e.g. “sound” is a one syllable word: “pro-nounced” is a two syllable word.
One way of thinking about this is that there is a syllable every time your chin moves downwards [HINT: hold the back of your hand under your chin and practise e.g. pronounce 'omniscient'. Your chin moves FOUR times: om-ni-sci-ent]
e.g. vulnus alit venis et caeco carpitur igni
vul-nus a-lit ve-nis et cae-co car-pi-tur ig-ni.
In such cases the first vowel is SHORT i.e. here the li is a short syllable.
A long vowel or diphthong (scri – bae)
Two consonants or a compound consonant (dant; dux)
In a single consonant followed by a syllable beginning with a consonant (mul – tos)
Note: When a naturally short vowel is followed in the same word by two consonants, the first of which is a mute (b, p, d, t, g, c) and the second a liquid or nasal (l, m, n, r), its syllable can be either long or short.
Most monosyllables are long e.g. da ,des, me, te, ver, si, sis, sol, nos, mus, vis.
There are some exceptions to this rule: words in l, b, d, t: e.g. sub, vel, id, et, stet. Also es and its compounds; then -que, -ve, -ne; nec, an, in, per, ter, vir, cor, fac, fer, bis, is, cis, quis.
Elision occurs between a word ending in a vowel and one beginning with a vowel or diphthong. In this case the elision is treated as a diphthong and is long.
e.g. bell(a) exhausta
Elision also occurs when a word ends in –um
e.g. litora, mult(um) ill(e) et terris iactatus et alto
When the second word is es or est, the elision is reversed. It is then called aphaeresis. The e of the form is elided.
e.g. dictum (e)st or dicta (e)st= dictumst or dictast (not dictest)
When two adjoining vowels in the same word are pronounced as one
e.g. deinde (=dein-de); eadem (=ea-dem)
Note: i and v at the beginning of words always count as consonants (our “j” and “v” instead of “i” and “w”)
e.g. Iuppiter; venit;
Sometimes along with u, they also count as consonants in the middle of words:
e.g. Lavinia = La – vin – ia or genua = gen-ua.
e.g. _ _ or _ U U
Hint: Another way of thinking of the FEET in Latin poetry is to think of them as musical BARS, in 2/4 time, consisting of two crotchets or a crotchet and two quavers. There are six such bars in every line of poetry.
Every line of Latin poetry has a natural break known as a caesura (from caedo – ‘to cut’). Normally in Virgilian hexameter this break occurs in the THIRD FOOT, after the second syllable when it is known as a ‘weak’ caesura. Sometimes the caesura occurs in the fourth foot after the first syllable when it is known as a ‘strong’ caesura.
However, a caesura can occur whenever there is a natural sense break (a break between clauses or sentences). Thus some lines may have more than one caesura. This can be used to create emphasis and to draw attention to the subject matter.
The caesura is marked thus: //.
- u u | - u u | - u u | - u u | - u u | - x
- - | - - | - - | - - |
- u u | - u u | - || - u u | - u u | -
- - | - - | - ||