Textkit Logo

Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Here's where you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Moderator: thesaurus

Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby Hampie » Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:25 am

I have the task of learning to recognize and somewhat be able to recite latin hexameter in front of me and it is really intimedating; I fear that I will not be able to do it at all (but I must be able to, in the middle of January...).

Currently we're studying Catullus (and later on we will go trough Ovid). Last week the teacher introduced the hendecasyllable and I find it, along with cui dono lepidum novum libellum quite easy to remember. However, the hexameter being explained I understood nothing and altough we got to hear it I could not catch along with the rhythm. Does anyone have any tips?

Also, as always, it would be very, very, interesting to find recordings or texta with vowel quantity/metric thingy symbols - so if anyone has a bookmark somewhere with something alike I would very much appriciate it.
User avatar
Hampie
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 10:51 pm
Location: Holmia, Suecia

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby adrianus » Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:38 pm

Salve Hampie

Auscultes Vojin Nedeljkovic @ http://web.archive.org/web/200705282324 ... edeljk/VV/ vel http://www.vicoacitillo.net/senecio/sonora.html

Maybe you might find this useful. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8731&p=69028 Note the criticisms, also. And definitely find Alatius's recording (where he keeps time with his foot).
Hoc fortassè tibi opus erit. Criticas eius quoquè nota, et Alati impressionem certé (in quâ pede tempus pulsat) invenire debes.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
adrianus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 3270
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:45 pm

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby Kasper » Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:58 pm

if you find it too hard to understand the rhythm, you might want to read (part of) Evangeline by Longfellow. Although the english hexameter is certainly not the same as the latin variety, you will graps the rhythm quite easily.
Kasper
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 799
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:01 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby Alatius » Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:50 am

The Swedish hexameter is probably easier to appreciate than the English; see for example this part of Tegnér's Frithiofs saga ( http://sv.wikisource.org/wiki/Frithiof_ ... _sin_fader ):

Voro nu satte i hög kung Bele och Thorsten den gamle
där de själve befallt: på var sin sida om fjärden
garna lyfte sin rund, två bröst dem den har åtskilt.
Helge och Halvdan, på folkets beslut, nu togo i samarv
riket efter sin far, men Frithiof, som endaste sonen,
delte med ingen och fäste i lugn sin boning på Framnäs.

And so on. There are lots of works written in hexameter in Swedish, for example almost any translation of the Odyssey, the Aeneid, etc.
Alatius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 11:21 am
Location: Upsalia, Suecia

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby Hampie » Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:46 am

Thank you all for your help, and your tips.

Anyhow: reading English or Swedish haxemeter have not yet helped me - I am still not sure how to read it correctly in my naitive tongue nor how to adapt it to Latin. But, during the last lesson (and whilst reading in the grammar book) I became a little more happy since the two last feets of the verse are predictable and that one by looking at the endings of word sor of can predict the rest since one shold know the vowel quantity of those. Therefore I shall have to repeat the morphology a little again, I think.
Här kan jag i alla fall skriva på svenska, eller hur?
User avatar
Hampie
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 10:51 pm
Location: Holmia, Suecia

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Dec 20, 2008 2:56 am

Can you scan the long and short syllables? If so, write half and quarter notes, respectively, over each syllable, and hum the rhythm.

After a little while, you will get very quickly used to hexametre and it will become second nature.
User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2001
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tōkyō, IAPONIA

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby cantator » Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:50 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Can you scan the long and short syllables? If so, write half and quarter notes, respectively, over each syllable, and hum the rhythm.

After a little while, you will get very quickly used to hexametre and it will become second nature.


Well, I think that's a little optimistic. As the OP noted, strophic forms are easier to apprehend, thanks to the metric regularity. The hexameter is a more flexible meter, which makes for a more varied and less predictable music. Sight-recitation of hexameter verse is a greater challenge, since the reader can't merely apply a memorized strophic form over the verses.

But you're right, first we have to learn to scan the syllables and get good at recognizing obvious longs and shorts. Life is short, so I leave the discussions re: accent (stress & pitch), enjambment, caesurae, elision, etc. for another day. :)
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.
User avatar
cantator
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 278
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 9:21 am
Location: NW Ohio USA

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby Alatius » Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:55 am

I have been thinking about how to approach this. I surmise that the largest problem is the flexibility of the meter: for each foot, you will have to decide wheather it is a dactyl or a spondee; this is (with very few exceptions) not a matter of dispute, but it is only natural that it takes some practice to learn to to recognize which it is. Of course, knowing all the vowel quantities by heart greatly helps in this regard; in fact, with a proper pronunciation, you could read any poetry and the meter would realise itself automatically. (Such a pronunciation is however very seldom heard, I might add.)

Until you have achieved fluency, you will probably have to analyze each verse methodically. As you already have noticed, it is often helpful to start from the end, due to the regularity there. It is, however, of course very unnatural to read backwards, so I would advise you to try to attack the verse from the left, to begin with, and save the begin-from-the-end approach to the otherwise hopeless verses.

Let's see how one may do it in a concrete example. (And you have to forgive me if I'm too thorough in what follows.) If I understand your syllabus correctly, you may have chosen to read, for example, Ovid's rendition of Orpheus and Eurydice? We can take that text in any case:

(...nupta per herbas)
dum nova Naïadum turba comitata vagatur

All hexameters start with a long syllable, in this case dum (not because the u is long, for it isn't, but because the next word starts with a consonant). Then two things can happen: either the foot is a dactyl, and two short follow, or it is a spondee, which ends in one long. Which is it? In other words, is no a short or long syllable? If you don't know, try looking at the following syllable, va. If it is long, then no must be long as well. If it is short, then no must be short as well. (Why is this?) In this case this doesn't help, though, since you can't know (at first) whether nova is nominative or ablative.

This is where the proper pronunciation come into play, which I was speaking about above: chance is that you have heard this word pronounced nōva, which is not correct: the classical pronunciation was with a short o, which you will find if you look it up. Knowing this, we understand that va is a short syllable as well.

Next foot: the trema over ï means it is to be pronounced as a separate vowel (and not as part of a diphthong); i.e. the syllabification would be Na-i-a-dum. The first syllable must be long: . Then we have the same problem again. (Come to think of it, this verse was a fairly bad example to begin with, but when I have started with it, I might as well continue.) The Swedish pronunciation may lead you astray, but if you look it up (under Naias), you will find that it is Nāĭădum.

So far, this might not have been so helpful, but the next foot is a better example: it starts with -dum, which is long, again because the next word starts with a consonant. Then comes tur-ba. Same thing here: either this is two long, or two short syllables; thing is, you see immediately that tur is a long syllable (by position)! Syllables long by position are your friends. :)

Hence must be long as well, and starts foot number four. (We have an ablative form here, evidently.) Then co-mi; two long or two short? You can look it up, or you can look at the end of the verse, and hopefully see that the two last feet are -tā-tă vă-gā-tur, which means that it must be cŏ-mĭ.

You can solve all this without having to look things up, by trial and error. For example, you might attempt something like this (* signifies it is incorrect; accents denote the ictus, the first syllable in each foot):

* dúm nōvá Naiádum túrbā cómītáta... but then you run out of feet before you are done. Some of all these spondees must be dactyles! In that way, we will be able to "consume" more syllables (since a dactyl is one more syllable than a spondee). We try again:
* dúm nōvá Naiádum túrba comítātá va... No, still too many syllables. Can it really be comităta? Let's try:
* dúm nōvá Naiádum túrba comítata vága... Darn. How can we improve this? In this version we have two spondees (dum no- and -adum), but we can't do anything about the later, because that last syllable is long by position. It must be that the verse actually starts with a dactyl! We were wrong all along. Ah well, then we have solved it, no?
* dúm nŏva Náīádum túrba comítata vága... Still we have two spondees, which is one too many, but we can only change the first:
dúm nŏva Náiadúm turbá comitáta vagátur. There!

This was fun, let's take another one! :wink:

occidit in talum serpentis dente recepto.

Compared to the first one, this is a walk in the park.

Does the word oc-ci-dit end with two short or two long syllables? Or, let's put it this way, how would you accent it (in prose)? (Where the accent is placed depends on the syllable lengths, as you know.) Not sure? Well, look at the final syllable of the word. It is not long by position, since the vowel is followed by only one consonant in total, so if this syllable is long, then the vowel must be long. But, if you know your endings, then you know that it should be short. Hence also óccĭdĭt.

Next foot starts with in, long by position. Then ta-lum; of these the last is long by position, since the following word starts with a consonant; hence is also long, and ends this foot, which is a spondee.

The third foot is -lum ser-, two syllables, both long by position. Spondee.

Fourth foot: -pen-tis. Again, two syllables long by position. Spondee.

And then you know the rest: den-tĕ rĕ-cep-to.

This verse is so full of syllables long by position, that the only place where uncertainty can occur is in the first word. What happens if you read it wrong?
* óccidít in tálum sérpentís denté re... Not only do you run out of feet to contain your syllables in, you are also forced to lengthen the -e of a third declension ablative, which, if you know your endings, should be short.

We can take one more:

Quam satis ad superas postquam Rhodopeïus auras

You know the drill: you will have to decide whether the second foot begins on -is or on ad. The later is long by position, but the first would be long only if the vowel were long, i.e. if the word were pronounced sātīs. Is it? Unfortunately, just as with nova, Swedes are prone to lengthen stressed syllables, and more often than not pronounce this word as sātĭs, which might lead you in the wrong direction... Looking it up, you will see it is sătĭs, and knowing this, you should be able to solve the rest.

Let me finish with talking about about stress. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you will probably have been taught to scan ("skandera") your poetry, i.e. stress the ictus? Since Swedish phonology automatically implies that stressed syllables are long and unstressed syllables short, this has the effect that the correct rhythm is automatically achieved, at the expense of the natural word stress. I'm not an enemy of this practice as such, but you should be aware that this is merely a crutch, and that Latin poetry originally was read both with the correct rhythm and with the word accents in their normal places. Hopefully your professor has stressed that last part (no pun intended).

To achieve this, you will have to learn to pronounce sátis with a short stressed ă, and at the same time refrain from lengthening the t. For, as I said, Swedes are prone to lengthen stressed syllables, and if they don't say sātis they will be inclined to say săttis, which is just as wrong. It should be să-tis with two equally short syllables. This is not really extremely difficult -- you probably pronounce stressed short syllables everytime you speak English, unless you have a rather heavy Swedish accent -- but, from my experience, this is seldom taught in Latin.

In the same way, you will have to learn to pronounce long unaccented syllables ("turbā"). Might be a bit more difficult? I don't know.

But, all this I have said about stress is probably above what is expected of you. I'd advice you to learn to scan comfortably first, and then later, if you are so inclined, try to learn to combine normal word stresses with the poetic rhythm unaltered.

P.S. If you actually do read Orpheus and Eurydice, here is a tip for you: in the line starting with "Persephonen", you must read "ădĭīt", with a long final ī. This is an arcaism sometimes employed by the poets.
Alatius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 11:21 am
Location: Upsalia, Suecia

Re: Reading hexameter (Catullus and Ovid)

Postby Alatius » Thu Jan 01, 2009 5:03 pm

Something that probably would help you immensely would be to simply get a feeling for how the hexameter works. I set forth to read (very mechanically) the part of Frithiofs saga which I linked to earlier. Hopefully it should be of help to you: you could listen to it and practice beating the rhythm, six regular beats in each verse: http://web.comhem.se/alatius/latin/frithiof.mp3

I'll take the rest in Swedish, since it isn't really relevant unless you know the language anyway... :wink:
Som du hör läser jag fel ibland, men jag har låtit det vara så, eftersom det illustrerar ganska bra hur man är tvungen att ibland anpassa uttalet för att få versen att fungera. Ta som exempel första versen:
Voro nu satte i hög kung Bele och Thorsten den gamle
Det naturliga vore kanske att betona nu, men i så fall blir voro en sponde, vilket inte är helt smidigt, och när man kommer till satte märker man direkt att man läst fel, eftersom man då blir tvungen att betona antingen "satté" eller "satte í".

Mellan dem spriddes än hit och än dit en oräknelig skara
Här läste jag först fel, som du hör. Det skulle möjligen ha varit möjligt att rädda det genom att läsa "méllan dém spriddes án hit och án dit en óräknlig skára", men jag tror du kan hålla med om att "méllan dem spríddes än hít och än dít en oráknelig skára" är mycket bättre.

En gång stals den klenoden dock bort av rövaren Sote
Av någon anledning fick jag först för mig att läsa "-noden" som en sponde, vilket skulle ha till följd att "bort" skulle vara helt obetonad.

Thorsten förnam det ryktet också, och med Bele besteg han
"Också" måste betonas på sista stavelsen, annars händer något av följande:
"* Thórsten förnám det rýktet óckså, óch med Béle bestég han"
"* Thórsten förnám det rýktet óckså, och méd Belé bestég han"
"* Thórsten förnám det rýktet óckså, och méd Bele bésteg hán"
Men inget av detta är ju hexameter.

Bele hörde dock först en sång, den lät som en trollsång,
Om man läser som jag gjorde först får man
"* Béle hórde dóck först en sáng...", dvs. "först" skulle vara obetonat, vilket inte är särskilt bra. Dessutom är ju "först en" en bättre sponde än "hörde".

Skeppet Ellida till slut var en av släktens klenoder.
Här ska jag ärligt talat säga att jag är osäker på hur det ska läsas. Av stavningen att döma borde det vara "Éllida", vilket ger versen "Sképpet Éllida tíll slut vár en av sláktens klenóder". Notera att detta dock inte betyder att "slut" måste vara helt obetonat; det är ju en sponde. Men jag tycker det känns konstigt att betona "till", varför jag valde "Ellída".

Och så vidare. Jag hoppas att det är till hjälp för dig. :)
Alatius
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 11:21 am
Location: Upsalia, Suecia


Return to Learning Latin

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot] and 91 guests