Friday, November 8, 2013

How did Ancient Greek music sound?


"Some of the surviving melodies are immediately attractive to a modern ear. One complete piece, inscribed on a marble column and dating from around 200 AD, is a haunting short song of four lines composed by Seikilos. The words of the song may be translated:

While you're alive, shine:

never let your mood decline.

We've a brief span of life to spend:

Time necessitates an end."

Totally worth it to click to the original article and listen to the 19 second clip of the Oxford University classicist performing this piece.

In case you ever wondered, here's what Book One of the Iliad sounds like in the original Homeric Greek. It's a very dramatic reading, and answers the question of why anyone would sit and listen for hours to a rhapsode sing this poem.

And here's Stanley Lombardo singing some of the Iliad [in his English translation] at Hollins University in 2009:

I recommend reading Lombardo's dramatic, fast-paced translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey first, and then reading Lattimore's more accurate, more noble, more difficult translations.

If you graduate college without having read Homer, you should feel very bad about yourself. You should also feel rather annoyed for having paid eighty thousand dollars for a third-rate education.

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