Emily Wilson

Pronunciation Guide

These links have me, Emily Wilson, saying some proper names from the Odyssey.  These are listed in alphabetical order.   My goal in creating these links is not to suggest that pronunciation matters much; you can have brilliant insights into Homer no matter how you say the names.  I offer this list to enable people from any background to read aloud and to discuss the poem confidently, without the inhibitions that come from fretting about pronunciation. 

Note that my pronunciations are conventional modern Anglo-American ones, informed by my own professional training (at Oxford, UK, & East Coast US).  I have a British accent; there is nothing authentic about it; it's just how I speak.  The original ancient Greek names are not the same as their anglicized versions, and were pronounced differently.  Modern Greek pronunciations are different again.  In some cases, alternative pronunciations are possible within Anglophone conventions.  In my translation, which is in regular iambic pentameter, I used these points of emphasis for the names; my lines will not scan if you give the names different stress points. 

Being familiar with the following general patterns will help you with a number of names in the poem:

  • ae can be pronounced either “ee” or “ay”.  I usually say “ee” (as in “CEEzar”), but I realize I am occasionally inconsistent on this one. Do whichever sounds better to you; both conventions are out there, and it won’t make a difference to the meter.

  • ch is pronounced "k" (or if you're being fancier than I usually manage, aspirated k, as in Scottish "loch")

  • e at the end of names is always pronounced, and always has the sound “ee”, as in PenelopEE or CircEE.  It is not the same sound as French é (e-acute, “ay”)

  • eu is pronounced "you"  

  • ph is pronounced "f"

  • for names ending in -us, I add an extra syllable for the possessive; for names ending in es, I don't.  So: Odysseus'  is five syllables;  Laertes' is three syllables. 

Note especially, because it's the most common name that people have trouble with: the emphasis in Telemachus is on the second syllable.

In some instances, you may be able to hear the bells of my cat, Pumpkin, frolicking in the background.

Selected Passages