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Ictus-stress and textual variations

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Ictus-stress and textual variations

Postby screamadelica » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:49 pm

Last edited by screamadelica on Mon Dec 19, 2005 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ictus-stress and textual variations

Postby annis » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:48 pm

screamadelica wrote:Going great with Pharr... fourteen lessons done and it seems like each is actually getting easier. I've picked up the pace to a lesson a day and the extra momentum is helping.


Momentum is good, but when you find nothing makes sense, slow down and review for a bit.

1) I looked all over and couldn't find this question asked, which is probably because it's so simple and stupid. But: am I correct in understanding that in reciting Homer, one should ignore accents totally and absolutely, emphasizing the ictus and nowhere else?


No, no, no. Remove the word ictus from your vocabulary. It means nothing in Greek meter. According to an older method of reciting this strange disturbance of stress-accent was forced onto hexameters, but it doesn't have anything to do with Greek meter, which is based on patterns of long and short syllables. The accent is completely independent.

I ask because it sounds profoundly hackish in English when people alter the natural stress of a word to make it fit a meter, and I'd imagine it'd sound weird with a non-stress-accent, too.


It would. So it's a good thing it didn't actually happen. :)

A Practical Approach to the Dactylic Hexameter is a good place to start. I have a PDF explaining how I recite, with links to MP3s of me doing so, Reciting the Heroic Hexameter.

I thought there was a standard version of the text but I guess not; even this early in there are differences that change the meaning pretty substantially even though they scan the same. Do different texts have any meaningful differences, i.e. enough to change the meaning entirely?


There is no such thing as a standard text for any of the Greek classics. Each edition will have small variations based on what the editor thinks is the most likely best reading. I don't think there are any in Homer that utterly change the meaning of a phrase, but sometimes you still get serious meaning differences in the dramatists, or some poets.
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Postby screamadelica » Mon Dec 19, 2005 3:01 pm

Thanks for the guidance. I'm glad I put off any recitation until I got that point cleared up... I spent an extra day getting it down a bit and I'm still not quite there, but nothing more can be done by just stopping and practicing the same three-to-five lines ad nauseum. I've got the first five memorized and I can pull them out of a hat at my whim (which is rather mind-expanding in that I've got five lines, soon to be more, of actual Greek verse, composed correctly by a native speaker, at my disposal); the next five are to be introduced this chapter and I'll have to read through what I already know to get to them. Just more practice.

I tracked down several recordings of the beginning of the Iliad and no two are pronounced alike, even though the reciters all obviously know their stuff. Listening to them did bring up one observation:

I'm R-gifted. I can pronounce the English R as strongly or as softly as any accent gives it. I can pronounce the French R and the trilled one (there are actually a few for each so there's no one French R or one rolled R, but anyway...), so I've got a bit of an arsenal at my disposal (most people I know can pronounce either one non-English R or the other but not both). Oddly enough, it's not my favorite sound. That honor belongs to L.

Pharr recommends the back R; every other text I've seen recommends the front; several reciters use the English version. Is this more personal taste than anything? The R sound in general can mess with vowel length even if it's quite controlled; of all of them, I'd say that the trilled R is the least hazardous (in that it's based on taps and isn't just held and then stopped) so that's what I've been using. However, even though I've got my tongue trained to do it very quickly (i.e. in the space of a single consonant), it still seems to act as a doubled consonant.

I'd like to stick with the trill for future use in Russian, et al., (years of French class has made the back R dominant and I've never had a chance to use the front much) but if there's a logistical reason for dropping it, I'd like to do so early so I don't have to relearn everything. (It doesn't mean all that much to me because I'm not taking classes right now and I'm not going to take a Greek class until next fall; it's all for my own pleasure. And when I am in a class, I'm going to use whatever R everyone else does. Gratuitous R-rolling is one of the most obnoxious and pompous offenses imaginable)

The other big differences between the recordingsg was how the accents were handled; one of the readers used them as the basis for a melody and another just went with the ictus scheme and sounded like "Evangeline"; the "Peleiadeo Achileos" (I've got the Greek typewriter page somewhere but just one word isn't really worth it) varied as well as the "heroon" (1.4). All in all my try was pretty good... haven't got a very sharp ear for the rhythm yet but that will come (I can sense what foot I'm in and where I am in the foot, and I can sort of hear the end of a line, but the whole sound of it hasn't been hammered in. Repetition, repetition, repetition). Only big mistake was mistaking A(i)di for Aidi (that is, alpha/iota-subscript for alpha/iota); the rest was solid. I don't know how to raise the accents exactly, but since nobody I heard was even similar, I just took an acute as the pitch rise in French and I modelled the cirucmflex after your "Achileos" (but with a bit more waver that I can't get rid of). It really does sound quite special and less monotonous when there are only a couple of accents per line and not one every word; the hard part is when a circumflex is immediately followed by an acute and you have to do some unexpected vocal acrobatics. But I'm rambling badly.

Thanks a lot for your help: I'm sure you remember how exhilirating this all was when you first cracked into it.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Wed Dec 21, 2005 2:04 am

Pharr recommends for the rho a French R or a German trilled R, which are different. Does "Vox Graeca" prefer one over the other? I'd say that initial rho, always aspirated, would sound German; and rho in the middle of a word would sound French.

"A(i)di for Aidi (that is, alpha/iota-subscript for alpha/iota)" ~Screamadelica

I don't follow you. alpha/iota subscript is always a diphthong, and alpha/iota is always a diphthong too, unless it's got a diaeresis, as in Aïdi. That means that Aïdi has three syllables, and that the last iota is long because it's followed by 2 consonants.

Speaking of Pharr's editions... my copy opens in the alphabet. :cry:
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Postby screamadelica » Wed Dec 21, 2005 9:30 pm

Bardo de Saldo wrote:Pharr recommends for the rho a French R or a German trilled R, which are different. Does "Vox Graeca" prefer one over the other? I'd say that initial rho, always aspirated, would sound German; and rho in the middle of a word would sound French.


Rho and upsilon are the only sounds for which Pharr suggests a different pronunciation from the other guides I've looked at. Upsilon, as he explains, changed from ou to rue from Homeric to Attic; I can see that pretty easily. The rho is a bit of a different story. The older texts on this site suggest an English R, which I can't take seriously (it takes a slacker jaw than Greek allows IMO). My present-day alphabet/pronunciation guides (Oxford, Balme/Lawall, Mastronarde) all suggest a "trilled R, as in Italian or Scottish" for the Attic rho; nowhere does anybody suggest that the R shifted between the two, so I'm led to believe that the pronunciation of rho is a very inexact science and that the standard has changed over the years (from English R to back R to front R). It could be a dialectical thing, like Standard French and Languedoc, but Attic and Ionic are supposed to be extremely similar (even given the huge geographical distance -- that's kind of weird). So it's all a wash in my mind, but I prefer the front R for a few reasons:

1) A totally subjective factor: it's far more difficult to pull off and it seems unlikely that a language would evolve to embrace a harder sound;
2) The aspirates. "Phr" is possible with a back R but (highly unscientific, but hey, I'm no linguist) "thr" and "chr" are not (they become "tr" and "kr" when I try them). There are words beginning with "thr" and "chr"; either I haven't got the practice necessary to pronounce them or they arbitrarily decided which words would be "tr" and which would be "thr".
3) There were no other fricatives at this stage (not written, at least) so rho would have stood alone. The front R is very convenient to all of the other sounds save the velars (and a glance through my dictionary shows that there are very few "gr", "kr", and "chr" combinations compared to "pr", "tr", etc.).
4) From what I can tell, languages with different R sounds are the exception rather than the norm and they shifted from a front R. It doesn't make any sense to me that Greek would do the opposite.

They'd never stand up in court but it's enough to give me a sense that Pharr is wrong here (but again, I'm hardly an expert!). About the always-rough-breathing thing... I honestly have no clue.

"A(i)di for Aidi (that is, alpha/iota-subscript for alpha/iota)" ~Screamadelica

I don't follow you. alpha/iota subscript is always a diphthong, and alpha/iota is always a diphthong too, unless it's got a diaeresis, as in Aïdi. That means that Aïdi has three syllables, and that the last iota is long because it's followed by 2 consonants.


I just meant in pronunciation: I was pronounced A(i) as if it were Ai, where the second is the usual "ai" sound and the first is however you feel like pronouncing it (for me, "ah-i", almost a long A but not quite). No big deal because, as you said, they're both long, but I was pronouncing it "A-A-I-I" (if we break it into quarters) instead of "A-A-A-I" (of course, many would say to pronounce it "A-A-A-A").

Speaking of Pharr's editions... my copy opens in the alphabet. :cry:


That's great! No more searching for places in the grammar section! :D
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:47 am

"Upsilon, as he explains, changed from ou to rue (...)"

We might need to agree on a standard phonetic transcription. The only way I can make sense of what you said is that upsilon changed from the sound represented by the Greek diphthong ou (English oo) to the vowel sound you make when you say street in French (kind of like halfway between an English oo and ee).

"(...) "trilled R, as in Italian or Scottish" for the Attic rho (...)"

That would be the Italian r in Rodolfo, not the r in caro, if I'm not mistaken. I hope you're wrong and I don't have to start saying the Greek murí' as the Italian murrí!

"I just meant in pronunciation: I was pronounced A(i) as if it were Ai, where the second is the usual "ai" sound and the first is however you feel like pronouncing it (for me, "ah-i", almost a long A but not quite)."

Your phonetic transcriptions are going to kill me! Is the usual ai like the ai in the Greek achaiois and the English my, or like the ai in pain and rain?

"No big deal because, as you said, they're both long, but I was pronouncing it "A-A-I-I" (if we break it into quarters) instead of "A-A-A-I" (of course, many would say to pronounce it "A-A-A-A")."

Aïdi has three syllables, a-i-di, and the first two are short. The third syllable (the second i) is long, at least in the context of Iliad 1-3.
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Postby screamadelica » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:56 pm

Bardo de Saldo wrote:Aïdi has three syllables, a-i-di, and the first two are short. The third syllable (the second i) is long, at least in the context of Iliad 1-3.


Aaaahh, here's the source of our confusion... Pharr's text gives it Ἄιδι (that is, ᾄδι) while Draper's is Ἄϊδι. They both scan the same because ᾄ and ἄϊ both fill out the foot -- one of those thorny differences between texts.

I've put a link to the Unicode typewriter in my favorites so no more clumsy phoentic transliteration.
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Postby annis » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:06 pm

William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Scansion aids?

Postby tbjohnston » Tue Jan 10, 2006 5:10 pm

Following up to this thread, can anyone recommend any aids to help confirm or check the scansion one believes to be correct?

Thanks.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Wed Jan 11, 2006 3:06 am

Chad just posted a link 2 forums up for a scanned Iliad I. I haven't checked it thoroughly, but being our Chad I assume it is correct. If you start your practice with Book I and check your exercises with Chad's work, by the time you're done with it you'll be unstoppable.

I learned to scan with Pharr's and Benner's lessons, and after 50 lines or so it becomes second nature. I ordered for Christmas Draper's Iliad I (hasn't shipped yet), which I've read scans the doubtful lines.

------

"Actually these read the same." ---Will

If Pharr's iota is not subscript and doesn't carry the breathing mark and accent because the alpha is capitalized, wouldn't that make it a diphthong with the alpha and thus a long syllable, as opposed to the two short syllables indicated by the diaeresis?
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Postby annis » Wed Jan 11, 2006 3:52 am

Bardo de Saldo wrote:If Pharr's iota is not subscript and doesn't carry the breathing mark and accent because the alpha is capitalized, wouldn't that make it a diphthong with the alpha and thus a long syllable, as opposed to the two short syllables indicated by the diaeresis?


D'oh! :oops: Yes. Capitalization messes up the usual conventions.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:46 pm

I think I have found out from where the stressful ictus comes: In the Middle Ages, when Latin poetry went from quantitative to qualitative, folks had to figure out how to keep reading Vergil with rhythm, so they invented the stress on the start of every foot.

I apologize for using the word ictus on Bombie's thread, I copied it directly from Draper's commentaries to the Iliad. I'll do penitence with 3 Pater Nosters and 5 Ave Marias.
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Postby Bombichka » Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:43 am

lol there's no need to apologize since even many Classical scholars still use the ictus when they read poetry. and they should have known better.
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