Hints on Pronouncing Ancient Greek Names
Here are a few suggestions to help you pronounce ancient Greek names (and
other ancient Greek words) in
their usual Anglicized way (i.e., not in reconstructed ancient Greek
pronunciation). This is at best a guide; to be sure you will have to
look in a dictionary. For the most part, pronounce the name like an
English word, but with the following exceptions:
Source: Crosby & Schaeffer, Intro. to Greek, sect. 66.
Final "e" is always pronounced: Athene = a-THEE-neh.
"Ch" is pronounced like "k," never as in "church."
"C" is pronounced soft (like "s") before "e" and "i" sounds, otherwise
it's pronounced hard (like "k"). (This is quite unhistorical; in
ancient times all "c"s were hard, but we are used to pronouncing
"Caesar," "Circe," etc. with a soft "c.")
The same applies to "g"; soft (as in "giant") before "e" and "i"
sounds, hard (as in "gate") otherwise.
"Th" is always smooth, as in "thigh," never rough, as in "they."
You can pronounce the vowels as in English, but you will be a little
closer to the ancient pronunciation if you pronounce them as in Romance
languages (Italian, Spanish, etc.).
"Ae" and "oe" can be pronounced like "e."
General rules of accent:
Unfortunately, the decision is determined by whether the syllable is
long in Greek!
However, if the syllable contains a diphthong or contains a vowel followed by two
or more consonants, it is guaranteed to be long.
Beyond that, you are on your own, I'm afraid.
If a name has two syllables, accent the first.
If a name has three or more syllables, then:
- accent the second-to-last syllable, if it's long;
- accent the third-to-last, otherwise.
Aeschylus = ES-kih-lus or EE-skih-lus,
Aphrodite = ah-froh-DI-tee,
Herodotus = heh-RAH-do-tus,
Thermopylae = ther-MO-pih-lee,
Thucydides = thoo-SIH-di-des.
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Tue Sep 28 15:39:23 EDT 1999