On the pronunciation of Ancient Greek…

09/04/2002

I spent years learning Ancient Greek at University. If challenged I can spout off the first few lines of Euripides’ Bacchae (my favourite tragedy) in a deep and rolling voice – a suitable voice for the god Dionysus who speaks them. But of course no one really completely knows for certain what it sounded like when it was spoken out loud… People have researched phonemes and attempted to reconstruct accents and pitch and rhythms from the intensive application of philology, but no one really knows. Still, it’s fascinating to listen to some of the examples you can find on the net. Here’s some Homer (Iliad 18, 39-96), some Aeschylus (Agamemnon 503-537) and some Plato (Symposium 172ff) from this site, which also includes some astonishingly weirdly assembled Ancient Greek Music. And all because I wanted to know whether ‘noos’ was pronounced ‘no’os’ or ‘noose’.