Musicians playing tuba (l.) , hydraulis (top) and cornua
to accompany gladiatorial combat
(Roman mosaic of 1st-2nd century, from Libya)
Ancient pipe organs
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,
"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
"But I must restrain my voice and my speech."
mira est quaedam natura vocis, cuius quidem e tribus omnino sonis, inflexo
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 Verb Forms
Nomina Latina Omnibus Cognoscenda
Rhetorical and Literary Terminology
Latin Teaching Materials (Pavur, St. Louis Univ.)
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