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Scanning a Homeric line

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Scanning a Homeric line

Postby Steve1947 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 6:31 pm

Can any one scan this so it fits into a hexameter pattern?
I've been struggling. Perhaps some of the vowels I take as separate have been elided/contracted?

Και μιν φωνησασ' έπεα πτεροεντα προσηυδα (Od viii l. 442
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby jeidsath » Tue Apr 05, 2016 6:53 pm

πρ scans as a single consonant. In Homer, it can sometimes happen with a sibilant followed by a mute, or a mute followed by a liquid or nasal, as in this case. For πρ combinations in particular, the same poet will sometimes scan the same word as having either a double or single consonant.
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μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby Steve1947 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:31 pm

OK but I'm still puzzled

I'm pretty sure it starts off:

Και μιν | φωνη | - two spondees - but cannot find any pattern to match the remainder.
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby jeidsath » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:40 pm

Here it is with vowel length marked:

καί μιν φωνήσᾱσ’ ἔπεα πτερόεντα π͜ροσηύδᾱ


Broken up by foot

καί μιν | φωνή- | -σᾱσ’ ἔπε-| -α πτερό- | -εντα π͜ρο- | -σηύδᾱ


spondee, spondee, dactyl, dactyl, dactyl, spondee
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μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby Steve1947 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:14 pm

Thank you very much for that.

I don't think I would have been able to work that out even if I had tried for another day. Now it seems so obvious.
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby anphph » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:25 am

To be able to scan this, you had to know that

a) α ι υ can be either long or short. Some of these you can know and learn (here φωνησασ' the alpha being long is a necessity), some you can't and have to learn by heart, such as for instance that the υ in θυμος is long. (That the α in προσηυδα is long too is also something you could have known, but that was superfluous for the scanning since that is the last syllable and in the hexameter that is anceps).

edit: jeidsath already explained my other point previously
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby jeidsath » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:24 pm

anphph wrote:Here φωνησασ' the alpha being long is a necessity


Just to follow up on this. It has to be a long alpha due to the participle form, not due to the accentuation. Elision of a final vowel doesn't move the accent, unless it is on that final syllable.

anphph wrote:That the α in προσηυδα is long too is also something you could have known, but that was superfluous for the scanning since that is the last syllable and in the hexameter that is anceps


Yes. The paroxytone (means: acute on second to last syllable) accent on the diphthong ηυ would have been properispomenon (means: circumflex on second to last syllable) for a short final vowel.
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κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby mwh » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:25 pm

Και μιν φωνησασ' έπεα πτεροεντα προσηυδα
Steve1947 wrote:OK but I'm still puzzled

I'm pretty sure it starts off:

Και μιν | φωνη | - two spondees - but cannot find any pattern to match the remainder.

I think this is the way to tackle the line.
(1) Given that the line starts off with two spondees, you know the next syllable (-σασ’) will be long. So και μιν φωνησασ' takes you up to the 3rd-foot caesura. Caesurae are very important, serving to articulate the line into two unequal parts. Always head for the caesura when reading hexameters.
(2) επεα πτεροεντα. επε- gives two short syllables, so it must be followed by a long one. The -α of επεα is actually a short vowel (neuter plural), but the two consonants following it (πτ-) result in a long syllable. There's an important distinction between vowels and syllables. For instance in πτεροεντα the epsilon is short, as always, but the syllable is long, on account of the two consonants that follow it.
επεα πτεροεντα is a formulaic phrase, scanning υυ-υυ-υ.
πτεροεντα scans υυ-υ. Again the final -α is a short vowel (neut.pl. agreeing with επεα), and despite the following πρ- the syllable stays short. (That's because πρ- functions as only one consonant not two, as jeidsath said.)
And finally the -ηυ- of προσηυδα is a diphthong, effectively one long vowel. It's αυ- augmented.

Accents can help in showing whether vowels are long or short, too, as jeidsath indicates. But they're just a bonus. Once you get the dactylic rhythm fixed in your head, you'll find that most every line falls into place quite readily. After a while they scan themselves.

I fear we've given you more than you wanted! But it should all help as you read more.
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Re: Scanning a Homeric line

Postby Hylander » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:28 am

πρ scans as a single consonant. In Homer, it can sometimes happen with a sibilant followed by a mute, or a mute followed by a liquid or nasal, as in this case. For πρ combinations


Sibilant + mute or ζ (=σδ) treated as a single consonant is a metrical irregularity in the hexameter and quite rare--typically only proper names and maybe some other words that are necessary but can't otherwise be accommodated in the meter, e.g., Σκαμανδρος, where the regular rules of prosody would give rise to a cretic regardless of the quantity of the preceding syllable.

Mute + liquid/nasal treated as a single consonant is a regular alternative in Homeric verse at the beginning of a word.
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