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Scansion help

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Scansion help

Postby Nooj » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:48 pm

Here's the first line of Catullus' 85:

Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?

The line above is in dactylic hexameter. My question is about the first two feet; how can I tell whether it is spondee-dactyl or dactyl-spondee? When I try sounding it out, it sounds more 'right' to have a dactyl and then a spondee, but I can't really tell you why - is there any rule that could help me out here?
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Re: Scansion help

Postby modus.irrealis » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:25 pm

Unless I'm missing something it has to be dactyl - spondee since you it's ōd' et a mō. quā ...

I don't see how to get a spondee in the first foot -- if you don't elide the i of odi the next syllable will be short, which can't happen. So your intuition is right. When you're having doubts, though, I find the best thing is just to mark all the long vowels and divide up the line -- I've never come across a line that could be scanned in two different ways.
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Re: Scansion help

Postby Nooj » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:35 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:I don't see how to get a spondee in the first foot -- if you don't elide the i of odi the next syllable will be short, which can't happen.
Is it not possible to elide the i of odi and still have a spondee? ala ōd' ēt ā mǎ. quǎ

I must have missed something really obvious...
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Re: Scansion help

Postby modus.irrealis » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:40 pm

The e of et, though, is short, and since the following word begins with a vowel it can't be "long by position" either. So the first two syllables are long - short and therefore the next one has to be short, so you get a dactyl.
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Re: Scansion help

Postby Nooj » Sat Apr 25, 2009 3:04 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:The e of et, though, is short
Ah. I didn't know that. I never put a serious effort into learning the quantities of words, I should really do that.

modus.irrealis wrote:and since the following word begins with a vowel it can't be "long by position" either. So the first two syllables are long - short and therefore the next one has to be short, so you get a dactyl.
Thank you very much for your quick response.
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