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Consonance of Final -s and Asyndetic Accumulation in Latin Poetry

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Taking as a starting point Housman’s note on Man. 4.780 (Cyrenes lacrimis radicis Scorpios acris), the article analyses a stylistic device of Latin poetry, namely the repetition (consonance) of final -s within the same line. The analysis is based on the collection of all the cases of lines which have words, or all words except one, ending in -s, in both early and classical Latin poetry, the stylistic and linguistic features of which are discussed. A split between early texts and classical texts is observed: in early Latin texts consonance of -s is generally concomitant with asyndetic accumulation of similar words (cf. e.g. Enn. Ann. inc. 498 S. flentes plorantes lacrumantes obtestantes), which is an interesting stylistic pattern, common in early Latin and associated with elevated style, and later probably acquiring an archaising ring. On the other hand, consonance of -s in classical Latin poetry appears as an independent sound figure, deployed by authors for poetic effect (cf. e.g. Verg. A. 12.708 ingentis genitos diuersis partibus orbis). By analysing these patterns of consonance, the article also investigates the stylistic potential of asyndeton and the phonetic status of final -s in early and classical Latin.

Affiliations: 1: Magdalen College, University of Oxford OX1 4AU, Oxford UK


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