Robert W. Ulery

Professor of Latin, Classical Languages.
Room B6A, Tribble Hall
PO Box 7343, Reynolda Station
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
(336) 758-5873 / FAX 758-4128

                  Musicians playing tuba (l.) , hydraulis (top) and cornua to accompany gladiatorial combat
(Roman mosaic of 1st-2nd century, from Libya)
Ancient pipe organs


The human voice; also, a reed stop on the pipe organ.

prodigium quidemst:  humana nos voce appellant oves.  (Plautus, Bacchides 1141)
"Why, gracious me--a miracle! Sheep calling out to us, in human voices!" (tr. Douglass Parker)

inque modum tonitrus vox ferrea verberat aures. (Wulfstan of Winchester, late 10th-c. cantor)
" ... and like thunder a voice of iron assails our ears." (said of a pipe organ, not a tenor!)

Ceterum vox cohibita silentio perpeti non magis usui erit quam nares gravedine oppletae, aures spurcitie obseratae, oculi albugine obducti.  Quid si manus manicis restringantur, quid si pedes pedicis coartentur, iam rector nostri animus aut somno solvatur aut vino mergatur aut morbo sepeliatur?  Profecto ut gladius usu splendescit, situ robiginat, ita vox in vagina silentii condita diutino torpore hebetatur. Desuetudo omnibus pigritiam, pigritia veternum parit.  Tragoedi adeo ni cottidie proclament, claritudo arteriis obsolescit; igitur identidem boando purgant ravim.  Ceterum ipsius vocis hominis exercendi cassus labor supervacaneo studio plurifariam superatur, si quidem voce hominis et tuba rudore torvior et lyra concentu variatior et tibia questu delectabilior et fistula susurru iucundior et bucina significatu longinquior. (Apuleius, Florida 17)
"But a voice bound down to perpetual silence, would be of no more use than nostrils stuffed with rheum, ears closed by wind, eyes veiled by cataract.  What if the hands be manacled?  What if the feet be fettered?  or our guide, the mind, be relaxed in sleep, or drowned in wine, or buried in disease?  Truly as the sword is brightened by use, and rusts when laid by; so the voice sheathed in silence loses power by long torpor.  Disuse makes every one slow, and sloth causes lethargy.  Unless tragedians declaim daily, their throats lose clearness of voice; therefore they clear off their huskiness by vociferating again and again.  In other respects it is lost labour to exercise the human voice, for it is surpassed in a great many ways, since the trumpet brays more grimly than the voice of man, the lyre is of more varied compass, the flute more sweetly plaintive, the pipe warbles more agreeably, and the horn is heard to a greater distance."  (tr. Anon., 1881)

set comprimunda vox mihi atque oratiost.  (Plautus, Pseudolus 409)
"But I must restrain my voice and my speech."

mira est quaedam natura vocis, cuius quidem e tribus omnino sonis, inflexo acuto gravi,
tanta sit et tam suavis varietas perfecta in cantibus.  (Cicero, Orator 17,57)
"The voice has a certain marvelous nature, for out of its sounds, three altogether (modulated, high, low),
so great and so agreeable a variety has been accomplished in songs."

si vox est, canta! (Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1.595)
"Got voice? Sing!"

Latin Vocabulary

Latin Verb Forms

Catullus 64

Nomina Latina Omnibus Cognoscenda

Rhetorical and Literary Terminology

Latin Teaching Materials (Pavur, St. Louis Univ.)

Feedback: ulery@wfu.edu OR fill in the following form if your client supports it

Please enter any comments you might have in the space below:

Please enter your e-mail address and name if you would like a reply: