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On the Reading of Latin Verse

Author(s): Roland G. Kent

Source: The Classical Weekly, Vol. 18, No. 18 (Mar. 16, 1925), p. 144
Published by: Classical Association of the Atlantic States
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4388671
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been a favorite study of military men ever since. It (i) Elision at the end of a verse, as in Horace,
was superb audacity, justifiable only by the character Carm. 2.6.3-4, and in all hypermetric verses, as in
of the two armies and of their commanders. It has Aeneid 5.422, is a phenomenonquite on a par with the
running over of a word from one line to the next, as in
been said that for a Cannae two things are necessary- Horace, Carm. 1.2.19-20, where ux-oriusis divided be-
a Hannibal and a Varro. tween the two lines. Similarly,a wordshouldend in the
Germany in 19I4 seemed always to be looking for an Asclepiadeanmeasuresafter each group- uu-, except
opportunity to apply the Cannae principle; but, faith- the last such group; but this is violated in Horace,
Carm. 2.I2.25 Cum flagrantia de-torquet ad oscula,
ful again to Moltke, who said that his only system was between the prefix and the verb, in Carm. 4.8.17 Non
to have no system, the application was in varied forms. incendia Car-thaginisimpiae, in the middle of a long
Schlieffen dared to use it strategically, in his conception place-name, and occasionally elsewhere. An elision
of the great wheel of the armies of the right wing upon occursin Horace,Carm. I.2 I .1 3 Hic bellumlacrimosum,
hic miseramfamem, at this point in the verse; there is
Metz as a pivot; but it was the application of a prin- an evident pause at this point required by the sense,
ciple only, not the copying of a form. Hindenburg, despite the elision. But I see no reasonwhy the musical
when he took over the command in East Prussia, time should be spoiled by the sounding of the elided
found himself opposed to two Russian armies. As element, especially when the ancient evidence is all
against it; there is no more violence in having an
Napoleon might have done, he disregarded Rennen- omission of a final sound at a pause than in having a
kampf and turned his whole force upon Samsonoff; pause in the middle of a word.
but his operations against Samsonoffwere a repetition (2) As for such pronunciations as theternalfor the
of Cannae on a large scale and with success as complete eternal,the writing theternalis not infrequent in older
as Hannibal's. A recent Germanwriter has said that if books, and cannot be motivated except as a represen-
tation of the pronunciation actually employed. The
Schlieffen were to rewrite his studies to-day he would pronunciation the eternal where the rhythm requires
call them Tannenberg, not Cannae. Moltke the theternalis quite on a par with the pronunciation
Younger was no Hannibal. He feared to weaken the fore-headforforehead(quasiforrud), and is the result of
rest of his line so as to give to his marching flank the an ocular impression.
strength that Schlieffen had contemplated; and so we (3) Finally, as to a pause, not to call it a caesura,
after an et, as in Aeneid 1.35, I agree with Professor
shall never know whether, given a German Hannibal, Knapp that a pause could not have beenmadeproperly
France would have furnished a Varro. after an et, but I am not sure that the Romans always
OLIVER L. SPAULDING, JR., restrained themselves from making a pause there,
Colonel, Field Artillery, United States Army any more than from making a pause where there is
elision or even between the elements of a compound
word or between a word and an attached enclitic.
In recent years many speakersof English have affected
ON THE READING OF LATINVERSE' a long pause after an introductory But, a practice
similar to a pause in Latin after an et, though
I am in hearty agreement with my friends Professor equally to possible
Samuel E. Bassett and Professor CharlesKnapp on the But I do not be condemned on theoretical grounds.
believe that the Romans lived up to their
unreality of the caesura in Latin verse, and on the de- theories perfectly, and hence believe that now and then
sirability of making such pauses in the verses as are they made pauses where they should not have done so.
naturally in accord with the sense to be conveyed; see We modernsare too prone to regard all that is old and
classicalin Latin as perfect and free from fault: Horace
On the other hand I desire to call to the attention of rebuked the same attitude toward the past among his
the readers of this journal the fact that the disregard own contemporaries, Epp. 2.I.7I-72. . .sed <car-
of elision, advocated by Professor Knapp, is a theory mina Livi Andronici> emendata videri pulchraque et
which has its reasoningopponents. ProfessorEdgar H. exactis minimum distantia miror. . . .No writer, not
Sturtevant, now of Yale University, and the writer even or Shakespeare,ever wrote his own lan-
presented a fairly thorough study of this subject in the guageVergil in large quantity one hundred per cent free from
Transactions of the American Philological Association blemish; and we should not expect to find such abso-
46.129-I55, under the title Elision and Hiatus in Latin
Prose and Verse, and came to the conclusion, based on lute perfection anywhere.
ancient evidence, that the elided vowel, or vowel plus I do believe that we must make the metrical accent
m, was entirely ignored in the pronunciation;thoughin an accent of energy, as Professor Knapp maintains;
the time of Quintilianthere was a school of readerswho and I go farther than he, and maintain that the an-
did sound the elided vowels, evidently in the fashion of cients likewise did so. As for the word-accentof prose,
the actors of to-day who in reading the lines of Shake- that is, of ordinary speech, formal or informal, I have
speare do their utmost to conceal the fact that the lines good company in regarding it as chiefly a pronuncia-
have rhythm. Our conclusions, I might add, were tion of the syllable on a musical note of higher pitch;
publicly endorsed by the late Professor Charles E. such a pitch accent may be pronouncedirrespective of
Bennett, of Cornell University. An abridgmentof our an accent of greater stress or energy, and the two ac-
article, by Professor Sturtevant, appeared in The cents may fall on the same or on different syllables,
Classical Journal I2.34-43. without any clash or difficulty, except for persons not
It would be out of place here to repeat in detail what accustomed to making such distinctions. See my
was said there. There are, however, three items on articles The Alleged Conflict of the Accents in Latin
which I would remark. Verse, and The Educated Roman and his Accent, in
the Transactions of the American Philological Asso-
iThis paper was received after the material which appears in ciation 5I.I9-29, 53.63-72.
THE CLASSICAL WEEKLYI8.12I-I23 had been sent to the printer.