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Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

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Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:01 pm

I've begun marking the long vowels in Babrius (ed. Perry). My Greek is still poor enough that I can't hear the iambics easily, so I need to do this before making recordings. Please let me know if you spot any errors or missing macrons. Any unmarked α, ι, or υ should be short. I will keep this post updated with any corrections. Further fables will get posted to this thread in new posts. I'm typing these by hand, so other errors may also be introduced.

EDIT - Corrections from Qimmik on 8/11
EDIT - New Audio on 8/12

Audio: http://greek.io/audio/Babrius%200.mp3
Audio v2: http://greek.io/audio/Babrius%200v2.mp3
Audio v3: http://greek.io/audio/Babrius%200v3.mp3

0. Introduction

Γενεὴ δικαίων ἦν τὸ πρῶτον ἀνθρώπων,
ὦ Βράγχε τέκνον, ἥν καλοῦσι χρῡσείην,
μεθ’ ἣν γενέσθαι φᾱσὶν ἀργυρῆν ἄλλην·
τρίτη δ’ ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ἐσμεν ἡ σιδηρείη.
ἐπὶ τῆς δὲ χρῡσῆς καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν ζῴων
φωνὴν ἔναρθρον εἶχε καὶ λόγους ᾔδει
οἵους περ ἡμεῖς μῡθέομεν πρὸς ἀλλήλους,
ἀγοραὶ δὲ τούτων ἦσαν ἐν μέσαις ὕ̄λαις.
ἐλάλει δὲ πεύκη καὶ τὰ φύλλα τῆς δάφνης,
καὶ πλωτὸς ἰχθὺ̄ς συνελάλει φίλῳ ναύτῃ,
στρουθοὶ δὲ συνετὰ πρὸς γεωργὸν ὡμί̄λουν.
ἐφύ̄ετ’ ἐκ γῆς πά̄ντα μηδὲν αἰτούσης,
θνητῶν δ’ ὑπῆρχε καὶ θεῶν ἑταιρείη.
μάθοις ἂν οὕτω ταῦτ’ ἔχοντα καὶ γνοίης
ἐκ τοῦ σοφοῦ γέροντος ἧμιν Αἰσώπου
μύ̄θους φράσαντος τῆς ἐλευθέρης μούσης·
ὧν νῦν ἕκαστον ἀνθίσᾱς ἐμῇ μνήμῃ
μελισταγές σοι λωτοκηρίον θήσω,
πικρῶν ἰάμβων σκληρὰ κῶλα θηλύ̄νᾱς.
Last edited by jeidsath on Tue Aug 12, 2014 4:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:22 pm

ἐφύετ’ -- long ύ

ἀνθίσας -- aorist participle, second α is long

As the last verse seems to say (σκληρὰ κῶλα), these are choliambic trimeters (scazontes), "limping iambics": the penultimate syllable of each verse is heavy/long.

The basic iambic metron is x _ v _ (where x is anceps (long or short), v is short and _ is long). Iambic trimeter--the basic meter of dramatic dialogue--consists of three iambic metra. In standard iambic verse, certain liberties are allowed in the first part of the metron (e.g., substitution of two short syllables for the anceps, as in the first metron of a number of these verses), but the penultimate syllable of each metron is short, which is what gives each metron its character as an iamb.

With the long penultimate syllable of the third (final) metron, which disrupts this pattern, the choliambic meter consists of "limping" iambics, a kind of mocking, irreverent or sardonic iambic meter associated with Hipponax and Catullus:

miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
et quod uides perisse perditum ducas.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:12 pm

I'm not hearing an iambic rhythm in your recording. You might try marking the scansion, i.e., not just the long vowels but the long and short syllables (or heavy and light syllables, if you prefer that terminology, as I do), and then exaggerating the contrast between long and short syllable as you read the text.

Also, I notice that in these verses, the penultimate syllable of each verse--the long syllable that disrupts the iambic pattern--always carries an acute accent. You might try to make more of this to capture the "limping" effect.

In general, the Greek tone accents don't interact with the quantitative meters of Greek poetry, but this seems to be one case where they do interact, perhaps to emphasize the disruption. I don't know whether the coincidence of an acute accent with the disruptive long penultimate syllable is a characteristic of choliambics, or just happens to be the case in these lines. Is it possible that Babrius could date from the period when a stress accent had replaced or was in the process of replacing the tone accent of earlier Greek?

Another noteworthy feature of these verses is that the last syllable of each line is long--it contains a long vowel or diphthong. Usually the last syllable of ancient Greek verse can be either long or short but is treated as long--in other words, a short syllable is lengthened in verse-final position.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:38 pm

Thanks Qimmik. I added your corrections (as well as θηλύ̄νᾱς on the last line).

Your notes on the iambics were extremely helpful. I've recorded a version 2 -- I'm still not there yet, but I feel that it's much better. Hopefully I will get the chance to the record Fable 1 shortly.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:28 am

M.L. West, in Greek Meter (Oxford 1982), p. 175, confirms what I was noticing above: "[Babrius] invariably has an accented syllable in the penultimate position; and this syllable, and the final syllable nearly always, contains a long vowel or diphthong."

p. 162: "[the Imperial period] is marked by a fundamental change in the Greek language which spelt the eventual ruin of the traditional metrical system, and by the birth of a new system which was to take its place. This was the change in the nature of the accent from being a tonal (pitch) accent to being a dynamic (stress) accent . . . .

"Before the end of the first century AD we meet poets who obey a firm accentual rule . . . [including] Babrius, whose choliambics have the penultimate syllable accented. . . . [T]he breakdown of quantitative distinctions, which is usually held to presuppose [a dynamic accent], was already under way in Babrius' time."

In a sense, I suppose, trying to impose the prosody of 5th century BCE Attic on 2d century CE (?) Babrius is somewhat anachronistic. But no one will put you in jail for trying.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:47 am

The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., dates Babrius to "not later than 2nd cent. AD" and has this to say about him:

"The choliamb seems by this period to have lost its satirical overtones and to have been associated with chatty entertainment. Babrius' language is basically koiné Greek; but has an admixture of high poeticisms. The literary and artistic claims made in his two extant proems are such as to suggest that, despite the apparent artlessness of his style, he wrote for the delectation of an educated public rather than for the schoolroom."

I have to admit I've never read Babrius, but the passage you quoted piqued my interest. I have to take a look at him.
Last edited by Qimmik on Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:07 am

You should also be aware that some of the phonological changes that led to modern Greek pronunciation had taken place or were in the process of taking place in Babrius' time: the shift from aspirated obstruents to continuants (e.g. φ > /f/), the merger of ει, η, οι and υ with ι, and β > /v/. These probably didn't occur all at once in a single area, but evidence of their taking place is found in papyrus and graffiti misspellings. You can observe the big iota merger already in place in the first century CE in this deplorable Egyptian papyrus, which mwh recently linked to in another thread:

http://papyri.info/ddbdp/p.oxy;42;3070

The thread:

http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=61817
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:51 pm

Qimmik wrote:But no one will put you in jail for trying.

Oh yes, we will! We will not tolerate someone here who pronounces Koine with Attic accent or vice versa! ;) No, seriously, you're doing nicely. If you wanted to be really, really accurate, you'd have to learn at least three separate reconstructed pronunciations, one for Attic 400 BC, one for Koine and one for Homeric! Homeric is the most difficult I suppose, because the Attic spelling used in modern editions doesn't distinguish between the ει /ei/ and ει /e:/ and ου /ou/ and ου /uu/. As it is, I suppose you have enough work already with Attic 400 BC...

What I hear from those recordings is that basically you know how you want pronounce each sound, but in performance there are too many things to keep in mind at the same time, and for that reason you slip from time to time. You don't make the same slips in both versions. So it's really only a matter of practice any more.

A couple of examples:

In the first version, you pronounce υ in ἀργυρῆν the Anglophonic way (/jy/), while in the second version you have succeeded in getting completely rid of the /j/ (or almost). In the second version, I think you pronounce the υ a bit too long – you should try to keep it really short to accentuate the "limping" choliamb rhythm. (x ¯ ˘ ¯ | x ¯ ˘ ¯ | ˘ ¯ ¯ ¯)

τρίτη on line 4: the ι is correct in the first version, in the second it's a vague schwa sound or something.

χρῡσείην line 2: this is really three long vowels in three long syllables. You tend to merge ει and η together.

πεύκη on line 9: ευ seems to be a bit difficult, you pronounce it as a sort of "you" /ju/ sound. Perhaps Spanish is as good a guide here as any...

But in a word, I'm pretty impressed with you stuff, keep up with it!

Qimmik wrote:You should also be aware that some of the phonological changes that led to modern Greek pronunciation had taken place or were in the process of taking place in Babrius' time: the shift from aspirated obstruents to continuants (e.g. φ > /f/), the merger of ει, η, οι and υ with ι, and β > /v/. These probably didn't occur all at once in a single area, but evidence of their taking place is found in papyrus and graffiti misspellings.

Apparently the merger happened before the distinction between long and short vowels was lost. At least the graffiti doesn't seem to contradict with that, and the meter here clearly demands that too.

EDIT: Thanks for the correction, Qimmik!
Last edited by Paul Derouda on Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:04 pm

Jedsaith: I think that in reading verse, you should exaggerate the distinction between long and short syllables, not just the long and short vowels, so that the rhythm of the verse comes through. As I suggested earlier, you should mark the scansion before you read aloud. (In prose, however, the distinction between long and short vowels shouldn't be exaggerated.)

To convey the disruption of the rhythm resulting from the long penultimate syllable, you might try putting a very slight pause just before it.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:25 pm

Paul, Qimmik, your advice has been very useful. I've posted a third recording (v3), but it only reflects the beginning of what will be a great deal of work on applying all of it.

As far as the anachronism goes, I have read all of your posts with interest. The regional / dialectical / temporal differences in the ancient Greek language are something that I need to learn much more about. I feel like I only have vague notions.

But as far as the ahistoricity of an Attic pronunciation being applied to Koine, my interest in the spoken language is primarily pedagogical, not reconstructional. I hope to achieve reading fluency, and hearing and speaking seem like an important part of that. I'm not a talented linguist, and to learn two pronunciations at once is far beyond me, unfortunately. I do think, however, that every ounce of effort that I have put into achieving a better Attic pronunciation has paid off so far.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:40 pm

I hope to come back to Babrius shortly, now that I am back in the country. However, I came across something related to Qimmik's point here.

Qimmik wrote:M.L. West, in Greek Meter (Oxford 1982), p. 175, confirms what I was noticing above: "[Babrius] invariably has an accented syllable in the penultimate position; and this syllable, and the final syllable nearly always, contains a long vowel or diphthong."

p. 162: "[the Imperial period] is marked by a fundamental change in the Greek language which spelt the eventual ruin of the traditional metrical system, and by the birth of a new system which was to take its place. This was the change in the nature of the accent from being a tonal (pitch) accent to being a dynamic (stress) accent . . . .

"Before the end of the first century AD we meet poets who obey a firm accentual rule . . . [including] Babrius, whose choliambics have the penultimate syllable accented. . . . [T]he breakdown of quantitative distinctions, which is usually held to presuppose [a dynamic accent], was already under way in Babrius' time."

In a sense, I suppose, trying to impose the prosody of 5th century BCE Attic on 2d century CE (?) Babrius is somewhat anachronistic. But no one will put you in jail for trying.


Allen seems to disagree with West on this.

Vox Graeca pg. 119 "In this connection it is customary to cite certain accentual peculiarities in the choliambics (scazons) of Babrius as indicative of stress (paroxytone accentuation at the end of the line). Babrius' date is uncertain, but probably around the 2 c. A.D., when the transition could well have been in progress, at least in some areas. But Babrius cannot be used as evidence for this; the argument is based on a misinterpretation of the choliambic rhythm, and the accentual peculiarities can be better explained in terms of a tonal accent."

Footnote: For details cf. Allen, TPS, 1966, pp. 138 ff.; To Honor Roman Jakobson, i, pp. 58 ff.

I don't have access to the Transactions of the Philological Society or the Jakobson essays.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:45 pm

I strongly doubt M.L. West misunderstands the choliambic meter, or any other Greek meter, for that matter.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:12 pm

And here are Devine and Stephens, “Stress in Greek?” pg. 136:

Paroxytonesis becomes regular also in the choliamb of Babrius, both miuric and normal paroemiacs, the trimeter, and the hexameter. While it continues even after the transition to a stress accent, it predates the development (at least in educated varieties of Greek) in the case of the pentameter, and probably the choliamb, and the miurics. The straightforward explanation is an increasing preference for a fall of pitch on the final syllable of the verse.


Also see the very interesting statistical discussion here in Stephenson's paper on the "Prosodic Evolution of The Greek Choliamb": http://grbs.library.duke.edu/article/viewFile/5391/5339

Specifically the discussion beginning on pg. 88 with under the subheading concerning the avoidance of circumflex in the penultimate position. Stephenson writes: "We must conclude that the rule favoring acute over circumflex accentuation in the penultimate syllable of the Babrian choliamb is is real and independent of the treatment of the final syllable."

I'm not knowledgable about this, but is there any difference between the acute and circumflex pronunciation after the move to stress accentuation?
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:10 pm

is there any difference between the acute and circumflex pronunciation after the move to stress accentuation?


I don't believe there was any difference, but in Babrius (a) the final syllable of the verse nearly always long, and (b) the accent falls on the penultimate syllable, and (c) the final two syllables are almost always part of the same word, so this means that the accented penultimate syllable is nearly always paroxytone rather than properispomenon.

I'm not sure I fully understand Stephenson's article, but he seems to be suggesting that, contrary to Allen, the paroxytonesis of the penultimate syllable may indeed be a reflection of the change from a pitch to a stess accent.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:04 pm

I think that Stephenson and Allen's big argument is in Allen's proposed stress + pitch accent theory, which Stephenson does not find compelling.

The two statements that I think are important here are in the last two pages:

Pg. 96: "The paroxytonesis of all meters suggests that poets came to prefer a falling pitch on the final syllable of the verse and that this pattern of accentuation was maintained -- as an artificiality in some cases -- even after the transition to a stress accent."

Pg. 97: "Thus, neither the accentual nor the syllabic aspects of the prosodic evolution of the choliamb are wholly peculiar to that meter. While it would be premature to propose a general explanation at this point, it does seem reasonable to assume that these changes in versification are not simply artificialities, but reflect the poets' response to ongoing changes in the linguistic system of ancient Greek prosody, ultimately connected to the development of a stress accent and the loss of phonologically distinctive vowel quantity and syllable weight."

To me, it appears Stephenson is suggesting that Babrius is the continuation of the ongoing trend that is related to the linguistic move from pitch -> stress, more than a stark exception, which would be West's view. Allen's view, I think, in contrast to either might be that Babrius is explained by his novel stress-tone theory, rather than being an exception at all.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:30 am

To me, it appears Stephenson is suggesting that Babrius is the continuation of the ongoing trend that is related to the linguistic move from pitch -> stress, more than a stark exception, which would be West's view.


Yes, that's my understanding, too.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby Qimmik » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:10 pm

Let me take credit here for having rediscovered, all on my own, both the prosodic rules that Fix and Ahrens noticed in 1845--and that apparently eluded Lachmann!
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:58 am

Much credit given, Qimmik! It's helped me a great deal to understand what's going on with the meter. Also, here are the next two fables.

The Lion and the Bowman: http://greek.io/audio/Babrius%201.mp3
The Farmer who lost his Mattock: http://greek.io/audio/Babrius%202.mp3
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby ariphron » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:04 pm

I decided to try my hand at a rhythmic reading of this. I think I got the rhythm very strong -- if anything, too strong. The first item is a bit too slow; later I set myself a target speed of six seconds per line.

https://archive.org/details/Babrius_ariphron
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:33 am

@ariphron

I hope that some others can comment on your audio as well. As a fellow learner, I'm only in a position to say where we differ, and you can hear that as well as I can, I'm sure. (And I certainly can't say which of us is right, if it is either of us.)

Two things that have helped me a great deal:

1) forvo.com -- I have mp3s of every suggested pronunciation from Allen that I use as reference sounds.

2) Working on a natural cadence.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby ariphron » Sat Oct 04, 2014 4:11 am

I certainly am not sticking very closely to anybody else’s pronunciation as a model. One of the nice things about learning a dead language on your own is that there is no reason not to follow your own best judgment. I took as my starting point, over a year ago, the pronunciation recommendations in Allen’s “Vox Graeca”, but for various reasons I soon diverged from it in a number of places, and I’m happy with how I pronounce nearly all the sounds right now. The term I like to use for this kind of activity is “Historically Informed Performance”, and as with all performance the ultimate standard is whether people with different approaches are drawn into my conception and appreciate the words while they listen. This is verse; I did not strive for a natural rhythm, but for a rhythm that lays bare the structure and makes memorization easier. I hope my readings succeed by these standards.
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Re: Vowel length in Βαβρίου Μυθίαμβοι Αἰσώπειοι

Postby jeidsath » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:52 pm

I'm kicking off a reading group with some friends, and just posted the following to our small list. Let me know if you're interested in joining in, and I will add you to the email thread.

[...] and I are going to be reading selections from Aesop's fables, and anyone is welcome to join in. We are starting with The Fox and the Grapes.

http://greek.io/texts/foxandgrapes.html

There are two versions on that page. The first is from Babrius. He was a poet, perhaps a Roman, who lived in the 2nd century AD, and put the stories of Aesop into verse.

The second version is from Perry's Aesopica. I can't read his Latin introduction, but I assume that he takes this fable from one of the many extant prose collections of Aesop, which, while later than Babrius, likely represent his source for this fable, and likely trace back long before the 2nd century.

Here is a an audio version of the verse:

http://greek.io/audio/Babrius%2019%20Fox%20and%20the%20Grapes%2010.12.14.mp3

And here is audio of the prose:

http://greek.io/audio/Perry%2015%20Fox%20and%20Grapes%2010.12.14.mp3

The wikipedia page has a good translation of the prose version in its initial section:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fox_and_the_Grapes

But ignore everything under the section "Concise Translations." That is mostly counterfactual. Instead, for a translation of the verse, look at the following web page section XIX, "The Fox and the Grapes"

http://elfinspell.com/ClassicalTexts/Babrius/Part1-Fables1-39.html

Reading strategy:

Use whatever works best for you, but I heartily recommend using the C.S. Lewis strategy of learning Greek (Surprised by Joy pg. 140-)

Listen to the audio, while looking through a translation. Do this a few times, and then look up words that you still aren't sure of in your dictionary. Eventually, you should be able to read and listen to the Greek without any translation aid.

Please reply to the thread with anything that you discover or get puzzled by!
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