john.hale at stonebow.otago.ac.nz
Wed Mar 17 04:04:43 EDT 2010
Like others, I'm enthralled by this discussion, because it raises
wider questions, about how Milton heard then sounded his lines, but
tackles it by a new route ? how he heard and thought about his Greek.
So here goes with interim thoughts, and eagerest expectation:
1. Milton liked Latin to be pronounced in an Italian way, but did he
ever comment ? in similar terms, or any terms ? about the pronouncing
of Greek? If he didn't, can we infer that he didn't care, or even
hadn't thought about it?
2. We need to line up all his English verses which include
four-syllable Greek names, of the same vowel-patterning as "Tiresias."
3. He writes "Tiresian" in Latin, at Elegia VI. 68, which has to sound
as a choriamb, but only by vowel-length, quantitatively. Still, Romans
and Milton had heard the second syllable as a short vowel. (Gk epsilon)
4. What exactly is the force of arguments from how *other* poets
sounded the name in English? If Milton wanted to sound more Greek than
they, or to play off a more informed sounding (based on Sophocles,
perhaps) against the standard English one, I for one wouldn't put that
5. "Tongue-twisters" were mentioned ... At the present point in the
discussion, I am finding it as awkward as ever I did (at marathons) to
say the line with stress on the *second* syllable of "Tiresias."
6. Does the Waste Land line 208 shed any light? "I Tiresias ..." The
long vowel of "Tir-" remains insistent.
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