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The Greeks - H.D.F. Kitto, Humphrey Kitto This book is the one that really caught my imagination and fired me up about the Greeks. Kitto has a truly infectious love of the era and the people to whom we owe so much of what we now call our civilization. Always interesting, at times he takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes. How I would have loved to have him as a teacher! To him I trace my passion for The Iliad and my love for Homer in general. I also gained an appreciation for how terse an expressive languages can be which have many cases. Word order becomes quite free and allows emphasis to be placed easily, since the place of subject, object, direct object etc. are noted by these declensions.

An example in English might be the line...

"They run from me that sometime did me seek"

It's quite expressive to end with and emphasize the word "seek" here, which is only possible because "me" is automatically the object being sought. In English we retain a few of these cases in pronouns only. Languages like Greek (and Russian, I just discovered) have them on many more words including nouns, adjectives, etc. It gives them the ability to express things very powerfully and concisely.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite books of all time, and I'm so grateful to Kitto for introducing me to and infecting me with his love of the Hellenic world.