Scaevola’s Cat Thought of the Week* (#7)


The Thought

Duplos annos regnavisset Roma quidem si

nutricati essent tigridibus gemini.


The Meaning

Rome would have indeed ruled twice the years if

the twins were reared by tigers.


The Form

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


The Scansion

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 Recitation


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.

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7 thoughts on “Scaevola’s Cat Thought of the Week* (#7)”

  1. 10 Cents:
    It is always good to see the Sky, Rick. I look forward to the next picture.

    The hardest part of this whole project is the pictures, not the Latin. Sky doesn’t like sitting still for the camera.

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  2. Rick Poach:

    10 Cents:
    It is always good to see the Sky, Rick. I look forward to the next picture.

    The hardest part of this whole project is the pictures, not the Latin. Sky doesn’t like sitting still for the camera.

    No true star does. 🙂

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  3. Rick Poach:
    The hardest part of this whole project is the pictures, not the Latin.

    Well, this picture, like the previous ones, is a stunner; the thought and the image illustrate each other.

    How do these couplets sound?  Presumably they are pronounced carefully, so that the hearers can enjoy or study or critique or deplore or praise the meter.  Okay, but when I try to pronounce them, the total lack of art makes the output sound like a killer robot that has taken a mortal hit but is not yet stopped.

    On checking around a little, I found this recording of a no doubt famous elegiac couplet; lots of people quote it when they write obituaries, it would seem.  The speaker speaks very slowly; is that 100% because it is a funeral elegy?  Or is it general EG tradition to speak slowly enough to allow listeners to catch every precious pearl of metric perfection?

    In S7, Duplos annos, the tone surely should be, not one of oppressed mournfulness, but rather one of haughty, dismissive scorn.  Would that not have required a faster, and perhaps more variable, tempo in the delivery, in contrast to the funeral elegy of Catullus?

    So, Magister Pater Possum, know you Soundcloud? and could you be tempted to provide an occasional recording?

    And what do you think of the various aspects of this delivery? –

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  4. jzdro:
    Well, this picture, like the previous ones, is a stunner

    Thank you.

    jzdro:
    The speaker speaks very slowly; is that 100% because it is a funeral elegy?

    I think the speaker is trying to match the music.

    jzdro:
    Or is it general EG tradition to speak slowly enough to allow listeners to catch every precious pearl of metric perfection?

    I’m really not sure.

    jzdro:
    In S7, Duplos annos, the tone surely should be, not one of oppressed mournfulness, but rather one of haughty, dismissive scorn.  Would that not have required a faster, and perhaps more variable, tempo in the delivery, in contrast to the funeral elegy of Catullus?

    I would think so. yes. The Elegiac Couplet is strange. It’s named for elegies, like Catullus’ work here, but it was also used a lot by Martial in his humorous couplets – which I am imitating here.

    jzdro:
    So, Magister Pater Possum, know you Soundcloud?

    All of my Possum pieces include a recording of a recitation by me – hosted on Soundcloud.

    jzdro:
    and could you be tempted to provide an occasional recording?

    Perhaps…

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