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Scanning a verse by Plautus

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Scanning a verse by Plautus

Postby msfonsecajr » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:16 pm

Hello all,

This is not a simple question, as it scholars don`t stop arguing about the meter in Plautus. Nevertheless, it is known the basic: the verse is a iambic senarius. The last word contains a perfect iamb. But what about the rest?

Here it goes:

Pauci sint faxim qui sciant quod nesciunt.

In other words, the question I entreaty you to answer is: are the sciant and the last syllables of nesciunt the only iambs of this verse?

Last edited by msfonsecajr on Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Scanning a verse by Plautus

Postby Qimmik » Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:36 pm

is the sciant and the last syllables of nesciunt the only iambs of this verse?

Yes. I'm not very familiar with Plautine meter, but if this is irregular, I think the only irregularity, measured against Greek iambic trimeter, would be the long syllable sint. In Greek iambic trimeter, the first syllable of each metron (i.e., the first, fifth and ninth syllables) is can be long or short (anceps), but generally the third syllable of each metron (the third, seventh and eleventh syllables) is generally short.
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Re: Scanning a verse by Plautus

Postby mwh » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:42 pm

The iambic senarius is a very loose meter, but this particular verse in fact exemplifies it quite straightforwardly. In the basic scheme all the feet (not just alternating ones, as in Greek) are free to take either iambic or spondaic form—all except the last, that is: in the ending the iambic rhythm needs to assert itself unambiguously. So we shouldn't be surprised to find verses with only one or two actual iambs. A senarius consists of six feet (hence the name), not three metra like the Greek trimeter. Also unlike in Greek, in Latin the accent comes into play, and helps define the iambic character of iambic meters (and similarly for trochaic). So while Plautine meters are very flexible, with each individual foot free to take many forms (not just iambs and spondees, but also anapaests, tribrachs, etc.), the accentual pattern keeps the rhythm clear. In this verse, for instance, we have faxim and qui (and the caesura between them) before we hit quod nesciunt in the close.
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