Note 107
From Chapter 66 of the Decline & Fall

Emanuel Chrysoloras, and his colleagues, are accused of ignorance, envy, or avarice, (Sylloge, etc., tom. ii. p. 235). The modern Greeks pronounce the β as a V consonant, and confound three vowels Ancient Greek and several diphthongs. Such was the vulgar pronunciation which the stern Gardiner maintained by penal statutes in the university of Cambridge: but the monosyllable βη represented to an Attic ear the bleating of sheep, and a bell-wether is better evidence than a bishop or a chancellor. The treatises of those scholars, particularly Erasmus, who asserted a more classical pronunciation, are collected in the Sylloge of Havercamp (2 vols. in octavo, Lugd. Bat. 1736, 1740): but it is difficult to paint sounds by words: and in their reference to modern use, they can be understood only by their respective countrymen. We may observe, that our peculiar pronunciation of the θ, th, is approved by Erasmus (tom. ii. p. 130).

« LAST » Note « NEXT »