edited by Meagan Ayer et al.

General Rules of Quantity

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603. The following are General Rules of Quantity (cf. §§ 9 - 11).

Quantity of Vowels

a. Vowels: A vowel before another vowel or h is short.

vĭa
trăhō

Exceptions

  1. In the Genitive form -ius, ī is long.

utrīus
nūllīus

    It is, however, sometimes short in verse (§ 113.c).

  2. In the Genitive and Dative singular of the 5th declension, e is long between two vowels.

diēī

    Otherwise, it is usually short.

fidĕī
rĕī
spĕī

   Note— It was once long in these also.

plēnus fidēī (Ennius, at the end of a hexameter)

   A is also long before ī in the old Genitive of the 1st declension.

aulāī

  3. In the conjugation of fīō, i is long except when followed by -er.

fīō, fīēbam, fīam

BUT
fĭerī, fĭerem

    So also fĭt606.a.3).

  4. In many Greek words the vowel in Latin represents a long vowel or diphthong, and retains its original long quantity.

Trōes (Τρῶες)
Thalīa(Θαλεῖα)
hērōas (ἥρωας)
āēr (ἄηρ)

    Note— But many Greek words are more or less Latinized in this respect.

Acadēmī̆a
chorē̆a
Malĕa
platĕa

  5.  In dīus, in ē̆heu usually, and sometimes in Dī̆āna and ō̆he, the first vowel is long.

b. Diphthongs. A Diphthong is long.

foedus
cui1

Exception—The preposition prae in compounds is generally shortened before a vowel.

praĕ-ustīs (Aen. 7.524)
praĕ-eunte (Aen. 5.186)

Note— U following q, s, or g, does not make a diphthong with a following vowel (see § 5, Note 2). For â-iō, mâ-ior, pê-ior, etc., see § 11.d and Note.

c. Contraction. A vowel formed by contraction (crasis) is long.

nīl, from nihil
cōgō for †co-agō
mālō for mā-volō

Note— Two vowels of different syllables may be run together without full contraction (synizēsis, § 642).

deinde (for deinde)
meōs (for meōs)

Often two syllables are united by Synæresis (§ 642) without contraction: as when părĭĕtĭbŭs is pronounced paryĕtĭbus.

d. A vowel before -ns, -nf, or -gn, is long.

īnstō
īnfāns
sīgnum

 

Quantity of Syllables

e. A syllable is long if it contains a long vowel or a diphthong.

cā-rus
ō-men
foe-dus

f. Position. A syllable is long by position if its vowel, though short, is followed by two consonants or a double consonant.

adventus
cortex

But if the two consonants are a mute followed by l or r the syllable may be either long or short (common).

alacris or alăcris
patris or pătris

Vowels should be pronounced long or short in accordance with their natural quantity without regard to the length of the syllable by position.

Note 1— The rules of Position do not, in general, apply to final vowels before a word beginning with two consonants.

Note 2— A syllable is long if its vowel is followed by consonant i (except in bĭiugis, quadrĭiugis): see § 11.d.

Note 3— Compounds of iaciō, though written with one i, commonly retain the long vowel of the prepositions with which they are compounded, as if before a consonant, and, if the vowel of the preposition is short, the first syllable is long by position on the principle of § 11.e.

obicis hostī (at the end of a hexameter, Aen. 4.549)
inicit et saltū (at the beginning of a hexameter, Aen. 9.552)
prōice tēla manū (at the beginning of a hexameter, Aen. 6.836)

Later poets sometimes shorten the preposition in trisyllabic forms, and prepositions ending in a vowel are sometimes contracted as if the verb began with a vowel.

(1) cūr an|nōs ŏbĭ|cis (Claud. iv C. H. 264).

(2) reīcĕ că|pellās (Ecl. 3.96, at end).

Note 4— The y or w sound resulting from synæresis642) has the effect of a consonant in making position

abietis (abyetis)
fluviōrum
(fluvyōrum)

Conversely. when the semivowel becomes a vowel, position is lost.

sĭlŭae for silvae

Footnotes

1. Rarely dissyllabic cŭĭ (as Mart. 1.104.22 ).
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