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Remarks on the Structure of the Latin Hexameter

Author(s): E. D. Kollmann
Source: Glotta, 46. Bd., 3./4. H. (1968), pp. 293-316
Published by: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (GmbH & Co. KG)
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Remarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter


daB sich in ihr etwas von sich aus zeigt und auf anderes einwirkt.
Das Sich-Erweisenwird besonders deutlich im Bereich der Mantik.
* * *
Es ist M. HeideggersVerdienst, den vorphilosophischen,man darf
sagen voraristotelischen,Wahrheitsbegriffwiederentdecktzu haben.
Was er als konstitutiv fur diesen Wahrheitsbegrifferkannte und im
Wort aXrjd'eia
wiederfand, haben die Griechen und die Rmer mit
Wrtern grundverschiedenerAbleitung ausgedruokt. Die Griechen
ursprnglichdurch rso (mit erweiterten Bildungen rv/to,rrjrv/io). DaB der Wortgebrauchvon vents und veritas der in a-Xrjftsia
gefundenen Etymologie entspricht, ohne auf eine entsprechende
etymologischeWurzelzuruckzugehen,zeigt, daBes auf dise Etymologie nicht ankommt. Der Wortgebrauchvon rsolBt sich wegen
derseltenenBezeugungnicht mehrerforschenx). ManmuBsich jedoch
den Vorgang so vorstellen: als die Griechen das schwachlautende
rs durch rjrjersetzten, aktivierten sie eine Bedeutungskomponente, die auch in rsobereits angelegt war. Sie veranderten
also an ihrem Wahrheitsbegriff nichts, sondern schufen in der
Privativbildung lediglich einen nach Laut und Bedeutung expressiveren Ausdruck2).

Remarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter

E. D. KOLLMANN, Tel Aviv


This paper deals with the relation between ictus and accent, a
relation which has been studied by many scholars, especially with
regard to iambic verses. Lately, Jackson Knight3) attempted
to find some kind of system in the relation between the two intonations in Vergil's Aeneid. Others, especially Herescu4), stressed the
importance of the vowels in the structure of the verse.
1) Ein beachtenswerter Versuch bei T. Krischer, rvfio und Arji/j,
Philol. 109, 1965, bes. 164-167.
2) So H. Frisk, 'Wahrheit' und 'Luge9 in den idg. Sprachen (1935) =
Kl. Schr. Gteborc 1966, S. 17f.
8) W. F. Jackson Knight, Accentual Symmetry in Vergil, Oxford 1939/1950.
4) N. J. Hreescu, La Posie Latine, tude des structuresphoniques, Paris 1960.
Glotta XLVI 3/4

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E. D. Kollmann

These attempts show, each in its way, that the relation between
ictus and accent on the one hand and the vowels on the other are
indeed important factors in Latin verse, but a systematic use of
these elements by the poets has not so far been established.
The present study is an effort to show the organic interrelation
between these two factors and to prove that they together form
the structural foundation of the Latin hexameter.
By means of a metrical analysis varying slightly from the traditional method, the function of the vowels is shown more clearly and
the relation between the sound-body of a word and its meaning
can be discerned.
This study is based on the assumption that both ictus and accent
are dynamic and can therefore combine action in the verse.
It appears that a word retaining its prose intonation within the
verse, i.e. a word bearing ictus and accent on the same syllable, has
a strongersound-bodythan one bearingictus and accent on different
By distinguishing between long and short vowels, as differing
from long and short syllables, it is demonstrated that words
bearing ictus and accent on a long-vowelled syllable- being the
strongest sound-bodies within the system- are the key words of
the verse.
A. Accent and Ictus
It is an established fact that Latin poetry is based on a system of
long and short syllables, stressed as well as unstressed. For the
dactylic hexameter there is the additional basic rule that only a long
syllable may bear the ictus.
However, opinions still vary as to the nature of the Latin prose
accent1). Some important modern scholars, especially in France,
hold that it is musical, and this seems to have been the currentview
*) A brief summary on the subject is given in LateinischeQrammatikby
Stolz-Schmalz,*Leumann-Hofmann,Mnchen1928,vol. I, pp. 180-198.The
authors are of the opinion that the Latin accent is musical.
In the meantime the number of scholars dealing with this question has
increased,but to date no concreteconclusionshave been adduced.
P. J. Enk, Mnemosyne,IV, 6, 1953, pp. 93-109 considersthe Latin accent,
musical in nature, as containinga dynamic element.
Among those assuming a musical accent are such prominent French
scholars as Juret, Nougaret and others.

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Remarks on the Structure of the Latin Hexameter


in antiquity1). Others, amongthem F. Vollmer2),E. H. Sturtevant3)

Ed. Fraenkel4), H. Drexler5), are certain that the Latin prose
accent is dynamic, although some of them do not exclude the possibility of a musical element within this dynamic accent.
Just as there is no unity of opinion on the nature of the prose
accent, so views on the ictus vary widely. The problem of the relation between accent and ictus, a relation so characteristic of Latin
poetry, has not yet found a generally accepted solution.
In early Latin the accent seems always to have been on the first
syllable of the word; later a change occurredand the accent started
to move. Rules have been formulated stating that the penultimate
syllable is accented, if it is long; if it is short, the syllable before
it bears the accent (the Law of the Penult). The length of the
syllable is the governing factor in poetry as well. Latin poetry is
quantitative, the verse being a system of long and short syllables,
the long ones bearing stronger stresses than the short ones.
This metrical intonation6) is not subject to the same rules as is
prose accentuation; the Law of the Penult as such does not
apply to verse.
The relation between these two systems of intonation is a most
important factor in Latin poetry: whereas the prose accent is subject to rules which state that a word bears one accent and one only,
and no word may be accented on its last syllable, the metrical
intonation permits a word to be stressed on almost every long
x) W. Beare, Latin Verse and European Song, London 1957, c.p. especially
chapter 5, pp. 57-65; this chapter contains some ancient testimonies as
2) Fr. Vollmer, Romische Metrikin EinUitung in die Altertumswissenschaft,
Gercke-Norden, Bd. I., 8. Heft, Teubner, 1923, p. 1.
8) E. H. Sturtevant, Harmony and Clash of Accent and Ictus in the Latin
Hexameter, TAPA, LIX, 1923, p. 51 and especially pp. 52-53.
4) Ed. Fraenkel, TktusundAkzent im lateinischenSprechvers,Berlin 1928, p. 5.
5) H. Drexler, Plautinische Akzentstudien, Breslau 1932, pp. 348-351.
8) The following terminology is used in this paper:
- prose intonation
- metrical intonation
- accent-bearing
- ictus-bearing
intonation - accentuation and/or stress
7) This limitation is valid mainly for the dactylic hexameter.

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E. D. Kollmann

As stated above, opinions on the nature of the ictus still vary, but
it must be assumed that it is basically identical in nature with the
prose accent. The ictus is the factor which distinguishes between
prose and poetry, stressing as it does some syllables more than
others, accordingto the nature of the metre, through a regularinterchange of quantities.
The ictus must not be in contradiction to the rules of syllable
quantity, and the metrical intonation of words must be in accordance with the rules governing prose accentuation, as far as possible.
Any divergence from these rules has to be within certain limits so
that the change of accent under the influence of the ictus is understood bythe listener and does not strike him as somethingunusual,
strange or ridiculous.
The basic assumption is, as already stated above, that accent and
ictus are interrelated,because only on this condition is an examination possible. Were that not so, the problemcould not be approached
at all, as has been stated by Fraenkel, Drexler and others. Our
second assumption is, that the Latin accent is dynamic or mainly
dynamic, and that therefore the ictus is dynamic as well.
The fact that the Latin prose accent may move from one syllable
to another, in the case of inflexion or when an enclitic is added,
undoubtedly eased the many difficultiesencounteredby Latin poets
in adapting their language to the Greek metres.
It is not sufficient to explain the clash1) between accent and ictus
prevailing in almost every Latin verse by the hypothesis that the
poets did not succeed in building verses containing coincidences
only - although this was definitely a very real difficulty; but one
must take into account the possibility that they did not intend such
verses and felt in the tension caused by the clash between the
two intonations an essential element of their poetry.
The present study is limited to the examination of the dactylic
hexameter. Apparently this is the simplest metre. Since antiquity
scholars have been dealing with it, examining and studying it from
all angles; but the hexameter presents a number of difficulties,and
especially the basic question of the relation between ictus and accent
has not yet been satisfactorily resolved.
It is known that in the 5th and the 6th foot coincidence prevails,
whereas the four other feet may, but need not, have clash.
x) Coincidence- accentand ictus on the same syllable; clash - accentand
ictus on different syllables.

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Remarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter


The question of this relation is connected with other problems1),

e.g. the function of the vowels, the relation between long and short
vowels, metrical analysis and others.
The subject has been exhaustively treated by Jackson Knight,
who summarized the results of his most interesting examinations.
He explained coincidence and clash as important elements in the
structure of the Aeneid. His stimulating book discloses many facts
not generally known to date and presents the problem in a new
light; but it seems to us that he could not arriveat convincingconclusions, because his theory2) is based on the examination of one
metrical unit alone3).
Another difficulty lies in the fact that he does not sufficiently
emphasise the importance of the vowels. The vowels as a basic element of the dactylic hexameter have been successfully dealt with
by Herescu4), who concentrated on their sound content, but
without regard due to the relation between accent and ictus.
He does not give a clear answer to the question as to whether there
are rules and a system in the use of vowels in Latin poetry.
1) This paper is part of a researchwork of wider scope on which the
author is at present engaged. The aim of the researchis the examinationof
the dactylic hexameterin Latin poetry fromthe followingpoints of view: the
function of the vowels in the structureof the verse, the influenceof enclitics,
monosyllablesand elision on clash and coincidence; examination of wordgroupsshowingclash or coincidence,and enquiry into the causes (syntactic,
phonetic and others) of clash and coincidence.
2) A. Woodward, The Fourth Foot in Vergil, PhUol. Quarterly,XV,
1936, pp. 126-135, emphasisedthe importanceof the fourth foot within the
structureof the hexameter.Althoughshe provedthat this foot is particularly
important, she did not explain, in our opinion, how the examinationof the
fourth foot alone justifiesthe drawingof conclusionson the structure of the
hexametric line as a whole. Knight partly based his researchon the results
obtained by A. Woodward.
8) O. Skutsch,in reviewingKnight's AccentualSymmetryin Class.Review,
LIV, 1940,pp. 93-95, acceptedthe examinationof the fourth foot as a proper
representation of the complete line, but he doubted whether Knight's
theory as a whole was sound. He did not consider that Knight had
succeeded in proving that the structural groups recognized by him were
intended by the poet. Skutsch consideredpauses responsiblefor such structural groups, if they exist at all.
4) It is obvious that neither in metrics nor in literaryscience is it possible
to arriveat convincingconclusionsvalid without exception.Herescu emphasised this in the concluding chapter of his book (Chapter8, pp. 204-209),
warning against the indiscriminateuse of statistical and mechanicalmeans
in literary and stylistic research.

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E. D. Kollmann

Both these authors stress the essential factors forming the Latin
hexameter: the relation between accent and ictus on the one hand,
and the vowels on the other. It seems necessary to considerwhether
the existence of a continuous system and a methodical use of both
these important elements can be proved.
As the scholars mentioned above dealt with Vergil (Knight) or
mainly with Vergil (Herescu),our examinations have been based on
Vergil,especially on the Aeneid. We are, of course,fully awareof the
possibility that the conclusions arrived at may not be valid for all
Latin hexameters1).
Testimonies on the relation between accent and ictus in ancient
metriciansare indeed rare, and to our regret, of little im-portance2).
Although coincidence and clash between both intonations are
well known to every reader of Latin verse, an example follows:
arma virumquecano Troiaequi primus ab oris
How is this verse to be read?
x) Until final results of the examination being carried out by the author
are obtained, it is only probable, but not certain, that the conclusions arrived
at for the hexameter of Vergil are valid for the Latin hexameter in general.
2) It is supposed that the three testimonies quoted below are not the only
ones. It seems that the problem, as seen by later scholars, did not exist for
the ancient metricians. Why this was so, I do not know.
Beare, o. c, p. 56 quotes Quintilianus, Inst. orat. I, V. 28, and Sacerdos
Oramm. Lot. VI. 448, 20ss.: "hoc tamen scire debemusquod versus percutientes
(id est scandentes) interdum accentuaolios pronuntiamus quam per singula verba
ponentes, Horo9et pater9 acutum accentum in 'to3 et 'pa9, scandendo vero 'inde
toro pater9 in 'ro9 et in Her9" ; neither of these testimonies contribute to a
solution of our problem, for different reasons. Q.'s note refers only to the
possibility of different accentuation in case of muta cum liquida, whereas the
value of S. testimony diminishes because of an error in his note: In the
verse quoted the intonation is not 'pater9,as suggested by him, and this does
not strengthen our belief in his suggestions.
I should like to add a third piece of evidence : The grammarian Pompeius
in his treatise Commentum artis Donati (Gramm.Lot. V. pp. 130-132) dealing
with boundary markers states (p. 132,11.12-14): f,ut si dicas: 'viridique in
litore conspicitur) sus9, ne erret puer et dicat: 'conspicit ursus9, ad istam 'tur9
addimus)r id est circumflexam virgulam et ita disiungimus"
From this it would appear to be proved that in schools at least pupils
intoned conspicitur, i.e. did not use prose accentuation in verse, unless, to our
regret, some verses of the Aeneid found on a papyrus in Egypt (A IV 66-68,
99-102), showed exactly the contrary - marks of intonation by prose accent.
These lines appear in Papiri Greci e Latini, Firenze, vol. I, 21.
Cp. Cliff. H. Moore, Class. Philology XIX, 1924, pp. 322-325, quoted
by F. W. Shipley, Hiatus, Elision, Caesura in Vergil's Hexameter, TAPA, LV,
1924, p. 138 (note 3).

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Remarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter


The verse consists of words built of syllables, these words being

accentuatedin prose accordingto the rules of Latin accent- but the
verse, being a metrical line, consists of small metrical units. Every
verse has a certain rhythm based essentially on the interchange of
long and short syllables, or, more correctly, long and short vowels.
The syllables or vowels are not equal, because they are partly
stressed and partly unstressed. Number and order of these syllables
are fixed accordingto the metre of the verse.
Should the verse, therefore, be read:
arma virmquecno Triaequi primus ab ris
every word being accented according to the Law of the Penult?
If so, the ictus would have no influence on the accentuation and
the line would not be verse, but prose. Latin poetry is, after all,
not based on verses formed automatically by words arranged in a
certain order without a change in their prose accent. There are languages where this is the case: English, German and others base
versification on the interchange of accented and unaccented syllables, without regard to their quantity.
Greekand Latin poetry is based on interchange of long and short
syllables, and as a rule the stressed ones are long. Latin poetry is not
accentual, but quantitative.
It is, therefore, not surprisingthat verses like
impius haec tarnvltanovliamiles habbit (Eel. I70)
are rather rare. Prose accentuation is here fully observed, but these
are exceptions and not the rule.
The opinion that Latin hexameters should be read according to
the prose accent, as proffered by R.Bentley1), is still held2).
Although it is possible to read dactylic hexameters in this way, I
have no doubt that they should not be read so.
x) R.Bentley, Schediasma de metris Terentianis (1726): 9iqui perite et
modulate hos versus legit, sic eos, ut hie accentibus notantur, pronuntiabit : non,
ut pueri in scholis, ad singulorum pedum initia : ,etalim fat profugs Lavinaque vnitf, sed ad rhythmumtotius versus, i. e. Itliam fto prfugus Lavinaque

vnit.9"- Cp. Beare's note, o.c, p. 61, and to Bentley's defence E. Kapp:
Bentley's Schediasmade metris Terentianisand the modem doctrineof ictus
in Classicalverse, Mnemosyne,3, IX, 1941, pp. 187-194.
2) Shipley (seep. 298,2, at end) deniesthe existence of ictus. Accordingto
his opinionevery word in verse retains its prose accent.

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E. D. Kollmann

Other scholars, however, altogether deny the existence of prose

accent in verse1); according to their opinion we should read:
arma virmquecan Troiaqui primus ah ris
This verse may be read so ; but what about the following:
Tntaemlis ert Romnamcnderegntem
Is it possible that erat has been fully accented? Whoever knows
how to read Latin verse will not read in this manner, although
metrical intonation requireshim to do so. Almost every verse contains words which do not bear the prose accent, but should be
stressed within the verse. If in verse we abolish the prose accent
altogether and take into account the ictus only, we shall encounter
difficulties which cannot be overcome.
The right way certainly lies between the two extremes: neither
the accent nor the ictus can possibly be abolished, both are valid2).
We should, therefore, read8): TrSia,cn.
We must not be discouragedby the fact that we do not know the
quantitative relation between the two intonations, and by the
additional fact that such reading is not altogether easy4).
From the above the following conclusions may be reached:
1. Accent and ictus, being of the same nature, may combine action.
2. Within the verse there are syllables with different levels of intonation5):
(a) unstressed,
(b) bearing either accent or ictus,
(c) bearing accent and ictus.
3. Within the verse there are words intonated contrary to the Law
of the Penult.
x) See Herescu, o.c, p. 27-28.
2) Enk, o.c, p. 108 suggests paying attention in reading to the prose
accent which he considersto be musical; the ictus should also be taken into
consideration,but only weakly. He quotes Knight, o.c, p. 11, and F. Crusius, RmischeMetrik, d., Mnchen 1929, p. 39. - I fully agree with
Enk's opinion quoted above, but I do not understandhow it is possible to
suggest that the Latin accent is musical, while agreeingCrusius.
8) In the followingthese signs will be used:
accentuation - *
- '
4) Knight, o.c, clearly explains the two waves of intonation, that of
accent and that of ictus. He arrives at the highly probableconclusionthat
neither of them can be disregardedand that both have to be taken into
6) See the following, p. (310) [note 1].

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Bemarks on the Structure of the Latin Hexameter


4. In differentverses the same word may be intonated on different

syllables according to its respective position in the verse.
5. A word may be intonated on one syllable, on two or on three
Coincidence and clash are characteristic of Latin poetry. The
question, therefore, to be asked is, what is the meaning of coincidence and of clash from the point of view of the poet's intention,
and to what extent are they, especially the frequency of coincidences, a consequence of the structure of the Latin verse or the
Latin language.
Knight was the first to draw attention to the fact that in Vergil's
Aeneid there is some kind of regularity in the interchange between
coincidence and clash2). In the chapter dealing with his theory in
general3), he tried to illustrate the meaning of these phenomenaby
many examples. It is to be regretted that he did not choose to
examine coincidence and clash in the whole hexametric line, but
limited his inquiry to the fourth foot4). Although it is agreed
that this foot is especially important, the conclusions drawn from
the examinations of one foot only can hardly be considered as
representative of the whole verse.
Before going on, we have to mention something connected
essentially with the matter under discussion- the enclitics. In the
Aeneid there is quite a large number of words featuring - que
especially. These words occupy an intermediate position between
coincidence and clash; their accent moves from one syllable to
another through the addition of the enclitic, but on the other
hand they seem to retain their prose accent even in verse. This intermediate position has been pointed out already by ancient metricians5).
x) Enk, o. c, p. 403 quotes E. Vandvik, Rhythmicsund Metrum,Akzent und
Ictus (Oslo 1937), who objects to Fraenkel's opinion that change of accent is
the result of emphasis and states: (p. 20): ,,Das hiefie in der Tat, daiQein
emphatisches Wort im Latein dreierlei betont sein knnte : vUicus, vilicvs,
wlics". - It does seem that exactly this is the case, although a short syllable
is not stressed in the hexameter.
2) "Homodyne and heterodyne are in Vergil regularly expressional",
o.c, p. 15.
*) IUd.9 p. 36.
*)Ibid.9 pp. 15-35.
5) Enk in his above-mentioned paper quotes Audax (Oramm.Lot. VII,
360-361): ,,iUae quoque particulae notandae aunt, eque\ 've\ W, quae semper
aliis partibus subiunguntur, ut 'arma virumque* et 'quidve dolens* et 'men
inceptis desistere victam9, quae iUam novitatem kabent, ut et ipsae fastigium

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E. D. Kollmann

If it was possible to accent virmque- as it undoubtedly wasthen it was possible to accent virm1) as well. Knight regards
words of the type virmque as coincidences, and this view is
generally accepted, but it does not appear to be justified2). For the
characterof the verse there is no differenceat all, whether virm or
virmque is heard, while the prose accentuation is virum. What
counts is not the prose accent virumbut the fact that continuity of
word-groups showing clash is very often attained by the aid of
Another remark: Words of the type submersasqu(e)in prose
appear sometimes as submrsasqu(e)under the influence of the
ictus. Here the prose accent is drawn back. Knight counts such
words as clash, while we are of the opinion that they should be
considered as coincidences, because the prose accentuation submrsas is retained in verse.
On the basis of these considerations we have to challenge
Knight's exhaustive statistics to a certain extent4); Essentially
his theory seems to us proved, although a few of his results may
perdant et illarum partium, quibus subiunctae sunt, levationem in novissimas
8yllabas transfrant; verbi gratia 'virum9in priore acuitur, 'virumque*autem in
posteriore erigitur, quae iam non posteriorysed media trium syUabarumin unum
redactarum reperitur"
x) Cp. also Vollmer, o.c, p. 1.
2) Here is one example: When analysing the storm scene (A I87), Knight
counts (p. 25) 3 coincidences, including clamorque . . . stridorque, while I do
not see more than one (rudentum). The following verse has, according to my
opinion, no coincidence at all, because caelumque diemque are to be counted
as clashes. This verse is seen to have clashes only, presenting a true picture
of the climax of the storm.
8) J. Hellegouarc'h, Le Monosyllabe dans Vhexamtre latin, Paris 1964,
proves that the Latin poets made extensive use of enclitics, but he does not
think that this use was intended by the poet to reach coincidence in the
fifth and sixth feet.
He maintains that pauses and monosyllables had the task of adjusting
the rhythm of the verse, while coincidence and clash are meaningless.
4) In reviewing L. P. Wilkinson's Golden Latin Artistry, London 1963,
J. A. Richmond, Gnomon, XXXVI 1964, p. 261 quotes inter alia the
verse A I85, unaEurusque Notusque ruunt creberqueprocellis, as containing, in
his opinion, many coincidences. His intention is to prove the falsity of W's
assertion that coincidence means tranquillity. I believe that R. is wrong, because there are 4 clashes in the verse contrasted with 2 coincidences, and
this fits well into the stormy content of the verse.
6) Prof. Seiler kindly drew my attention to the paper "Vergil and the
Computer. Fourth Foot Texture in Aeneid I" by Nathan A. Greenberg,

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Remarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter


Another point to be mentioned here briefly, is that of monosyllables, which have an intermediate position as well. The
Oberlin College, published in Revue of the International Organization for the
Application of Computers to the Ancient Languages, I, 1967, pp. 1-16.

As I could read this article only after my paper had been sent to print,
I can at this stage only add some generalremarks.
The author intends to prove with the aid of the computerthat Knight's
theory of Fourth Foot Texture is unfounded.For every line of the first book
of the Aeneid a punchedcard had been preparedand fed into the computer.
The output shows among other factors (such as capital letters, length of
vowels and of syllables, quotation-marks,semicola,cola, question-marks)the
prose accent accordingto the Law of the Penult.
Also shown are coincidenceand clash of accent and ictus.
The authorstates (p. 5) : "Althoughour sole concernwas the examination
of FourthFoot Texture,the procedurecouldjust as easily have been repeated
for any foot of the Vergilianline."
By this analysis, which is in my opinion an importantstep forwardin the
right direction,the author arrives at the conclusion(p. 14) "that every test
we have employeddoes not contradictthe hypothesis that the arrangement
of fourth foot homodyne and heterodynein Aeneid I is random."
I agree,as far as Fourth Foot Textureis concerned,but in my opinionnot
this is Knight's main merit, but the fact that he was the first to point out the
existence of what he called GeneralTexture in the hexametric line (o.cit.
Chapter4, pp. 15-35).
Fourth Foot Textureis the assumptionthat verses can be groupedin sense
units accordingto the behaviourof their 4th foot. This is a verticalstructure,
singling out one metrical unit rather arbitrarily.My doubts that one foot
could be representativefor the whole verse have been corroboratedby the
results of Greenberg'sresearch.
On the other hand, I am quite certain that Knight is justifiedin stressing
the existence and the importanceof the generaltexture, the interchangeof
coincidenceand clash within the hexametricalline, i.e. the horizontalstructure, taking into account all six feet of the verse. In this paperI hope to have
proved that this structure is real and of expressionalvalue, as has been
stressed by Knight.
This then is the essenceof his theory and I am sure that the computercan
be used to ascertain whether the interchange of coincidence and clash
within the line or even within a sense-groupof lines is an important structural factor.
I should like to sum up as follows:
(1) Greenberg'sarticle is a pioneeringresearch and opens up far-reaching
possibilities for metrical studies by use of computerprograms.
(2) Greenberghas proved that Fourth Foot Texture does not exist except
for a tendency towards alternationat ends of the books of the Aeneid.
(3) He did not touch what seems to me the real problem,the examinationby
computerof the structureof whole lines in sense-units(Knight'sGeneral

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E. D. Kollmann


question arises as to what they contribute to the structure of the

In this chapter the problem has been discussed briefly and some
remarks have been made.
In the next chapter we shall look into the function of the vowels in the Latin hexameter.
B. MetricalAnalysis as a Means for explaining the Function of
the Towels. - QualifiedMetrical Analysis
The importanceof vowels in Greekand Latin prose, but especially
in poetry, is well-known, as is the fact that in Greekand Latin poetry
metre is based on the length of syllables. In the traditional method
this is represented in two ways : distinction is made between syllables naturally long, i.e. those containing long vowels2), and syllables "long by convention"3), i.e. syllables containing short
vowels; in the latter syllables the vowels remain short under all
conditions4) and are pronounced short, but as the short vowel in
such a syllable is followed by a consonant and the next syllable
begins with a consonant (except muta cum liquida)5), the syllable is
consideredlong for purposes of pronunciation and of metrics6).
(4) Greenberg'sapproachis rathermechanical: he uses a block-system(p.6/7)
comprisingunits of 6 or 12 lines without regardto sense, instead of groups
of verses of various lengths connected by sense (sentences and paragraphs) as Knight did.
As the main aim of metrical researchis the interpretationof poetry, and
not pure metrics, it does not seem possible to achieve this aim without
taking into considerationsuch sense-units.
(5) The data punched on the cards should be modified somewhat; capital
letters, for instance, seem to be irrelevant for our purpose, whereas a
combination of vowel-length and coincidence or clash has to be considered.
*) Exhaustive and interesting material is to be found in Hellegouarc'h's
book mentionedabove (note 32). He claims that monosyllablestogetherwith
pausesformthe basis of the verse. Groupsof such wordsset in metricpatterns
are the bricks of which the verse is built. H's attitude is essentially contrary
to ours, becausefor him the problemof coincidenceand clash does not exist.
2) syUaba natura longa.

3) 8yllaba positione longa.

4) To understand how important to Roman ears was the distinction

between long and short syllables, see Cicero,Orator,51 (173).
6) The phenomenonwas known to ancient metricians,but no explanation
is given for it.
8) Such syllables are mostly closed, but may be open, if they conclude a
word followed by one starting with two or more consonants.

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Remarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter


This is explained, quite rationally, as follows: The time requiredfor

the pronunciationof a short vowel is one time unit (mora),the pronunciation of a long vowel occupiestwo time units, whereasthe time
requiredto pronounceone consonant is less than one time unit - say
one half of it. In order to pronouncetwo consonants we need therefore one full time unit; if a syllable contains a short vowel followed
by two consonants, the time requiredto pronouncethe whole is two
units, which is equal to the time needed for the pronunciation of a
long vowel. From this it may be understood why the group muta
cum liquida does not usually producesyllables "long by convention".
The pronunciationof such a group of consonants, if belonging to the
same syllable, lasts less than one unit of time and thereforetogether
with the short vowel it does not fill two time units; the result is
that the syllable remains short. Only if the two components of such
a group belong to different syllables, that is, if the syllable is
closed, it is considered long. What exactly determines which way
the groupmuta cum liquida reacts, apart from metrical needs, seems
so far to be unknown.
Although it is always pointed out that vowels are the basis of the
ancient languages and in particular of ancient poetry and in spite
of the fact that there is always a sharp distinction between long
and shortvowels, the function of the vowels in the formationof poetry
has not been given due attention as yet. In general, the importance of the factor of language in ancient poetry has not been fully
recognized until recently1).
Whereas a poem (in the widest sense of the term) is a product of
language- as distinguishedfrom other forms of art products which
present themselves through diverse media, such as stone, colours,
tones orrhythmical movements- the materialwhich serves the poet
to express himself accordingto his will and his faculties, is language:
that is to say, articulate tones producedas words possessing sounds
and meanings. At least as regards ancient poetry, it is undeniable
that the sound-content of a word is not less important than its
denotative content, i.e. its rational meaning; in other words, the
"content" of a word as representedby its sound or by the meaning
of its soundform is not less representative of the will of the poet
than its denotative rational meaning.
Poetry appeals to the feelings of the listener, and the vowels
fulfil an important task in achieving this goal.
1) The first to do this methodically-wasHerescu,o. c.

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E. D. Kollmann

A sharp distinction is necessary between long and short vowels

accordingto their function in a poem; in theory at least this is so.
The distinction between syllables containing long vowels and those
containing short vowels is theoretically non-existent, although practically observed, in reading ancient verse. But if we are sure, as
we should be, that there is a fundamental differencebetween these
two kinds of syllables, we should distinguish between them in
metrical analysis as well.
Still anotherdistinction is necessary: A stressedvowel is different
from an unstressed one in its specific task within the verse. So we
arrive at certain different factors require accurate differentiation: stressed syllables containing long vowels, stressed syllables
containing short vowels, unstressed syllables containing long
vowels, unstressed syllables containing short vowels. From this
reasoning it appears certain that the basis of ancient poetry is the
vowel, and that it is the vowels which make up the characterof the
verse, its speed and its flow, its rhythm.
And now we go one step further: we shall try to preparea metrical
scheme, the basis of which will not be the syllable, whether long or
short, but the vowel; and we are justified in doing so because we
know that there is actually a difference in pronunciationbetween
long and short syllables, a differencerecognized even in traditional
metrics; on the other hand it is agreed that the vowels are the basis
of ancient poetry. We shall therefore distinguish between long and
short vowels, moreover, between stressed long, stressed short,
unstressed long and unstressed short vowels.
The " Qualified Metrical Analysis", as we shall call this
method, distinguishesbetween vowels (as distinct from syllables)
accordingto their length and to their stress; this makes it possible
to obtain a more accurate picture of the vocal factor in poetry and
assists in the comprehensionof one of the essentials of rhythm.
For, as has already been stated, the speed or slowness of the verse is
influenced directly by the relative frequency of short and long
vowels, stressed as well as unstressed, and by their relative distribution.
If we distinguish, as suggested above, between vowels long and
short, stressed and unstressed, we can observe in the dactylic hexameter six different possibilities, which will be marked in this paper
by the traditional signs, but it should be borne in mind that these
signs refer to vowels, not to syllables.

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Bemarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter


1) crdita


3) vnit [ad]


5) quoml(em)

2) vertitur

4) Za#a[e]

6) nam si




The forms so obtained look quite strange at first sight ; they hardly
seem to fit into our conception of a dactyl, but we should not
forget that this is the way we are actually reading, and there seems
to be no doubt that ancient verse sounded in the ears of the listeners
in some such manner.
The Qualified Metrical Analysis enables us to present a clearer
picture of the vowel-system in the verse than the traditionalmetrical
analysis, e.g. the verse:
(A II102)Sin manibus vestrisvestramascendissetin urbem
analysed according to the traditional method presents the following picture :
w I JL
- \ J. \\ - I -- I w I ^.x

whereas the qualified analysis gives a diffrent result:



the traditional (syllabic)analysis shows three spondees,whereas the

Q. M. A. demonstrates that the verse does not contain one single
spondee, i.e. there is no two-syllabled dactyl having a naturally
long vowel in its second syllable. Furthermore, the ictusbearing
syllables have twice only a naturally long vowel - these are the only
naturally long vowels in the verse.
The verse contains 14 syllables, among them 9 long ones (either
natura or positione), 4 short ones and 1 anceps. The Qualified
Metrical Analysis shows that out of the 14 vowels only 2 are long,
an altogether different relationship.
The differencebetween the results obtained by the application of
the two methods of analysis is shown in Appendix I, where the first
11 verses of the Aeneid are analysed.
The following table shows a summary of the analysis of five
passages taken at random from Vergil.

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E. D. Kollmann


Table: Number of Syllables and Vowels











330 170 (500) 319



20 (61)






(103) 164
(113) 166

85 (251) 164 404 (568) 819

Explanation :
long syllable or vowel, stressed
_ long syllable or vowel, unstressed
t short vowel, stressed
w short syllable or vowel, unstressed
+} total of long syllables or vowels, stressed and unstressed
+} total of short vowels, stressed and unstressed
Note: Unlike the traditional metrical analysis there are certain difficulties in the Q. M. A. in ascertaining length or shortness of vowels, in cases
where the metre does not assist (when a vowel is followed by two consonants).
It is true that our lack of knowledge, whether the a in infandum or the i in
dictus is long or short, may influence statistics, but as these cases are rather
rare, they have no real influence on the results of examination.
Generally, these examinations are based on Cicero's remark (Orator48 (159))
that i in infelix, Insanus is long compared to the quantity of the same vowel
in indoctus, inhumanus; other vowels have been measured accordingly.
I consider that the vowel in the nom. sing, of the present participle is long,
therefore: widens, dolns.
In words like dictus, dtictus the vowel is long.
In the summary of analyses according to the traditional methods, the
ancipites are shown among the long syllables, except for closed syllables
having short vowels, e.g. urbem.

The 55 verses analysed and summarized comprise 819 syllables

and of course the same number of vowels.
Among these vowels there are :
long stressed
long unstressed
long vowels


short stressed
short unstressed



short vowels


The number of short vowels is more than double that of the long

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Remarkson the Structureof the LatinHexameter


The summary shows :

1. About half the number of ictus-bearing syllables comprise short
2. The number of short vowels is four to five times the number of
long ones, except in the 6th foot which shows a smaller gap.
3. The number of short unstressed vowels is three to five times the
number of long unstressed vowels.
4. The number of true spondees, i.e. the number of naturally long
vowels in the second syllable of a two-syllabled dactyl, is very
It is interesting to note that the short vowel dominates in the
Latin hexameter, in the stressed as well as in the unstressedsyllable,
a fact which is not borne out by the traditional analysis.
The distribution of long and short vowels in the verse is clearly
connected with the content of the verse. This is plain from the
summary of the paragraph AIj-n, which contains quite a large
number of long vowels, 61 against 103 short vowels1).
Contrary to the traditional method the Q.M.A. makes possible:
1. Distinction between long and short vowels.
2. Groupingof long and short vowels according to stress and lack
of stress.
By this distinction and this grouping the Q.M.A. enables us:
1. to examine the speed and rhythm of the verse by stating the
relation between long and short vowels, in the verse as a whole
and in the several metrical units2),
2. to understand the sound structure of the verse by the grouping
of vowels accordingto quantity and to sound.
x) I cannot draw generalconclusions,either with regardto Vergil or with
regardto other poets, until largernumbersof verseshave been examined;but
I supposethat it may be possibleto discovertrends, and more than this will
not be attempted at this stage.
2) e.g. the verse A Is: multa quoque et hello passus, dum conderet urbem

contains one long vowel only, which cannot be seen in the traditional analysis. At this stage I do not dare comment on this, but it is certainly not
chance.- Contraryto this, the verse A Is : Musa, mihi causas memora,quo
numinedaesocontainsan extraordinarynumber of long vowels, all stressed
vowels being long; and in addition to that, 3 out of 6 feet contain long unstressed vowels.
Olotta XLVI 3/4

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E. D. Kollmann


It is hoped that the above will suffice to explain the Q.M. A.

which is, as stated, in accordancewith the actual reading of Latin
verse and enables us to understand the importance of the vowels
in the structure of the verse.
It should be stressed that this is only the beginning. The new method is expected to be a tool, the use of which could lead to new
results in metrical research.
We shall now return to the question of intonation and examine
what the application of the Q. M.A. could contribute to the solution of the problem oft he relation between ictus and accent.
C. Sound Levels

Part A dealt with the relation between accent and ictus, and
it has been pointed out that this is the central problem in Latin
verse, especially in the dactylic hexameter.
This relation will now be reexamined, after the introduction of
the Qualified Metrical Analysis.
As mentioned above1), there exist in verse syllables of different
sound-strength, from the unstressed syllable to that bearing both
accent and ictus.
A syllable intonated by both accent and ictus, i.e. a syllable with
double intonation, necessarily has a stronger sound-body than one
bearing one intonation only, be it either accent or ictus. This is
clear, as is the fact that the sound-body of a syllable bearing either
accent or ictus is stronger than that of one having neither.
A scale of syllables can therefore be compiled according to their
relative sound-strength, with the strongest syllables at the top and
the weakest at the bottom.
This scale of cSound-Levels*2) will read as follows:

Status of Syllable
bearing both accent and. ictus
bearing either accent or ictus
bearing neither accent nor ictus

Sound-Level of Syllable
Containing Vowel


x) p. 300 (note 5).

2) The term 'sound-level9 should not be understood as referring to the
natur of the Latin accent which I assume to be dynamic, not musical, as
explained above.

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Remarks on the Structureof the Latin Hexameter


From this list it is evident that the strongest sound-body is an

ictus-bearing syllable containing a long vowel, when this syllable
also bears the prose accent accordingto the Law of the Penult.
It appears, therefore, beyond doubt that words retaining their
prose accent within the metre, i.e. words which show coincidence
between ictus and accent and whose intonated syllable contains
a long vowel, are the strongest within the whole system.
We may be right in expecting that the poet should place important words in such positions1).
Examination of the first verses of the 1st Aeneid (A Ii-n) shows
the following words in Sound-Levels 5 and 6, respectively :
a) Sound-Level 5: Coincidence- Short Vowel:
6 - c$nderet
3_ milta, 3 - et to \\% 5-m$lta,
l - ^a,
$rbem ||, 6 - nde, 7 - altae, 9 - vtlvere, 11 - caelestibvs.
b) Sound-Level 6: Coincidence- Long Vowel
ab $ris ||3), 2 - Lavinaquevtnit ||, 4 - ob vram ]|, 6 - Lahnum ||,
7 - mo$nia R$mae ||, 8 - Musa, 8 - numine l$eso ||, 9 - regvna,
9 - ctfsus ||, 10 - pietate, 10 - adirelabres ||, 11 - wae ||.
Whereas section a) contains in addition to words important in
sense, such as arma altae condere urbem, caelestibus,unimportant words as well, section b) contains words very important in
their sense-content.
Furthermore, it should be noted that most of these words,
although not all, are at the end of the line. Verses 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9,
10, 11, i.e. 9 out of 11 verses of this group end with words showing
coincidence, as is the rule at the end of the hexameter, and containing long vowels on their intonated syllables.
It is obvious that the Latin hexameter tends to gravitate towards
its end, which is the natural place in the line for the strongest
*) It should borne in mind that we are dealing with poetry, and with
poetry in Latin at that. The poets encounteredmany problemsin adapting
their language to the verse which was a Greek product.We cannot expect
to find bindingrules without exceptions, but trends only.
2) The sign || means end of verse.
8) A prepositionfollowedby a noun is regardedas one word.

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E. D. Kollmann

It is therefore apparent why coincidence usually appears in the

fifth and sixth foot, where it is the rule, whereas in all other feet
coincidence may or may not appear.
The words mentioned in sections a) and b) together form the
essential part of the vers-group, in sense-content as well as in
sound-strength. This cannot be chance1).
It appears, therefore, that with the aid of the Q.M.A. we have
found one of the principles of the interchange between coincidence
and clash in the Latin hexameter. This principlemay be formulated:
1. Coincidence is addition of accent and ictus - strengthening of
the sound-body of the word.
2. The strongest sound-body in the verse is a word showing coincidence and intonated on a long-vowelled syllable.
3. Such words form the essential part of the verse by combining
sense-content with sound-strength. These are the key words
of the verse.

Ourenquiry is based on the assumptionthat the Latin intonation,
ictus as well as accent, is dynamic, and that a syllable may, therefore, be intonated by both ictus and accent.
That being so, words may have different sound-levels. The
strongest sound-bodies are those words which retain their prose
accent within the verse.
These strongest sound-bodieshave been proved to be the strongest
sense-bearingelements. Words retaining their prose accent in verse,
especially those bearing ictus and accent on a long-vowelled syllable, have been found to be the key words of the verse.
This fact seems to prove our basic assumptionthat both ictus and
accent are of dynamic nature.
*) To dispel any doubts that this may be only chance, additional verses
have been examined; some of them axe listed in AppendixII.

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Remarks on the Structure of the Latin Hexameter


Qualified Metrical Analysis exemplified (.4 I1-11)
(a) Word-groups - Sound Level 6
(b) Verses A H40-49analysed according to sound-levels


Appendix I
Verses A I1-11Analysed According to QMA in Comparison with
Traditional Method
(a) Metrical Analysis
Traditional Metrical Analysis




Qualified Metrical Analysis

































\-w _v-v-* _uu

_v-*_/ __


















































(b) Syllables and Vowels According to Quantity and to Metrical Units








1 (7)
4 (7)
1 (11)
6 (11)
7 (16)




19 (59)



(14) 16
(15) 14






32 (98)


Total Foot


79 (105) 164



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AppendixI (contd.)
(c) Syllables and Vowels According to Quantity and to Verses

I I I , I
VerSe ^--U^-.




32 (98)


I / I ITotalNumber
| ^fyQWels





66 j 40



79 (59) (105)








(d) Summary

Syllables :
32 _
66 ^



These 11 verses comprise 98 long and 66 short syllables; the Qualified

MetricalAnalysis shows that there are 59 long and 105 short vowels.
Appendix II
(a) Words and Word-Groupsin Sound-Level 6 from the 2nd Book
of the Aeneid (verses 1-144)
(1) Single Words One Word in a Verse:

4r-lamentabile, 5- vidi ||, 6- talia, 9- sidera, 12- refugit ||, 15- divina, 18sortiti, 21- fama, 24- litore, 25- Mycenas||, 28- videre, 29- tendebat, 31exitiale, 32- Thymoetes ||, 36- dona ||, 39- in contraria, 40- primus, 45Achivi ||, 49- dona, 50- viribus, 51- compagibus,54- laeva, 55- foedare, 61paratus ||, 62- versare, 63- Troiana,67- turbatus, 69- aequora,70- denique,
74- cretus ||, 75- fiducia, 77- fatebor ||, 78- negabo ||, 82- fama ||, 84-vetabat ||, 88- vigebat ||, 90-pellacis, 92-trahebam ||, 95-remeassem,96-movi ||,
97- prima, 100- requievit, 101-ingrata, 102- habetis, 104- Atridae ||, 106tantorum, 107- fatur ||, 109- discedere, 115- dicta, 116- caesa ||, 117- ad

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Remarks on the Structure of the Latin Hexameter


oras ||, 121- fata, 126- rcust |, 128- clamoribus, 131- tulere ||, 132parari ||, 134- rupi ||, 135- obscurus, 136- vela, 142- mortalibus, 144miserere.
(2) Single Words - Two or More Words in a Verse:
1- conticuere . . . ora tenebant ||, 3- regina . . . renovare dolorem ||, 15instar . . . divina, 17- votum . . . fama vagatur, 22- insula . . . manebant ||,
37- praecipitare . . . urere, 38- terebrare . . . temptare, 43- creditis . . .
putatis ||, 44- dona carere . . . notus, 53- insonuere . . . dedere, 56- Troiaque
. . . maneres ||, 64- circumfusa . . . illudere, 78- vera . . . negabo ||, 80- vanum
. . . mendacemque, 83- gloria . . . proditione, 85- demisere . . . lumine
lugent ||, 87- pauper . . . misit, 91- ignota . . . ab oris ||, 98- terrere . . .
voces ||, 103- audire . . . iamdudum sumite poenas ||, 108- saepe . . . cupiere,
111- interclusit . , . Auster, 113-staret . . , sonuerunt aethere, 120-obstipuere
. . . ima, 123- protrahit . . . numina divum ||, 124- flagitat . . . crudele canebant ||, 127- prodere voce . . . opponere, 130- adsensere . . . timebat ||, 140miserorum . . . piabunt ||, 143- intemerata . . . miserere laborum ||,
(3) Groups of Two or More Words in a Verse:
I- ora tenebant ||, 3- renovare dolorem ||, 7- duri miles, 8- umida caelo ||,
II- supremum audire laborem ||, 17- fama vagatur ||, 20- armato milite, 23fida carinis ||, 27- ire et Dorica, 30- certare solebant ||, 34- fata ferebant ||,
42- insania, cives ||, 44- dona carere, 46- fabricata est machina muros ||,
47- inspectura . . . venturaque desuper, 48- ne crdite, Teucri ||, 58- clamore
trahebant ||, 60- aperiret Achivis ||, 65- crimine ab uno ||, 79- fortuna
Sinonem ||, 81- pervenit ad auris ||, 85- lumine lugent ||, 93- indignabar
amici ||, 99- quaerere conscius, 101- nequiquam ingrata, 103- iamdudum
sumite poenas ||, 105- scitari et quaerere causas ||, 113- sonuerunt aethere,
114- scitatum oracula Phoebi ||, 119- venit ad auris ||, 123- numina divum ||,
124- crudele canebant ||, 125- ventura videbant ||, 127- prodere voce, 129destinat arae ||, 141- conscia numina veri ||, 143- miserere laborum ||.
(4) Groups of Words Extending over Two Verses or More
21/22- fama || insula, 32/33- Thymoetes || duci . . . hortatur . . . locari ||,
36/37/38- dona || praecipitare . . . urere . . . terebrare . . . temptare, 42/43/44insania, cives || creditis . . . putatis || dona carere . . . notus, 46/47/48fabricata est machina muros || inspectura . . . venturaque desuper ... ne
crdite, Teucri ||.
(5) Monosyllables:
18- hue, 24- hue, 25- nos, 29- hic ... hic, 30- hic ... hic, 34- sive, 36- aut,
38- aut, 42- o, 45- aut, 46- aut, 48- aut, 50- sic, 54- mens, 60- hoc, 62- seu,
69- heu . . . me, 70- aut, 71- cui, 73- quo, 77- rex, 79- hoc, 79- si, 86- me,
89- nos, 91-haud, 94- me, 101-haec, 104- hoc, 112- hic, 119- vox:, 122- hic,
130- quae, 139- quos.
(b) Verses A //40-49representedby Sound Levels
Sound Level
a word containing a syllable stressed
and accentuated
on a long vowel
on a short vowel

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E. D. Kollmann
a word containing a syllable stressed
' on a
long vowel
* on a short vowel


40 primus ibi (ante) omnfs magn (comitante caterva)

Locon ardns summ (decurrit ab arce)
(et) procul: o miseri, quae (tanta) insania, civesJ
creditis vects hostfs? aut (ulla) putatis
dona carere dolls Danam sic notus (Ulbces)?
45 aut hoc fnclusf ligno (occultantur) Achivi
aut haec (in) nostrs fabricate/,est machina muros
inpectura domes venturaque desuper (urbi)
aut aliquis latet (error); equ ne crdite, Teucril
(quidquid) id (est,) time Danas et dona (ferentes).

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