PRONUNCIATION OF ANCIENT GREEK

The Reuchlinian Method

The Ancient Greek Alphabet


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PRONUNCIATION OF ANCIENT GREEK AND THE REUCHLINIAN METHOD

Introduction to ancient Greek pronunciation

The ancient Greek alphabet consists of twenty-four letters. In great antiquity, there were no small-case letters, only capital letters, there were no diacritical marks, and there were no spaces between the words. The diacritical marks over the letters are the creation of Alexandrian scholars in the Hellenistic period who noticed that the very ancient pronunciation had changed; they developed these marks in order to preserve the memory of how the language was once pronounced. These marks give clues as to accent and, in some cases, to sounds that are known to have existed in the language, but had all but disappeared by the Hellenistic period. This diacritical system of writing Greek is called πολυτονικό σύστημα, the polytonic or multi-accented system.

Contemporary Greek scholars and religious teachers do not believe that modern Greek pronunciation is significantly corrupted from Classical Greek. They argue that contemporary pronunciation is very similar to Classical Athenian pronunciation, ancient Attic Greek. These scholars acknowledge that there was once a significant change in the pronunciation of the language, but this change occurred in the period between the Heroic age and the Classical age, not after. It is why the Alexandrian scholars invented the diacritical marks, because at the time when they added them, the spoken language had already lost certain features that were known to exist, and they wanted to preserve what was known of the very ancient pronunciation. This scholastic work was performed in the Hellenistic period, in antiquity, not in the Medieval Byzantine era. Therefore, the changes in pronunciation in ancient Greek must have occurred before that time. Many modern Greek scholars maintain that the changes in pronunciation occurred before the Classical period. It must be pointed out that the Classical period is the "standard," so to speak, when studying ancient Greek culture. Therefore, the way the language was pronounced in the Classical period should take precedence. In brief, Greek scholars believe that modern pronunciation of Greek is substantially identical to Classical Athenian pronunciation and they have good reasons to believe this is so.

Students of English who are familiar with some of the changes which occurred to their own language (such as the Great Vowel Shift), find it difficult to believe that the Classical pronunciation did not significantly change. Why? Because if you hear older forms of English, they sound like a foreign language, completely unintelligible to modern speakers. But Greek is different. For some reason, the Greeks have been significantly more conservative with their language. To give example, Byzantine Greek from the sixth century CE is completely comprehensible to a modern Greek because, for all purposes, Medieval Byzantine Greek is modern Greek. And a modern Greek speaker will understand about a third of an ancient Greek text, as this author has witnessed himself in his working with Greek students who have not learned the ancient language.


The Erasmian method of pronouncing ancient Greek

Modern European and American universities attempt to follow a method of pronunciation based on the conclusions derived from the Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus in his dialogue entitled De recta Latini Graecique sermonis pronuntiatione. This text lays out what has become known as the Erasmian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, also referred to as the "restored classical pronunciation." Nonetheless, having listened to numerous lectures by many different English-speaking university professors, Classical scholars, albeit not necessarily teachers of the ancient Greek language, this author has observed that once a scholar ventures beyond very common ancient Greek names, pronunciation varies from scholar to scholar, usually with the words pronounced as one would imagine them in English and almost always ignoring the stress (accent) marks. The pronunciation of the ancient language by modern Greek scholars, on the other hand, is perfectly consistent from one scholar to another, for it is the same as modern Greek pronunciation; to reiterate: it is consistent.


The Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek

Since virtually all the most profound knowledge found on this website concerning Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἐλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, was taught to its author directly from Greeks, our allegiance is to the Greek pronunciation, for that reason alone. But the Greeks scholars have reasons for their position beyond convenience which are worthy of consideration. 

Using modern Greek pronunciation to pronounce the ancient language is what scholars call the Reuchlinian Method. It is named after a contemporary of Erasmus, Johannes Reuchlin, another great humanist scholar from the Dutch Renaissance. Reuchlin disagreed with Erasmus on this matter, suggesting it would cause somewhat of a mess. But, unfortunately, the western universities eventually decided to follow Erasmus. One effect of this decision was to separate the western scholars from Greek scholars, at least to some degree.


The Reuchlinian method in practice

The Reuchlinian method is a more simplified Greek because the diacritical marks are largely ignored, with the notable exception of the stress/accent marks. And there are other differences. The pronunciation of the letters and diphthongs as given below is the critical factor. After this list, there is a more detailed explanation of some of the subtleties of pronunciation. Also there is an explanation of the diacritical symbols, most of which are now ignored, as they were originally meant to be understood and the approach to how they should be expressed in pronunciation now.

To avoid confusion, the pronunciation examples in the chart below represent the American-English pronunciation. Please take this into account if you are more familiar with British pronunciation. If you still need clarification, please write inquire.hellenicgods@gmail.com; I will be happy to go through the pronunciation over Skype.

Encouragement: It is not so difficult to memorize this list. It will enable the student to pronounce any ancient Greek word with considerable accuracy. To make the point simply: if you can find the Greek word in ancient script, you can pronounce it with confidence (other than getting into disputes with those who follow other systems). Of course there is much more to learning the language, but this is an important initial step. This author recommends that students develop a discipline of reading several pages of text every day, even before learning the language. Within a few months you will become much more proficient and you will avoid the problem many students of ancient languages face of being able to translate but being unable to actually speak the language. Developing this discipline will give the student the great joy of hearing this beautiful language coming out of his or her own mouth. Much of the flavor of the Greek language is contained in the correct pronunciation. You will find that, if you take care, by simply pronouncing the words correctly, you will actually sound as though you have a Greek "accent;" the Reuchlinian pronunciation truly sounds "Greek" and like a foreign language. The so-called Erasmian method sounds like a non-native speaker.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a student just entering university, before learning this method of pronouncing ancient Greek, you must understand that it will not be accepted by professors who are using the Erasmian method, which may be the majority. However, if you also need to learn modern Greek, it is identical. Students who intend to do research in Greece and who desire to interact with Greek scholars will need to know both methods of pronouncing the language. Using the Erasmian method is unintelligible to a speaker of modern Greek and vice-versa.


Transliteration using the Reuchlinian method of pronunciation

In order to incorporate the Greek pronunciation into transliteration, an entirely new system has been developed, with the non-scholar in mind. To learn more about why we spell words the way we do on this website, visit this page: 

Transliteration of Ancient Greek into English


Perhaps the most important words to pronounce correctly are the names of the Gods.  On the the following page you will find a list of some of the major deities in Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion:


Pronouncing the Names of the Gods



THE ANCIENT GREEK ALPHABET


Α α   Álpha (Gr. άλφα, ΑΛΦΑ)                               

- American English: as the o in lot, or the o in hot

 

Β β ϐ   Víta (Beta; Gr. βήτα, ΒΗΤΑ)     

v as in victory

 

Γ γ    Gámma (Gr. γάμμα, ΓΑΜΜΑ)

- as the in yes when found before ε and the diphthongs αι and ευ, and all letters and diphthongs which have the ee sound as in see (η, ι, υ, ει, οι, υι)

- as the the hard (but more guttural) g in go when found before the letters α, ο, and ω, consonants, and the diphthong ου. In truth, the sound of this letter is not so easy to describe; it sounds something like w or gw or wh, but there is no exact English equivalent, but if you pronounce it like a hard g, it will be a bit off, but you will still be understood.


- When Gámma is found in the following combinations, apply these rules:

γγ   as the ng in sing  + a hard gámma, generally. Example: ἄγγελος is pronounced AHNG-gay-lohs.

γκ   as the ng in sing + káppa, when found within a word. When at the beginning of a word, like the g in go. Example: ἄγκεα is pronounced AHNG-kay-ah.

γξ   as the ng in sing + ξ, as the ks in thanks. Example: ἄγξις is pronounced AHNG-ksees, or πάγξενος which is pronounced PAHNG-ksay-nohs.

γχ   as the ng in sing + χ (kh), examples being the Greek word εγχειρίδιον, which is pronounced æng-khee-REE-dee-on, or ἐγχώριον pronounced æng-KHOH-ri-ohn.

 

Δ δ   Dǽlta (Delta; Gr. δέλτα, ΔΕΛΤΑDǽlta is pronounced thayl-tah, the th like th in this, not the hard th as in theory. (See Thíta) See also Pronouncing Delta and Theta.

 

Ε ε \epsilon\,\! \varepsilon\,\!   Ǽpsilon (Epsilon; Gr. έψιλον, ΕΨΙΛΟΝ) Ǽpsilon is usually pronounced as the e in bet but frequently sounds to an English speaker like the a in say. Using the language of phonology, it could be said generally that έψιλον in Greek is pronounced as a tense vowel (versus lax) and because of this it often sounds like the a in say, but when you listen to a native Greek speak, it can become confusing. When έψιλον appears at the end of a word it sounds more like a tense vowel, but it sounds more like a lax vowel in the names Ἕκτωρ or Ἑρμῆς, where it is pronounced more like the e in get, or a little like a combination of the two. This author has been unable to discover a "rule" as to when the pronunciation changes, but when you are actually speaking the language, it often seems obvious because only one pronunciation does not seem forced.

 

Ζ ζ   Zíta (Zeta; Gr. ζήτα, ΖΗΤΑ)                                      

- as the z as in zodiac, some pronounce Zíta as the sd as in wisdom.

- Spanish: 

 

Η η   Íta (Eta; Gr. ἦτα, ΗΤΑ)                                       

- as the ee in free


Θ θ; [ϑ ("script thita," cursive form)] Thíta (Theta; Gr. θῆτα, ΘΗΤΑ)                                    

- as the th  in thin or thesis (NOT like the th in them or thee) See also Pronouncing Delta and Theta.

 

Ι ι    Iόhta (Iota; Gr. Ιώτα, ΙΩΤΑ)                                          

- as the ee in beet

 

Κ κ;  ϰ (cursive form) Káppa (Gr. κάππα, ΚΑΠΠΑ)                                    

- as the k in kill

 

Λ λ    Lámda (Lambda; Gr. Λάμδα, ΛΑΜΔΑ)                               

- as the l in leather

 

Μ μ    Mi (Mu; Gr. μῦ, ΜΥ)            

- as the m in man

- Mi is silent before the letter β

 

Ν ν    Ni (Nu; Gr. νι, ΝΙ)             

- as the n in no

 

Ξ ξ    Xi (Xi; Gr. ξι, ΞΙ) Xi is pronounced: ĭk-SEE. Xi is called a double consonant because it is pronounced like k + s or ks, as the x in lux or the x in axe.

 

Ο ο  Ómikron  (Omicron; Gr. όμικρον, ΟΜΙΚΡΟΝ)                              

- as the o in opinion

 

Π π  ϖ   Pei (Pi; Gr. πεῖ, ΠΕΙ)  Pei is pronounced: pee.   ϖ ("variant pi") is an archaic script form of Pei.          

- as the p in pen

 

Ρ ρ ϱ   Roh (Rho; Gr. ρω, ΡΩ) When found anywhere in a word, Roh is rolled similar to how r is rolled in the Spanish language.                                     

- as the r in run

 

Σ; σ (inside a word); ς (at the end of a word); also you may find ϲ. Sígma (Gr. σίγμα, ΣΙΓΜΑ) Sígma is pronounced: SEEG-mah

- as the s in see 

When Sígma is found before the following letters, it sounds more like z in zebraβ γ δ ζ μ ν ρ. This phenomenon (where ς sounds like the letter the z in zebraalso occurs between words in a sentence where Sígma is found at the end of one word and the next word begins with the consonants β γ δ ζ μ ν ρ.

  

Τ τ   Taf (Tau; Gr. ταυ, ΤΑΥ)             

- as the t in tomorrow

 

Υ ϒ υ   Ýpsilon (Upsilon; Gr. ύψιλον, ΥΨΙΛΟΝÝpsilon is pronounced: EEP-see-lohn.         

- as the ee in beet

 

Φ φ  \textstyle\varphi\,\!  Phei (Phi; Gr. φεῖ, ΦΕΙ) Phei is pronounced: fee.         

- as the ph in Philadelphia or the f in feet; it is like an aspirated π.

 

Χ χ   Khi (Chi; Gr. χῖ, ΧΙ) Khi is guttural h as the Ch in Christus, from the upper part of the mouth. There is no exact equivalent for Khi in the English language; it is called an aspirated k but I find it more useful to think of it as the Greeks do, as the letter H, not K, but a more guttural H. It is pronounced something like the letter Q, from the same part of the mouth, but with a little more air added to the consonant, as the Scottish pronounce the ch in Loch Lomond, guttural.               

Ψ ψ    Psi (Gr. ψῖ, ΨΙ)  Psi is pronounced: psee. Psi is a double-consonant because it is pronounced like p + s or psas the ps in lapse.

 

Ω ω   Ohmǽga (Omega; Gr. ωμέγα, ΩΜΕΓΑ)                                    

- as the o in opinion.




OBSOLETE LETTERS


Ϝ ϝ  Waf    (wau or digamma; Gr. ϝαυ, ϜΑΥ)

- as the w  in wonderful

- WAF is used a symbol for the numeral 6, in reference to its original place in the Greek alphabet


Ϙ   Kóppa  (Qoppa; Gr. κόππα, ΚΟΠΠΑ

- standing between π and ρ in early Greek alphabets; later displaced by κ, but surviving in Latin as Q and retained in Greek as a numeral = 90 (L&S p. 979, left column)


LONG 'E' SOUNDS


By observing the above lists, you will note that the following letters all have the identical sound, the sound of ee in bee

η (íta), ι (ióhta), and υ (ýpsilon), as well as the diphthongs: ειοι, and υι


It is thought that in very ancient Greek, these various vowels  and diphthongs each had a distinct sound, but that through time they all came to be pronounced like ι (ióhta); thus, the process of their becoming identical in pronunciation has been called ióhtakismós (iotakismos or iotacism; Gr. ἰωτακισμός). It is important, however, to retain the original letters, even though they may be pronounced all the same, as it is essential in the study of the language, for instance, in the etymology of words as one example.


DIPHTHONGS: 

The following 2-letter vowel combinations are here referred to as diphthongs. Some of these may technically be digraphs but for the sake of simplicity we are calling them all diphthongs. 

αι -  as the a in say

αυ - pronounced: ăhf if found at the end of a word with no letter following it.
pronounced: ăhf before the following consonants: θ κ ξ π σ τ φ χ ψ 
pronounced: ăhv before the following consonants: β γ δ ζ λ μ ν ρ
pronounced: ăhv when found before a vowel.

ει -  as the ee in beet

ευpronounced:  ĕf if found at the end of a word with no letter following it.
pronounced: ĕf before the following consonants: θ κ ξ π σ τ φ χ ψ
pronounced: ĕv before the following consonants: β γ δ ζ λ μ ν ρ
pronounced: ĕv  when found before a vowel.


ηυpronounced: eef if found at the end of a word with no letter following it.
pronounced: eef before the following consonants: θ κ ξ π σ τ φ χ ψ
pronounced: eev before the following consonants β γ δ ζ λ μ ν ρ
pronounced: eev when found before a vowel.

οιas the ee in beet. When the Ómikron has a stress mark over it (όι), this is not actually a diphthong, the letters are separate syllables, and it is pronounced oh + ee, but since it is spoken quickly, it sounds like the oy in boy.

ουas the ue in glue

υιas the ee in beet


VOWEL COMBINATIONS OTHER THAN OR INCLUDING DIPHTHONGS

Other vowel combinations are not diphthongs and should be given independent syllables as in the words φαεσίμβροτον (pha-æ-SIM-vro-ton), νεάταις (næ-AH-tais), or θέω (THǼ-oh). In a word containing a diphthong and a vowel adjacent to each other, they are given independent syllables as in the word Παιάν (Pæ-AHN) or Θέαιναι (THǼ-ai-nai). 

While these rules about separate syllables are technically correct, in actual usage, we hear something different. Like any language, a native speaker of Greek talks very fast, particularly from the perspective of someone to whom it is a second language; sometimes an entire sentence will sound like one gigantic word. Adjacent vowels and diphthongs, etc., often "melt" into each other and sound different than how they are pronounced independently, particularly when the first letter has the ee sound. For instance:

ια (ee-ah) becomes yah in the name Ιάσων (Jason) and sounds more like YAH-sohn.
ιε (ee-ay) becomes yæ in the word νικιέμαι and sounds more like nee-KYÆ-mai.
ιο (ee-oh) becomes yoh in the word κονιορτός and sounds more like koh-nyohr-TOHS.
ιου (ee-oo) becomes yoo in the word ἀμελίου and sounds more like ah-mel-YOO.
ιω (ee-oh) becomes yoh in the word ἀβίωτος and sounds more like ah-VYOH-tos.
οιε (oh-ee-ay) becomes yæ in the word ποιέω and sounds more like pYAY-oh.


USE OF THE DIAIRÆSIS

When two vowels appear together and one of them (almost always the second letter) has two dots above it (such as ϊ ϋ), this diacritical mark is called a diairæsis (diaeresis; Gr. διαίρεσις); in such a case, the vowels are pronounced separately, because such a 2-letter combination is not actually a diphthong. An example would be the word λαϊκός; in which case the αϊ is not a diphthong and the letters are pronounced as two separate syllables: lah-ee-KOHS. Linguists mention that the appearance of a diairæsis in a Greek word is a clue that the word is likely of foreign (other-than-Greek) origin.


TWO-LETTER CONSONANTS INVOLVING THE GÁMMA

The general rule is that the initial gámma is pronounced like ng followed by the usual sound of the next letter:

γγ   as the ng in sing  + a hard gámma, generally. Example: ἄγγελος is pronounced AHNG-gay-lohs.

γκ   as the ng in sing + káppa, when found within a word. When at the beginning of a word, like the g in go. Example: ἄγκεα is pronounced AHNG-kay-ah.

γξ   as the ng in sing + ξ, as the ks in thanks. Example: ἄγξις is pronounced AHNG-ksees, or πάγξενος which is pronounced PAHNG-ksay-nohs.

γχ   as the ng in sing + χ (kh), examples being the Greek word εγχειρίδιον, which is pronounced æng-khee-REE-dee-on, or ἐγχώριον pronounced æng-KHOH-ri-ohn.


OTHER 2-LETTER CONSONANT EXCEPTIONS

All four of these examples are found more frequently in modern Greek than in ancient Greek:

μπ as the b in boy at the beginning of a word, if inside a word, a slight m is heard before the b-sound.

ντ as the d in dog at the beginning of a word; if inside a word, a slight n is heard before the d-sound, pronounced as nd, as in the name Kohnstandínos (Constantinos; Gr. Κωνσταντῖνος).

τσ as the ch in chew.

τζ almost like the j in James, especially when at the beginning of a word, but more like the ds in loads or a simple z as in zero when within a word. Example: τζαγκάριος pronounced jang-KA-ri-os.


PRONUNCIATION PROBLEMS INVOLVING TWO WORDS AND THE LETTER NI

As is typical in spoken language, words are spoken rather quickly and sentences sound almost like one big word; under certain circumstances, this alters the way particular letters are pronounced. When a word ends in Ni (ν Ν) and the next word begins with κ, ξ, π, τ, ψ, χ the combination sounds thus:

κ -  ng
ξ -  ngz
π - nb 
τ  - nd
χ - ngkh
ψ - nbz

In reality, when the language is mastered, such peculiarities will occur naturally.


DOUBLE CONSONANTS

The following letters are sometimes called double consonants because they sound somewhat like two letters sounded together:

ζ - sounds like z or s + d

ξ - sounds like x or k + s

ψ - sounds like p + s

The term "double consonant" is sometimes used to refer to two identical consonants, adjacent with each other, within a word; these are pronounced as though they are only one letter. For example, ἀλληγορῶ, sounds like "aligoróh," as though there was only one λ.


BREATHING MARKS

Every ancient Greek word which begins with a vowel or a diphthong will have what is called a breathing mark; this is indicated by an apostrophe over the first letter of a word or the second letter of a diphthong. When the first letter is an upper-case letter, the breathing mark will appear before the letter and near its top. These markings are ignored in the Reuchlinian pronunciation followed by this site, but are discussed briefly below to explain their origin. While they are no longer pronounced, like other such diacritical marks, they have meaning and their retention has value in the study of the language and the ancient Greek words:

Rough breathing (Gr. δασὺ πνεῦμα) or aspiration: The rough breathing symbol faces the right (ἁ ἑ ἱ), as in the name of the God Ἑρμῆς. The rough breathing only occurs at the beginning of a word in which the first letter is a vowel (with the exception of Roh [Ρ ρ ϱ)] see below). This indicates that in very ancient times, there was an h-sound before the initial letter. This is why in the Erasmian system, the name of the God Ἑρμῆς is transliterated "Hermes," but in the Reuchlinian pronunciation, the h-sound not pronounced; thus the name is transliterated "Ærmís."

Roh (Ρ ρ ϱ) at the beginning of a word always has the rough breathing mark, even though it is a consonant, and this is why it has been transliterated rh, but we avoid that convention because it is simply pronounced like an ordinary r in the Reuchlinian method. Ýpsilon (Υ ϒ υ) at the beginning of a word also always has the rough breathing, but, again, we just use the single letter to transliterate the letter as it is no longer pronounced differently from an ordinary ýpsilon.

Smooth breathing (Gr. ψιλὸν πνεῦμα): When the apostrophe or single quotation-mark over the first letter of a word faces left (ἀ. ἐ, ἰ, etc.), this is the smooth breathing and it simply indicates that there is no h-sound before the first letter. 

There are other conventions, such as how the breathings appear on the double-roh (ῤῥ), but they are simply ignored in the Reuchlinian method of pronunciation.

When the stress or accent of a word occurs on the first syllable, and that syllable is a vowel, the stress and the breathing-mark will be combined; in the Reuchlinian method, the breathing-mark is ignored but the stress/accent is observed. See the section on Accent or Stress Marks.


ACCENT OR STRESS MARKS

The last syllable of a word is called tæleftaios (ultima; Gr. τελευταῖος); the second-to-last syllable of a word is called protæleftaios (penult; Gr. προτελευταῖος); the third-to-last syllable in a word is called proparalígousa (antepenult; Gr. προπαραλήγουσα). In ancient Greek words, the accent will always fall on one of these three syllables, i.e. the last three; this is called the Antepenult Rule. There are rather complicated rules, primarily based on what are called long and short syllables, which determine where the accent falls. Fortunately, text which is not all in capital letters indicates which syllable receives the accent.

Indication of accent or stress is found above the letter as in the examples below.

Acute Accent (Gr. ὀξεῖα): The acute accent looks like a small slash above the letter, with the lower part facing the left: Ά ά  Ώ ώ. This is called the acute accent. This indicates not only stress but a higher pitch on a short vowel or a rising pitch on a long vowel. 

Grave Accent (Gr. βαρεῖα): The grave accent looks like a small slash above the letter, with the lower part facing the right: Ὰ ὰ Ὼ ὼ. This is called the grave accent and it indicates a stress on that syllable with no change in pitch or a lower pitch. 

Circumflex (Gr. περισπωμένη): The circumflex looks like a "squiggle" above the letter: ᾶ ῆ ῶ ῦ; an alternate symbol for the circumflex looks like a dome above the letter: . The circumflex indicates a high and falling pitch within one syllable. 

All three symbols indicate which syllable is stressed. Whether the diacritical mark is an acute accent, a grave accent, or a circumflex, accent is pronounced the same in both the Reuchlinian method and the Erasmian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, as how to properly perform these pitch differences has largely been lost. It should be noted, however, that in the Reuchlinian method, of all the diacritical marks, the stress marks are observed, not exactly as originally intended, but they are still observed as indicating where the accent lies in a word. The issue of accent is most revealing when observing those who follow the Erasmian method, because they believe they are following the ancient pronunciation, but they usually completely ignore the accent; I feel certain that experts in the system do much better, but the typical classical scholar does not seem to even be aware that, for instance, the accent on Ἑρμῆς is on the last syllable, not the first, and this is a very common name.

When the accent/stress falls on a diphthong, the mark is placed on the second letter of the diphthong; this same convention applies to other diacritical marks as well.

When the stress or accent of a word occurs on the first syllable, and that syllable is a vowel, the stress and the breathing-mark will be combined (Ἂ ἂ Ἃ ἃ Ἒ ἒ Ἓ ἓ Ἢ ἢ Ἣ ἣ Ἲ ἲ Ἳ ἳ, etc.); in the Reuchlinian method, the breathing-mark is ignored but the stress/accent is observed. (See the section on Breathing Marks.) 


APOSTROPHE AT THE END OF A WORD

Frequently one will find an apostrophe at the end of a word indicating a type of contraction; generally, the following word is combined with that which has the apostrophe. As an example, the beginning of line three from Iliás (Iliad; Gr. λιάς) of Ómiros (Homer; Gr. μηρος)

πολλὰς δ᾽ ἰφθίμους, 

is pronounced, 

pollás diphthímous.



IÓHTA SUBSCRIPT AND IÓHTA ADSCRIPT

I
óhta Subscript: Ióhta subscript (Gr. ὑπογεγραμμένη) is a tiny mark placed underneath the letters ᾳ ῃ ῳ representing ióhta; this identifies the obsolete diphthongs ᾱι, ηι, and ωι (the long diphthongsrespectively, in which the ióhta is no longer pronounced. Sometimes, however, ióhta subscript is pronounced for the sake of the meter, as in the Orphic hymns or, really, anything in verse. In ancient Greek, it was written as an ordinary 2-letter combination, ᾱι, ηι, and ωι, and the ióhta was pronounced as a short vowel. 


Ióhta Adscript: When script is written entirely in upper case, the ióhta (of the long diphthongs) is printed as a normal capital ióhta, after the initial letter of the diphthong. There is another convention called Ióhta adscript in which the ióhta in these obsolete diphthongs is printed in small case while the rest of the text is in upper case.


DIACRITICAL MARKS WHEN USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS

When Greek is written in all capital letters, no diacritical marks should be used (although you may find them in some Medieval texts).


PUNCTUATION

The comma and the period function exactly as in English. The semi-colon in ancient Greek text functions as a question mark. A raised dot can be used as either a colon or a semi-colon.

 

For help with the pronunciation symbols:  Pronunciation  Guide 

See also: Transliteration of Ancient Greek


The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The 
Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). 



PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as 

, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation

.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

P
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