Listening to Homer

In English verse, emphasis is put on whether a particular syllable is stressed or not. In Greek verse, however, the crucial point is whether a syllable is long or short. Both the Iliad and Odyssey were recited in dactylic hexameters, which are lines of verse with six metrical feet. Each of the first four feet can be either a dactyl (a long syllable followed by two short syllables — u u) or a spondee (two long syllables — —). Here is the first line of the Iliad as it should be recited:

μῆνιν ἄ | ειδε, θε | ά, Πη | ληϊά | δεω Ἀχι | λῆος
 — u  u   — u   u   —  —   —uu    —   uu    — X

In the following video, Professor Richard Janko (Classical Studies, University of Michigan) recites the first nineteen verses of the Iliad according to the Greek meter.

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Papyri of the Iliad