Samstag, 28. März 2009

Audio resources for ancient Greek

Please note that inclusion of a link on the list does not imply any judgment about quality or accuracy, except in the case of the tutorials. I have, however, tried to limit the list to resources for the reconstructed classical pronunciation rather than NT or Koine. Recordings which are blatantly non-classical are marked as such. The focus here is on connected speech, not isolated units; hence, recordings featuring only pronunciation of the alphabet or individual words (such as Mastronarde's otherwise excellent tutorials) have generally been omitted.

I do my best to keep this list updated; however, if you notice that any of the links are broken (or if you know of other resources that I've missed), please, please, please drop me a line, either via e-mail or as a comment here in the blog.

Articles and tutorials
The key texts on this subject are W. S. Allen's Vox Graeca and Devine & Stephens' The Prosody of Greek Speech. The former requires at a basic knowledge of phonetics; the latter is considerably more technical.

For those who read German, Danek and Hagel's article "Homer-Singen" is a helpful discussion of the behavior of the pitch-accent across phrases. There is an additional article from Danek in the Wiener Zeitung which discusses more general problems of  how to pronounce ancient Greek.

The late Professor William Harris has a number of articles on the pronunciation and performance of ancient Greek:
The Musical Pitch Accents in Greek ("A basic statement about our misuse use of pitch and duration in ancient Greek!")
On Reading Homer: Acoustic or Optical? ("Will it be optical from a text, or acoustic from your oral performance? A detailed study of this and related problems about text and sound")
Sound of the Homeric Bard ("A study of the problems which face reconstruction of the sound of Homer's epic language, with notes for new performance-reading style")
Reading the Homeric Dactylic Line ("A practical approach to Homeric verse in an acoustically satisfying, realtime reading mode")

William Annis ( has a number of useful articles on Greek meter and pronunciation, including a tutorial on Reciting the Homeric Hexameter (with audio clips).

Allan Shaw ( has an article on ancient Greek poetry and music and on reciting ancient Greek along with some notes for classicists.
Recordings from:
Homer, Odyssey 1.1-21
Aeschylus, Agamemnon 40-45, 160-183, and 958-1000

Homeric Recitation by Avery Andrews has audio samples and a discussion of various techniques for reciting Homeric poetry. Includes recordings of Iliad 1.1-7 and Odyssey 11.150-203, 12.154-200 and 19.509-535 (WAV and RealAudio files)

The eccentrically-named used to include a useful discussion of Greek pronunciation along with some readings from the Iliad. The site is now apparently defunct, however.

Stephen Daitz has an audio Guide to the Pronunciation and Reading of Ancient Greek and a short accompanying booklet with the Greek text (for his other recording of ancient Greek texts, see below)

Audio based Greek courses/audio supplements to Greek textbooks
JACT's Reading Greek textbook series has an accompanying Speaking Greek audio CD. It includes an introduction to the pronunciation of ancient Greek as well as readings adapted from classical authors. Audio uses the reconstructed pronunciation but does not attempt pitch accents.

Assimil's Le Grec ancien sans Peine follows their model for modern languages. The audio files are entirely in Greek; the companion textbook includes explanations in French. Stefan Hagel (see above) was involved in the production of the recordings. Information (in French) and sample pages here.

Catherine Fries' has a Language lab with audio drills for the introductory lessons of Ancient Greek Alive on her website. (For the sake of comparision, Paula Saffire, the other co-author of the book, also has some audio samples from the book)

Learning Greek Podcasts
There have been several attempts to create audio courses in podcast form for ancient Greek. Unfortunately, none of them have produced more than a few recordings before being abandoned.

Lingua Latina et Graeca by Seumas Macdonald includes audio recordings from from W.H.D. Rouse, "A Greek Boy at Home" and "Greek via Kendrick". (The podcast no longer exists as of Sept 2010, but some of the files have been archived at the website linked above).

David Clark has recordings of the first two lessons from Kendrick's "Greek Ollendorf".

Recitations of Classical Texts
The Living Voice of Greek and Latin series by Stephen Daitz is unquestionably the largest collection of audio recordings of Greek texts, including:
  • Ancient Greek Poetry (selections from Homer, Sappho, Pindar, Euripides, Aristophanes, Timotheos, and others)
  • Aristophanes, Birds
  • Euripides, Hecuba
  • Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey
  • Plato, Apology and Crito, selections from Phaedo
  • Selections from Greek Orators (from the speeches of Gorgia, Perikles, Lysias, Isokrates, and Demosthenes)
The recordings are available in DVD and MP3 formats at Bolchazy Carducci Publishers

Exerpts from these recordings, along with a few texts by other readers, are available at the Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature (SORGLL)
The site also includes a short audio guide to Greek pronunciation.

Andrew Reinhard has also posted extensive sections from Daitz' recordings (Aristophanes' Birds and Euripides' Hecuba).

An audio recording of Aeschylus' Agamemnon was produced to accompany a new commentary of the play by David Raeburn and Oliver Thomas. Instructions for ordering the CDs are available on the publisher's website.

Stefan Hagel's The Sound of Ancient Greek has audio files from:
  • Aeschylus, Agamemnon 503-537
  • Homer, Iliad 18.39-96 and Odyssey 8.267-366
  • Plato, Symposium 172f
Also includes a bibliography on Homeric performance.

James Diggle and Anthony Bowen recorded large sections from Medea for a performance in Greek by the Cambridge Greek Play Committee in 2007. The website no longer seems to be available, but the recordings can be found at

Classics professor John Kirby has recordings from Book 3 of the Iliad and Stesichorus Fragment 192 on his website (edit: link broken as of June 2010. old page at

Andrew Wilson's Classics Pages include recitations of fragments of Sappho and the opening lines of the Iliad

The Association for Latin Teaching has put up a couple of audio recordings from Ion. More stress than pitch accent, but otherwise the readers seem to be aiming for a classical pronunciation. (edit: link proken as of September 2012. old page at

Griechische Verse - Griechische Prosa (audio CD, ISBN 978-3-487-11807-9)
Selections from Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Xenophon, Thucydides, Plato. Read by Konrat Ziegler. The publisher, Olms Verlag, includes an audio sample on their website; the Homer recitation is reminiscent of liturgical chants.

"Poems Found in Translation" by A.Z. Foreman includes recitations from several Greek texts in reconstructed pronunciations from various periods. The opening of Homer's Odyssey, a discussion of the problems of most audio recordings, and two post-classical texts by Mesomedes and Lucilius.

The Platonic Players have recorded several excerpts from Plato's Republic as part of a larger project to bring Plato's dialogues to life through performance.

Agamemnon, as performed by the Oxford University Classical Drama Society (YouTube series)

YouTube video of Ladislaus Dolidon reciting Homer, Odyssey 5.270-277

Musical interpretations
Music of Ancient Greeks
(Very short) samples from a CD by Ioannidis Nikolaos. Website includes the Greek text and an English translation for all selections.

Homeric Singing.
Excerpt from the Odyssey. By Georg Danek and Stefan Hagel.

Excerpt from the Odyssey sung by Philippe Brunet (youtube)

Songs of Sappho
Performance by Paula Saffire of the poem "Phainetai moi" (fragment 21) in Greek and in English translation. The website implies that there may be a videorecording of her lectures available somewhere.

Opening of the Odyssey sung by Christian Pecaut (

Fragments of Ancient Greek Songs from the Early Empire sung by Christopher Brunelle

Katherina Glau. Rezitation griechischer Chorlyrik: die Parodoi aus Aischylos' Agamemnon und Euripides' Bakchen (audio-CD with accompanying booklet in German, ISBN 3-8253-0753-0). This is not precisely a musical rendering, but seems to fit here because of the focus on recreating the rhythm. Reviews in English and German.

For those interested in ancient Greek music, there may be more goodies here, although I suspect the focus of these recordings is on the music rather than the lyrics as such.

Other (recordings may or may not attempt to use reconstructed pronunciation and pitch accents)

Cornell University's resources for the Athenaze textbook include audio files for several of the chapters.

And another site with sound files for chapters 1-10 of Athenaze (vocabulary and readings).

Consalvus' blog Ta Mathemata includes audio recordings from the Italian Athenaze and assorted other sources.

Audio for other textbooks
Audio files for all the vocabulary and exercises in Anne Groton's Alpha to Omega (courtesy of David Nye).

Christian Vosloh has recorded audio files for all lessons of German textbook Kantharos following the traditional German pronunciation.

A new direct-method Greek course, Polis Koine, includes audio files to accompany the text. They use an intermediate pronunciation with the aspirate consonants pronounced as fricatives. Samples can be found on their website here.

Neoclassical Greek
Recordings of modern texts that have been translated into classical Greek.

Der Kleine Prinz in 100 Sprachen includes an audio excerpt from an ancient Greek translation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's fable.

Professor Daniel Levine's recording of the first paragraph from the ancient Greek version of Harry Potter 

Pantoia is a collection of translations into Greek and Latin of various well-known literary texts and poems. The site includes a recording of Friedrich Schiller's poem "Nänie" in classical Greek.

Miscellaneous Recordings
Smithsonian Folkways has a number of archival recordings available in CD, cassette or electronic form. Website includes audio samples. Ancient Greek Poetry by John F.C Richards includes selections from Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and lyric and elegiac poetry; Homer has selections from the Iliad and Odyssey. There is also a recording of a performance of Sophocles' Antigone by Columbia Unviersity in 1957 and a reading of Plato's Apology in Greek and English by Moses Hadas.

Haverford Classics Podcasts
Readings of Latin and ancient Greek texts.
Selections from Herodotus, Histories Book 1. Read by George Reuter. Also available at a slower study speed.

Fragments of Sappho read by Thomas McEvilley (Greek and English)

Tadora Press
Includes video excerpts from a university production of Sophocles Antigone and recitations of three of Pindar's Odes

Gerhard Helzel's page on Greek has a number of resources, including audio clips from Sprechen Sie Attisch and a couple of other texts.

Helma Dik's Greek handouts page includes readings from the opening lines of Lysias, Crito, and Oedipus Tyrannus. (Edit: as of Feb 2010 audio files are no longer available. page at

Wired for Books
Iliad 1.1-611 read by Stanley Lombardo. RealAudio and MP3 format. Does not attempt pitch accents.

Harvard Classics Poetry Recital
Homer, Iliad 1.457-463 and 6.466-475 read by Carolyn Higbie (embedded audio)

Homer in Performance
Iliad 1.1-16, 9.307-429, 18.478-519, and 24.468-516 read by Gregory Nagy (embedded audio)

Classical Language Instruction Project
Iliad 1.1-16 in several different pronunciations (Erasmic, reconstructed, and with choral music)

Dance of the Muses
Recordings and videos of Homer and Greek choral poetry

Montag, 16. März 2009

Composing Nations

The German and Slavic dept hosted a conference last weekend, so I abandoned the papers I should have been working on to go listen to some of the speakers (and grab a free lunch). The panels were quite interesting and I learned a lot. It's so easy to get so caught up in our own particular research projects that we forget about other approaches. It's energizing to see all the different topics and possibilities that come up in the papers.

I found the social part much harder. I disappeared between the panels for a while because I didn't know what to do with myself, to shy and awkward and unsure of myself to go up to anyone and join in a conversation. Furious with myself for not managing to handle it better, particularly since I get the impression that the social element is at least as important as the actual papers: the chance to interact with colleagues, meet people, find out what's going on in the field.

Later on I did chat for a bit with a couple of my professors after one of the panels, suddenly started to feel better and realized that maybe all of that wasn't really expected of me anyway. That this, too, is part of the learning process. The encouragement that I should assert myself if I have questions I want to ask about a paper. And maybe that's how to start: to make my voice heard, enter into a conversation.

Listened to a paper on the language theories of Fritz Mauthner, who I hadn't heard of before. It suggested some interesting ideas, particularly his definition of nation in terms of language (Muttersprache as a means of identification with a larger group). There are a number of implications of defining nation in this way, instead of in terms of a political or geographic entity. The boundaries of languages are much more fluid; although it is clear that, say, Spanish and French are different languages, at what point did they become separate language and cease being dialects of a single language? And when multiple languages can coexist in a single geographic area (as in Prague, where Mauthner grew up), or even within a single individual, the situation becomes more complicated. It seems to me inevitable that with this definition one would either have to try to impose uniformity upon language and its speakers, or else end up undermining the idea of nation itself. (Indeed, this is apparently precisely what happened to Mauther: he moved from language as nation to multilingualism -- every language contains traces of other languages, we all communicate in different ways in different social contexts -- as international relations. He was apparently somewhat torn about this; as a linguist he valued the insight which the experience of multiple languages offered him, but the lack of any single Muttersprache was extremely distressing for him.)

In light of current theories of transnationalism, post-colonial pluralism, etc, this is particularly intriguing. A geographic/political and a linguistic understanding of nation are somewhat mutually exclusive. We don't think of language as being inherently part of the definition of a nation, but there does nonetheless seem to be some kind of persistent connection of the two (a common language as a way of asserting the unity of a state), as can be seen in some of the separatist movements in Europe and in the debates about English as an official language in the US. (Is this because language is one of the most visible signs of culture -- lack of shared language resulting in lack of communication, and hence otherness? What is the situation in African states which were carved up by empirial powers regardless of ethnic or linguistic boundaries?)

I had high hopes for a paper on Greco-Roman mythology in East German literature, which is one of my research interests (and since I'm currently working on a paper on Christa Wolf's Kassandra, of particular relevance at the moment), but ultimately was rather disappointed. Given the scope of the topic, however, perhaps it was inevitable that the speaker could do little more in the time available than provide a general overview. I wish he had been more explicit about what he felt like the function (or functions) of myth in GDR theater was. He made some connection between mythological material and "memory engineering," which wasn't quite clear to me: how can myth be used as a form of memory work when it does not directly portray historical events? I do think that myth has the potential in a work like Kassandra to engage with the problems of the German past in ways that might not be possible in a more realistic mode. But I'm not sure whether we can connect it to memory. It's possible I may not have understood exactly what he meant by "memory engineering." I haven't heard the term before, and I'm not sure whether it's his own or one that has been established in the literature. (And a google search is no help: all it turns up are a lot of sites concerned with data storage and computer programming!) If he meant the way in which public engagement with the past is guided by contemporary social and political concerns, then perhaps he has a point.

I would have liked to have a chance to ask him some questions, maybe get some tips on resources. But I didn't have the courage to walk up to him after the panel (what was I supposed to say? Ask if he minded whether I interrogated him?), and when I looked for him later during lunch I couldn't find him.

Montag, 2. März 2009


What's odd about Medea is not that she commits atrocious crimes, but that she is allowed to do so over and over. In the case of other mythical figures, such as Tantalus or Pelops, punishment follows, and the guilt from the crime becomes a curse which succeeding generations must reenact. Medea escapes unpunished. Perhaps this has something to do with her status, which lies uncomfortably somewhere between the divine and the human.

Some scholars have suggested that Medea was a minor goddess assimilated into the Greek pantheon, or perhaps some kind of vengeful daemon associated with childbearing. But it doesn't really explain the diversity of myths about her, or why she is consistently associated with particularly gruesome deeds which transgress the most sacred norms of Greek society: the bonds of family and guest friendship, respect for the gods.

In some ways Medea is the opposite of the Erinyes – instead of the punisher of those who slay their kin, she is the enactor of these abominable deeds, all of which seem to be strangely unmotivated. Even in Euripides, where she is allowed to argue her case, the murder of her children ultimately seems out of proportion to the wrongs done to her: The essential arbitrariness of the destruction, the sense that it happens without any particular evil intention on her part (or is this simply a result of the lack of psychological development in myth, the way it simply states facts and does not inquire too deeply into their causes?).

Sonntag, 1. März 2009

Words and rules; or, Why I don't like French

French is an exasperating language.

After several months of trying to dredge up enthusiasm for the language, I have come to several conclusions. 1) Studying the language is not, as I had hoped, going to be enough to induce an interest in the language. Or at least not enough of an interest to make me suddenly become fascinated with the language. I need some other motivation. Literary texts, perhaps. 2) It is possible that languages that are too similar to your own are actually harder to learn in some ways than ones that are completely foreign. 3) French in particular does not work very well with the methods I have developed for learning languages. All the other languages I've studied have been more or less highly inflected, which means that it's possible to learn the grammar more or less systematically. True, there are idioms, of course, and paradigms have to be learned at some point through brute memorization. But it's always possible to recognize patterns, and memorization takes place within the framework of a system. This doesn't work for French. And therein, I think, lies much of my frustration and irritation.

[Continued in German, because that's how it wanted to be]
Französisch gilt als relativ einfach zu lernen. Besonders weil es im Englischen so viel Einflüsse von Latein und von Französisch selbst gibt. Aber ich glaube, das ist genau das Problem für mich. Als Muttersprachler von English, ist es unglaublich leicht, Französische Texte zu lesen und einigermaßen verstehen. Vor allem wissenschaftliche Texte. Dichtung ist ja eine andere Sache.
Ich brauche eine Herausforderung, um eine Sprache aktiv zu beherrschen. Da es so leicht ist, Französisch passiv zu verstehen, entwickelt sich diese Fähigkeit nicht.

(Aber wenn die Sprache zu fremd ist, kann es ebenso schwierig sein, da man keinen Anhaltspunkt hat, wo man anfangen kann. Wie beim Türkisch, zum Beispiel. Dann muss man eben Vokabular pauken.)

Am interessantesten ist die französische Syntax. In diesem Hinsicht ist Französisch dem Englischem ziemlich ähnlich. Aber bisher reicht es nicht, mich für die Sprache zu begeistern.

Nach der These von Steven Pinker in Words and Rules soll das Gehirn die Sprache in zwei verschiedenen Formen speichern: als Wörter (das gilt für einzelne Wörter sowie auch Redewendungen und Ausdrücke) und als Regeln. Ich glaube, bei mir hat es mit dem Spracherwerb bisher so gut geklappt, weil ich Regeln besonders gut verinnerlichen kann. Einzelne Vokabeln dagegen nicht. Man sieht es zum Beispiel in meiner Deutschkenntnis: mit der Wortstellung, die ganz streng reguliert wird, kam ich sehr früh zurecht. Aber ich kann immer noch das Geschlecht von vielen Nomen überhaupt nicht richtig erinnern, auch wenn ich sie häufig benutze. In Latein oder Russisch kommt dieses Problem sehr weniger vor, weil man das Geschlecht meistens an die Endung merken kann. Ich habe im Russischen (sowie auch im Englischen) manchmal Schwierigkeiten mit der Aussprache, weil beide Sprachen keine feste Betonung haben.

Es is also keine Überraschung, das Französisch mich nervt. Weil die Sprache genau auf meine Schwäche stoßt, und weil meine Fähigkeiten nicht viel taugen. (Habe ich denn intuitiv zu Sprachen geneigt, die ich auch gut lernen kann? Komisch, was man alles macht und weiss nicht warum. Oder war es vielleicht umgekehrt? Ich habe eine Methode gelernt, Sprachen zu erwerben, und ich mag es nicht, dass Französisch mir in diesem Fall widerstand leistet?)