Archaic And Poetic Forms

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Early Latin writers used older forms of words that subsequently underwent one or more changes. These were sometimes retained in poetic diction, partly to give a poet's language a certain remoteness from that of everyday speech, and partly because these forms were often metrically convenient. An example of the latter is the use of induperàtor (general) in Juvenal Satires 10.138, which would have been replaced long before his time by the shorter form imperâtor. The former, which scans as induperàtor, can be used in a hexameter, whereas ïmpërâtôr, which has a short syllable between two long syllables, cannot.

A few other forms used by poets do not occur in Ciceronian Latin, but were not necessarily archaisms. These are termed poetic, although some may have been part of popular speech.

' The following poetic forms occur in the poetry selections in this


C The present passive infinitive can end in -ier instead of -I, for example, vertier (= verti, Lucretius De rerum natura 5.1199).

C The ending for the third-person plural, perfect indicative active -ere (instead of -erunt) is common, for example, fxdsere (= fulserunt, Catullus Carmina 8.3) and stupuere (= stupuerunt, Vergil Georgics 4.481). The shorter ending also occurs in some prose writers, such as Livy and Tacitus; it appears to have been used in popular speech.

C Forms with a perfect stem ending in -v are often contracted, for example, vocasset (= vocavisset, Luc an Bellum civile 1.146) and temptaris (= temptaveris, Horace Odes 1.11.3).

Nouns and Pronouns

C Archaic forms, such as duellum (= bellum, Horace Epistulae 1.2.7), are used as metrical variants. Forms such as istuc (= istud, Terence Andria 186) and horunc (= horum, Verse Epitaphs B.5) were current at the time of their writing and are occasionally found in later authors.

C The old ending of the genitive plural of the second declension (-um) is common, for example, virum (= virorum, Vergil Georgics 2.142) and superum (= superorum, Vergil Aeneid 1.4).

Other Parts of Speech

C By the Augustan Age, an original uo had changed to uu or u. Older forms are found in Plautus and Terence, for example, quom (= cum, Plautus Mostellaria 25) and suom (= suum, Terence Andria 188).

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  • graham head
    How to write poem in Latin?
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