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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar


629. The prosody of the earlier poets differs in several respects from that of the later. 1

a. At the end of words s, being only feebly sounded, does not make position with a following consonant; it sometimes disappeared altogether. This usage continued in all poets till Cicero's time (§ 15. 7).

b. A long syllable immediately preceded or followed by the ictus may be shortened ( iambic shortening ):—

  1. In a word of two syllables of which the first is short (this effect remained in a few words like pută, cavĕ, valĕ, vidĕ, egŏ, modŏ, duŏ 2):—

      ă´bĭ (Ter. Ph. 59); bŏ´nĭ (id. 516); hŏmŏ suā´vis (id. 411).

    1. If it is either a monosyllable or the first syllable of a word which is preceded by a short monosyllable:—
    2. sĕ´d hăs tabellās (Pl. Per. 195); quĭ´d hĭc nunc (id. Epid. 157); pĕr ĭnplū´vium (Ter. Ph. 707); ĕgo ŏsténderem (id. 793).

    3. When preceded by a short initial syllable in a word of more than three syllables:—
    4. vĕnŭstā´tis (Ter. Hec. 848); sĕnĕctū´tem (id. Ph. 434); Syrăcū´sās (Pl. Merc. 37); ămĭcĭ´tia (id. Ps. 1263).

c. In a few isolated words position is often disregarded.3 Such are ĭlle, ĭmmo, ĭnde, ĭste, ŏmnis, nĕmpe, quĭppe, ŭnde.

d. The original long quantity of some final syllables is retained.

  1. The ending -or is retained long in nouns with long stem-vowel (original r- stems or original s- stems):—

      módo quom dícta in mē íngerē´bās ódium nō´n uxō´r erám (Pl. Asin. 927).

      íta mī in péctore átque córde fácit amō´r incéndiúm (id. Merc. 500).

      átque quántō nóx fuístī lóngiō´r hāc próxumā´ (id. Am. 548).

  2. The termination -es ( -ĭtis) is sometimes retained long, as in mīlēs, superstēs.
  3. All verb-endings in -r, -s, and -t may be retained long where the vowel is elsewhere long in inflection:—

      régrediō´r audī´sse mē´ (Pl. Capt. 1023)

      átque ut quī´ fuerīs et quī´ nunc (id. 248)

      nō´minā´t haec (id. Epid. 4.1.8)

      faciā´t ut sémper (id. Poen. 2.42);

      īnfuscābāt, amābō (cretics, id. Cist. 1.21)

      quī amēt (id. Merc. 1021)

      ut fī´t in béllō cápitur álter fī´liús (id. Capt. 25)

      tibi sī´t ad mē´ revī´sā´s (id. Truc. 2.4.79).

e. Hiatus (§ 612. g) is allowed somewhat freely, especially at a pause in the sense, or when there is a change of speaker.4

XML File

Before the Latin language was used in literature, it had become much changed by the loss of final consonants and the shortening of final syllables under the influence of accent. In many cases this change was still in progress in the time of the early poets. This tendency was arrested by the study of grammar and by literature, but shows itself again in the Romance languages.
Cf. ambō (also a dual, p. 59, footnote), in which the ō is retainedbecause of the length of the first syllable.
Scholars are not yet agreed upon the principle or the extent of this irregularity.
The extent of this license is still a question among scholars; but in the present state of texts it must sometimes be allowed.