Sound in Ancient Literature
Among the most beautiful and powerful expressions of human artistry can be found in the literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans. We know that this body of literature was created to be orally performed and aurally experienced by a small or large group of listeners. This was true for prose as well as for poetry. Poems such as Homer’s Iliad, plays such as Seneca’s Thyestes, or orations by Demosthenes or Cicero were not composed to be read silently.
Yet, since the nineteenth century, the traditional method of teaching Greek and Latin ignores the sounds of these languages, depriving students of the basic literary reward of both hearing and reproducing this aural dimension of these literary works.
The aim of the Society is to encourage students and teachers to listen to and reproduce the sounds of Greek and Latin literature, thereby enriching the appreciation of these languages. Fortunately, linguistic and metrical research of the 20th century allows us a close approximation of the pronunciation of classical Greek and Latin. We call this Restored Classical Pronunciation (see our Bibliography), and the Society guides its activities to use and promote this research as a means of preserving authenticity and deepening aesthetic pleasure in the appreciation of Greek and Latin literature.
As a means to this end, the Society sponsors programs oriented to the oral performance of classical Greek and Latin literature at annual Society for Classical Studies meetings (formerly the American Philological Association). Typically we host a panel at the SCS every January, varying between the scholarly with a performative aspect, and performance workshops and readings.
We have created this website to share, free of charge, recitations of Greek and Latin literature when our members have performed at various schools, colleges and universities across the United States.
For the last three decades, the Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature (also known as SORGLL) has been an Affiliated Group of the Society for Classical Studies. The founders where recitation virtuosi, the Stephen Daitz and the late Robert Sonkowski. These two scholars left us with dozens of timeless recordings from which we can learn.