Jump to content

Who is Terpsichore and how do your pronounce her name?


Terpsichore
 Share

Recommended Posts

When I was young which was not all that long ago nearly everybody who was likely to appreciate ballet would have studied at least a little Latin and probably some Greek. They would have known who Τερψιχόρη was or, at the very least, how to pronounce her name correctly. Sadly that is not the case today for I am often introduced or referred to as Terpsi-core. For future reference there is a useful pronunciation guide (albeit with an American accent) on YouTube.

 

I don't know whose fault it is but I suspect Lady Williams who did away with grammar schools. If not her then maybe one of Lady Thatcher's Education Secretaries who sacrificed the classics in pursuit of the chimera of relevance. If that was indeed the aim then it was sadly misconceived for nothing has prepared me more for life than the classics. Not only have they helped me understand and express myself in my own tongue but they have helped me learn also other natural languages including those not derived from Latin such as Japanese. They also helped me to learn programming because computers are (or at least were) very unforgiving just like my masters at St. Paul's. I suspect the abandonment of Latin has much to do with the decline in our children's ability to code and the rise of UKIP.

 

Anyway I digress, Terpsichore was one of nine muses who personified the arts and literature. They were the daughters of Zeus, the ruler of the gods. Terpsichore was the muse of dance and she carried a lyre. The others in alphabetical order were Calliope, muse of poetry, Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (song and elegiac poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (sacred music), Thalia (comedy) and Urania (astronomy). You will see them all lined up in the frieze on the Wikipedia entry. I believe Terpsichore is third from the the right. There are more images of Terpsichore on the Warburg Institute website.

 

As the muse of dance Terpsichore has been the subject of many ballets including one by Marius Petipa to the music of Cesare Pugni. She also appears in Balanchine's Apollo which was revived recently by the Royal Ballet. There are many dance schools around the world that call themselves Terpsichore. There is lots of other references to her in film, drama and literature and I have even found a page for Terpsichore on Facebook.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find the above post overly political, especially the second paragraph, and patronising in the extreme. Although I left a secondary modern at age fifteen to go out to work, I have always known the correct pronunciation of Terpsichore and as  someone who has been visiting Greece regularly for over forty years, I also understand the Greek alphabet despite not being taught it in school.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a long tradition of anglicising foreign names though: we don't even say Paris as its natives do, let alone Athens, Moscow, Cologne, Rome, Gothenburg - and Melbourne sounds like "Melburn" in Australia. Latin in England has long had its own pronunciation - the hard C and G for example - to the mystification of our fellow-Europeans who keep it closer to the sounds of modern Italian. I have heard a theory that this disconnect has its roots in the English Reformation when (setting theology aside here) the use of Latin became a hot political issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I completely agree with you MAB-I rarely post on this forum (which i have enjoyed reading for many years )but just remarked to my husband about the above post being out of place in my opinion.

Agree - for me it will be a dull place if we each start a thread talking about ourselves rather than dance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"who Τερψιχόρη was or, at the very least, how to pronounce her name correctly. Sadly that is not the case today for I am often introduced or referred to as Terpsi-core. For future reference there is a useful pronunciation guide (albeit with an American accent) on 

."

 

I think that the English Terpsichore is more likely to come from the Latin Terpsichore than from the original Greek. This seems confirmed by the fact that the link is using the Latin accent and not the Greek one (as common also in Italian with that kind of names and I suppose in English, thinking also to Oèdipous, that in Greek is Oedìpous); but at the same time they seems to pronounce the final "e" as some would pronounce the eta, but for sure not a Latin "e". It seems an odd confused mix.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well the info in your post on the muses is useful Thankyou Terpsichore.......Ive been meaning to look up the origin of your username for a while ......so a rather ignorant Grammar school girl then who did Latin to O level ......one had to if studying English, Foreign Languages and I believe History too but not so sure of the latter.....if you wanted to got to Uni as it was a requirement to get Latin to at least O level.

 

I knew the name and must have been told stories about the muses when in primary school .........but not only was guessing how to pronounce it I did not know who she was exactly!!

I thought it was TerpsiKORray .......capitals for the emphasis in the word ......

On the YouTube version the accent appears to be TerpSIkoray

 

I think many who went to,Grammar School in the 50's 60''s and 70's did Latin probably not so many did Greek though.

Learning Latin sort of died out when it was no longer a requirement for Uni entry at some point in the 70's not sure when.

 

However as a retired primary school teacher and EALS teacher (English as Additional Language) I can assure you children's decoding skills are alive and kicking......inspite of not learning Latin.

 

In fact some of my English students learned only too quickly how to decode English for example and could race through reading books they had no idea what they were about!! Slowing them down to read for meaning could be quite a task in some cases.

 

I think Latin has been useful in recognising the roots of words in both English and other Languages for me .....but almost certainly has not influenced my political views!!! I certainly don't get the UKIP connection!!

 

Bruce I think this is the Not Dance thread so is the one thread which presumably can be on topics which are not about Dance!!

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did both, Lin. Our grammar school made us all learn Latin but Greek was an accelerated course post O level. The powers that be decided I was good at languages so Greek would be easy for me. Wrong! I can just about remember the alphabet. I went to university and you are right, Latin was no longer an admission requirement although there was an unspoken understanding that if you wanted to do Arts subjects, it was necessary. We did need both English subjects, maths and a science. Maths was my Waterloo and it took me three attempts to pass Biology and a long search to find a decent university that would accept me without maths. It is now a requirement everywhere so I definitely would not get in now!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well Maths was my Waterloo too Fiz!! I failed O level twice because I could not do Geometry.

Algebra and calculation .....ordinary Maths was okay but I just could not pass the geometry bit!!

 

Luckily by the time I was applying you could get away with a science subject if you didn't pass Maths and I did well at biology so was okay.

I too would not get in today if Maths is a definite requirement ......well if geometry is still part of it all at any rate.

 

I would probably not pass my Latin exam today either.

This is because I had to do a crash course in two years and I just learned whole sections of Latin text off by heart. Once I placed it I could remember the English translation!! Out of the question now......some of those lively little brain cells died off some time ago :(

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My comprehensive school did not offer Latin as a normal curriculum subject (this was in the 1970s) but five of us took Latin 'O' Level in the Sixth Form in addition to our 'A' Level courses. We were taught by the local vicar and took (and passed, with good grades, possibly all As) the exam after four terms having started Latin from scratch in the Lower Sixth.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We had to do Latin at O level but only a few did Greek. I remember being completely at sea over Latin despite being good at French. Somehow this business of "if you learn Latin, it'll help you with the other languages" didn't work in my case - it was only my ability with modern languages that got me through Latin. As for Greek, which we did for a few weeks after the O-levels were over, that was a total nonstarter because of the different alphabet. One of the reasons I didn't like travelling abroad was that I couldn't read anything - I think a week in somewhere like Japan or Russia, where even the alphabet was different, would have driven me demented.

 

I don't think the OP is especially political since it takes a swipe at both major parties for doing away with the grammar schools (although according to Wiki it was Anthony Crosland, not Shirley Williams, we have to thank for it). It struck me as more historical than anything, and I'm always a sucker for British history! although I don't think I agree that the rise of the UKIP has a lot to do with dropping Latin from the school curriculum but that really is a discussion for another forum. ;)

 

Also, as Lin said, since this is the non-dance forum, I thought that talking about things other than dance was OK here. :unsure:  Maybe it'll all make more sense when I've had my cup of tea.

Edited by Melody
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In middle school (grades 7 through 9) we had a choice of Latin, French, German or Spanish if one wanted to prepare for college/university track.

 

I chose Latin and loved it.  I have found through the years that, as Linn said above. Latin helps  in recognizing roots of words.  

 

Sometime in the 1970's Latin was no longer offered in many school districts in the USA. I think this is a loss.  It kind of disconnects us from our past.  

 

I've been told "there is no time for studies like Latin" in the school day.  But, I note that the school day is shorter.  The school term is shorter.  There are many, many days which are designated as "half days" for the students and "enhancement" days for the teachers.  When I was teaching ballet - I "enhanced" myself on my own time.

 

The actual time spent by the student with pen in hand (so to speak) is short and getting shorter.  

 

It seems to me that the emphasis seems to be to make college/university education assessible to everyone rather than preparing the student to undertake higher education.  It's more about lowering the bar(re) rather than raising the student.  

 

I see no harm in a post regarding the Muses.  For those who know it already - wonderful!  For those who don't - it's a chance to learn a bit.  And for those not interested - that happens every time a thread is minted.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well Maths was my Waterloo too Fiz!! I failed O level twice because I could not do Geometry.

Algebra and calculation .....ordinary Maths was okay but I just could not pass the geometry bit!!

 

Luckily by the time I was applying you could get away with a science subject if you didn't pass Maths and I did well at biology so was okay.

I too would not get in today if Maths is a definite requirement ......well if geometry is still part of it all at any rate.

 

I would probably not pass my Latin exam today either.

This is because I had to do a crash course in two years and I just learned whole sections of Latin text off by heart. Once I placed it I could remember the English translation!! Out of the question now......some of those lively little brain cells died off some time ago :(

 

I HATED Maths and came bottom of the class in every exam we had, it was a good-natured joke that I would, as for Latin I don't think my secondary modern school knew it existed, the general choice available for us jobwise was to become a nurse, a typist, or a shop assistant, I think Terpsichore made a valid point somewhere in all this :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did Latin to O level and passed - not brilliantly - but I passed.  That was largely due to the teacher we had in the 5th form (sadly she only stayed in the school one year) who treated Latin as a living language and I learnt more in that one year than I had in the previous 3!  I must say that Latin has stood me in good stead ever since in terms of language roots and it was a great help when I went to Italian lessons some years ago.

 

The thing about languages is that you have to keep them up and sadly I let the Italian slip but the Latin words are still there in my brain after all these years!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, how times change regarding the importance of Latin! I attended a Northern comprehensive school and I did Latin up to the end of the third year, and it was one of my best subjects. However, I was not allowed to take it as an O'level because I was already taking two languages (French and German). My closest school friend could take the three languages, but because I was considered a good all-rounder the powers that be wanted me to take another science subject so as not to limit my options later. It was also compulsory to take a practical arts subject – the choice was domestic science, needlework, metalwork/woodwork and art – and none of these were my strong points! I have a distinct recollection of going to see the head of year and asking to be able to take Latin instead of art. But no – ten purely academic subjects (which was a lot in those days) was considered far too much. Of course, in the end, it was art which took up the most time and effort and which I just scraped through. In the sixth form, I was able to take Russian to O’level, but I’ve always had a niggling regret about not having Latin.

 

As for Terpsichore – the name, not the forum member! – I am most aware of the name through the ballet documentary The Captives of Terpsichore. As far as I know, this has never been released with English subtitles. I’ve just seen it in sections on the internet. If anyone knows any different, I’d love to know.

 

edited for typo

Edited by rowan
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love your expression "the powers that be" Rowan .......so many of us have been frustrated by those.....and especially difficult when you change schools and the powers that be don't really know you very well!

I remember my late friend Judith whose whole passion was for Art (we both transferred together into our local Grammar sixth form......as 11 plus failures) having to fight the "new regime" to do Art A level because it was going to clash with History .......a subject she had just added on to her A levels because she had done well at O level in it but not exactly a great passion!!

 

She was so upset at the prospect of not being able to do A level Art that she was planning (semi seriously) to run away to Paris where she one of our mutual friends was living at the time......however good old mum (who hated getting involved with any powers that be) sorted it in the end. And told the powers that be that she thought she knew her daughter rather better than they!!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too attended a northern comprehensive school and latin was never on the curriculum and I have to question the importance of Latin in terms of learning other languages, computer programming and the decline in childrens ability to code.  From Terpsichore's first post on this thread it would appear that most people under the age of fifty would be part of this 'decline in ability' and linked with the rise of UKIP - offensive to say the least!

 

Learning other languages - my degree is in modern foreign languages - fluent in three and I have a grasp of another two and can get by as a tourist in another few languages.  I think only 2 off my course had done any latin.  I don't think it is necessarily latin itself that is the key to learning other languages so much as actually learning another language in the first place.  For example learn French and the other romance languages like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese become so much easier.

 

Computer programming - the strict teacher no doubt was the catalyst to learning.  I doubt many if any of the people we would consider to be a 'computer genius' in the world today actually learned Latin in the first place so it has not held them back.

 

And as I said before I find it rather patronising and insulting to use the wording 'decline in our children's abilities to code'.

 

Though you may be interested to know that Latin seems to be offered as an 'additional' or 'optional extra' in an increasing number of schools.  My niece took the GCSE foundation paper last week and takes the higher paper after half term - she is year 10 and has been doing Latin once a week after school since September and in my DDs school and another local to us GCSE Latin is an extra in 6th form.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I must add, when I studied Latin at a comprehensive years ago, it was an option, and not a compulsory subject. My child attends an inner-city comprehensive and both Latin and Greek (ancient) are available as extra twilight subjects (taken at school outside of the normal curriculum). Mine did Latin for a while until it clashed with the ballet lessons!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I have to admit that I automatically read your name as Terpsi-core, and it wasn't until I heard you say it that its origins 'clicked' (oops). I went to secondary school in Scotland in the 90s and was on the very tail end of Latin being offered - it was an option, but we only had a few taster classes towards the end of our second year, and then at Standard Grade (GCSE) it was timetabled to clash with the modern languages we'd already been learning for two years so it wasn't really a viable option - I think only three people chose Latin so the class didn't run, and that was the last time it was offered at the school.

 

I got most of my grounding in grammar and the structure of languages from my Spanish teacher, and an English teacher who mainly ignored the syllabus and insisted on teaching us grammar even though she wasn't 'supposed to'.

 

I always thought the lack of classics in our education was a shame, and a few years after I left school I did Open University courses in Classical Greek and Latin in an attempt to address some of that gap in my knowledge. I found the Latin fairly straightforward having studied other languages, but the Greek was one of the most challenging things I've tried to get my head round (I did pass.. just)!

 

The one thing I can say about my level of classical education is that, compared with say my parents, I don't pick up classical/ mythical references in literature etc quite so readily, and I feel like there's a chunk of cultural knowledge that a lot of my generation and younger is missing. What 'should' be included in education is definitely worthy of debate. I'm fairly sure I'd never have voted UKIP though, no matter what ;)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This sounds a bit like the arguments about whether or not ballet, music, and drama companies should keep the classics in their repertoire or simply concentrate on modern works by current choreographers, composers, and dramatists on account of they're supposedly more relevant to modern life than works that have been around for hundreds of years. Every time I hear this stuff about "why do we need children to study Shakespeare?" or even "the professional companies should stop performing Shakespeare, at least so often," I do wonder why these people think the modern stuff will still make sense if we aren't familiar with its foundations. I didn't enjoy studying Latin but it did help to put some of my history and geography lessons in context.

Edited by Melody
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Melody, this sounds vaguely like a discussion on another thread.  At the time I think I asked if we should also ditch the works of Turner, Constable, da Vinci et al from the galleries because they are old!!

 

Mind you proposed changes to the English Literature syllabus may indicate that that is happening in the literature field!  I signed a petition against this the other day...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...