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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 textbook1 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)
The legacy of Professor Peter L. Smith at the University of Victoria is great. Born in Victoria, Peter graduated high school with the highest marks in the province and took his undergraduate degrees at Victoria College and the University of British Columbia. Having won the Governor General’s Award he attended Yale University where he wrote his PhD focused on the Roman poet and teacher of rhetoric Ausonius. He then had a brief teaching year in Ottawa, but by the early 1960s Peter was home again and began his professional career as a teacher and administrator with the newly formed University of Victoria. In addition to his Classical scholarship, which focused on Latin lyric poetry and drama, Peter wrote a history of the university, A Multitude of the Wise: UVic Remembered (1994) reflecting on the many transformations he witnessed here as UVic became a world-renowned university. Peter had an exacting but jovial manner that students and colleagues can never forget. His demand for excellence impressed anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.
The Department of Greek and Roman Studies is extremely happy to have assisted the University of Victoria library staff with the publication of this textbook which served one of the many popular courses Peter taught for our Department. This book would not be possible without the help and support of Peter’s family, and we gratefully acknowledge his wife Mary Jean, his son Dr. Daniel Hinman-Smith, and daughter Sarah Smith.
The open-access publication of this book in digital format, freely available, follows very much in character with Peter’s efforts to enrich the educational life of students of British Columbia. This book serves as a lasting memorial to one of the University of Victoria’s most revered teachers and friends.
Dr. Brendan Burke Associate Professor and Department Chair Department of Greek and Roman Studies University of Victoria
1 Eli E. Burriss and Lionel Casson, Latin and Greek in Current Use, 2nd edition (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1949).
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