I'm working on a short elocution piece that will involve quoting Luther's 86th thesis in the original Latin:

Cur Papa, cuius opes hodie sunt opulentissimis Crassis crassiores, non de suis pecuniis magis quam pauperum fidelium struit unam tantummodo Basilicam sancti Petri?

What would be the pronunciation of this sentence? I am looking for the way Luther would have pronounced it, but other relevant (and consistent) pronunciation options are also welcome. I think I can pronounce some of the words: Cur, Papa, Crassis, crassiores, fidelium, Basilicam, sancti, Petri. Since I am missing most of the words, a complete pronunciation guide for this one sentence would be great.

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    Hi and welcome! Can we presume that you would you like to pronounce it as Luther would have pronounced it, or are you looking for the way the Romans of classical times (first few centuries AD) would have pronounced it? Feb 28, 2016 at 22:18
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    Also, to help limit this question (it's currently quite broad), are there any particular words that you are struggling with? Feb 28, 2016 at 22:20
  • Hi Nathaniel! Pronouncing it in the way that Luther would have is probably better suited to the piece. As for particular words I need help with, I think it would be easier to list the words I don't need help with: 'Cur Papa Crassis crassiores fidelium Basilicam sancti Petri'. If you can help me with the remainder of the words, I would be much obliged!
    – user37769
    Feb 28, 2016 at 22:58
  • Another closed topic I'm revisiting for reopening. Thoughts?
    – cmw
    Mar 17, 2017 at 17:12
  • @C.M.Weimer I agree. I edited and reopened. Please re-edit if you see room for improvement.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 17, 2017 at 19:46

1 Answer 1


Luther would have pronounced it in German regional pronunciation (a variation of Ecclesiastical Latin), the details of which you can find on Wikipedia (look under the German column).

For accent, I capitalized the stressed syllable and used a macron over long vowels.

...CŪius (the 'i' here is pronounced as a consonant) Opēs HOdiē sunt opulenTISsimīs...nōn dē SUīs peCŪniīs MAgis quam PAUperum fiDĒlium STRUit Ūnam tanTUMmodo BaSIlicam SANCti PEtri.

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    Minor niggle about vowel length: according to Allen, words like "cuius" actually had a short vowel and long middle consonant in Classical Latin (ie cŭjjus). And according to this Wikipedia article, in German pronunciation of Latin vowels are lengthened in stressed open syllables, so "Magis" for example would apparently be pronounced /maːgɪs/.
    – Asteroides
    Feb 29, 2016 at 20:00
  • @sumelic Thanks. I think I knew that, but Lewis and Short led me astray when I checked it.
    – cmw
    Feb 29, 2016 at 21:16
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    This concern with vowel length is misplaced. Distinctive vowel length had disappeared long before Luther's time, so should simply be ignored for this context.
    – varro
    Jun 11, 2017 at 17:59
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    Germans would say /ba-ZI-li-kam/, with voiced /z/.
    – fdb
    Jun 11, 2017 at 22:33

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