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The Latin hexameter is said to have reached perfection under Vergil, who deployed to great effect the (mis-) alignment of word stress and metrical weight. A closer look at the hexameters of the Republican satirist C. Lucilius shows that he may have been instrumental in the meter’s early development. Lucilius was able to achieve accentual responsion across the hemistichs of his hexameters, where the (mis-) alignment of word accent and metrical quantity is more complex than “heterodyne” and “homodyne.” From a constraint-based analysis of Lucilius’ hexameters it can also be seen that his technique changed between the composition of Books 28–30, where he tended to avoid adjacent stresses, and of Books 1–20, where he was less liable to do so. Finally, an examination of the longer fragments brings to light Lucilius’ ability to sustain accentual responsion across many lines, creating rhythm in counterpoint to syllable duration.
Since Meillet’s comparison of Greek and Vedic meters, augmented by Watkins with Celtic and Jakobson with Slavic, a syllabic metrical system comprised of lines of varying syllable counts, with caesura after the fourth or fifth position, has been assumed for the proto-language (see West). My examination of Italic, with a look at Celtic, suggests that Proto-Italic, Proto-Celtic, and perhaps Proto-Italo-Celtic had syllabo-tonic systems of versification, with lines of hierarchical structures built from accentual feet. In light of this and Kiparsky’s view of the phonology-metrics interface in synchrony, I propose complex podic structures for Proto-Indo-European lines and explore questions of how meters can change, how the Comparative Method works in metrics in general, and how archaic quantitative-syllabic rhythms should be compared with similarly archaic syllabo-tonic schemes in particular.
This page was last modified on Wednesday, 15 February, 2017.