Aeolic Verse : Advanced Variations

Below are variations on the Aeolic verse pattern, centralized in the glycolic verse discussed in the previous post. To review the glyconic, click here.

Priapean verse is 1 glyconic and 1 Pherecratean together, with a diaeresis between them

xx –˘˘–˘– // ˚˚–˘˘– –

  • the verse form is named for the Priapeia, a collection of 95 anonymous poems concerning the phallic god Priapus, some of which are written in the Priapean style

The Lesser Asclepiad is 1 glyconic with 1 extra nucleus interposed

xx –˘˘– –˘˘– ˘–

  • there is usually a word-end after the first of the two nuclei
  • the verse form is named for the Hellenistic poet Asclepiades

The Greater Asclepiad features 1 glyconic with 2 extra nuclei interposed

xx –˘˘– –˘˘– –˘˘–˘–

  • there are usually word-ends at the first and second nuclei

The Alcaic Hendecasyllable  features 1 iambic metron with a shortened (‘headless’) glyconic

x–˘–  x –˘˘– ˘–

  • The gylconic is shortened insofar as it is missing it’s first variable syllable
  • The line is so-named because it contains eleven syllables (Greek ἕνδεκα)
  • The line is name of the lyric poet Alcaeus

The Phalaecean Hendecasyllable is a glyconic followed by a 1 bacchiac foot

xx –˘˘– ˘–   ˘–x

  • The verse is named for Phalaecus, an early epigrammatist
  • Is it just mean, or are these verse forms starting to sound like breeds of dragon from Harry Potter?

Non-Glyconic Aeolic Styles

The following verse variations are not considered glyconic derivatives.

The Aristophanic features a nucleus and a 1 bacciac foot

–˘˘– ˘––

  • Named, of course, for Aristophanes

The Adonic verse form is a nucleus with one long

  • It is named for laments to Adonis, the ‘eastern’ god of beauty, desire, etc.
  • It is the fourth line of the Sapphic stanza

The Sapphic Hendecasyllable contains 1 trochaic and an Aristophanic (nucleus with bacchiac foot)

–˘–x   –˘˘–   ˘––

The Greater Sapphic interposes an additional nucleus.

–˘–x   –˘˘–  –˘˘–  ˘––

  • Both verses are featured in the Sapphic stanza, named for the poet Sappho

The Lesser Alcaic features a dactyl and an Aristophanic (nucleus with a bacciac foot)

–˘˘ –˘˘– ––

The Essential AG: 625

Famous Phrase:

cui dōnō lepidum novum libellum? [a Phalaecean hendecasyllable: xx ––˘˘– ˘–˘–x]

to whom do I dedicate this charming new booklet? -Catullus, Carmina 1.1


Aeolic Verse

Summary of Aeolic Verse

Unlike most verse forms, Aeolic is not composed of feet. Instead, Aeolics are measured in cola. Any Aeolic colon will contain three principal parts:

  • Aeolic base + choriambic nucleus + one of several Aeolic tails

The Aeolic base is a series of two beat positions, which varies from line to line in any given work

  • It may be an iamb ( ˘– ), a trochee ( –˘ ) or a spondee ( –– ), but never a dibrach ( ˘˘).

The nucleus, in every line of every kind of Aeolic verse, will always appear as –˘˘– .

The Aeolic tail, which varies between each type of verse, takes numerous forms (see below).

Whereas metric poetry contains a set number of feet, with a variant number of possible syllable combinations, Aeolic verse offers a consistent number of syllables in each an every line (of a given work). This makes it easy to scan! All variants of each verse will sound the same.

The most common Aeolic verse forms are named for Greek poets who put them too use, and less common verse forms are often described as a variant of these standard types.

It’s likely helpful to consider ‘Aeolic verse’ as a family of different metrical styles, rather than a set, single ‘game’ of verse, with the same standardized rules.

Aeolic is a collection of dialects; Iambic trimeter is a particular grammar.


The Basic (Glyconic) Verse Line

xx  –˘˘–  ˘–

Note the base (given in unmarked verse, to demonstrate possible variations), the nucleus (–˘˘–) and the tail (˘–).

  • The world ‘glycolic’ is named for Glycon, the early Greek lyric poet
  • The final syllable may be brevis in longo, where even a short finally syllable is counted a long

A common stanza in, for instance, Catullus, includes 3 glyolic verses and 1 Pherecratean verse

  • a Pherecretean verse is a catalectic glycolic verse, that is: a glycolic verse whose tail is cut short ( xx –˘˘–  –)
  • the world catalectic (from the Greek καταλέγω, to set down), simply describes a verse with a shortened tail
  • the verse form is named for Pharecrates of Old Attic Comedy

The Essential AG: 623-4

Famous Phrase: per caputque pedēsque [through head and feet] (Pherecratean –˘ –˘˘– – with b. in longo)

(i.e. head over heels) -Catullus 17.9

[n.b. this quote is actually a clipping of the line’s longer Priapean style (Priapean = glyconic + pherecratean), which I’ll discuss in the next post!]

Ablative of Source and Material

The Ablative of Source

The ablative of source, usually with a preposition, describes the source of any given thing

  • poetry will often omit the preposition (asyndeton)
  • verbs denoting birth or origin use the ablative of source without a preposition


  • The Rhine rises in from the country of the Lepontii: Rhēnus oritur ex Lepontiīs.
  • Here is the sweetness of odors which flow from the flowers: hīc suāvitās odōrum quī afflārentur ē flōribus.
  • He was born of kings: ēditus est rēgibus.
  • She lost Caius Fleginas of Placentia : dēsiderāvit C. Flegīnātem Placentiā.
  • The charm of the house consisted in its wood : dōmūs amoenitās silvā cōnstābat.

The Ablative of Material

The ablative of material, usually with a preposition, describes the material of which something consists

  • poetry will often omit the preposition (asyndeton)
  • the verbs cōnsistō and contineor use the ablative of material without a preposition
  • the ablative of material, without a preposition, is used with faciō and ficior to mean “to do with” or “become of”
  • the ablative of material may replace a partitive genitive


  • He was made all of fraud and falsehood: erat tōtus ex fraude et mendāciō factus.
  • I will build a temple of marble: templum dē marmore pōnam.
  • The charm of the house consisted in its wood : dōmūs amoenitās silvā cōnstābat.
  • What will you do with this man: quid hōc homine faciātis?
  • What will become of my dear Tullia: quid Tulliolā meā fīet?
  • He was one of four: erat ūnus ēx quattuor.

The Essential AG: 403

Famous Phrase: ē plūribus ūnum: from many, one

[motto of the United States]

Speaking of ūnus, coinage and Latin–cēterum censeō pennem dēlendam esse.

Death to Pennies.

Rules for the Latin Period

Sample Latin Period

Here’s the same sample Latin period from last time:

Volscī exiguam spem in armīs, aliā undique abscissā, cum tentāssent, praeter cētera adversa, locō quoquo inīquō ad pugnam congressī, inīquiōre ad fugam, cum ab omnī parte caederentur, ad precēs ā certāmine versī dēditō imperātōre trāditīsque armīs, sub iugum missī, cum singulīs vestīmentīs, īgnōminiae clādisque plēnī dīmittuntur. -Livy, iv.10

The Volscians, determined on trying the slender hope they had in arms, all others now cut off, besides many other disadvantages, having come to an engagement unfavorable for fighting, and still more so for retreat, when they were being cut down on every side, from fighting have recourse to entreaties, having given up their general and surrendered their arms, they are sent under the yoke and dismissed full of disgrace and suffering, with one garment each. (trans. Spillan)

Rules Observed in Latin Periodic Sentence Structure

“The main subject or object is put in the main clause, not in a subordinate clause.” -AG, 602

  • So here, the subject Volscī is within the same clause as the main verb, dīmittuntur (a passive that takes no object)
  • In this period, the main clause is divided by a series of subordinate clauses

Subordinate clauses are arranged meaningfully.

  • They are arranged for emphasis, prominence of importance, distance from the speaker, following a rotation of deictic gestures, etc.
  • They place cause before result, purpose before act, etc.

Asyndeton occurs frequently.

  • Asyndeton is the use of coordinate clauses within their copulative conjunction.
  • Here, in locō is given merely as locō, and the following, parallel clause lacks even locō itself
  • Further, there are numerous plausible et‘s and atque‘s missing

Pronouns disappear save where they are needed for clarity

  • Subordinate clauses are intentionally structured to surround all action around the original subject, permitting the writer to imply everything with the number, case and gender of a minimal number of words
  • Objects, too, may be repeated or replaced as rarely as possible

The Romans, especially in oratorical prose, use particular patterns of verse when ending their periods

  • quod scīs nihil prōdes, quod nescīs multum obest : what you know is of no use, what you do not know does great harm (Cicero, Dē Orātōre, 166) [— — ̆ x ]
  • I admit no knowledge of what the ‘preferred’ patterns of verse are for ending sentences, but I imagine professional orators had specific personal tastes
The Essential AG: 602

Famous Phrase: vēnī, vīdī, vīcī : I came, I saw, I conquered.

[commentary by Caesar on his short war with Pharnaces II in 47 BC; a light patch of asyndeton missing a few et‘s]

The Latin Period

Introduction to the Period

No, not this :         .

The Period is an extended and logically coherent sentence structure, with its subject and main verb placed at or near the final position in order to ‘hold suspense’ of sense until the entire sentence is read.

  • English is given to short sentences, not periodic sentences.
  • Latin (an inflected) is friendly toward period structure because the relationship between all words within a longer sentence are easily comprehended by the specific case of each word. Case lends internal structure or Latin sentences, where English relies on specific word order, clauses and their transitional particles.
  • The Period encourages Latin reads to view sentences as wholes, where English readers view (long) sentences as interrelated parts.
  • The Latin periodus, -ī (complete sentence) is from the Greek περιοδός, -οῦ (cycle, unit) [viz. περὶ + ἣ ὃδος, road]

Period Samples

An English period (rare):

High on a throne of royal state, which far

Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,

Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand

Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,

Satan exalted sat. —Milton, Paradise Lost, ii 1-5


A Latin period (appreciably less rare [though not quite common]):

Volscī exiguam spem in armīs, aliā undique abscissā, cum tentāssent, praeter cētera adversa, locō quoquo inīquō ad pugnam congressī, inīquiōre ad fugam, cum ab omnī parte caederentur, ad precēs ā certāmine versī dēditō imperātōre trāditīsque armīs, sub iugum missī, cum singulīs vestīmentīs, īgnōminiae clādisque plēnī dīmittuntur. -Livy, iv.10

The Volscians, determined on trying the slender hope they had in arms, all others now cut off, besides many other disadvantages, having come to an engagement unfavorable for fighting, and still more so for retreat, when they were being cut down on every side, from fighting have recourse to entreaties, having given up their general and surrendered their arms, they are sent under the yoke and dismissed full of disgrace and suffering, with one garment each. (trans. Spillan)

The central verb of the unit, dīmittuntur, is held to the very end, and a grand tapestry of meaning, history and structure is woven from one clause to the next, all hanging in the air until that summary, ultimate note.

The Essential AG: 601

Famous Phrase: quārē nōn, ut intelligere possit, sed, ne omnīnō possit nōn intelligere, cūrandum

[therefore, we must care that the reader be unable to misunderstand, not able to understand]

Related Link: Hyperekperissou, “Translating

(periodic sense-shift in action)


Adjectives Defective of Comparatives and Superlatives

Summary of Comparative Defection

Many adjectives in Latin are defective (i.e. are wanting) of either the comparative, the superlative, or both.

  • This is either a matter of sense or usage
  • Words who sense lacks comparable forms are conceptually incomparable: aureus, -a, um (golden); āter, -ra, -rum (pitch black); (n.b, however — niger, nigrior, nigrrimus [dark black])
  • Other words lack comparatives or superlatives merely according to standard use

Adjectives Lacking the Comparative and (in some cases) the Superlative

  • bellus, —, — : pretty, beautiful
  • caesius, —, — : blue-gray, keen, sharp
  • falsus, —, falsissimus : mistaken, beguiled, false
  • fīdus, —, fīdissimus : faithful, trustworthy
  • inclutus, —, — : neglected, unadorned
  • invictus, —, invictissimus : invincible
  • invītus, —, invītissimus : unwilling
  • meritus, —, — : earned, deserving
  • novus, —, novissimus : new, young, recent
  • pius, —, piissimus : pius, holy, observant
  • sacer, —, — : holy, sacred
  • vafer, —, — : sly, cunning

Adjectives Lacking the Superlative

  • āctuōsus, āctuōsior, — : busy, active
  • agrestis, agrestior, — : rural, rude
  • alacer, alacrior, — : swift, eager, cheerful
  • arcānus, arcānior, — : hidden, intimate, personal
  • caecus, caecior, — : blind
  • diūturnus, diūturnior, — : long-lasting
  • exīlis, exīlior, — : thin, feeble
  • ingēns, ingentior, — : huge, vast
  • iēiūnus, iēniūnior, — : fasting, hungry, scanty, rare, insignificant
  • longinquus, longinquior, — : long, far-off, strange, old
  • oblīquus, oblīquior, — : oblique, sidelong
  • opīmus, opīmior, — : fat, rich, fertile
  • prōclīvis, prōclīvior, — : easy, downward, steep, prone to
  • propinquus, propinquior, — : near, resembling
  • satur, satrior, — : sated
  • sēgnis, sēgnior, — : slow, lazy
  • sērus, sērior, — : late, slow
  • supīnus, supīnior, — : backwards, careless
  • surdus, surdior, — : deaf, dull, silent, inattentive
  • taciturnus, taciturnior, — : silent
  • tempestīvus, tempestīvior, — : timely
  • teres, teretior, — : rounded, smooth
  • vīcīnus, vīcīnior, — : neighboring

Iuvenis and Senex

The comparatives of these adjectives are either iūnior and senior, or minor nātū and maior nātū

  • Iūnior and senior are more regular, but, with the superlative, minimus nātū and maximus nātū are more regular
  • Here, nātū is ablative of specification

Famous Phrase: falsus in unō, falsus in omnibus [false in one, false in all]

  • A Roman legal principle, suggesting that a witness who falsifies one piece of information will inevitably falsify many pieces of information

Inseparable Particle Compounds

Summary of Inseparable Particle Compounds

Inseparable particle compounds, as distinguished from prepositional compounds, are verbal prefixes which cannot appear as independent prepositions.

  • Prepositional compounds (ad-, dē-, inter, etc.) are also prepositions: ad, dē, inter
  • Inseparable particle compounds (see below) do not appear as prepositions.
  • From what I can tell, there are many nouns and adjectives featuring these particle compounds, but they are all derived from corresponding verbs (ambigō –> ambiguus, -a, um, hybrid, uncertain, fluctating; dīvidō –> dīvīsiō, -ōnis; division; etc.)

Some Particle Compound Examples

amb-, am-, an- : around (cf. Greek ἀμφί)

  • ambiō, ambīre, ambīvī, ambītum : to go around
  • ambigō, ambigere [no perfect or supine] : to wander, hesitate

dis-, dī- : asunder (cf. duo)

  • discēdo, discēdere, discessī, discessum : to depart
  • dīvidō, dīvidere, dīvīsī, dīvīsum : to divide

por- : forward (cf. porrō, forward)

  • portendō, portendere, portendī, portentum : to hold forth, predict

red-, re- : back, again

  • redeō, redīre, rediī, reditum : to return
  • reclūdō, reclūdere, reclūdsī, reclusum : to open
  • reficiō, reficere, refēcī, refectum : to repair (i.e. to make again)

sēd-, sē- : apart

  • sēcernō, sēcernere, sēcrēvī, sēcrētum : to separate, distinguish
  • sēparō, sēparāre, sēparāvī, sēparātum : to separate

The Essential AG: 267b

Famous Phrase: dīvīde et impera [divide and dominate]

  • A maxim of Julius Caesar, and the basis of our own ‘divide and conquer’ (passed on through Machiavelli, who used the same Latin phrases in his own political manuals)

Gender of Latin Plant Nouns

Feminine. As a rule, they are feminine.

Here are some examples, with corresponding photographs:

rosa, -ae : rose

caltha, -ae : marigold

īlex, īlicis : Holm Oak

hedera, -ae : ivy
















pīnus, pīnī : (Italic) pine [yes, still feminine]

There are exceptions to this rule, as one may expect.

  • robur, -ōris : oak (n)
  • acer, acēris : maple  (n)

For a better sense of the gender distribution (largely feminine with some neuters), here’s a list of all the Latin names of ‘British’ foliage. Pay attention to the species name (and adjective) to clarify the gender of third declension nouns.

According to A&G, “many names of plants in -us vary between the second and fourth declensions.” They then give no examples. Can you think of any?

The Essential AG: 32, 32b

Famous Phrase: sub rosā [beneath the rose]

A phrase denoting secrecy. The rose was associated with silence, as was given as the symbol of Harpocrates, the god of silence at Rome. In the Middle Ages, a rose hanging over the entrance chamber of a given committee room represented a call for silence about the content of the committee’s discourse.

Review of the First Conjugation (Passive)

First Conjugation PASSIVE (complete)

(n.b. for, ‘to say,’ is a deponent verb: for, farī, fātus sum)

Primary Sequence


for, fāris, fātur, fāmur, fāminī, fantur

fer, fēris, fētur, fēmur, fēminī, fentur


fābar, fābāris, fābātur, fābāmur, fābāminī, fābantur

fārer, fārēris, fārētur, fārēmur, fārēminī, fārentur


fābor, fāberis (or fābere), fābitur, fābimur, fābiminī, fābuntur

[no subjunctive future primary]

Secondary Sequence


fātus sum, fātus es, fātus est, fātī sumus, fātī estis, fātī sunt

fātus sim, fātus sīs, fātus sit, fātī sīmus, fātī sītis, fātī sint


fātus eram, fātus erās, fātus erat, fātī erāmus, fātī erātis, fātī erant

fātus essem, fātus essēs, fātus esset, fātī essēmus, fātī essētis, fātī essent

Future Perfect

fātus erō, fātus eris, fātus erit, fātus erimus, fātus eritis, fātus erint

[no subjunctive future secondary]

Et Cetera

Present Imperative

fāre, fāminī

Future Imperative

fātor (2nd or 3rd person singular), [no 2nd singular plural passive future imperative], fantor (3rd person plural)

Infinitive (present, perfect, future)


fātus esse

fātus īrī

Participles (perfect, future [gerundive]) 

fātus, -a, -um

fandus, -a, um


[no passive supine]

The Essential AG: 184 (p89-90)

Famous Phrase: “quid voveat dulci nutricula maius alumno / qui sapere et fari possit quae sentiat”

[what more might a nurse desire for her darling, than that he be wise, and say what he feels?]

-Horace, Epistulae 1.4.8-9


Greek Aspirates in Latin

Greek Aspirates in Latin

Appearance of Aspirates

“The aspirates are almost wholly confined to words borrowed from Greek” (AG, 4.1 ftn)

These are ‘ph’ (cf. φ), ‘ch’ (cf. χ) and ‘th’ (cf. θ)

Because words containing aspirates are nearly always Greek, consider aspirates a marker of caution for the dreaded Greek declensions of Latin nouns

Pronunciation of Aspirates

The world ‘aspirate’ is from the Latin aspīrāre (ad + spīrāre, to breath on)

  • The sound we ‘breath onto’ these letters is an ‘h’
  • The aspirates, in Latin (ph, ch and th) are pronounced p+h, c+h, and t+h 

In late antiquity, ph began to approach f, to distinguish it from p

Quick Sample of Some Greek Nouns with Aspirates

I’ll review these declensions more fully later on:

  • Anchīsēs, Anchīsae, Anchīsae, Anchīsēn/am, Anchīsā (first declension)
  • Panthūs, Panthī, Panthō, Panthūn, Panthō (second declension)
  • Xenophōn, Xenophontis, Xenophontī, Xenophonta/em, Xenophonte (third declension)

Famous Phrase: ad usum Delphinī (for the use of Dauphin)

[used to demarcate works banned or edited for improper passages; originally used on special editions of Greek and Roman classics which Louis XIV gave to his heir apparent, the Dauphin of France]