Theory versus practice
Theory vs. practice
A final word

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Thus far the readings in the audio files have been very mechanical: strong theses followed by light arses (DUM-diddy), all in strict tempo. They must be so for the sake of theory.

In practice, however, the hexameter verse is much more resilient and allows for some license on the reader's part: pauses, for example, or quickening of tempo can lend great dramatic effect.

In fact, there are points in every line where strict meter will not do. These tend to come at the beginning of a line, when the stress placed upon the thesis conflicts with the natural accentuation of a word.

For example, arma virumque cano in Aeneid 1.1; cano is naturally accented on the first syllable: CA-no. But observance of the meter requires the unnatural pronunciation ca-NO, which would have made any good Roman cringe.

Note, however, that meter and nature combine toward the end of the line. After the fourth foot in 1.1, following the bucolic diaeresis, primus ab oris (PRI-mus ab O-ris) reads both metrically and naturally.

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