know that each hexameter
verse consists of longs and shorts. Here are three basic rules for determining
whether syllables are long or short: |
A short syllable contains a short quantity
vowel, such as the nominative singular ending of the first declension: nauta.
A long syllable contains a long quantity
vowel, such as the ablative singular of the first declension: nautâ.
A long syllable may also contain a diphthong,
or two vowels pronounced together, such as the genitive singular of the first
declension: nautae. (The -au- in nauta is also considered
long under this rule.)
all of the above examples, the syllables are short or long by nature,
and must be remembered as such during the scanning
are some general rules for select vowels and syllables:
final -o, -i, or -u is usually long by nature.
the final -i in tibi and mihi, which may be either short or long
as the meter requires. (The first -i- in both words is always short.)
final -as, -es, or -os is usually long by nature.
exceptions: Greek proper names and other Greek words taken directly into Latin.
final -a or -is is often short by nature.
-a in the first declension ablative singular is always long, as is -is in
the first and second declensions ablative / dative plural.
final -e is usually short by nature.
-e in the fifth declension ablative singular; -e on adverbs formed from second
final -us is usually short by nature.
fourth declension genitive singular, and nominative / accusative plural (but not
fourth declension nominative singular).
final -am, -em, or -um is always short by nature.