Basic recitation: an example
Theory vs. practice
A final word

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Here is an example of recitation in action. Figure I offers the first seven lines of the Aeneid in full scansion. Follow the meter as you listen to the sound file.

Figure I. Full scansion of Aeneid 1.1-7.

The reading is that of Professor Robert Sonkowsky of the University of Minnesota.

You will note first and foremost his painstaking attempts to recapture authentic Latin pronunciation. For instance, urbem in verse 5, which sounds as if it ends in a nasalized -n.

But beyond sheer vocal pyrotechnics, note Sonkowsky's loosening of the meter: his short syllables are indeed short, but are not always of even tempo. Furthermore, although he pauses for caesurae, he rarely offers full pauses at the ends of verses. Rather, he tends to read sentence by sentence: at the end of verse 2 he proceeds directly to litora in 3, which is the object of venit in the previous line.

(This brief recording is made available online by kind permission of Professor Sonkowsky and Jeffrey Norton Publishers, Inc. The recording is taken from Sonkowsky's Selections from Vergil, a two-cassette volume in Norton's Living Voice of Greek and Latin Literature series.)

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