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The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

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The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby Ahab » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:30 am

Those interested in listening to Ancient Greek will likely be interested in the following information.

There is a fairly recent commentary on Aeschylus' Agamemnon published by Oxford Press. The BMCR review can be found here: http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-07-57.html. A recording of the play was produced to be used along with this commentary.

It is on 2-cd's and was recorded by David Raeburn and students at Oxford University. According to the liner notes, the pronunciation follows the recommendations of Allen's Vox Graeca. And an attempt was made to follow the pitch accent.

Info on obtaining the cd's can be found on the OUP UK site: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199595617.do#.UDV-LaN62So. I purchased my copy from the Hellenic Bookstore and found their service excellent.
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby spiphany » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:39 am

Hey, cool! Thanks for the heads-up!
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:37 am

By the way, anyone interested in reading Agamemnon together? It's already a few years I've wanted to read it, but the couple of times I've tried I've always stopped somewhere near line 100... I think it's most difficult Greek text I know, but certainly something to read in the original before you die... ;)

The last times I tried, I did it with the Denniston & Page commentary, but I suspect I won't be able to resist getting this one too...

Because Agamemnon is only like 1500 lines also means that we could actually reach the end before Real Life intervenes. (I strongly suspect that I'm six feet under before finishing Thucydides...)

So, anyone in?
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:48 pm

And how is the recording? Do you think the CDs are worth getting? I am very interested in reconstructed pronunciation, but I find most renderings disappointing. Stephen Daitz turns my blood cold...

There is one rendering I think everyone interested in reconstructed pronunciation should check out. This is really fascinating. The song of Demodocus from the Odyssey, with pitch accent, lyre and all. http://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/sh/.
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby Ahab » Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:03 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:And how is the recording? Do you think the CDs are worth getting? I am very interested in reconstructed pronunciation, but I find most renderings disappointing. Stephen Daitz turns my blood cold...


I think they do a good job with the pronunciation. I can't speak to their handling of the pitch accent since I have a tin ear when it comes to pitch. :oops:

With postage and currency conversion, the cd's cost about $22. It was worth it to me. Am presently studying Greek on my own and am glad to have the chance to compare my pronunciation with those more experienced than myself.

Also, my reaction to Daitz's recordings is similar to yours.
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby pster » Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:29 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:By the way, anyone interested in reading Agamemnon together? It's already a few years I've wanted to read it, but the couple of times I've tried I've always stopped somewhere near line 100... I think it's most difficult Greek text I know, but certainly something to read in the original before you die... ;)

The last times I tried, I did it with the Denniston & Page commentary, but I suspect I won't be able to resist getting this one too...

Because Agamemnon is only like 1500 lines also means that we could actually reach the end before Real Life intervenes. (I strongly suspect that I'm six feet under before finishing Thucydides...)

So, anyone in?


I'm dedicated to doing a super thorough job of Thucydides. Basically, the 5-10 year plan. But I love audio. And I've yet to try a tragedy. 1500 lines. Hmm. If you do 5 lines a day, you would finish in a year. Even that seems too much for me. What kind of pace were you thinkng of? I could get through 5 lines a day for sure. But I just wouldn't have any time left for detailed discussions of grammatical points and so I wouldn't be contributing much. I just have too much going on and already have to spend 1.5 hrs min on Thucydides. Darn.

Why is it so hard? I've never read a tragedy.
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:55 am

I was thinking something like 100 to 150 lines per week. Agamemnon is actually 1673 lines, so it would take 3 to 4 months. I think nobody wants to keep reading one play for a year, that's just too long, you want to get to the end as fast as possible... 3 to 4 months might be a good compromise, though I'm open to other suggestions.

I've finished only one tragedy, Euripides' Trojan Women, but I was more like skimming it through. And you know how they say Euripides is much easier than Aeschylus. But they also say that Agamemnon is the one tragedy everyone should read...

My problem is really that I'm not that good with Attic, beside Euripides I've only read a couple of plays by Aristophanes. I'm fairly proficient with Epic though (I've read about all surving old hexameter, Homer even a couple of times), so I think that's how I can make relevant contributions.

Ahab wrote:I think they do a good job with the pronunciation. I can't speak to their handling of the pitch accent since I have a tin ear when it comes to pitch. :oops:


Your ear can't be as bad as mine. But I think we're entitled to an opinion about whether a pitch accent reconstruction sounds natural or plausible to us!
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:51 pm

Accidentally posted it again when editing the text below, I'm removing the first text here.
Last edited by Paul Derouda on Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus recorded in Ancient Greek

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:23 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:I'll share my first impressions, now that I've listened to the beginning (about the first 300 lines).

Of those that I've come across, this seems to be one of the better attempts at recording Ancient Greek, and worthy of attention. I think the greatest merit is that it really engages with metre and the format of the classical tragedy; I think I'm not the only one in these days who tends to ignore the metre when reading Greek poetry, because my generation doesn't much read poetry otherwise. It seems a really scholarly work in this respect (though how would I know...), something to study rather than for listening once.

So, as far as I'm any judge, the recording makes a very good job with the rhythm. With reconstructed pronunciation maybe less so, the actors have a strong English accent. The biggest problem is not making a clear distinction between aspirated and unaspirated stops, especially in emphatic words:

θεοὺς μὲν αἰθῶ τῶνδ᾽ ἀπαλλαγὴν φόνων
I'm setting the gods on fire, a release from these murders!
(actually what I hear is θεοὺς μὲν αἰθῶ θῶνδ᾽ ἀφαλλαγὴν φόνων, but that's not so funny :) )

Ok, that was a bit mean, because I think the recording has great merits as well.

With the pitch accent (which is what usually interests me most) it seems to make a better job. This is really difficult for me to appreciate though, because I don't recognise pitch accent naturally and I'm not musical at all. I think the circumflex is respected pretty consistently. In many occasions I can't hear an acute, but I don't know whether it's because it's not there or just because I can't hear it. Maybe it's just that they're not overdoing it.

Has anyone else remarks on the pronunciation, especially the pitch accent? I'd like to know if you've found clear mistakes, not to make more fun of the recording, but as an exercise.
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