In a small space on the third floor of the humanities building there is a room packed full of books about ancient Greece.
One wall is lined with books written in modern languages such as English, Italian or German, while the other side is filled with volumes written in Latin and Greek. The itchy dust that the decaying leather bindings give off stands as a testament to the age of these books, and only adds to the impressiveness of the space.
This is the office of Dr. John C. Gibert, a CU professor whose worldwide travels have made him an expert in the field of ancient languages.
Claire Jimenez, a freshman history major, and Alysia Ramos, a freshman double major in international affairs and Spanish, say Gibert’s worldwide travels to the far corners of the earth add to his expansive knowledge of his subject.
“Any time there is a name which means something in English he’ll translate it,” Jimenez said. “I think it makes the class more interesting in terms of the language.”
Since 1992, Gibert has been at CU teaching students how to read and interpret Greek literature, in transliteration and in the actual language.
Ramos said she can see the difference between Gibert and her high school teachers, and says she thinks his knowledge of the language “gives us a lot more insight into the actual Greek.”
Gibert’s travels throughout the ancient world have afforded him special insight into the subject which he teaches, trips like the one he and his wife took on the west coast of Turkey.
Determined to see the site of Apollo’s oracular temple at Didyma but unable to secure any transportation, the Giberts decided to walk to the ancient site. When they thought they were stuck in the middle of nowhere, the couple was picked up by a group of Turkish medical students who, in return for being able to practice their English, allowed Gibert to join in their tour around the famous archeological sites.
“It’s hard to apply the Greek language to everyday life,” Gibert said.
On another trip across Yugoslavia, Gibert had to rely on his Greek to communicate with some Serbian men who could not speak any of the other languages he knew. While Gibert commented that it wasn’t easy, the fact that he can make practical use of a language that is not even taught to be used orally indicates that he is a master of languages.
In class, students say they appreciate Gibert’s application of his travel experiences to the translations they do in class.
“If he didn’t, we would just be analyzing the translators,” Ramos said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Tim Kelly at Timothy.M.Kelly@colorado.edu.