Iliad hexameters - book 23, verse 69-84


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I'm practicing dactylic hexameters. I was unable to find a version of the Greek Iliad that was worked out. This is what I got for a section. Are there mistakes? The red parts seem to be problematic.
The colored-boldened syllables show the beginning of a foot.
(By the way, is there always a "good" solution? Or are there cases when it's up to the taste and artistic interpretation?)

book 23, verse 69-84

εὕδεις, αὐτὰρ ἐμεῖο λελασμένος ἔπλευ Ἀχιλλεῦ.
οὐ μέν μευ ζώοντος ἀκήδεις, ἀλλὰ θανόντος:
θάπτέ με ὅττι τάχιστα πύλας Ἀΐδαο περήσω.

τῆλέ με εἴργουσι ψυχαὶ εἴδωλα καμόντων,
οὐδέ μέ πω μίσγεσθαι ὑπὲρ ποταμοῖο ἐσιν,
ἀλλ᾽ αὔτως ἀλάλημαι ἀν᾽ εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος δῶ.

καί μοι δὸς τὴν χεῖρ᾽: ὀλοφύρομαι, οὐ γὰρ ἔτ᾽ αὖτις
νίσομαι ἐξ Ἀΐδαο, ἐπήν με πυρὸς λελάχητε.

οὐ μὲν γὰρ ζωοί γε φίλων ἀπάνευθεν ἑταίρων
βουλὰς ἑζόμενοι βουλεύσομεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐμὲ μὲν κὴρ
ἀμφέχανε στυγερή, ἥ περ λάχε γιγνόμενόν περ:

καὶ δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ μοῖρα, θεοῖς ἐπιείκελ᾽ Ἀχιλλεῦ,
τείχει ὕπο Τρώων εὐηφενέων ἀπολέσθαι.

ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω καὶ ἐφήσομαι αἴ κε πίθηαι:
μὴ ἐμὰ σῶν ἀπάνευθε τιθήμεναι ὀστέ᾽ Ἀχιλλεῦ,
ἀλλ᾽ ὁμοῦ ὡς ἐτράφημεν ἐν ὑμετέροισι δόμοισιν,
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By the way, is there always a "good" solution?
While there are times when it's more helpful to understand scribal habits, or historical phonology, than the rules of Greek prosody proper, I would nevertheless say 'yes', definitely there is always a good solution.

You certainly seem to have the hang of it. As for the problem spots:
βουλὰς ἑζόμενοι βουλεύσομεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐμὲ μὲν κὴρ
The letter ζ is supposed to represent two phonemes back-to-back (much like ψ and ξ), that is /d/ + /z/, like English 'lads'. One of our important diachronic proofs for this is the dialectal (Aeolic) spelling of words like Σδεύς /zdεus/ for East Greek Ζεύς. So, a ζ makes the preceding vowel 'long by position', as they say.
τείχει ὕπο Τρώων εὐηφενέων ἀπολέσθαι.
As in virtually all prosodic systems in the realm of Indo-European, the poet has some leeway to make his craft easier. The sequence τρ belongs to a broader group which has the ready-made Latin name of muta cum liquida & may count as either long or short, just as you have also in your sample: ὡς ἐτράφημεν. The historical rules that govern which are long and which aren't are more complex than I think is useful to mention (and that's assuming I could do a good job).

Similarly, if the poet wants to use the word ὑπέρ but needs the final syllable to be long, he just uses the old metathetic form ὑπείρ, which sticks around in Boeotian and some Doric dialects like Arcado-Cypriot. Or if he needs one syllable instead of two (as in the first line of the Iliad: Πηληιαδεω), well goddammit he just pronounces it as one (a term styled synizesis). The list goes on and on.

May I ask what you think about this part?
εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος.
Doesn't that seem strange?
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Many thanks! Didn't know that even Homeric words had archaic forms.
So for ἑζόμενοι I can pronounce the "z" long, then start with "d", like "ezzz-domenoi"? Or better "ed-REST-dzomenoi"?

τείχει ὕπο Τρώων εὐηφενέων ἀπολέσθαι.

Do you mean with the whole ὕπο boldened, that the first dactyl of a foot can also be short-short? At some places they suggested that it's strictly long, but thinking about it, even music allows exceptions all the time.

If the first dactyl can be short-short, then the solution for your ὑπέρ suggestion can be:

οὐδέ μέ πω μίσγεσθαι ὑπὲρ ποταμοῖο ἐσιν,

I can't find a solution for your last suggestion: εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος. When I try to move the foot boundaries then it messes up the others.
I pronounce it like: "λὲς -- A - I -". Where a "-" is a rest, a fourth of a dactyl. (Because the diaeresis tells that "a" and "i" are separate.)
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Or better "ed-REST-dzomenoi"?
That'll do. /hed-zo-me-noi/
At some places they suggested that it's strictly long, but thinking about it, even music allows exceptions all the time.
No, you're right: the first syllable of a dactyl is always long. I'm saying that the omicron in ὕπο is short on its own, but when followed by the Τρ of Τρώων, the syllable (that is -ο + Τρ-) is long, so it scans:
- u u | - - | - - | - u u | - u u | - x
τείχει ὕπο Τρώων εὐηφενέων ἀπολέσθαι.
I can't find a solution for your last suggestion: εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος.
I think it'll be helpful to review real quick before continuing.

When we scan poetry, we're looking at the syllables as they are read, not at the individual morpheme ('word') boundaries, to determine length. The two basic rules that determine a long syllable are:
1. if it contains a long vowel or diphthong (e.g. εὐηφενέων, where the rouge is a diphthong and the bold is a long vowel)
2. it it is followed by two or more consonants (e.g. ὕπο Τρώων)

What complicates this line is an instance of a diphthong, which would ordinarily be long, followed by a short vowel (τείχει ὕπο). The following vowel (the υ in πο) in effect shortens the preceding diphthong (the -ει in τείχει), a process known as 'correption'.

The reason I picked out εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος is that you instinctively (and correctly!) marked λὲς as a long syllable even though it isn't. It doesn't have a long vowel or diphthong, and it isn't followed by two (or more) consonants. The reason you are right is a historical one. The poet is remembering a sound that had vanished from the dialect of Greek which he was speaking (Old Ionic). The sound is gone, but its effect of lengthening the syllable is not. Other examples of this remembered sound are the word καλός, scanned with a long first syllable (despite having a short α), and the fact that the word άναξ in line 7 of Il. book 1 does not elide the vowel of the preceding τε.
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New Member
Ah so you meant that it was correct, you just explained why it was correct. Thanks.

I think the extra rules you mentioned (correption, "tr" lengthens omikron, old form of εὐρυπυλὲς) were actually not required for this specific text. The result can be inferred by checking vowel/diphthong lengths and heuristics that start at the end of the line. (I always started at the end.)

But I can imagine that there can be cases where this isn't enough and one needs more knowledge, like above.

Another thing I did is I never pronounced short vowels long, but instead I always added a 1/8 rest after them (1/8 of a foot).
I was thinking that since this is a language that is sensitive to long/short differences in the vowels (even have separate letters for them in its alphabet), then if one vowel gets lengthened, the meaning can also change, and that might make the audience laugh. (Because of a lost word we don't know anymore.)
I'm not sure if this is correct.
then if one vowel gets lengthened, the meaning can also change, and that might make the audience laugh.
That's a definite possibility. One of the reasons I won't be learning Japanese any time soon. :D


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I would have another question regarding the text, but about the meaning. (I'm not sure if I should open a separate thread about it or not.)

I don't understand the meaning of a sentence. I checked 3 different translations. This is said by Achilles after the ghost of Patroclos disappears:

ὢ πόποι ἦ ῥά τίς ἐστι καὶ εἰν Ἀΐδαο δόμοισι [103]
ψυχὴ καὶ εἴδωλον, ἀτὰρ φρένες οὐκ ἔνι πάμπαν: [104]
Look you now, even in the house of Hades is the spirit and phantom somewhat, albeit the mind be not anywise therein;
(Augustus Taber Murray, 1924)

Of a truth even in the house of Hades there are ghosts [psukhai] and phantoms that have no life in them;
(Samuel Butler, 1898)

Well now! Even in the house of Hades there is something - spirit or phantom - though there is no mind at all;
(Augustus Taber Murray, revised: William F. Wyatt, Loeb edition, 1925)

I mostly don't understand the "even" in the sentences. Or does it mean, that normally a mortal has two things: ψυχή and φρήν (whatever they meant for them), and he expected that someone in Hades looses both, but they actually retain the ψυχή?
And if someone looses the φρήν then he can only exist in εἴδωλον form?
But I read that Ancient Greeks believed that sleep is very similar to death. Because even during sleep the ψυχή leaves the body. (So when Hermes makes someone fall asleep, then he actually temporarily removes the ψυχή from their body.) So during sleep they are also in εἴδωλον form?

Is the sentence to be understood this way: Achilles is happy that he received confirmation about life after death, and that not all of Patroclos is lost.
I think the sense of it is this:
Alas! Even though his soul and form be in Hades (and so are at rest), his heart/mind is elsewhere (i.e. dwells on he fact that his body hasn’t been properly buried and so has no rest).
It sounds really good, almost like a samba. Your pronunciation is far from awful, but it leans more toward Koine in some places, like fricative χ and φ.
Keeping straight the accent & the syllable length or 'weight', as some prefer to call it, is brutally difficult for most speakers. Only a few modern Indo-European languages could possibly (but not necessarily) advantage speakers when it comes to this affair, like Lithuanian or certain dialects of Slovene.


New Member
Hehe, it was a Greek friend that gave the advice for the fricatives, so he is probably biased :D
I think the good thing in more fricative consonants is that they help with "vocal support" (which is the holy grail of opera singers), as the consonants can stabilize the resonance of the air column that starts in the chest and ends at the teeth/head. But there are many languages without them and support can be achieved in those too.


New Member
I think you meant these: μευ, Ἀχιλλεὺς, ἀπάνευθε for example.
Yes, I'll try to use eü next time for those.

Although I think that when υ is between two vowels, like "ἔπλευ Ἀχιλλεῦ", "κελεύεις", then the u/ü automatically turns into a w if the speed is high enough.

I've added notes to the video about the above issues. Many thanks.