Duplos annos regnavisset Roma quidem si
nutricati essent tigridibus gemini.
Rome would have indeed ruled twice the years if
the twins were reared by tigers.
ˉ = Full beat
˘ = Half beat
° = Either a full or half beat may be used
ˉ ˘ ˘ = D = Dactyl (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˉ = S = Spondee (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˘ = T = Trochee (a metrical foot)
/ = Separator between metrical feet
|| = A hiatus – a pronounced pause
X = Either a dactyl or spondee may be used
Y = Either a spondee or a trochee may be used
Form = Elegiac Couplet
X / X / X / X / D / Y
X / X / ° || D / D / ˉ
Dūplōs / ānnōs / rēgnā/vīssēt / Rōmă quĭ/dēm sī
( ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˉ )
nūtrī/cāti*-ēs/sēnt || tīgrĭdĭ/būs gĕmĭ/nī.
( ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ || ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ )
* A note on scansion: if a word ends in a vowel, am, em, or um, AND the next word begins with a vowel (or an h), then the ending vowel (or am, em, um) of the first word is dropped completely (beat value and all) and the two words are joined. This is known as elision.
The Vocabulary and Grammar
duplos = duplus (duplus, -a, -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, plural, masculine, accusative, modifies annos, meaning = twice, twice as much
annos = annus (annus, -i), noun, 2nd declension, plural, masculine, accusative, meaning = years
regnavisset = regno (regno, -are, -avi, -atum), verb, 1st conjugation, 3rd person, singular, pluperfect, active, subjunctive, meaning = he/she/it would have ruled.
Roma = Roma (Roma, -ae), noun, 1st declension, singular, feminine, nominative, meaning = Rome.
quidem = adverb, indeclinable, modifies regnavisset, meaning = indeed.
si = conjunction, indeclinable, meaning = if – this little word often signifies, as it does here, a grammatical construction known as a conditional statement. The particular conditional in this poem is a Past Contrary to Fact conditional: if X would have happened (but didn’t), then Y would have happened (but didn’t). In the Past Contrary to Fact conditional, the verb in each clause is pluperfect in tense and subjunctive in mood.
nutricati = nutricatus (nutricatus, -a, -um), adjective (past participle of nutrico, -are, -avi, -atum), 1st & 2nd declension, plural, masculine, nominative, meaning = nursed, weaned, reared, raised. *1st part of the compound verb nutricati essent.
essent = sum (sum, esse, fui, futurum), verb, irregular, 3rd person, plural, pluperfect, active only, subjunctive, meaning = they would have been. *2nd part of the compound verb nutricati essent.
nutricati essent = nutrico (nutrico, -are, -avi, -atum), verb, 1st conjugation, 3rd person, plural, pluperfect, passive, subjunctive, meaning = they would have been nursed, weaned, reared, raised.
tigridibus = tigris (tigris, -idis), noun, 3rd declension, plural, masculine, ablative, meaning = by (means of) tigers
gemini = gemini (gemini, -orum), noun, 2nd declension, plural only, masculine, nominative, meaning = twins (in this particular case, Rome’s founders, twins who were raised by a she-wolf, Romulus and Remus).
* “Week” is a used here as to specify an undefined length of time, possibly at times equal to an actual week.