How to work out the main caesura

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han11
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How to work out the main caesura

Post by han11 »

Hi,
I understand how to identify the caesura in the line below:
– ⏑ ⏑/– ⏑ ⏑ /–‖ –/– – / – ⏑ ⏑ /– –
Arma virumque cano Troiæ qui primus ab oris

But i am confused to how the third foot has the main caesura in, and not the fourth foot. They both have the dactyl meter so I don't understand how one is supposed to decifer which one is the 'main caesura'?

Would be so grateful for any help!!

Aetos
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by Aetos »

Before I go into an explanation, I heartily encourage you to watch as much of David Butterfield's lectures as you can, especially if you're new to Latin prosody! Chad recently posted a link to their location on the Antigone journal website:
https://antigonejournal.com/2021/05/int ... tin-metre/

As to your question of how to decide where the caesura is to be found, you have three locations to consider in dactylic hexameter:
1. After the 1st long syllable of the 3rd foot, sometimes referred to as 3rd longum
2. After the 1st long syllable of the 4rd foot, also sometimes referred to as 4th longum
3. After the 1 st short syllable of the 3rd foot, (the 2nd syllable of a dactyl)

The order in which I've listed the possible locations is also the frequency with which they are found, number 1 being the most frequent location. The determining factor, other than the presence of a word break at these points, is a break in sense. Notice that after "cano" there is the beginning of a relative clause? "Troiae qui primus ab oris.....(next verse)...Italiam Lavinaque venit (next verse) litora... ". A very definite break in sense.

Again, check out those lectures; they're not only instructive, but witty as well!

mwh
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by mwh »

Or try this. Here's a typical passage from Ovid's Metamorphoses. The caesura of each line falls in the middle of the third foot (directly after what Aetos referred to as the 3rd longum):

Noctis erat medium, curasque et corpora somnus
solverat. at virgo Cinyreia pervigil igni
carpitur indomito furiosaque vota retractat.
et modo desperat, modo vult temptare, pudetque
et cupit et quid agat non invenit. utque securi
saucia trabs ingens, ubi plaga novissima restat,
quo cadat in dubio est omnique a parte timetur:
sic animus vario labefactus vulnere nutat
huc levis atque illuc momentaque sumit utroque.
nec modus aut requies nisi mors reperitur amoris.
Mors placet. erigitur laqueoque innectere fauces
destinat et zona summo de poste revincta
“care vale Cinyra, causamque intellege mortis!”
dixit et aptabat pallenti vincula collo.

Try reading up to the caesura of each line (in bold). If it makes it easier, you can put stress on heavy syllables (noctis erat medium ..., solverat, at virgo...), but only until you get comfortable with the rhythm. Each line starts with a dactyl. You can repeat the experiment with any other passage of Ovid. (Vergil's versification is essentially the same but a little more variegated, which is why it's best to start with Ovid.)

leisulin
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by leisulin »

Aetos wrote: Wed Jan 05, 2022 5:45 pm As to your question of how to decide where the caesura is to be found, you have three locations to consider in dactylic hexameter:
1. After the 1st long syllable of the 3rd foot, sometimes referred to as 3rd longum
2. After the 1st long syllable of the 4rd foot, also sometimes referred to as 4th longum
3. After the 1 st short syllable of the 3rd foot, (the 2nd syllable of a dactyl)
The order in which I've listed the possible locations is also the frequency with which they are found, number 1 being the most frequent location. The determining factor, other than the presence of a word break at these points, is a break in sense.

Code: Select all

cumque choro meliore sui vineta Timoli
 -   ·   ·|-  · ·- ·$ ·-  -|- ·  ·|- -
This is Book XI, line 86 of the Metamorphoses. I've been working harder to identify the main caesura, to perceive the break in sense that you mention. At first it looked like it was a case of #2, breaking between "sui" and "vineta". But then I noticed #3 could be the case, between "meliore" and "sui". In fact, "cumque choro meliore" seems like one sense unit, and the "sui" seems to go with "vineta Timoli". So the main caesura here is a case of the rarer #3 location, right? (I marked the caesura with a $). (BTW, the subject from the previous line is Bacchus and the following line begins "Pactolonque petit". So it's something like "And together with a better entourage {sense break} he makes for the vineyards of his own Timolus.)

Aetos
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by Aetos »

Hi Dave,

cumque choro meliore sui vineta Timoli
- · ·|- · ·|- ·$ ·|- -|- · ·|- - (I added separators for 3rd and 4th feet)

I would say this is a perfect example of a feminine caesura. Although there are several caesurae (after cumque, choro, sui, and after vineta), the break in sense comes at meliore, which makes this the principal caesura.

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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by leisulin »

Cool. Thanks! :D

mwh
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by mwh »

Hi Dave,

cumque choro meliore | sui vineta Timoli (Ovid Met.11.86)

To summarize, and to reformulate slightly:
- The great majority of verses have their caesura directly following the longum of the 3rd foot (Aetos’ #1)—as exemplified by all fourteen verses in my earlier post above (“Noctis erat medium” etc.)! This is traditionally known as the masculine caesura.

- Verse 86, however, breaks not quite there but just after the immediately following short syllable—still within the 3rd foot. A break in this position (Aetos’ #3) is traditionally known as the feminine caesura. It’s as if the normal caesura has spilled over, just a little.
Lines with this “feminine” caesura tend to break after the longum of the 4th foot as well (Aetos’ #2; in verse 86 after sui).
So Aetos’ ##3 and 2 together exemplify what's liable to happen when the normal caesura (the “masculine” one) is overridden.
In such cases, sometimes #3 is more salient than #2, as we see in verse 86 (the main break after meliore), sometimes #2 is more salient than #3 (as in e.g. verse 132 da veniam, Lenaee pater! peccavimus, inquit).
But most verses, remember, have masculine caesura.

Here’s a short sample from a little further on in bk.11. Pan challenges Apollo to a musical contest:
Pan ibi dum teneris iactat sua carmina nymphis
et leve cerata modulatur harundine carmen,
ausus Apollineos prae se contemnere cantus,
iudice sub Tmolo certamen venit ad impar. (153-156)

Paying attention to the metrical structure of each line in tandem with its syntactical organization throws much light on Ovid’s artistry and compositional technique. And it’s a whole lot of fun.

leisulin
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by leisulin »

mwh wrote: Thu Mar 24, 2022 3:05 pm Paying attention to the metrical structure of each line in tandem with its syntactical organization throws much light on Ovid’s artistry and compositional technique. And it’s a whole lot of fun.
Thanks for that input, Michael! I'm now, finally, starting to look at the caesurae and making use of them to help illuminate the syntactical structure, where before I had been content to just make sure I could scan every line, which I now understand is not enough.

Dave S

mwh
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by mwh »

And you’ll have noticed that adjectives regularly come at an earlier point in the line than their nouns. Nouns resolve what their adjectives set up. It’s an aesthetically satisfying pattern (though it risks becoming monotonous).

And here’s a good exercise, for you or Aetos or anyone. Can you find verses hereabouts that don’t have a masculine caesura? As you’d expect, they aren’t very numerous, but there are some; in fact in the first hundred lines of the book I see two adjacent lines that don’t.

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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by leisulin »

Code: Select all

visa fugit nymphe, veluti perterrita fulvum
 - ·  ·|-   - | - $ · ·|-  - |-  · ·| -  ·
cerva lupum longeque lacu deprensa relicto
 -  ·  ·|-   -| -  ·% ·|-$ - |-  ·  ·|-  -       <--------
accipitrem fluvialis anas; quam Troius heros
-  · ·| -    · ·- · %·|-  $  - |  -·· | - -      <--------
insequitur celeremque metu celer urget amore.
-  ·  ·|-   · ·|-   ·% ·|-$ · · |-  ·  ·|- ·     <--------
ecce latens herba coluber fugientis adunco               775
-  ·  ·|-    - |-$ · ·|-   · ·-  ·  ·|-  -
dente pedem strinxit virusque in corpore liquit;
 -  ·  ·|-     - |- $ -|-     - | -  · ·| -  ·
cum vita suppressa fuga est. amplectitur amens
 -   -|-  -  |-  ·% ·|-    $ -  |-  · · |- -     <--------
exanimem clamatque "piget, piget esse secutum!
- · ·|-    -|-   ·%  ·|-  $ · · |-  ·  ·|- ·     <--------
(Be sure to see all the lines in the code block. It's so long it's using a scroll bar)

I wanted to respond right away to your latest post because these lines from near the end of Book XI seem to be a whole FOREST of feminine caesurae, though I haven't tried to translate them yet, I was busy scanning the lines and will translate them next. These are lines 771-778 in Book XI.

(Please forgive my use of the "code block" but I just finished scanning these lines using my own symbology which no doubt is not the usual way to mark these things, but it at least lines the marks up with the corresponding vowels using a fixed pitch font.)

mwh
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by mwh »

That’s excellent, Dave! Five feminine caesuras in seven lines! Quite extraordinary! You’ll have noticed that three of the five have -que at that point. That’s often the case with feminine caesuras—these are would-be masculine caesuras with -que tacked on. And you’ll have also noticed that in each case what follows the feminine caesura is a single two-syllable word, short-long, i.e. each of the five lines exemplifies Aetos’s ##3 and 2 caesurae, in line with my previous post, giving the verses a quite distinctive shape.
- I can’t suggest any particular reason for such an unusually high concentration (a veritable forest, as you say), except that the choppiness is expressive of the scene’s animation. It’s a splendid scene, culminating in its crisp quasi-conclusion (781f.), |Dixit et e scopulo … |se dedit in pontum.

You say you haven’t yet translated the lines. And I hope you won’t, but I trust you grasped at least the gist of their meaning. Otherwise mere scanning would be a sterile sort of exercise.

leisulin
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by leisulin »

Michael,

It was funny that I happened to read your challenge for us to hunt down more feminine caesurae so soon after you posted it and immediately after I'd encountered so many clustered together! I couldn't wait to respond! (And from there to the end of Book XI, only 17 lines later, there are just two more cases, both again occurring with -que, and with a disyllabic word wedged in between the two main caesurae).

You're right: Ovid is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys! Thanks again for all your help!

Cheers, Dave S

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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by Aetos »

Hi Michael,
I believe you are referring to lines 35 and 36:

arma sui, vacuosque iacent dispersa per agros
sarculaque rastrique graves longique ligones



Both feminine caesurae occur after -que (vacuosque, rastrique). I must say after spending the winter reading Plautus, I'm finding Latin dactylic hexameter almost as easy as the Greek. Even the iambic trimeter in Euripides' Medea (one of my other projects) is easier than Plautus' iambic senarii, not to mention the metres in his cantica. The elision is brutal!

Thanks for the workout! As Dave says, Ovid's more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

mwh
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by mwh »

Thanks for playing, Don. But why didn’t you include the next line too, quae postquam rapuere ferae cornuque minaces?
I think what I will have had in mind was
ruricolae cepere Phryges vinctumque coronis
ad regem duxere Midan, cui Thracius Orpheus … (91-92),
which make a good pair. -que lines scarcely count, I reckon, since they account for so many of the feminine caesurae.

Plautus: good for you! It’s the shortenings more than the elisions that throw people, I find. The trick in the stichic meters, as I expect you’ve discovered, is to go for the principal longa (or their resolutions!) and not to slow down. The cantina are something else. I find Questa a good guide.

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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by Aetos »

Hi Michael,

I'm afraid my excuse for not including line 37 is rather weak- I was looking for pairs, so finding the fem. caes. of line 37 in the next section of the poem just didn't trigger a response. As for lines 91-92, although I saw the feminine caesuras in the 3rd foot of each line, I dismissed them because the masculine caesurae in the fourth feet seemed to be where the break in sense occurs and I was looking for principal caesuras; however, now that I look again at lines 35-36, I wonder if the same could not be said for the masculine caesura in the fourth foot of line 36. In line 35, vacuosque in the first hemistich balances nicely with agros in the second. In line 36, although graves belongs properly to rastrique, hence my notion that the break occurs after graves, the idea of separating the noun and its modifier at the caesura is somehow appealing and possibly Ovidian.

Thanks for the tip on Cesare Questa! I can't find a copy of the book, but I did find a database that incorporates his scholarship:

http://romancomedy.wulib.wustl.edu/other.html.

For the Menaechmi, I used my old college textbook by Mosely & Hammond. For the Mostellaria I used Lorenz's edition from 1883 (that I've had on my bookshelf for over 50 years) and Merrill's MacMillan edition from 1972.

mwh
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by mwh »

Yes in 91 and 92 the 4th-foot break is stronger than the 3rd-foot feminine; likewise in 36; in 35 it’s moot. With lines of this shape it varies from case to case. The relation between meter and sense or syntax everywhere in the hexameter is variable, of course, and an exploitable source of tension.

The Mostellaria was the first Plautine comedy I ever read, and it may well have been that 1883 edition. I hated it.

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one more caesura problem

Post by leisulin »

Hello again! I hope I can ask one more question about caesurae:

corripuit trepidoque fugam exprobravit amico

If I'm scanning that line correctly, there is a feminine caesura after "trepidoque". And lo, another little 2-syllable word, but, oops, the "am" goes away via elision:

corripuit trepidoque fug exprobravit amico

so the possibility of a 4th longum main caesura is ruled out, I think.

quod Thebae cecidere, meum est; me credite Lesbon,
me Tenedon Chrysenque et Cillan, Apollinis urbes,
et Scyron cepisse; (last 2 lines included for context only)


Here there's a feminine caesura before "meum", and another 2-syllable word follows.....but I've been wondering how this works when the site of the word break also happens to be the site of an elision. Do we treat this line as if it were

quod Thebae cecidere, meumst;/ me credite Lesbon,

a 4th longum main caesura, as it seems we should?

Generally since both elision and caesura can occur at the same place, I assume we should not consider the two words involved as being smushed together like in "meumst" above, with elisions involving "est" being exceptions?

mwh
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Re: How to work out the main caesura

Post by mwh »

Yes meum est is really meumst (or meumpst), and fugam ex- is phonologically comparable; I don’t suppose the -am left no trace, despite its metrical behavior. And there's orthographic convention to be taken into account.
Interesting that the 4th-ft break is compromised so.

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