Elision
Scansion
 
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Syllabification
Elision
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The contraction of dactyls into spondees provides a certain flexibility, allowing more opportunities for word placement within a verse. Further flexibility comes though a process called elision (> Lat. "knocking out").

The first rule of elision is as follows:

  • A final syllable ending in a vowel may be omitted from the meter before a word beginning with a vowel (or an h-).

EXAMPLE: nauta est is three syllables. Because est begins, and nauta ends, with a vowel, the final -a is elided or "knocked out," leaving two syllables: nauta est (pronounced "now test").

Note that rule #1 states that the syllable may be omitted: it need not be. The term for deliberate avoidance of elision is called hiatus (> Lat. "gap").

There is a second rule of elision:

  • A final syllable ending in the letter -m may be omitted from the meter before a word beginning with a vowel (or an h-).

EXAMPLE: nautam est becomes nautam est ("now test").

Figure E illustrates both rules at work within Aeneid 1.3:

 
 
 
Figure E. Scansion of Aeneid 1.3, elisons marked.
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