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Protogenes making a pause, Ammonius, speaking to me, said: What! have you, being a Boeotian, nothing to say for Cadmus, who (as the story goes) placed Alpha the first in order, because a cow is called Alpha by the Phoenicians, and they account it not the second or third (as Hesiod doth) but the first of their necessary things? Nothing at all, I replied, for it is just that, to the best of my power, I should rather assist my own than Bacchus's grandfather. For Lamprias my grandfather said, that the first articulate sound that is made is Alpha; for the air in the mouth is formed and fashioned by the motion of the lips; now as soon as those are opened, that sound breaks forth, being very plain and simple, not requiring or depending upon the motion of the tongue, but gently breathed forth whilst that lies still. Therefore that is the first sound that children make. Thus ἀίειν, to hear, ᾁδειν, to sing, αὐλεῖν, to pipe, ἀλαλάζειν, to hollow, begin with the letter Alpha; and I think that αἴρειν, to lift up, and ἀνοίγειν, to open, were fitly taken from that opening and lifting up of the lips when [p. 440] his voice is uttered. Thus all the names of the mutes besides one have an Alpha, as it were a light to assist their blindness; for Pi alone wants it, and Phi and Chi are only Pi and Kappa with an aspirate.
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