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Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

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Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby pmda » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:11 am

In LPSI Cap XXXIV Orberg dicit 'Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur'....does that mean that the 2nd line of the Aeneid is a pentameter? Because this page: http://www.skidmore.edu/classics/course ... intro.html

scans the 2nd line

Itali/am fa/to profu/gus// La/ vinaque/ venit

-u u/- -/- u u/ - // - / - u u / - -

which doesn't look like a pentameter...but wait...I suppose if he says a pentameter always follows a hexameter it doesn't follow that a hexameter is always followed by a pentameter...

Strangely enough this page (see link) also scans the first line as split with a caesura.

Arma vi/rumque ca/no// Troi/ae qui/ primus ab/ oris

- u u/ - u u / - // -/ - - / - u u / - -

I'm on the nursery slopes here and certainly need to read more thoroughly the helpful links posted by the good and kind scholars on this forum but I'd be grateful for any observations.
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby timeodanaos » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:07 pm

It doesn't.

It means that if you encounter a pentameter, it will always follow a hexameter. Pentametres are never found outside the elegiac distichon (hexameter+pentameter).
A hexameter, on the other hand may be stichic, as for example the Aeneid (only hexametres), or part of any other combination (e.g. in Horace carmen 1,7 and 4,7).
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby pmda » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:16 pm

Many thanks.
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby timeodanaos » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:51 pm

pmda wrote:Strangely enough this page (see link) also scans the first line as split with a caesura.

Arma vi/rumque ca/no// Troi/ae qui/ primus ab/ oris

- u u/ - u u / - // -/ - - / - u u / - -

All hexameters have one or more caesuras; this one, the so-called masculine caesura (after the heavy syllable of the third foot), just happens to (a) be the most common in Latin poetry, (b) make the first half of the verse look like the first half of a pentameter. Ovid makes a joke of this fact in the first lines of his Amores 1.1: (you'll have to excuse my translation, translating from one foreign language to another was never easy)

Arma gravi numero violentaque bella parabam
edere, materia conveniente modis.
par erat inferior versus—risisse Cupido
dicitur atque unum surripuisse pedem.

I was preparing to publish (a poem on) arms and violent wars, in the serious meter, so that the material and rhythm would fit. The second verse was equal (in number of feet), but they say Cupid laughed and snatched away a foot!
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby pmda » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:06 pm

timeodanaos, Thanks.

Orberg provides 'Nōn ego nōbilium sedeō studiōsus equōrum' as an example of a hexameter and then he scans it as follows:

Nōn ego nōbilium sedeō studiōsus equōrum

_ U U / _ U U / U _ _ / U _ _ / _ U U / _ _

But he doesn't indicate a caesura..? Should there be one?

He says that a hexameter always has 5 dactyls and 1 spondee. But what do you call a line with 6 feet that doesn't conform this? Orberg himself in his Pensa A for Cap XXXIV asks the reader to scan:

scrībere mē quereris, Vēlōx, epigrammata longa

- which he says in his answerbook is scanned as follows:

scrībere/ mē querer/is, Vē/lōx, epi/grammata/ longa

_ U U / _ U U / _ _ / _ U U /_ U U / _ _

which seems to be a hexameter but with only 4 dactyls and no caesura...?
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:42 pm

In nōn ego nōbilium sedeō studiōsus equōrum, there are two caesurae to choose from - the third foot and the fourth. I think that most writers would mark the one in the third foot as the principle caesura, but I think that's a matter of preference.

For scrībere mē quereris, Vēlōx, epigrammata longa there are three - the second, third and fourth feet. I would personally do both the one on the third foot and the fourth due to the vocative Velox. There is no sense pause in the second foot (although there is not always a sense pause in caesurae), so I wouldn't give that one much consideration.

He says that a hexameter always has 5 dactyls and 1 spondee.


What are his exact words? He can't be saying that, because it is far from the truth, as even the first line of the Aeneid will show.

The point that he was making was probably that there is always* a spondee in the last foot, and that in the purest form a "dactylic" hexameter would have all dactyls in the other feet, but they can be replaced with spondees at will.

*This is generally true, but not completely. Also, this is assuming that we pretend the last syllable of a verse is long no matter what its actual quantity is.
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby pmda » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:59 pm

Many thanks for your thorough response.

Are you saying that there is a CHOICE as to where a caesura will go??!!! Wouldn't this have a huge impact on the scansion of surrounding words??!! Don't caesura cut a foot in to two..?

Orberg's words on P.293 of LLPSI are: Hexameter constat ex quinque pedibus dactylis et uno sponeeo (vel trochaeo); ....but then he says (I add rather sheepishly)..pro dactylis saepe spondei inveniuntur, sed pes quntus semper dactylus est:

...the 5th foot is almost always a dactyl and the rest can be either dactyls or spondees....
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:58 pm

First, let me correct an error on my part. When I said this:

This is generally true, but not completely.


I was not thinking clearly, and I was mixing it up with the dactyl in the fifth foot. I know of no exceptions to the spondee/trochee in the final foot.

Are you saying that there is a CHOICE as to where a caesura will go??!!! Wouldn't this have a huge impact on the scansion of surrounding words??!! Don't caesura cut a foot in to two..?


In order: 1. When there is more than one place in a verse qualifying for a caesura (in a hexameter), it is up to the reciter to choose which one[s] to use. At least, that's my understanding of it. In a pentameter, the caesura is always in the same place.

2. No, scansion is the same regardless of caesurae.

3. Only in the sense that there is a short pause in reading - the foot doesn't become two feet, though.
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby pmda » Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:13 pm

Sceptra Tenens

Taking the caese of a pentameter (see below) we have (in Orberg's answer book (cap XXXIV)) the following.

Sed male cum recitās, incipit esse tuus.

¯ ˘ ˘│¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯││ ¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯

It seems that if you don't know where the caesura goes and were simply scanning according to the rules..the '..tas͡ in' would form a spondee on its own. But you did say that the caesura in a pentameter always goes in the same place. Presumably that is 2 and a half feet into the line, yes? Do I have this right?


Also I notice that though he gives 'ui' as a diphthong he marks it short in the word quis in the following line:

et dīves, quis enim potest negāre?

¯ ¯│ ¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯ ˘│¯ ˘│¯ ˘



I am very grateful for your taking the time to explain this subject. Many thanks.

Paul MacD
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby timeodanaos » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:38 pm

I will dare answer though I am not Sceptra tenens.

pmda wrote:Taking the caese of a pentameter (see below) we have (in Orberg's answer book (cap XXXIV)) the following.

Sed male cum recitās, incipit esse tuus.

¯ ˘ ˘│¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯││ ¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯

It seems that if you don't know where the caesura goes and were simply scanning according to the rules..the '..tas͡ in' would form a spondee on its own. But you did say that the caesura in a pentameter always goes in the same place. Presumably that is 2 and a half feet into the line, yes? Do I have this right?

The pentameter is so called because it is made up of 2x 2½ (=5) dactyls; that is -uu-uu- two times. Each of these parts is technically called a hypercatalectic dactylic dimetre, or as most people say, a hemiepes. The break between the two hemiepes is technically not a caesura but a break, you might call it diaeresis. Of course two heavy syllables, e.g. tas in can form a spondee, but this isn't the case when discussing the middle break in a pentameter. It's simply where two separate metres meet.

pmda wrote:Also I notice that though he gives 'ui' as a diphthong he marks it short in the word quis in the following line:

et dīves, quis enim potest negāre?

¯ ¯│ ¯ ˘ ˘│ ¯ ˘│¯ ˘│¯ ˘

That's not correct in this case. Although ui might be a diphtong (e.g. in the word huic), it is not here. A q will always be followed by a u, and qu is to be regarded as a single consonant; it should sound like English queen, only with the sound w much weaker, almost not audible.
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Re: Versus pentameter semper hexametrum sequitur

Postby pmda » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:17 pm

Thanks timeodanaos
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