Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Are you reading Homeric Greek? Whether you are a total beginner or an advanced Homerist, here you can meet kindred spirits. Besides Homer, use this board for all things early Greek poetry.
Post Reply
User avatar
Peitho
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:36 am

Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by Peitho » Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:02 am

After working on it for months, I think I figured out the meter to the tenth Homeric hymn, dedicated to Aphrodite. Ultimately I want to craft a workable melody so that I can sing the song myself, so this is the first step. I’d love to get some input from people familiar with Homeric meter, because this is my first attempt.

A vertical bar | indicates the beginning/end of a foot, parentheses () indicate synezis (combining multiple syllables into one long syllable), and an ellipsis … indicates a rest. The only types of feet used are dactyls (long-short-short), spondees (long-long), and trochees (long-short-rest). A bar will have spaces on each side if it is between words, and no spaces if it splits a word. The original text is from here: http://textcritical.net/work/homeric-hymns/10

κυπρογε|νῆ Κυθέ|ρειαν … | (ἀεί)σομαι, | ἥτε βρο|τοῖσι
μείλιχα | δῶρα δί|δωσιν, … | ἐφ' ἱμερ|τῷ δὲ προ|σώπῳ
αἰεὶ μει|διά … | ει καὶ ἐφ' | ἱμερ … | τὸν θέει | ἄνθος.
χαῖρε, … | (θεά), Σαλα|μῖνος … | ἐυκτιμέ|νης μεδέ|ουσα
εἰναλί|ης τε Κύπ|ρου: δὸς … | δ' ἱμερό|εσσαν ἀ|οιδήν.
αὐτὰρ ἐ|γὼ … καὶ | (σεῖο) καὶ … | ἄλλης | μνήσομ' ἀ|οιδῆς.

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1939
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by Hylander » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:55 am

Generally, you're on the right track, but there are a fair number of mistakes. Here's how it scans, using your notation:

κυπρογε|νῆ Κυθέ|ρειαν … ἀ|είσομαι, | ἥτε βρο|τοῖσι
μείλιχα | δῶρα δί|δωσιν, … ἐφ'|ἱμερ|τῷ δὲ προ|σώπῳ
αἰεὶ | μειδιά|ει ... καὶ ἐφ'|ἱμερ|τὸν θέει | ἄνθος.
χαῖρε, θε|ά, Σαλα|μῖνος … ἐ|υκτιμέ|νης μεδέ|ουσα
εἰναλί|ης τε Κύ|πρου ... δὸς | δ' ἱμερό|εσσαν ἀ|οιδήν.
αὐτὰρ ἐ|γὼ καὶ | σεῖο ... καὶ | ἄλλης | μνήσομ' ἀ|οιδῆς.

No trochees! Only dactyls and spondees. The last syllable of the line is stretched out and treated as long, even if it would otherwise be short, so that the last foot in a line is always a spondee. In other positions, trochees are foreign to the hexameter, with a very few, very rare exceptions, and when they occur, they are scanned as spondees. If you think you see a trochee, you're almost certainly wrong and should go back and re-work the scansion.

The strong pause in the middle of the verse -- the "caesura" -- usually comes in the third foot, either after the first long syllable ("masculine" caesura) or, if the third foot is a dactyl and not a spondee, the caesura can come after the first short syllable ("feminine" caesura). Feminine caesuras generally predominate in Homeric and archaic hexameters. Lines 1, 2 4 and 6 above have feminine caesuras in the third foot; the others have masculine caesuras in the third foot. Sometimes there is a caesura in the fourth foot after the first long, frequently with another in the second foot, but that doesn't occur in these verses.

The caesura is a break between words within a foot -- it never splits a word, and it always occurs within a foot, never between feet. Thus, your scansion αἰεὶ μει|διά … | ει καὶ ἐφ' | ἱμερ … | τὸν θέει | ἄνθος is wrong on several counts. The caesura is the most important feature of the hexameter--more important than the division of the hexameter into metrical feet. The two halves of the verse (or in some cases, three sections) are separate metrical segments. If you're going to sing hexameters (and even if you aren't), you should get to recognize the caesuras and be very attentive to them.

There are no instances of syezesis in these verses; your scansion is wrong where you've indicated synezesis. There are, however, instances of correption -- a long vowel or diphthong at the end of a word is usually treated as short if followed by a vowel beginning the next word. In the third line καὶ is short before ἐφ', and -ει is short before ἄν-. θέ-ει is two syllables, both treated as short. In the sixth line, καὶ is short before ἄλ-. σεῖο ... καὶ is a dactyl -- three syllables, with a feminine caesura.

Note that the first syllable of κυπ-ρογενῆ in line 1 is treated as long, but the first syllable of Κύ-πρου in line 5 is treated as short. The vowel υ is short, but the consonant cluster πρ (among other combinations of obstruent + liquid) can be treated as either lengthening a short vowel that precedes it, or not.

Hope this helps.

User avatar
Peitho
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:36 am

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by Peitho » Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:06 pm

Thanks!

The basic idea that I used to come to my conclusions was that there was, other than the feet, a basic structure of cola within the line, marked by pauses in the verse (because I couldn’t make it sound right aloud unless I sprinkled a pause or two in each line, though it sounds I may have misattributed those pauses to trochees rather than caesuras). In my mind, lines 1, 2, 4, and 5 are of two cola each, each line having very similar structure, while lines 3 and 6 have three cola each, though the lines are of dissimilar structure (which I attributed to the fact that the last line seems to be a standard one among the Homeric Hymns).

Even though it’s flawed, I’ve tended to think of the hexameter as being in 4/4 time (though with the tempo adjusted as needed to make the poem dynamic and dramatic). Is a foot with a caesura in it, then, longer than one that doesn’t have a caesura? What are some good ways to keep the beat while reciting such a verse?

Here are some more questions: How does an epsilon or omicron sound when drawn out to a long syllable? (“ἱμερ” in line 2, for example) Also, is there anything of note in the “αοιδήν/αοιδῆς” semi-rhyme of the last two lines? (Any time I try to sing it, it sounds like I’m strangling a cat. In fact, it’s hard for me to figure out the melody of the last line at all, which is funny because it’s the stock line.)

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1939
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by Hylander » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:21 pm

In my mind, lines 1, 2, 4, and 5 are of two cola each, each line having very similar structure, while lines 3 and 6 have three cola each, though the lines are of dissimilar structure (which I attributed to the fact that the last line seems to be a standard one among the Homeric Hymns).
The lines are articulated into cola by the caesuras. I used your ellipsis notation to indicate the caesuras.
Is a foot with a caesura in it, then, longer than one that doesn’t have a caesura?
Every line has at least one caesura. Lines 3 and 6 each have one and only one caesura, as do 1,2, 4 and 5. As I mentioned previously, the caesura is always a break between words within a foot -- it never splits a word, and it always occurs within a foot, after the first long or alternatively, after the first short provided the foot is a dactyl, not a spondee. The caesura never occurs between feet.
is there anything of note in the “αοιδήν/αοιδῆς” semi-rhyme of the last two lines?
No, I don't think it would be perceived as a rhyme, just a repetition of the same word.
How does an epsilon or omicron sound when drawn out to a long syllable? (“ἱμερ” in line 2, for example)
It's the syllable that's lengthened, not the vowel. The lengthening occurs because it takes longer to pronounce a closed syllable than an open one. In recent years, it has become prevalent to refer to "heavy" and "light" syllables instead of "long" and "short" syllables to avoid confusion with long and short vowels.

How are you assigning melody to the lines? Rhythm is more or less evident from the quantities of the syllables (light vs. heavy), but assigning melody is speculative and controversial. Have you read West's article that has been under discussion in another thread?

User avatar
Peitho
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:36 am

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by Peitho » Sat Jun 25, 2016 3:36 am

I have read that West article on melody, as well as Hagel’s summary of his work (linked in the same thread), and I’ve looked through the hexameter section of DS Raven’s “Greek Metre.” So far my approach has been based mainly on those rules and on simply repeating it aloud until I find a melody that works and sounds right. (I also gave myself a crash-course on music theory.) Just about the only line I can make sound good so far is the first one; it’s kind of downhill from there. I’ll keep at it, though! (I know I’ll never recover the exact melody, but I want something that the ancient Greeks might’ve respected as an interesting foreign “cover” that nonetheless does justice to the original.)

Does a caesura make the foot longer by adding a pause (rather than shortening other syllables to make room)? If so, how long is the pause? (I ask this knowing that the question of caesura is something of an academic can of worms... I’d be okay with a general idea that works.)

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3372
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by mwh » Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:27 am

Peitho wrote:Does a caesura make the foot longer by adding a pause (rather than shortening other syllables to make room)?
Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Though you may want to take breath from time to time, and syntactical breaks within the line are an obvious place to do so, the rhythm of each verse is continuous and uninterrupted from beginning to end, so you shouldn’t really be thinking in terms of pause except at line end. The only really legitimate place to pause is between verses. In speaking in his first post of a “strong pause” in the middle of the verse I think Hylander was speaking loosely, to make the point about caesura, which is nothing more than a metrical cut. At the main caesura there may be a syntactical break of some sort, as in the 2nd and 3rd lines here, but not necessarily: e.g. in the 4th line Σαλαμινος ευκτιμενης (“of well-built Salamis”) straddles the caesura. So there shouldn’t be any trouble about keeping the beat, as you put it. The caesura does not make the foot longer.

You’re on to something with your mention of cola. The metrical cola are essentially the two parts of the verse divided by the caesura within the 3rd foot (or within the 4th if the words run over the 3rd-foot caesura points), and these don’t necessarily coincide with the syntactical or sense cola, as we’ve just seen with Σαλαμινος ευκτιμενης, where noun and adjective belong together but the caesura intervenes nonetheless. More often than not the metrical and the syntactical go more or less hand in hand, as here in lines 2, 3 and 5, where a new clause begins at the caesura. But it’s not always so. Sometimes there’s some tension between the metrical structure, with its metrically independent verses with their 3rd(or4th)-foot caesura, and the inherent structure of the text itself, with its word-groups and clauses and sentences.

You should always respect the ongoing dactylic flow of each line. In verse the meter always claims priority. But that still allows scope for variation within the fixed metrical form, and I think what you should be aiming for is reciting the lines as “naturally” and intelligibly and expressively as is consistent with keeping a clear sense of the meter. Don't use a metronome, but do internalize the meter, caesura and all. You can learn to “feel” the 3rd(4th)-foot caesura without actually pausing there: the latter part of the line doesn’t kick off from the first syllable of a foot (the metrical "longum" or "princeps") as the first part does. You’re free to make up your own melody if you want to sing it, just don’t fool yourself into imagining that an ancient Greek would be able to relate to it, any more than we would be able to relate to an ancient performance if we heard one. (Well, maybe Hagel or West would, but none of us mere mortals.)

Longest answer: I'll spare you.

As to short vowels being drawn out or lengthened, well, they’re not, as Hylander says. ε and ο and short α and short ι and short υ always stay short. They may occupy a long (not lengthened) aka heavy syllable, but the vowel itself is short. Vowels are either short or long, one or the other. (That's built into the prosodic system of the language.) You have to distinguish vowels from syllables. A practical rule of thumb, subject to a few qualifications, is that if a short vowel is followed by two consonants (or comes at verse-end), the syllable is long(heavy). The vowel itself is not affected.

And not to be pedantic or anything, but the word for the merging of adjacent vowels into a single long one is synizesis (συν-ἵζησις, "settling together"), though as Hylander says there are no instances here.

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1939
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by Hylander » Sun Jun 26, 2016 3:30 pm

mwh: Don't you think there would be at least a slight Luftpause at the caesura? Maybe not a "strong pause".

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3372
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by mwh » Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:02 pm

Kleine Pause oder keine Pause? — Chissà?

I think there may well have been some kind of luftpause within the verse where the syntax or the rhetoric suggests it, and not only at caesura, but not such as would disturb the rhythm, which is flexible only up to a certain point. For poets the bridges and cuts in the line (bridges more important than cuts) would come practically of their own accord, an inevitable result of the compositional process, reflecting the hexameter’s traditional dynamics and patternings, and subsequent performers and readers would have picked up on the line’s built-in internal structure (its "inner metric").

Or that’s how I see it.

User avatar
Peitho
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:36 am

Re: Homeric Hymn X (to Aphrodite), meter

Post by Peitho » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:45 pm

Thanks! Don’t worry about being pedantic, I wouldn’t be learning Ancient Greek if I didn’t care for detail :)

Post Reply