Elision between lines?

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Witstone
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Elision between lines?

Post by Witstone »

Hey all, came across this bit in Aeneid 3 and stumbled into a weird problem: how should we treat would-be elisions between lines?
Postquam res Asiae Priamiqu’evertere gentem
immeritam
visum superis, ceciditque superbum
Ilium’t
omnis humo fumat Neptunia Troia,
if a Roman were to actually speak this line, it seems like they would elide the ends of the first two lines to "gent'immeritam" and "superb'Ilium't," respectively. But since this is in the context of Dactylic Hex, I'm not so sure what happens.

On the one hand, I want to preserve meter, but on the other hand, it feels really unnatural to stop the nasalization of the terminal "m" in both "gentem" and "superbum," especially considering they both lead into enjambment (and a noun-adjective pair!). Complicating the picture even further, immediately before the "gentem" and immediately after "superbum" are elisions ("Priamiqu'evertere" on the one hand, and "Ilium't") on the other. So to preserve meter, the reader would have to decide first to elide, then to not elide twice, and then to elide again. Tricky tricky.

Where can I find guidance on how to read this? Any help is appreciated.


P.S. two cool things to note are the "chiasmatic structure" of this dilemma, if it is one, and the implication -- if the lines are not to be elided -- that putting words into meter changes the words, rather than just being "natural grooves" that the words run through.

mwh
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Re: Elision between lines?

Post by mwh »

Every dactylic hexameter (with rare exceptions) is complete in itself, with no metrical continuity between one verse and the next. So there’s no elision at the ends of the lines (unlike within the lines), and no inhibition against starting the next line with a vowel. There’s really nothing tricky about it, though certainly the two enjambments are striking. Meter and syntax do not always go in step.

mwh
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Re: Elision between lines?

Post by mwh »

Another thing: “Ilium’t” is an impossible representation of Ilium et. It’s Ilium that’s elided. “et” (short syllable) kicks off a new clause, the third of three, end-stopped, in contrast to the preceding enjambed two. This brings the set to a tidy and aesthetically satisfying close, before we embark on the main clause.

EdusBritannicus
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Re: Elision between lines?

Post by EdusBritannicus »

I have a reservation with your view.
I agree whole-heartedly with you, that each line should be scanned in isolation. That rule will always (as far as I know) hold true.
But that works in an academic context; especially when reading those lines from the printed page; and also explains how they were composed.
However, when it comes to reading them aloud (and this was the norm in ancient Rome) they would sound rather wooden if delivered like that.
There's a regular trick employed by Vergil and Ovid; and Lucan too, I think. It's a trick that I call "hanging over", although, no doubt, there's a Greek term for this.

A couple of examples;
Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
litora
(Virgil)
In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas
corpora
(Ovid)

To read these line by line gives emphasis to the left-over words; as if you have to pay special attention to them, being out of the norm. But in both cases that strikes me as inapplicable; they are as normal as normal; I would have guessed at them before the end of the line that precedes them.

Ed

mwh
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Re: Elision between lines?

Post by mwh »

It’s called enjamb(e)ment. The syntax of one line runs over to the next. You’ll find it throughout Latin verse, and Greek too, and many other languages besides. But each verse remains metrically independent of its neighbours. So there’s a kind of tension between the syntactical structure and the metrical. Poets exploit the poetic potential.

And welcome to Textkit, Ed!

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