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metres treated in this book, and in fact in most metres, except the Asclepiadic, it never comes after a complete foot. The "bucolic caesura," an exception to the rule, is not to be imitated. The violation of this rule in the following line of Ennius reduces his verse to mere prose:
Romae moenia terruit impiger Hannibal armis.
The caesura must never come after an elided syllable. No exception to this rule is permissible.
It should not come after a monosyllable unless another precede it or unless the caesural word is est preceded by a word whose final syllable is elided.
The place of the caesura depends on the species of verse. In some it is varied, as in the hexameter; in others, such as the pentameter, it is fixed. The following models will show the positions of the caesura in the different kinds of verse treated in this book.
1. Hexameter (variable).
Dividimus muros || et moenia pandimus urbis. Aeneid, II, 234.
Ab Jove Neptunoque sacri || custode Tarenti. Horace, Odes, I, 28, 29.
Obstupuit simul ipse || simul percussus Achates. Aeneid, I, 513.
Ille autem || causas nequicquam nectis inanes. Aeneid, IX, 219.
The first two examples are the more common ones. The third and fourth are rare and only used for effect. In the third model, there is found a secondary caesura in the second foot.
2. Pentameter (fixed).
Cum cecidit fato || consul uterque pari. Ovid, Tristia, IV.
3. Sapphic (two varieties).
Integer vitae || scelerisque purus. Horace, Odes, I, 22.
The first is by far the more common, but the second kind occurs frequently in the later odes of Horace.
4. Alcaic (partly fixed and partly variable).
First line (fixed).
Vides ut alta || stet nive candidum. Horace, Odes, I, 9.
Second line (fixed).
Stravere ventos || aequore fervido.
Horace, Odes, I, 9.
Third line (variable).
Horace, Odes, III, 2.
Matrona bellantis || tyranni.
The first is the more common one, though the second and third are not rare. The fourth and fifth lines are not permissible, even though found in Horace, as the caesuras coincide with the ending of a foot.
Fourth line (variable).
Horace, Odes, III, 5.
Incolumi || Jove et urbe Roma.
The first three models are common. The last one, a trochaic caesura, is very rare and is not to be imitated.
There are other examples in Horace where the caesura divides a compound verb from the preposition with which it is compounded, and words from the enclitic attached to it, but these are not common.
Elision is the cutting off of a final syllable which ends in a vowel, or a vowel and m, before a word commencing with a vowel or h mute. This is done to avoid the hiatus caused by the two vowel sounds coming together. If properly used, this not only does not hinder the rhythm, but even gives a more stately effect to the verse, as is seen in the following example:
Conticuere omnes, intentique ora tenebant. Aeneid, II, 1.
There should not be too many in the same verse, unless a special effect is sought for. Even two elisions would ordinarily be excessive.
Elisions are generally neglected in the case of monosyllabic interjections, as: o, heu, ah, proh, vae,
O pater, o hominum rerumque aeterna potestas. Aeneid, X, 18.
Sometimes, by poetical license, the final vowel is not elided before a vowel of the following word, but this license is not common enough to allow the student to avail himself of such a privilege.
A monosyllable should never be elided. The position should be avoided.
Sometimes the final syllable of a verse is elided before the first syllable of the following verse. Quite a number of examples are found in the poets, but this practice is not to be imitated.
An epithet is an adjective which describes more completely a noun which it qualifies. Though it is not needed, it is added to lend character, color, or force to the object. It indicates the picture more clearly and more sharply defined. But not all descriptive adjectives are, strictly speaking, epithets. It takes an artist to present what is called the particular tone color of a word so as to show it in its best and most favorable light. The proper choice of epithets is one of the most delicate indications of a writer's true poetic taste. An abuse of them condemns the poet and his work. Therefore he should be sparing in their use and imitate Homer, of whom Horace says:
Desperat tractata nitescere posse relinquit. Horace, Ars Poetica, 1. 150.
Furthermore, the tendency to fill out a line at any cost often causes the student to add unnecessary epithets. This should be avoided, for a forced epithet will never add beauty to a line. A good rule for the writer of verse to follow in the translation of English into Latin is, never to add an epithet that is not at least implicitly contained in the English. At the
same time he should never omit one. For original poems, he should never use two adjectives where one will do. Above all, he should make his epithets mean something to the thought, elevate the tone, and give light to the image.
D. The Rhythmic Arrangement of Words
Metre has a necessary relation to poetic strains, and at first sight it may seem to be a mere mechanical application of fixed laws. This is far from the truth. In the hands of a master, it modulates itself to the proper emphasis and climax in such a way as to harmonize perfectly with the train of thought. By the skilful arrangement of words in a certain metre the poet brings out with true melody and harmony, in their richest and highest effects, the perfect realization of the thought or picture in a poem. This characteristic quality of all true poetry is vital to Latin verse; for in no other way can the harmonious rhythm, demanded by the predominant emotion of the measure, be procured.
The ways of obtaining the different rhythmic effects are varied according to the species. The grave and dignified tone that rounds out a noble heroic line is brought about by the correct use of lengthy and sonorous words, reduplicative sentences, or by numerous spondees.
Luctantes ventos tempestatesque sonoras.
Imperio premit. Georgics, I, 57.
Monstrum horrendum informe ingens cui lumen ademptum. Aeneid, III, 658.