Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

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Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by jeidsath »

I wanted to post my current metrical attempts, as it has been a while. I recorded this today.

Γ 250-258:
https://soundcloud.com/user-205331799-6 ... iad250-258

One of the things that makes me happiest is that I can read through Homer and random, and the meter more or less comes out, unless I trip up in pronunciation. And when I do trip up in pronunciation, it properly trips up my meter for the line, rather than fudging it. It's getting closer and closer to the smooth and emergent feeling of reading English verse for me.

I think this metrical style (I'm arsis-stamping, if you can't tell) would lend itself pretty well to a sung performance similar to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3aDevIVVFg

The biggest challenge (for me) is composing a decent melody line for repetition. The above is some sort of Finnish traditional Karelian melody, I believe, and is very catchy.

I'm aware of the West paper, but there's really much less there than it seems. It boils down to "use the Doric mode" (okay) and take the melody from the accent pattern (unlikely). Hagel does this, if you want to listen to him. West's suggested rhythm is best ignored, as Hagel does.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by bcrowell »

I thought it would be fun to do a recording myself before listening to yours, and then compare:

https://youtu.be/SDG40atDX-w

I just did the first six lines.

I've listened to a bunch of different recordings of this sort of thing. Some are more listenable than others, but I think if I had to sit and listen to hundreds of lines at a sitting, no matter whose performance it was, I'd want to shoot myself. The shoot-myself feeling was even stronger when I tried listening to a recording of a Slavic bard, where he just sang the same melody over and over again. I've ended up pretty much deciding that my way of experiencing Homer is going to have to be reading it silently with stress accents.

With tonal accents, it seems very difficult (both when I try it and when I hear what others have done) to avoid the effect of ping-ponging back and forth between two pitches, which gets extremely monotonous.

Not sure if I posted this previously on this board, but here's a recording I made of the beginning of the Iliad, trying out a bunch of different techniques to avoid monotony: https://youtu.be/3HjGeE8iWFM
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by katalogon »

I scanned the first five lines and listened to both of your renderings.

I have very little experience scanning. Everything seemed straight-forward.

In the second line, third foot, I scanned: μων κα.jα (masculine caesura)
In the third line, third foot, I scanned: βῆ.να jἵ (feminine caesura)
In the fourth line, third foot, I scanned: δρος κα.jα (masculine caesura)

where the j is a yod. Does this seem correct?

Joel's rendering seemed to me to be using stress accent on the first syllable of each foot. Ben's seemed to me to using pitch accent.

I have no idea what arsis and thesis means because every time I try to look it up, I find many contradicting definitions.

I have been using solely pitch accent for about three years now, and I cannot say a Greek word without using pitch accent. I have removed stress accent completely. So if I were to try to recite Homer, it would not have any alignment with the ictus (meter), since there doesn't seem to be any correlation of pitch accent with ictus. I am not sure what I should do at this point. Try to introduce some stress accent on the first syllable of each foot, while simultaneously keeping the lexical pitch accent?

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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by Hylander »

"Joel's rendering seemed to me to be using stress accent on the first syllable of each foot. Ben's seemed to me to using pitch accent."

Neither of these captures the metrics of ancient Greek poetry, which is based neither on a stress accent system like that of English nor on pitch (though pitch contrast was a suprasegmental feature of ancient Greek), but rather on syllable length. It's all to easy for those of use who speak a language with a strong stress accent like English or German or Russian to read aloud using a purely quantitative metrical pattern without falling into a pattern of imposing a stress on long/heavy syllables.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by bcrowell »

Hylander wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 2:12 pm "Joel's rendering seemed to me to be using stress accent on the first syllable of each foot. Ben's seemed to me to using pitch accent."

Neither of these captures the metrics of ancient Greek poetry, which is based neither on a stress accent system like that of English nor on pitch (though pitch contrast was a suprasegmental feature of ancient Greek), but rather on syllable length. It's all to easy for those of use who speak a language with a strong stress accent like English or German or Russian to read aloud using a purely quantitative metrical pattern without falling into a pattern of imposing a stress on long/heavy syllables.
Thanks for your comments. I'm not especially clear, though, on what you're saying. In both my recording and in Joel's, it seems clear to me that the syllable lengths are following the meter. His rhythmic feel sounds to me somewhat like this (inexact notation, exaggerating the effect):

♪ 𝄾 ♪ ♪

He's usually giving a noticeable stress on the first syllable of each foot. I think mine is more like this:

|-7-|
♪. ♪♪

I'm trying to do a light or barely noticeable stress on the first syllable, decoupling that completely from the tonal accents.

So his feel is more "clippety clop," while mine is more like "Homer goes bossa nova." I hear both of us settling into a rhythmic groove at some points that is pretty close to what I've tried to notate (inexactly) above, but also dropping out of it and varying the rhythm somewhat.

Re the tones, what I'm getting from Joel's post is that he doesn't want to render the phonetic accents as tones, and that's also what I hear him doing. I'm rendering the phonetic accents as tones.

Since it's difficult to communicate this kind of thing in words or musical notation, it would be interesting if you could point us to a recording online that is more like what you advocate.

Realistically, I don't think there is any way for people in 2022 to say for sure that there is a right or wrong way to do this sort of interpretation.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by Hylander »

Realistically, I don't think there is any way for people in 2022 to say for sure that there is a right or wrong way to do this sort of interpretation.
Agreed. I tend to fall into the pattern of stressing the "arsis" myself, and I'm comfortable with doing this in the knowledge that it's probably not right. Generally, I don't read aloud, but I read metrically in my head. Frankly, I don't see much point in trying -- in vain -- to replicate some "original" way of reading ancient Greek poetry. Personally, I'd rather put the effort into other, to me more rewarding, aspects of engaging with ancient Greek.

We know a fair amount about how ancient Greek was spoken in Athens in the 5th-4th centuries BCE and in subsequent eras in the larger Greek world, but we know very little about how it might have been spoken in the environment in which the Homeric poems originated.

In fact, despite much speculation on the basis of very little evidence, we really don't have a good idea of the circumstances -- where, when, who, how and why -- these poems originally came into being in the written form we have them. Apart from recognizing that they are the end-product of a traditional of oral, composed-in-performance poetry dating back many centuries and the vague notion that they were likely composed sometime in the 8th-7th centuries BCE in the Aegean area (Asia Minor, Euboea, the eastern Greek mainland?), i think many of the specialists working in this field today have come to terms with the mysterious origins and have backed off from trying to construct unprovable theories. We can't even be sure that the text as it has come down to us is not a product of widespread Hellenistic revision.

So I don't see spending a lot of effort trying to recapture the "original" way to read the poems as productive. For me, the "arsis stress" conveys enough of the feeling of the hexameter.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by bcrowell »

katalogon wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 2:18 am In the second line, third foot, I scanned: μων κα.jα (masculine caesura)
In the third line, third foot, I scanned: βῆ.να jἵ (feminine caesura)
In the fourth line, third foot, I scanned: δρος κα.jα (masculine caesura)

where the j is a yod. Does this seem correct?
I think what's going on here is that when you have a long vowel followed by another vowel, it's common to make the long vowel short. I'm not very experienced or knowledgeable about handling the caesuras, but it seems to me that in each of these three lines there is a natural syntactic break at the word boundary in the third foot, so I chose to insert a slight pause there. In the third line, it would seem awkward to me to stop in the middle of a word, after βῆ, as you suggest.

Personally, what I've generally tried doing is to choose based on the logic of the text (a) whether or not to introduce a caesura in a given line, and (b) whether or not to add time at the end of a line. Usually if I add time at the end of a line, I add a full measured 7th foot so that the beat continues as if there was a drum machine going. I think many people advocate pausing at the end of every line, and they do an unmeasured pause. It's also possible to shorten the note values on the final foot so that there is a short rest that marks the end of the line, but without adding any time beyond the 6 measured feet. That's what I did in the second, fourth, and fifth lines. I think the more normal practice is to do almost the opposite of this: if the rule-based interpretation of the final foot is ♩♪ 𝄾 , then you actually do it as ♩♩, I guess followed by a short unmeasured rest, the idea being, hey, there's no big rush, we're going to pause anyway.
katalogon wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 2:18 am I have been using solely pitch accent for about three years now, and I cannot say a Greek word without using pitch accent. I have removed stress accent completely. So if I were to try to recite Homer, it would not have any alignment with the ictus (meter), since there doesn't seem to be any correlation of pitch accent with ictus. I am not sure what I should do at this point. Try to introduce some stress accent on the first syllable of each foot, while simultaneously keeping the lexical pitch accent?
If you look at living musical styles, there is no universal thing where notes on certain beats are played louder. In most styles, to my ear, there is basically no differentiation in stress between different beats. For instance, if a sax player is playing in a jazz style, and they're playing | ♩♩♩♩|, what I generally hear is that all four notes are equally loud. Of course that depends on lots and lots of stylistic factors. But in general, the listener's brain doesn't need to hear anything like a stress on the first beat in order to know that that's where the bar starts. They get all kinds of other cues, such as harmonic rhythm. So I would suggest that what you're posing as a problem is basically a non-problem. If your intention is to produce a clear sense of measured time, and you have a sense of the pulse while you're reciting, then it will come through on a recording. You can strongly stress the first syllable of a foot, not stress it at all, or do anything in between, and the listener will hear a clear sense of measured time. If you do choose to add those stresses, then they would be decoupled from the pitch accents.

There's also the question of whether you really even *want* to produce a clear sense of measured time or a pulse. Here's an example that I hear as measured time:

Muellner, first lines of the Iliad, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnkE02S9M7w#t=1428

(He's doing this as part of a lecture on the rules for short and long syllables, so what he's probably trying for here is total clarity. It comes off to me as a little robotic, but that may just be because he's trying so hard to make it clear.)

Here's an example where I get almost no sense of measured time (or at most it only happens intermittently):

Nagy, first lines of the Iliad, https://soundcloud.com/harvardclassics/ ... -by-g-nagy

I don't think either way is right or wrong. They're just different effects being produced. In both cases there's a clear difference between quarter notes and eighth notes; it's just that one performance produces a perceptible pulse and the other doesn't.

When you're reciting, you can pretty easily turn on a measured-time effect or turn it off. If you want it turned on, then just make a habit of marking the rhythm to yourself as you go along. E.g., when I made the recording of Iliad 3.250 I had an eraser in my hand and I was tapping it on my thigh. That automatically produces a sense of a pulse, whether you want it or not. If you don't want to produce the effect, then don't tap, and it becomes pretty much automatic that any sense of a pulse is completely absent when you play back the recording -- especially if you have been doing any pauses or variations in speed.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by katalogon »

Hylander wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 2:12 pm It's all to easy for those of use who speak a language with a strong stress accent like English or German or Russian to read aloud using a purely quantitative metrical pattern without falling into a pattern of imposing a stress on long/heavy syllables.
That is absolutely true and in fact it is often a mistake to even use the word "stress" since the English speaker will likely hammer it too hard. The worst example of this that I know of is with Czech, in which it is usually stated that Czech accentuation is easy - all you have to do is stress the first syllable of every word. The truth is that it would be much better to say that there is no stress in Czech, just a series of long and short syllables that have equal emphasis. This forms the matrix for pitch accent in other languages.

bcrowell wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 4:08 pm In the third line, it would seem awkward to me to stop in the middle of a word, after βῆ, as you suggest.
I labelled the third line caesura as feminine, meaning that the caesura was after the second syllable (short). The caesura is indicated by a space (not a dot).

The only question I have about my scanning was the insertion of the yod in beginning of the the third (short) syllable. I was wondering if other people did that.

bcrowell wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 4:08 pm If you look at living musical styles, there is no universal thing where notes on certain beats are played louder. In most styles, to my ear, there is basically no differentiation in stress between different beats. For instance, if a sax player is playing in a jazz style, and they're playing | ♩♩♩♩|, what I generally hear is that all four notes are equally loud. Of course that depends on lots and lots of stylistic factors. But in general, the listener's brain doesn't need to hear anything like a stress on the first beat in order to know that that's where the bar starts. They get all kinds of other cues, such as harmonic rhythm. So I would suggest that what you're posing as a problem is basically a non-problem. If your intention is to produce a clear sense of measured time, and you have a sense of the pulse while you're reciting, then it will come through on a recording. You can strongly stress the first syllable of a foot, not stress it at all, or do anything in between, and the listener will hear a clear sense of measured time. If you do choose to add those stresses, then they would be decoupled from the pitch accents.
This gets us to the "delicate ear of the ancients" controversy (see page 132 of Allen). I'm not convinced in general that some kind of internal metronome is beating, although I have seen that once demonstrated by a professor on youtube, and I have no doubt that you are able to do it. The idea in chapter 6 of Allen is that there is some prominence given to the first syllable of the foot, and that this prominence is dynamic stress, and that it derives from the natural language in which certain syllabic patterns in words have a natural prominence.

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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by bcrowell »

katalogon wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 10:24 pm This gets us to the "delicate ear of the ancients" controversy (see page 132 of Allen).
Thanks for pointing that out -- I'd never noticed that section in Allen. But his ideas seem pretty implausible to me. If I'm understanding correctly, he's suggesting that short and long syllables probably don't have anything to do with time. But on this topic, unlike phonetics, there is no need for someone like Allen to do linguistic detective work. We have ancient writings telling us very clearly what's going on. Hephaestion, it seems to me, makes it perfectly clear that quantity was a matter of duration. It seems bizarre and perverse to ignore that and speculate instead that something else was going on. That doesn't mean that the ancients followed a perfectly square ♩♪ ♪ rhythm with even subdivisions and no variation, but it seems inescapable that what Hephaestion is describing is basically that, and that any deviation from it would be for style (like swing feel in jazz) or variety.
katalogon wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 10:24 pm I'm not convinced in general that some kind of internal metronome is beating, although I have seen that once demonstrated by a professor on youtube, and I have no doubt that you are able to do it.
When you say "is beating," I assume you're talking about the original performance practice. I'm not claiming that the original performance practice was to have a regular pulse or not to have one. I doubt that there is any way we will ever know. I'm just saying that it's an effect that we can naturally produce or not produce when reciting poetry, and that some modern recitations do it and some don't. Personally I don't really care whether it's pulse or no pulse that is historically authentic (even if we knew, which we don't).

Even for something like Shakespeare, which is much closer to our time, I doubt that we know exactly what the rhythmic feel was like historically. And if we did know, and we could hear it, it's very possible that we would hate it.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by Vasile Stancu »

I wonder if there is any alternative approach among scholars to the principle that "the written word-accent must be disregarded in reading the verse". My feeling is that acceptable musicality may be obtained with Homeric verse without disregarding the word accent. Consider, for instance, Iliad 1.53: it sounds good to my ear if recited as is, i.e. observing its original accents on words. When I check the audio proposed by hypotactic.com, I perceive, in some cases, just a rearranging of accents, as if the words were accented like this, for instance (Il. 1.57):

οἳ δ' ἐπει οὖν ἠγέρθεν ὁμήγερεές τε γενῶντο

Supposing accents reflect the way words were pronounced in normal speech, I tend to doubt that poets would apply so extensive distortions on pronunciation in order to comply with some theoretically intended rhythm, especially with an epic work like this which was intended for a large audience, not necessarily familiar with the details of verse metrics.

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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by jeidsath »

I have to suppress the pitch accent quite a bit to place stress in the right places above. I've gotten fairly good at pitch accent in prose reading, actually. Listening now, I can still hear the pitch in my recording. There is a tension between the meter and the accent. I think that some people are confusing pitch and stress.

On the other hand...I am less and less sure whether the accents in our texts are really that close to the accents of the Greeks in the classical or epic periods.

Beyond the complete disassociation between accent and arsis in poetry, the rule of αι and οι being counted as short for accent really strikes me as something that should date to a later period of Greek. Further, one expects that word accent would move around as syllable weight changed in the spoken language, which it certainly did. The "just ignore the markings and accent it like Latin" classicists from a century ago certainly weren't correct, buy they may have had method to their madness.

Greek poetry is infinitely more fun, at least, when accent is completely ignored.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by katalogon »

Il. 1.57

pitch accents shown
οἳ δ' ἐπεὶ οὖν ἤγερθεν ὁμηγερέες τε γένοντο,

secondary stress accents shown (first syllable of each foot bold)
οἴ δ' ἐπει οὖν ἠγέρθεν ὁμήγερεές τε γενόντο,

The secondary stress accents are placed on the first syllable of each foot to mark the ictus.

The only coincidence of pitch accent and secondary stress accent is in the second foot (in this example). The pitch accents and the secondary stress accents are othogonal.

One idea for recitation is to mark the ictus with slight secondary stress accents, but to simultaneously retain the pitch accents. That is, you would merge the two lines above.

It is shown (Gregory Nagy) that when the secondary stress accents are placed on the first syllable of each foot (a heavy syllable) then that stressing agrees with a postulated natural stress of Greek to a high degree in the second half of the verse and to a lesser but still fairly high degree in the first half of the verse.

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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by jeidsath »

I think Allen's secondary stress rule is wrong/unhelpful in some major way, unfortunately. It is formulated (in a linguistically unusual way) to give exactly the correspondence that you show above, and often fails. Nagy's solution to try to save it does not impress me.
One idea for recitation is to mark the ictus with slight secondary stress accents, but to simultaneously retain the pitch accents. That is, you would merge the two lines above.
In the recording above, I am doing pitch and ictus stress (I believe, and can hear it on playback), but you say you can't hear the pitch. I can record it with pitch entirely suppressed, and again with ictus stress ignored (read like prose) if you would like those to compare.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by jeidsath »

Also, I believe in the following tests for anyone trying to master the Homeric meter:

Can you read at normal speed and clap the ictus with your hands?

Can you read slowly and clap the ictus on first read of lines that you have not read before?

Do you avoid lengthening short vowels in heavy syllables? (Ie. always let the doubled consonant, or the ictus-stress, provide the timing.)

Whatever else Greek poets did, I expect they could do the above easily, and that it should be a minimum basis for picking up Greek meter. The same goes for iambic/trochaic poetry as well.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by katalogon »

jeidsath wrote: Sat Apr 02, 2022 10:22 am I can record it with pitch entirely suppressed, and again with ictus stress ignored (read like prose) if you would like those to compare.
Joel, if you are willing to do those two recordings, that would be very useful for me.

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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by Vasile Stancu »

jeidsath wrote: Sat Apr 02, 2022 10:30 am Can you read at normal speed and clap the ictus with your hands?
Can you read slowly and clap the ictus on first read of lines that you have not read before?
Do you avoid lengthening short vowels in heavy syllables? (Ie. always let the doubled consonant, or the ictus-stress, provide the timing.)
Whatever else Greek poets did, I expect they could do the above easily, and that it should be a minimum basis for picking up Greek meter.
I have tried to follow these rules while reading some Iliad verse, observing at the same time the word written accents. When scanning the verses, I guided myself solely by the long vowels, i.e., all vowels other than ω and η were read as short, including those that form diphthongs (except for ου, which I read as one long vowel); I have made no distinction (at least not consciously) between the long and the short α, ι, υ. Scanning was done while reading (not as a theoretical process), trying to find the best natural division of the verse into the expected six feet. Here are some details I noticed during my experiment:
- Some kind of syncopation, as used in music, should be acceptable if word accents are to be observed. Examples: (1) two accents within the same foot: καὶ ὀϊζυρὸς περὶ πάντων, 1.417; (2) foot with no accent: ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε, 1.2; (3) part of a syllable is sometimes "borrowed" or "attracted" by the adjacent foot.
- Caesuras should be integrated with the metrics. Example: μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ ˉ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος. The sign used "ˉ" is equivalent to the duration of a long vowel. For a pause equivalent to a short vowel, I used this sign: "˘": ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα ˘ διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε, 1.6. Inserting caesuras (if/where) was a matter of my own choice.
- When I deal with a verse for the first time, I am normally not able to read it fluidly enough unless I practice some. I have noticed however that, in most of the cases, the hexameter rhythm emerges quite naturally as my reading performance improves, on the condition that I carefully observe the duration of the long vowels.
- While clapping a rhythm of six beats, I recorded a few verses of the Iliad. Actual verse recitation should not be done this way, I believe, as it appears to be somewhat too artificially musical; in actual verse recitation, all feet must not necessarily be equal in duration. However, the method might be useful for one who wants to internalize the hexameter rhythm. Or, if anyone may imagine that parts of Homeric poems were ever used in ritual performances, like a dance, for instance, perhaps this can illustrate it; and, if needed, some melody could also be added (not necessarily to the reciting voice, but using an additional instrument).
Some of my related audio recordings can be found here https://vasilestancu.ro/TK/audio_librar ... ation.html.

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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by jeidsath »

You aren't putting the beat where I would suggest: the long at the beginning of each foot.

Edit: Looking at where you have highlighted the text (I only listened to your Book 3 video) I think you may just be mistaking many vowels. You were trying to highlight feet?
I have made no distinction between the long and the short α, ι, υ.
Homer did, of course.
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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by Vasile Stancu »

Yes, I highlighted the feet. I did not scan the text in accordance with the traditional theory, but as I saw fit while observing the accents and the long vowels (ω and η) in actual reading.

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Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by jeidsath »

To take one of your lines at random:

τῷ δέ κε νικήσαντι γυνὴ καὶ κτήμαθ' ἕποιτο·

The "traditional" scan would be:

τῷ δέ κε νικήσαντι γυνὴ καὶ κτήμαθ' ἕποιτο·

Missing the first long vowel of νίκησαντι requires fudging syllables across the entire rest of the line. We could "scan" Plato this way we wanted to. It's really just vowel counting. Of course the result is "artificially musical". It's not coming from the text at all.
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

Vasile Stancu
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Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2021 5:59 pm
Location: Timisoara, Romania

Re: Attempted Γ250-258 pronunciation (2022)

Post by Vasile Stancu »

I said above that I noticed, while reading, that part of a syllable is sometimes "borrowed" or "attracted" by the adjacent foot. Now I realize that this happened due to my inability in real time, while reading (1) to consistently read the ου as a diphthong and not like a short vowel, and (2) to realize, when I have completed reading a dactyl, that the three related syllables are already consumed: instead of reading a long-short-short, I sometimes read three shorts, therefore I had the feeling, in real time reading, that the foot was not completed.

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