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Question about Latin poetry...

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Question about Latin poetry...

Postby Eureka » Thu Jun 10, 2004 11:26 am

I'm not acutally studying Latin, but there's something I'm hoping a Latiner can help me with.

I was reading a book on Ancient Greek accidence, and it said that when the accent in Greek changed from a pitch accent to a stress accent, the accents began to affect the length of their syllables.

i.e. If a stress accent fell on a syllable which would otherwise be short, the syllable became long.

My question is; seeing as Latin has a stress accent, does the above rule apply to Latin poetry?
(I'm assuming that Latin poetry follows the same basic rules as Greek poetry.)



Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)
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Postby benissimus » Thu Jun 10, 2004 11:29 am

I believe it would be long by position, but still not long by quality. However, I am shamefully ignorant of poetic rules.
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Postby blue » Thu Jun 10, 2004 1:24 pm

this is what i got from an appendix of the student's catullus:

"the rhythm of poetic language is also independent of its regular prose accent. cano, for example, is accented on the penult, but its natural rhythm is iambic. syllables have quantity or length as well as accent. because a long syllable takes more time to pronounce than a short one, every word has a built-in quantitative rhythm as well as a stress accent. quantity is the basis of meter in latin poetry. in poetry, the regular stress accent of words is subordinated to the metrical rhythm set up by the patterns of long and short syllables."

from the examples given, that applies to all long vowels, both my position and nature.
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Postby ptran » Thu Jun 10, 2004 2:32 pm

If the question is whether Latin accent affects Latin syllable length, the answer is "no." If you look at "facio", the accent falls on the antepenult, that is the "fa-," but it is a short syllable and would not be considered long in poetry or prosody. You are right to point out that Latin has both a quantitative and qualitative system, but the quantitative is reserved mostly for poetry in imitation of Greek poetry. In an alternate universe, they probably should have stuck with qualitative poetry like us. Those Saturnian verses were big hits in their days, too. Remember the Arval brothers? No relation to the Neville brothers... :wink:
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Postby Eureka » Fri Jun 11, 2004 12:27 am

ptran wrote:Those Saturnian verses were big hits in their days, too. Remember the Arval brothers? No relation to the Neville brothers... :wink:
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ptran wrote:You are right to point out that Latin has both a quantitative and qualitative system, but the quantitative is reserved mostly for poetry in imitation of Greek poetry. In an alternate universe, they probably should have stuck with qualitative poetry like us.
By qualitative I take it you mean that the poetry has a rhythm based on the use of loud and soft syllables. (Is that correct?)

The reason I asked the original question is that I was trying to figure out what sort of system we use in English. I always found that it was possible to determine if something was poetic, but not possible to explain why (except if it rhymed). So, if you're saying we use the qualitative system, in English, you've told me something else that I was trying to find out (as long as someone can verify my definition of qualitative poetry :)).
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Postby Eureka » Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:34 am

I found a webpage that defines qualitative poetry. It also defines the rules of Latin poetry:

http://www.vroma.org/~plautus/meter.html



Thanks to the Latiners for their help. :)
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Postby ptran » Fri Jun 11, 2004 12:57 pm

Barring free-verse, poetry in English is based on a systematic arrangement of syllable stress- that is, qualitative accent. The classic iambic pentameter is five iambs, alternating in unstressed and stressed syllables. Long and short syllables do not factor into English metrics. There's plenty of blank verse in Shakespeare- that is, non-rhyming iambic pentameter- lovely to read and to hear, so rhyme is sometimes an element, sometimes not.

Quantitave poetry- arrangement of a metrical pattern based on syllable length (as opposed to stress)- is what's common in Latin and Greek although the Romans mess around with the alternation of metrical length and syllable stress to effect some interesting lines. I remember a line in Vergil describing the galloping of a horse in which the syllable length and accents do not match up- in turn, the line sounds clippety-cloppity. :wink:
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