« 上一页继续 »
harmony, or versification, while not so difficult, needs serious attention, for if the proper setting be not aptly arranged, the greatest poem will be marred, and on the other hand, if it be harmonious with the thought, it will bring forth from the intellectual mint a product polished and smooth, clear and well defined.
Versification, then, is an important constituent element in the true appreciation of poetry, ancient and modern. This is especially so of Latin and Greek, for the mind, trained from youth in the harmonious sounds of our own native tongue, more easily catches the rhythmic flow of a poem in the vernacular than in Latin, and a knowledge of versification is necessary to appreciate the great masters who have shed such lustre upon the language and wrought "monuments more lasting than bronze."
II. FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ENGLISH AND LATIN VERSIFICATION
The student entering the field of Latin Versification must clearly realize that there is a great difference between scansion in English and Latin. To the pupil familiar with the varied metres of Latin poems this may be evident, but for one beginning the practice of the art of versification along with the study of his first poetic author, these few hints will be of value.
The first distinguishing note is found in the norm of scansion. In English, it is the accent of the syllables; in Latin, the quantity. This will be made clear by the following examples:
"Homeward serenely she walked || with | God's benediction upon her." Longfellow, Evangeline. Latin. "Tantae molis erat || Romanam | condere | gentem." Aeneid, I, 33.
Here we have an example of dactylic hexameter in both languages. In the first, we see that the accentuation, or the stress laid upon a syllable in English, if the word be of two or more syllables, determines or marks the rhythm of the line. In the case of monosyllables the important one receives the stress. The alternation between accented and unaccented syllables shows the metre. In the Latin verse, however, the accent is disregarded, for here we have a metre depending upon the value of each syllable in every word. If the vowel in any syllable is long by nature or position, the syllable is long. If it is short both. by nature and position, the syllable is short, even though the syllable should be accented. This happens in the case of the word erat, which has the accented syllable short and the unaccented syllable long by nature.
All syllables in Latin are pronounced and, if not elided, have a certain metrical value governed by the rules of prosody. The knowledge and memory of the proper value of vowels and syllables in Latin are fundamental requisites, without either of which Latin versification must ever remain an enigma.
The arrangement of words furnishes us with a second and marked difference between English and Latin poetry. In the former all words with slight variations follow the order of prose. An adjective may come after or precede its noun, likewise an adverb with
a verb, but there is not the general freedom in the placing of words in an English poem that obtains in Latin. Within a sentence of Latin verse there is
hardly any fixed order. A preposition, it is true, must be joined either to its noun or the modifying adjective; the conjunction introducing a clause should come at least second in the phrase, but apart from a few rules such as these, the order of words in Latin poetry is far different from that of English verse and even Latin prose. The Roman poet generally separated words connected in thought in order that he might avoid the jingle so distasteful to the Roman ear, and to preserve a certain balance and harmony in the measure. Experience, however, rather than further written instructions, will be a far more helpful guide in enabling the pupil to distinguish the methods of variation between English and Latin versification.
GENERAL RULES FOR LATIN VERSIFICATION
BEFORE proceeding to a detailed study of each separate rule governing the structure of any particular metre, it may be well to emphasize certain general principles which apply to all measures employed in Latin versification.
These concern the caesura, elisions, epithets, rhythmical arrangement of words, and prosody.
A. The Caesura
In Latin poetry, the sentences are so constructed as to admit a pause or slight suspension of the voice towards the middle of the verse. This is called the caesura. Its advantages are many. It divides the line and gives to it a certain balance and rhythmic swing; it enables the reader to round out in undiminished tone the remainder of the verse; finally, it separates in the same line one thought from another.
The caesura is only one of many means by which the sweetness, vivacity, and harmony of a poem are enhanced, and by it we are made more sensible of the emotion portrayed, of the greater dignity given to the language, and lastly of the greater strength lent to the image.
The rules for the caesura are few. In the four