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LATIN AP METRICS CATULLUS & VIRGIL SCANSION OVID HORACE HENDECASYLLABIC ALCAIC DACTYLIC HEXAMETER SAPPHIC ELEGAIC COUPLET Basic vocabulary: METER = a major poetic rhythm or measure, out of which whole poems are written, such as the 5 meters listed above. SYLLABLE = minimum requirement is a vowel. Usually a syllable begins with a vowel or diphthong and includes all following consonants until the next vocalic element. BEAT = the smallest poetic unit. A beat corresponds to a syllable. FOOT = the next largest unit of a METER or a poetic measure. A METER usually contains 2-4 BEATS or SYLLABLES. Gragphically, feet are divided by the following symbol (|) SHORT = indicates a short BEAT or short SYLLABLE. The symbol for a short SYLLABLE is (u). LONG = indicates a long BEAT or long SYLLABLE. The symbol for a long SYLLABLE is (- ) . Hendecasyllabic = (h)en = 1; deca = 10. Therefore a hendecasyllabic line is an 11 beat or 11 syllable line of verse. It has a (rather) regular format. X X - u u – u – u – X Here, X means the syllable can either be short or long. Most commonly, hendecasyllabics begin with either an IAMBUS ( = u -) or a TROCHEE ( = - u). Hendecasyllables can be divided into feet following various understandings. Here is mine: The first two beats form the first FOOT which is either an IAMBUS or a TROCHEE u - (iambus) - u (trochee) The second foot consists of a CHORIAMB which is – u u -. The third foot consists of an IAMBIC DIMETER which is two concessive IAMBI = u –u– The final foot is merely the last beat of the line which can be either long or short ( x) THEREFORE > u - | - u u - | u – u- | x -u| Dactylic Hexameter = 6 finger measures = Dactyl = - u u = a dactylic hexameter = 6 dactyls - u u| - u u| - u u| - u u| - u u| - u u yet, the sixth dactyl is always bi-syllabic which means either - - or - u; yet, in feet 1-4 a dactyl (- u u) can always be replaced by a spondee which is - -. A metrical ―replacement‖ is called a RESOLUTION. In the fifth foot, hardly ever does a spondee replace a dactyl. Therefore, the dactylic hexameter can look like this: - uu| - uu| - uu| - uu| - uu| - x (where x means either long (-) or short (u) - - | - - | - - | - - | - uu| - x Elegaic Couplet = 1st line is the dactylic hexameter (see above); second line is mistakenly called the pentameter since it can be understood as a FIVE unit line, but is better called a HEMIEPS. The HEMIEPS is literally HALF and EPIC line of verse. It begins with two feet which can be any combination of SPONDEE or DACTYL. These two feet are followed by a long syllable. The second half of the line consists of two dactyls followed by a long syllable. No resolutions are allowed in the second half of the HEMIEPS. Hexameter - uu| - uu| - uu| - uu| - uu| - x - - | - - | - - | - - | - uu| - x HEMIEPS: -uu|-uu|- | -uu| -uu|x -- | -- | LYRICA METRA HORACE ALCAIC & SAPPHIC Although the Sapphic and Alcaic meters are named after the poetess Sappho and Alcaeus, (7th –6th centuries BC) both meters are Aeolic and common to the poets of the island of Lesbos. Sappho used both meters and Alcaeus used both meters. Although they are a little more complex than the dactylic based metra, both the Sapphic and the Alcaic stanzas contain fewer opportunities for resolution (i.e. a spondee replacing a dactyl). It is a very regular or strict metrical rhythm. The common denominator for most lyric meters is the CHORIAMB = — u u — ALCAIC The stanza contains four lines of which the first two lines follow the same metrical pattern. Line 3 has its own metrical pattern, and the last line again has its own metrical pattern. Line 1-2: X | — u — — || — u u — | u X Anacrusis Trochaic Choriamb iambic Line 3:X | — u — — — u — X Anacrusis Trochaic Line 4:— u u — u u — — u — X Choriambic Trochaic Technical notes: in lines 1-2 notice that the first beat is an X. Many lyrical meters begin with a non-specified beat before the stanza proper begins. This is called anacrusis. The first two lines of the Alcaic stanza begin with anacrusis for the first beat. It is usually long (—) but it can just as easily be a short syllable (u). Notice that I have placed a single vertical line ( | ) after this first beat. This line indicates that the anacrusis beat is separate from the rest of the line. The remainder of the first two lines is composed of a trochaic unit (— u — —), followed by a choriamb (— u u —), which is followed by a simple iamb (u X). Notice that there are double vertical lines between the trochaic (— u — —) and choriambic (— u u —) metra. This double line indicates that there is a natural pause at this point in the verse which usually corresponds to word division at this point. In simple terms, the line is regularly split in half at this point. The third line is basically two trochaic units (— u — —) after the X anacrusis beginning. The fourth line is what I call overlapping choriambs (— u u —) in which the final — beat of the 1st choriamb doubles as the first beat of the second choriamb. These double choriambs are then followed by a trochaic metron (— u — X). Please note that in all of these lines, like the dactylic hexamter, the last beat is an X. It can be either long or short. It does not matter. Most importantly, there are only 7 beats in the Alcaic stanza which are subject to resolution: the last beat of each line and the first beat of the first 3 lines. EVERYTHING ELSE IS REGULAR! Like the Hendecasyllabic both the Sapphic and Alcaic are 11 beat lines. SAPPHIC The stanza contains four lines of which the first three lines follow the same metrical pattern. Line 4 has its own metrical pattern. Line 1-3: — u — — | — || u u — | u — X metrical divisions ( | ) are my interpretation Trochaic Choriamb iambic Line 4: —uu—|X Choriambic The Sapphic stanza seems to have been thought of a one continuous line or the end of a line is felt to flow into the beginning of the next line. This is called synaphaea. Therefore the last beat of a line tends to be a natural long or long by-position whose consonants are found at the beginning of the next line. It is even possible to have the syllables of a word split between the end of one line and the beginning of the next line. General rules for scansion 1) consider a syllable as vowel or diphthong + all consonants until the next vowel or diphthong = vc or vcc or dpc or dpcc; 2) remember, word division does not matter!; 3) a syllable is long if it contains a diphthong; 4) a syllable is long if it contains a naturally long vowel ( a, e, i, o, u); 5) a syllable is long by position if the the syllable contains a short vowel, but is followed by two or more consonants; 6) x = a double consonant = k + s; 7) r or l do not always make position = if r or l is the second element in a double consonantal cluster, the syllable is usually long, but poets have the right to consider such a syllable short (r and l are liquids, but better understood as semi-vowels or semi-consonants). example is volucrem where the adjective may well be scanned as u u u; 8) h by itself or in consonantal clusters ph = Greek or ch = Greek or th = Greek is a silent "consonant" and should not be counted in anyway; 9) elision occurs when first word ends with a vowel and the following word begins with an -h- or with a vowel or with a diphthong. In this evironment the vowel at the end of the first word is elided and does not exist in pronounciation!; 10) elision likewise occurs when that first word ends with an -m-, such as in the endings -um or -em. In this environment, not only is that final -m- elided but also the vowel attached to it. 11) in Early Republican literature final -s- is similarly treated. Lucretius a contemporary of Catullus often allows for elision with final -s-. I think there is one instance in Catullus where final -s- is elided. 12) the environment where elision should take place but does not is called hiatus. 13) a line which contains one extra syllable (and everything else is just what it is supposed to be) is called hypermetric.
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