Note on Transliteration

Transliterating ancient Greek words of different periods—with all the phonetic and other changes that took place from the archaic to the Roman period and later—raises issues about consistency. Our knowledge of the precise pronunciation of ancient Greek consonants, vowels, and diphthongs in different dialects is limited. It is, therefore, problematic to adopt a transliteration system that assumes that archaic Greek dialects were pronounced in the same manner as the Greek of the early Roman period. In this book, most ancient Greek names of people and places retain their Greek terminations—Herodotos not Herodotus, Stesikhoros not Stesichorus. In spelling names like Poludeukes (Πολυδεύκης), I have opted for this form instead of the latinized Pollux. However, for only a few names widely familiar in their English form, I have employed that form—for example Homer not Homeros, Plato not Platon, Helen, Athens, Thrace, Oxyrhynchus, and so forth. In transliterations of ancient Greek words like plêktron and kômos, ê and ô represent the ancient Greek long vowels eta and omega. In archaeological terms—such as amphora, oinochoe, kalyx-krater, well established in this form—I have consistently retained the standard versions. The result is a compromise system, neither strictly hellenizing nor conventionally latinizing. An earlier version of pages 91 and 98–108 of this book appeared in ZPE 152 (2005), 16–30. All translations are my own except where otherwise indicated. Their aim is not literary elegance but an accurate rendering of the original texts. I have mainly attempted to convey the complex texture and stylistic idiosyncrasies of ancient Greek authors and orally transmitted songs and narratives.