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The Meters of Latin Poetry

Written by: PoetrySoup

syllable quantity abbreviations

L long (¡®heavy¡¯) syllable

s short (¡®light¡¯) syllable

A ¡®syllaba anceps¡¯, i.e. indifferently long or short

sL short syllable replaceable by a long one

Ls long syllable replaceable by a short one

ssL two short syllables replaceable by one long syllable

Lss long syllable replaceable by two short syllables

X ¡®elementum biceps¡¯, i.e. a short syllable replaceable by a long one, then resolvable in two short syllables



dactylic hexameter: L-ssL L-ssL L-ssL L-ssL L-s-s L-A 

Ex. nos urbem colimus tenui tibicine fultam

L-L (nos-ur) L-s-s (bem-co-li) L-s-s (mus-te-nu) L-L (i-ti) L-s-s (bi-ci-ne) L-L (ful-tam)

Ex. ebrius ac petulans, qui nullum forte cecidit

L-s-s (e-bri-u) L-s-s (sac-pe-tu) L-L (lans-qui) L-L (nul-lum) L-s-s (for-te-ce) L-L (ci-dit)



elegiac couplet

consists of a hexameter

followed by a pentameter: L-ssL L-ssL L L-s-s L-s-s A 

Ex. oscula commendo deliciasque meas

L-s-s (os-cu-la) L-L (com-men) L (do) L-s-s (de-li-ci) L-s-s (as-que-me) L (as)

Ex. vixisset totidem ni minus illa dies

L-L (vic-sis) L-s-s (set-to-ti) L (dem) L-s-s (ni-mi-nu) L-s-s (sil-la-di) L (es)



iambic trimeter: X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-A 

Ex. libet jacere modo sub antiqua ilice

s-L-s-L (li-bet-ja-ce) s-s-L-s-L (re-mo-do-su-ban) L-L-s-L (ti-qui-li-ce)

Ex. pavidumque leporem et advenam laqueo gruem

s-s-L-s-s-s (pa-vi-dum-que-le-po) s-L-s-L (re-tad-ve-nam) s-s-L-s-L (la-que-o-gru-em)



iambic dimeter: X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-A 

Ex. pernicis uxor Apuli

L-L-s-L (per-ni-ci-suc) s-L-s-L (so-ra-pu-li)

Ex. animula vagula blandula

s-s-s-s-L (a-ni-mu-la-va) s-s-L-s-L (gu-la-blan-du-la)



choliamb: X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-L-A 

(that is, an iambic trimeter ending in L-A instead of s-A)

Ex. miser Catulle, desinas ineptire

s-L-s-L (mi-ser-ca-tul) s-L-s-L (le-de-si-na) s-L-L-s (si-nep-ti-re)

Ex. puella senibus dulcior mihi cycnis

s-L-s-s-s (pu-el-la-se-ni) s-L-s-L (bus-dul-ci-or) s-L-L-L (mi-hi-cyc-nis)



galliambic: X-Lss-s-Lss-s-L-L X-Lss-s-Lss-s-A 

Ex. simul ite, Dindymenae dominae vaga pecora

s-s-L-s-L-s-L-L (si-mu-li-te-din-dy-me-nae) s-s-L-s-s-s-s-L (do-mi-nae-va-ga-pe-co-ra)

Ex. tibicen ubi canit Phryx curvo grave calamo

L-L-s-s-s-s-L-L (ti-bi-ce-nu-bi-ca-nit-phryx) L-L-s-s-s-s-L (cur-vo-gra-ve-ca-la-mo)



phalaecean hendecasyllable: Ls-sL L-s-s-L s-L-s-L-A 

Ex. et stanti legis et legis sedenti

L-L (et-stan) L-s-s-L (ti-le-gi-set) s-L-s-L-L (le-gis-se-den-ti)

Ex. tua nunc opera meae puellae

s-L (tu-a) L-s-s-L (nun-co-pe-ra) s-L-s-L-L (me-ae-pu-el-lae)


-
glyconeus: L-Ls L-s-s-L s-A 

Ex. donec gratus eram tibi

L-L (do-nec) L-s-s-L (gra-tu-se-ram) s-L (ti-bi)

Ex. cinge tempora floribus

L-s (cin-ge) L-s-s-L (tem-po-ra-flo) s-L (ri-bus)



first asclepiad (system)

consists of four lesser asclepiads: L-L L-s-s-L L-s-s-L s-A 

Ex. annorum series et fuga temporum

L-L (an-no) L-s-s-L (rum-se-ri-es) L-s-s-L (et-fu-ga-tem) s-L (po-rum)



alcaic stanza

consists of two alcaic hendecasyllables... L-L-s-L-L L-s-s-L s-A 

Ex. eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume

L-L-s-L-L (e-heu-fu-ga-ces) L-s-s-L (pos-tu-me-pos) s-s (tu-me)

...followed by an enneasyllable... L L s L L L s L A 

Ex. rugis et instanti senectae

L (ru) L (gi) s (se) L (tin) L (stan) L (ti) s (se) L (nec) L (tae)

...and a decasyllable: L-s-s-L s-s-L-s-L-A 

Ex. corporibus metuemus Austrum

L-s-s-L (cor-po-ri-bus) s-s-L-s-L-L (me-tu-e-mu-saus-trum)



sapphic stanza

consists of three lesser sapphics... L-s-L-L L-s-s-L s-L-A 

Ex. Persicos odi, puer, apparatus

L-s-L-L (per-si-co-so) L-s-s-L (di-pu-e-rap) s-L-L (pa-ra-tus)

...followed by an adonean: L-s-s-L A 

Ex. sera moretur

L-s-s-L (se-ra-mo-re) L (tur)


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