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    • Thread Starter

    Doing the AS Latin OCR course and i'm really not understanding the meter business with Ovid & general love poetry.
    I'd be really grateful if someone could explain this to me
    I've tried looking up links on several websites, but none of it is in simple english

    I'm doing the Ovid right now too, but I'm afraid all the meter stuff if pretty lost on me. I vaguely know from my notes that there are times the rhythm becomes dactylic, and so speeds up (which gives a sense of motion, such as in the poem about the chariot race), but thats about all I know! At least we don't have to know that much about it for this exam...
    • Thread Starter

    Thanks for the reply.
    Are you referring to instances like line 11 in 3.2, 'et modo lora dabo, modo verbere terga notabo'?
    Might we need to know about it for style points?

    Ok, all of Ovid's poetry is written in Elegiac couplets except for Metamorphoses, which is in hexameters. This is a useful fact to know - when you get your translation in the exam have a look to see where it's from.

    Elegiac couplets : 1 hexameter line, one pentameter line, repeated
    hexameters: hexameters over and over again.

    Basically each line has a certain number of syllables. These can be grouped together according to the rhythm they create into what are called 'metric feet'. A metric foot consists of one, two or three syllables. Syllables can be long (longum - marked _) or short (brevis - marked U). Sometimes either can fit the meter, which is marked X.

    Types of feet found in hexameters and pentameters are dactyls (_ U U), spondees (_ _), trochees (_ U), and triple trochees (_ _ U U).

    So what are your options?
    For a hexameter line:
    first foot: _ _ OR _ U U
    Second foot: _ _ OR _ U U
    third foot: _ _ OR _ U U
    fourth foot: _ _ OR _ U U
    fifth foot: _ U U ONLY
    sixth foot: _ _ OR _ U (just write |_ X|)

    Pentameter line:
    first foot: _ U U OR _ _
    second foot: _ U U OR _ _
    Third foot: _ _ U U ONLY
    fourth foot: _ U U ONLY
    fifth foot: _ or U (just write |X|)

    So now you know how the meters work, you have two difficulties. 1) how to tell what's long and what's short and 2) how to know which syllables count and which are elided. 3) the main caesura

    1) Long and Short
    >A vowel is short when followed by another vowel - NB i in genitives of pronouns are long e.g. illīus
    >A short vowel becomes long when followed by two consonants - NB x counts as two consonants (ks), h doesn't count as a consonant, when stops (b, p, d, t, g, k, t) are followed by liquids (r, l) the preceding vowel can be long or short
    >Diphthongs (two vowels pronounced together) are always long

    2) Elision (where a vowel isn't pronounced and therefore not counted as a syllable)
    >A vowel is elided if it is at the end of a word and the next word begins with a vowel or h
    >A syllable at the end of a word ending in -em -am -im -um elides if it is succeded by a word starting with a vowel or h
    >e at the start of a word will elide if the syllable at the end of the preceding word ends in e or m.

    3) Main Caesura
    The main caesura in a hexameter line falls usually in the third or fourth foot. It is written as // - your options are |_ // U U|, | _ // _| or |_ U // U|. It usually falls in a gap between words.
    In a dactylic pentameter it is always in the third foot after the first longum so you get |_ // _ U U| nice and easy :borat: - if it doesn't fit, you've done it wrong

    To conclude - steps of sucessful scansion
    1) Work out which meter you're dealing with (elegiacs or hexameter)
    2) Work out which vowels elide and cross them out
    3) Mark the last two feet of hexameter lines as they will always be the same
    4) Mark all the vowels which can only be long (DO THIS IN PENCIL)
    5) Count how many syllables are left
    6) Deduce which remaining syllables are long and short and mark them
    7) Put in the main caesura following above guidelines
    8) Double check you have the right number of feet and write over everything in pen
    9) :borat:

    Hope this helps OP
    • Thread Starter

    Thank you so much! This is so detailed and useful ahh
    Must've taken you quite a bit of time, thank you again, really appreciate it!

    (Original post by Student1123)
    Thank you so much! This is so detailed and useful ahh
    Must've taken you quite a bit of time, thank you again, really appreciate it!

    I actually have a uni exam involving latin scansion next week so writing that out was actually good revision for me, haha. Good luck in your exam :yy:
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