from a book "scanned by accent rather than quantity"

harriet_yang

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Dear teachers and fellow learners,

I read this in Will Durant's book "The Story of Civilization" and found it hard to comprehend. Here is the excerpt:

"Literature came formally to Rome about 272 B.C. in the person of a Greek slave. In that year Tarentum fell; many of its Greek citizens were slaughtered, but Livius Andronicus had the luck to be merely enslaved. Brought to Rome, he taught Latin and Greek to his master's children and some others, and translated the Odyssey for them into Latin "Saturnian" verse - lines of loose and irregular rhythm, scanned by accent rather than quantity. "

The red part is what I don't understand. What does "scanned" and "quantity" means here?

Thanks a lot!
 

probus

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This is very arcane stuff that pertains only to ancient poetry.

To scan verse is to determine its rhythm. For example, the rhythm we call iambic goes ba-Dump ba-Dump ba-Dump. That is scanning by accent, i.e. which syllable the stress falls on.

But apparently there is another method of scanning: by quantity. Apparently in this context quantity means whether the vowels are short or long. I freely admit I know nothing about this, but there are scholarly articles if you wish to pursue the subject further. You can find them by googling dactylic hexameter.

Speaking for myself, I really don't give a sh&t. This distinction is only for scholars of ancient Greek and Latin.
 
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harriet_yang

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super helpful. I originally didn't realized that there is such a long story behind it:). Thanks a lot for the explanation!
 
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probus

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"Hadn't realized" or "didn't realize" that there was, not is.
 
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