Samples of Greek & Latin, Restored Pronunciation

Some MP3 samples of the “restored” pronunciation of classical Greek and Latin.
I’ve long been a fan of attempts to reconstruct the pronunciation of ancient Greek and Latin. I’ve embedded MP3 snippets of the first line of The Odyssey as well as most of Catullus I. (They take up a lot of space !)


Odyssey Line 1.1 (spoken)

read by Stephen Daitz, “A Recital of Ancient Greek Poetry”, 2nd ed

ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ

 

Odyssey Line 1.1 (chanted)

 


Catullus 1

Read by Robert P. Sonkowsky, “Selections from Catullus and Horace”

Sonkowsky is not as good as Stephen Daitz reading the Greek. He has a very strong American accent and his nasal consonants are particularly bad, sounding rather like a feckless schoolgirl’s attempt to reproduce nasals in French. But still the recording gives the exotic and alien flavour of the “original” pronunciation of Classical Latin.

 

Cui dono lepidum novum libellum
arida modo pumice expolitum?
Corneli, tibi: namque tu solebas
meas esse aliquid putare nugas.
Iam tum, cum ausus es unus Italorum
omne aevum tribus explicare cartis…
Doctis, Iuppiter, et laboriosis!
Quare habe tibi quidquid hoc libelli—
qualecumque, quod, o patrona virgo,
plus uno maneat perenne saeclo!

This entry was posted in Ancient Greek, Classics, Latin and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Samples of Greek & Latin, Restored Pronunciation

  1. Jim says:

    There’s a lot of uncertainty about the pronunciation of “Classical Greek” or “Classical Latin”. Also the Attic Greek of Euripides or Sophocles was already at the time a literary language not what people spoke in the streets.

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  2. Of course. On the other hand we can deduce a lot more about ancient phonology than people might imagine. Sidney Allen’s Vox Latina and Vox Graeca describe both the reconstruction efforts as well as the uncertainties associated with them. Both books are fairly old, but I’m not current on the research.

    As for the structure of the languages — I don’t think Classical Latin or Attic Greek as we glean from writing was ever the same as the spoken forms. I don’t see how anyone could possibly speak as Cicero or Demosthenes wrote. In the one case you have those incredibly complex clauses structures with total freedom in word order, and in the case of the other a mind-boggling complexity of verbal forms relating to tense, mood and aspect.

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  3. Jim says:

    Oh, I agree that “Classical Latin” or “Classical Greek” never corresponded exactly to an actual spoken vernacular. Even Cicero and Demosthenes probably didn’t speak in everyday life in the language of their speeches or writings. On the other hand spoken languages can often have very complex morphology that can greatly exceed that found in Latin or Greek.

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  4. dearieme says:

    The Latin vowels are like those taught in Scottish schools, and unlike those taught in England, at least in my day. So they’re probably OK.

    Many years ago a colleague asserted to me that “we” know how to pronounce the first vowel in beta because some contemporary author had compared it to the sound sheep made. I replied that in English we can’t even decide whether sheep say “meh” or “bah”.

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  5. j says:

    “…the Attic Greek of Euripides or Sophocles was already at the time a literary language not what people spoke in the streets.”
    Cant be so. The plays were shown in great festivals with 30 thousand people enjoying it. They were popular entertainment with motives that captured the interest of the public. Some comedies were very gross and vulgar.

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