar.
Then came Prof. Perry's newly-mandatory "Theory of Poetry" course, a strange new requirement in the General Theory of Lit. dept. Prof. Perry was his usual self, which greatly annoys most people, but I stomach fairly well. I manage to see through his ego and his idiosyncrasies and learn from his lectures. The lecture was a disappointment in that I still do not really know what the course will be about. And I raised my hand and asked what the rationale for this new mandatory course is, i.e. why we need to do this having done the thrice more intensive "Elements of Poetry" course last year, but Prof. Perry did not answer to the point. Oh well.
The final highlight of the day was to be the course on Dickens(!), focusing on Bleak House(!), taught by the illustrious Dr. Tamar Yacobi(!), but alas(!), it was cancelled this week. Finding myself with two spare hours, and having mentally prepared myself to only go home at 18:00, I decided to make the most of it and dropped by the library to photocopy as much of the Greek history tutorial bibliography as I can find. Ended up with some 120 pages, and I can't wait to dig in.
Also, met Hagit, kakapo, pelig, ravell, monada, and other TAU buddies. Would have been a really nice day were it not for the blasted head cold. I'm miserable.
Oh! Oh! And this woman from the "TAU Excellence Program" (התכנית למצטיינים) called me up today, and left a mysterious voice message to the effect of "we have some good news for you. Call us at ..." I called during each of the breaks, they were busy. I'll call again tomorrow. I wonder what the good news are, exactly, but it brightened the day a bit.