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Meters of Horace

Sapphic Meter

Scansion example for Ode I.22 (click to open poem in a new window). The example here is from the first stanza (lines 1 -4).

  • The first three lines (Integer ... sagittis) have eleven syllables each, grouped into two pairs of four syllables around three syllables and a dactyl
  • The fourth and last syllable may be long or short. This is called an anceps
  • The final line has two metrons (feet): the first is a dactyl (- u u) and the second can be either a spondee (- -) or a trochee (- u)
  • Usual paradigm of a Sapphic line:
    - u | - - | - u u | - u | - u
    Sometimes there is a diaeresis after the fifth or sixth syllable. When there is a diaeresis, it can produce the following line:
    - u | - - | -|| u u | - u | - u
    (It is possible to have an anapest here (u u -) which is not very common. The diaeresis indictes a pause at the end of a word that coincides with the end of a metrical foot)
  • First line of Ode I.22, note the diaeresis:
    - u | - - | - || u u | - u | - x
    in te | ger vi | tae || sce ler | is que | pur us
    • The 'i' in in is long because a double consonant immediately follows it
    • The 'vi' in vitae is long by nature
    • The 'tae' in vitae is a dipthong and therefore long
    • The 'is' in scelerisque is long because a double consonant follows ('qu' is treated as one consonant for purposes of scansion, and does not make a prceding syllable long, unless it is joined with another consonant, as is the case here in scelerisque)
    • The first 'u' in purus is long by nature
  • Second line of Ode I.22:
    - u | - - | - || u u | - u | -     x
    non e | get mau | ris || ia cu | lis ne | que arcu
    • Note the elision in the last foot
    • The initial 'i' in iaculis is consonantal and should not be considered as a serparate syllable (think of it as a 'j')
  • Third line:
    - u | - - | - || u u | - u | - x
    nec ven | en at | tis || gra vi | da sa | git tis
  • Fourth line:
    - u | u - | x
    fus ce | pha re | tra

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