Beginning Poetry

Discuss meter, interpretation, and all things Latin Poetry
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misellepasser
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Beginning Poetry

Post by misellepasser » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:05 pm

Q
Last edited by misellepasser on Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hylander
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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by Hylander » Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:08 pm

I would recommend starting with hexameters, which are the most widely used meter in Latin. Elegiacs are more complicated, but are easier once you have hexameters down. Catullus wrote only one surviving hexameter poem; his hendecasyllables are easier to scan (and probably were easier to write), but the hexameter is the basic verse for Latin poetry. So I would suggest postponing Catullus until you have the hexameter down.

Ovid's Metamorphoses might be a good place to start. I wouldn't recommend attempting to read the whole fifteen books, but the first book starts off with some of his best and most famous passages--the creation of the world, the four ages, the flood, Deucalion and Pyrrha, Apollo and Daphne . . . There is a commentary in a number of volumes in the Aris & Phillips series, with a translation that will help you find your way in the Latin. (The translation in the Loeb is an Elizabethan verse translation, which would be less useful.) Alternatively, you could try Vergil's Eclogues--there's an edition with commentary in the Cambridge "Green & Yellow" series. Also, there is a translation, with Latin text, by David Ferry that would likely be helpful.

You need in particular to get used to the radical hyperbaton of which Latin is capable as a result of inflectional endings, which make the agreement of adjectives and nouns apparent even when they are separated by several words. Frequently, two adjectives and corresponding nouns are interlocking (the pattern is Adj1 Adj2 Noun1 Noun2); and typically an adjective before the caesura agrees with a noun at the end of the verse. This can be confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it seems perfectly natural and indeed very satisfying from an aesthetic point of view, and it's one of the most salient features of Latin verse.

Don't be intimidated by the meter. Start by marking the scansion (including the caesuras, which are the most important internal feature of the line), and then reading the verses aloud, attempting to give effect both to the interplay of long and short syllables and to the stress accent of the individual words. (These two features tend to be in conflict at the beginning of the verse, and the conflict is resolved at the end, as stress accent and metrical accent coincide). Do this for 5-10 lines a day, and after a month or so you will have it down and be able to read metrically without marking the scansion in advance.

Addendum:

Here is a selection of the Metamorphoses for students of Latin at your level:

http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/su ... 7mYQXAq.97

I haven't seen this myself, but it may be just what you need.

misellepasser
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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by misellepasser » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:36 pm

Q
Last edited by misellepasser on Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hylander
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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by Hylander » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:50 pm

I actually think the Cambridge Reader might be better for you at your level. While the Aris & Phillips series are equipped with an English translation, which is designed to provide the editor's understanding of the meaning of the Latin or Greek, the translations tend to take the place of grammatical commentary to some extent, and the notes focus on more substantive matters. The Cambridge Reader seems to be aimed at second-year students, which I think is where you are in your self-instruction at this point.

There are several positive "reviews" on amazon.com (though these aren't reliable), and the text is apparently equipped with symbols that connect adjectives and nouns that are separated by hyperbaton. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing, but it may be helpful starting out. Also, it has an introduction to meter at an elementary level, which you might find useful.

https://www.amazon.com/Reading-Ovid-Met ... dge+reader

This is a link to the first volume of the Aris & Phillips Metamorphoses series, but it doesn't allow you to look inside the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Ovid-Metamorphos ... amorphoses

William Anderson's commentary on the first five books of the Metamorphoses would provide ample background information and some help with grammar (apparently nothing on meter):

https://www.amazon.com/Ovids-Metamorpho ... erson+ovid

Another relatively elementary book of selections from the Metamorphoses, with William Anderson's participation:

https://www.amazon.com/Selections-Ovids ... erson+ovid

misellepasser
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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by misellepasser » Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:20 am

Q
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Hylander
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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by Hylander » Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:27 am

I don't think it's an adaptation. The constraints of meter make it impossible to adapt Latin poetry.

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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by Hylander » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:20 pm

Here is another volume of selections from Ovid, with a more generous offering of the best stories from the Metamorphoses, as well as selections from his elegies. I'm not sure whether this text includes material on meter, but that can be found elsewhere.


https://www.amazon.com/Selections-Ovid- ... +from+ovid

Some books on Latin meter:

https://www.amazon.com/Meters-Greek-Lat ... atin+meter

Both Greek and Latin. Latin meters are adapted from Greek meters, but in ways that make Latin poetry quite different from Greek and unique to Latin.

https://www.amazon.com/Latin-Metre-Bcp- ... XW4V0Y0V6Y

Latin meter alone.

https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Compositio ... G8QK8XWVNW

This provides instruction on composing Latin verse, which you may not want to try until you have read some Latin poetry (if ever), but it explains the inner dynamics of Latin verse.

cantator
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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by cantator » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:04 pm

Greetings,

A good selection of Ovid's verse:

https://www.amazon.com/Selections-Ovid- ... selections

Includes vocabulary and minimal notes. The passages vary in length and difficulty. Btw, the volume includes selections from the Heroides, Ars Amatoria, Fasti, Amores, Tristia, and the letters from Pontus, along with passages from the Metamorphoses.

Btw, if you're going to work on reading Latin poetry out loud, be sure to do likewise with poetry written in your native language.

Best,

dp
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

Hylander
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Re: Beginning Poetry

Post by Hylander » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:56 pm

The Dunmore book linked by cantator (and earlier by me) includes some of the best stories from the Metamorphoses, and then continues with ample selections from Ovid's elegiac poetry. The notes don't seem to provide as much help with grammar issues as some of the other books, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing. As I mentioned above, the main grammatical problem you will confront is hyperbaton, particularly adjectives separated from nouns. You should be able to get help with grammar here, in any event.

By the way, if you want to ask questions about the text, you don't have to type it out--you can copy and paste from this site:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/col ... reco-Roman

or this (which I find somewhat more user-friendly):

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/

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