Since it is basically a glossary, A Glossary of Terms in Grammar, Rhetoric, and Prosody for Readers of Greek and Latin: A Vade Mecum is mostly definitions. Presumably, Smith includes all terms you need to teach or study elementary or intermediate Latin and Greek, since those are the classes on which the book was tested. It is divided thematically into the three major sections of grammar, rhetoric, and prosody, plus introduction.
Smith summarizes the history of the study of classics and linguistics. Among other points he makes, he says Greek is the oldest continuous language, with records from the Mycenaean Period that begin about 1450 B.C., while English, which only began in 449, is millennia younger. He explains the lofty role of philosophy in the study of language. The important classical philologist Sir William Jones would not have noticed the relationship between Sanskrit and Greek and Latin had he not memorized them -- a skill Smith touts as the basis for personality (the more the better).
Instead of concentrating on only one of the classical languages (Greek or Latin) at a time, Smith puts them together. This is very useful for those who study both of the languages, and especially for those of us who never felt comfortable in one of them (Greek, for me).
Another strength of A Glossary of Terms in Grammar, Rhetoric, and Prosody for Readers of Greek and Latin: A Vade Mecum is its breadth. You may be aware of the long series of names of terms connected with rhetoric, from the familiar irony, onomatopoeia (hiss) and oxymoron (jumbo shrimp), to the not-so familiar ones like hysteron proteron, litotes and parataxis, to the unfamiliar, like isocolon, epizeuxis and hypallage. Okay, that's my perspective. You may already use the transferred epithet (hypallage) adroitly in your writing. The prosody section may be less useful to TLS readers who aren't also classicists, but Smith does use ample examples from English poetry to illustrate meters.
I enjoy the trivia Smith injects. For example:
"[St. Augustine] argues that words teach us nothing."and the discussion of current controversies. Here is an example:
"The ancients, while they knew well how dangerous persuasive speaking could be in the mouth of an unscrupulous man such as Cleon the Athenian, nevertheless held rhetoric in high regard, as speech-making was essential to the life of the city-state."
'"Modern linguists are reluctant to use the notional definitions found in traditional grammar - such as a noun being the 'name of something.' The vagueness of these definitions has often been criticized: Is beauty a 'thing'? is not the adjective red also a 'name' of a colour? In place of definitions based on meaning, there is now a focus on the structural features...."'
There are truly trivial problems. Smith says the Old English letter þ "thorn" is the same sound as the modern English "th", but doesn't tell which "th". You can see the two types in a chart on page 19. Do we assume it is used for both? On the same order is another statement (at the end of his praise of rote memory work) about St. Augustine that I lack the religious training to understand:
"This fact of human nature explains why St. Augustine was able to see an analogy between the faculty of memory and the first person of the Holy Trinity, for the Father is the basis of the Trinitarian life."
It is basically a series of definitions, so it should be clear if the order of entries is alphabetical, as it essentially is, and, indeed, it would be clear, if it were only one comprehensive glossary, but it is not. The one serious problem with the book is that you need to read that how to use the book section very carefully or memorize it, which could be Smith's intention, if you want to use the book as a reference work. Even with that, if you don't fully understand what's syntax and what's rhetoric, you'll spend a few extra seconds hunting. There is not an alphabetical index at the back or a detailed table of contents, although the contents includes a list of the pages on which you'll find charts. Instead of an A to Z index, there is an analytical index that makes reference to the sections and subsections in which you'll find the terms.
- "True Statements" are in IA (Introduction > Background),
- Prolepsis is in section II (Grammatical Terms),
- "Closed syllable" is in section II.B (Grammatical Terms > Etymological Terms), although section IV is the one for prosody,
- "Absolute Phrase" is in section II.C (Grammatical Terms > Syntax),
- Prosopopoeia is in III.B (Rhetorical Terms > Rhetorical Terms),
- Meter is in IV.B (Prosodical Terms > Prosodical Terms).
A few colored stick-on tabs for the individual sections: How to Use, Etymological Terms, Syntactical Terms, Rhetorical Terms, and Prosodical Terms," might help, once you've figured out what to expect in each of those sections.
Some may find the section references easy to follow and have no trouble determining whether a term belongs in rhetoric or syntax.Regardless, if you're a reader of the articles on this site, it should probably be on your bookshelves.Title: A Glossary of Terms in Grammar, Rhetoric, and Prosody for Readers of Greek and Latin: A Vade Mecum
Author: Richard Upsher Smith, Jr.
Pages: xii + 140
Publication Date: 2011
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.