What did ancient Greek sound like? An example.

If anyone is wondering what Ancient Greek might have sounded like, I’ve found an Internet link to an old friend of mine reading 4 minutes from Sophocles’ Elektra:


Prof. Rachel Kitzinger has had a distinguished career as a classicist at Vassar College, where she went after teaching at Amherst College in the late 1970’s.  While at Amherst, she staged a production of Antigone with her students in the original Greek. The final performance took place at sunrise, on the Amherst War Memorial whose large, round surface served as the slightly-raised stage.  Built into the side of Memorial Hill facing the athletic fields and the Holyoke hills, the commemorative space suggested some of the feeling of a Greek amphitheater.

The production was a strikingly dramatic and beautiful experience.  By mixing dance, mime, masks and broadly-gestured acting, the audience could follow the action pretty well.  The political context of the time helped, too, since many of us were preoccupied with arguments about the power of the state over individuals, in general, and women, in particular.

Rachel was one of the first teachers anywhere, I believe, to put on a production like this – and she continued producing Greek dramas in their original language with her students at Vassar and on stages elsewhere in the world.  She pursued further study about ancient Greek performance practices and collaborated on at least one translation (Oedipus at Colonus) with her husband, the Irish poet Eamon Grennan.  She’s written specifically about the function and significance of the Greek chorus, her major work being a book, The Choruses of Sophokles’ Antigone and Philoktetes: a Dance of Words.  Here are some excerpts from a 2010 review of the book that outline some of Rachel’s views about the Greek chorus:

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