Зображення сторінки

p. 362, ed. Basil. Diogenes, when in a bath, seeing a boy enter who was suspected of having stolen the clothes of the bathers, asked him whether he was searching for åderuátilov (the oilbox) or all' ipariov (another coat).—Diogen. Laërt. in vita Diogenis Cynici, ed. Webster, p. 340.

But here the object was fun and not philosophy. All that was wanting was, that the sounds should be sufficiently similar to raise a laugh. The second instance particularly, if treated as a strict demonstration, would show that the single Ahad precisely the same sound as the AA, and that the aspirate of inátlov was not sounded.





NUMBER OF GREEK LETTERS. 1. It will form no part of the plan of the following essay to discuss the date of the invention of letters. The use of language must have preceded the use of letters ; nor do we ever meet with the remotest hint that Cadmus taught the Greeks to utter sounds which they had never uttered before. The art invented or introduced by him seems, by common consent, to be consi. dered as limited to the giving to the sounds of the human voice a visible and permanent representation. But though the exact date of this invention is not important to the present inquiry, it is material to learn, whether letters were invented in Greece, or brought thither from another country, where a different language was spoken ; whether all the letters now in use were invented at once; and if not, which are to be referred to an earlier and which to a later age. If the letters had been invented by a Greek, he would most probably have found a character to

represent each of the primary sounds of which his language was composed; so that the letters subsequently invented, though convenient, would not perhaps have been necessary. But letters brought from Phoenicia, supposing the Phænician language materially different from the Greek, might often be so clumsy and imperfect a mode of representing Grecian language, as to drive the Greeks to add new letters of their own to express sounds not represented by the Phænician alphabet; so that the generally received history of the invention itself affords us no means of showing how many of the Greek letters represented primary sounds. We have strong and undisputed testimony that several letters of the Greek alphabet were not invented till after Homer's time: if Homer could write his poems without them, they could not have been absolutely necessary; but if Homer was as illiterate as many men of letters have supposed, he may have uttered many sounds which the alphabet of his day had no means of representing. The lesson to be drawn from hence is one, not of despair, but of humility: We must be content to get what knowledge we can on the subject from authority and from tradition. Dionysius of Halicarnassus says, that some have considered the primary letters or elements of language to be thirteen in number, and that the rest are but compounds of these ; others again have made them more numerous even than the twenty-four, which were then in use.—xiv. 92. To avoid repetition, it may be observed, that any quotation from Dionysius, without any other addition or reference, is to be considered to be taken from the treatise of Dionysius of Halicarnassus lepi ovvéoewg óvouá Twv. I quote from the London edition, in octavo, 1747, ed. Upton: xiv. 92. means the fourteenth section and the ninetysecond page of this edition.

It would have been more satisfactory if Dionysius had expressly told us what were the thirteen letters, which were by some considered as the elements of the voice (otolxeia rñc pwrc), and bad added his own opinion: we shall, however, perceive as we go on what they were; and perhaps Dionysius, though willing to take the number as he found it, saw no absurdity in reducing the primary letters to so small a number.

VOWELS. 2. To begin with the vowels. One would suppose, from the long and bitter disputes which have arisen on the pronunciation of the Greek vowels, that this branch of the inquiry was wrapped up in utter uncertainty, instead of being explained (as it is) in the clearest possible man. ner by the best-informed of all possible wit. nesses. Dionysius thus points out the mode in which the Greek vowels ought to be pronounced :

“The vowels are seven in number: two long, namely the H and the 12 ; two short, namely the E and the O ; and thrze double-timed, namely the A, the I, and the Y, which are both extended and contracted; which some call double-timed, as I have done, and others changeable. All these are pronounced thus : the windpipe compressing the breath, the mouth disposed in an easy manner, the tongue not acting at all, but remaining unmoved. The long vowels, however, and those double-timed vowels which are made long in speaking, occasion an extended and continuous stream of the breath (τεταμένον και dinvern tov ailor Toù trehuaroc); while the short, or those made short, are pronounced as if cut off with a siugle impulse of the breath and a short action of the windpipe. Of these, the most powerful and the sweetest in sound are the long vowels and those double-timed vowels which are lengthened in the pronunciation, because they are sounded for a long time and do not eut short the course of the breath; the short, and those which are shortly spoken, are inferior, inasmuch as they are small in sound, and emasculate the voice. Of these long vowels, that which has the most agreeable sound is the A when it is extended : for it is spoken thus: the mouth as much opened as possible, and the breath directed upwards towards the palate. The .second is the H, for it forms below, near the root of the tongue, the sound which is directed accordingly, and not upwards; the mouth being

« НазадПродовжити »