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When I was learning French, I found it very helpful to work on my vocabulary using a picture book called First Thousand Words in French. For example, it would have something like a full-page picture showing a farm, with the words for dog, cow, farmer, and so on. It was particularly helpful to be able to practice the vocabulary without having the distraction of referring to English-language translations, so that I wasn't getting in the habit of always translating.

I know some modern Greek and am now gearing up to try to read Homer. Strangely enough, the "First Thousand Words" series does not have a book for Homeric Greek (or even modern Greek, for that matter). I have a vocation/avocation for writing educational books (mostly on physics, which I teach for a living), and making them free online. I was thinking that it might be fun to make a picture vocabulary book for Homeric Greek. Can anyone recommend any book or books that are old enough to be public domain (before ca. 1922) and have lots of illustrations of everyday life in the ancient world?

I have found, for example, an illustrated English-language retelling of the Iliad, The story of the Iliad, Church, 1911. It has attractive line art, but not very much of it, and most of it is battle scenes, which means that the number of words that it can be used to demonstrate is relatively small.

I could of course also comb through Wikimedia Commons for general images of a cow, a plow, a farmer, and so on. But then the whole thing would sort of come out looking like ugly clip art. The charm of the First Thousand Words books is that they depict full-page scenes with a lot of detail in them. And line art (as in old books) tends to be easier to reproduce legibly, especially when printed out. The vast majority of what's on Wikimedia Commons is photos of the modern world.

  • As worded, this doesn't actually have anything to do with the Latin (or Greek) language. If you were actually asking for recommendations about what those 'first thousand words' should be for each language, that would be on-topic; but you're just asking about books with pictures. Voting to close as off-topic. – cnread Jan 31 at 21:47
  • @cnread: Point taken. But the help for the site does say that it's on topic to ask "cultural and historical questions that are strongly related to Latin." Of course you're right that this is not directly a question about language. – Ben Crowell Jan 31 at 22:01
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    @cnread We've definitely taken questions about what books a beginner should use to learn Latin here before; that seems like a decent precedent for this one. – Draconis Jan 31 at 22:25

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