There are three accents in Greek. No
Greek accent can stand farther back than the antepenult.
(´): over short or long vowels and
diphthongs. It may stand on ultima, penult, or antepenult:
καλός, δαίμων, ἄνθρωπος.
(~): over vowels long by nature and
diphthongs. It may stand on ultima or penult: γῆ, θεοῦ, δῶρον,
(`): over short or long vowels and
diphthongs. It stands on the ultima only: τὸν ἄνδρα, τὴν
τύχην, οἱ θεοὶ τῆς Ἑλλάδος.
The acute marks syllables pronounced in a
raised tone. The grave is a low-pitched tone as contrasted with the
acute. The circumflex combines acute and grave.
Accented syllables in Ancient Greek had a
higher pitch (τόνος) than unaccented
syllables, and it was the rising and falling of the pitch that made
Ancient Greek a musical language. The Greek word for accent is
προσῳδίᾱ (Lat. accentus: from
ad-cano), i.e. ‘song accompanying words.’ Musical accent (elevation
and depression of tone) is to be distinguished from quantity (duration
of tone), and from rhythmic accent (stress of voice at fixed intervals
when there is a regular sequence of long and short syllables).
– The accent heard in Modern Greek and English is a stress-accent.
Stress is produced by strong and weak expiration, and takes account of
accented syllables to the neglect of the quantity of unaccented
syllables. Thus, shortly after Christ, ἄνθρωπος was often
pronounced like a dactyl, φίλος like a trochee; and πρόσωπον, ἐννέα,
were even written πρόσοπον, ἐννήα.