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Re-classicizing Bede?: Hrabanus Maurus on prosody and meter.

HRABANUS MAURUS (ca. 780-856) composed his treatise Excerptio de arte grammatica Prisciani (1) as a compendium of rules on syllable lengths to supplement the teaching and reading of prosodic literature and facilitate the scansion and composition of Latin verse. As a considerable amount of Christian poetry in classical meters had come to existence in Late Antiquity and many of these texts continued to be studied and emulated, the study of metrics was considered an indispensable part of a monastic scholars education, rendered ultimately very difficult by the disappearance of syllable quantity from the spoken Latin of the period. Especially from the late eighth century onwards, Priscian's discussion of syllable lengths in his encyclopedic Institutiones grammaticae (ca. 500) (2) proved an invaluable source to medieval scholars in their attempts to develop a comprehensive theoretical presentation of syllable prosody. Despite the possibly inauthentic name of Hrabanus's treatise, his Excerptio is not simply an abridged version of Priscian, but a compilation of the presentations of prosody he had found in the grammatical writings of Late Antiquity; in this he relied not only on Priscian but also on Diomedes, Isidore, and, most notably, Donatus, whose Artes grammaticae provided him with the basic layout of his treatise. (3) Ultimately, Hrabanus also resorted to Bede's De arte metrica, a work that appears to have been the standard guide to metrics of the Carolingian schoolroom. (4) The integration of Priscian's broadly inclusive approach with Bede's normative attempt to excise "pagan" influences from prosody and metrics posed an obvious challenge to Hrabanus. The Carolingians' newly found interest in the pre-Christian classics meant that Bede's metrical theory had to be reinterpreted in a way that would, at least on the surface, make it compatible with the teaching of classical verse. This paper discusses Hrabanus's presentation of common syllables, which, although largely identical with Bede, has frequently undergone subtle rephrasing at Hrabanus's hands. It will emerge that although Hrabanus did not openly question Bede's views on "pagan" and "Christian" prosody as such, his presentation of this dichotomy is considerably more moderate than his predecessor's. At the same time it demonstrates how classical authors, largely excised from Bede's treatise, begin to reemerge as useable models for verse composition in the Carolingian age.


The relationship between Christianity and the pagan literary heritage was troubled from the start, as demonstrated by Jerome's oft-cited nightmare vision where he was accused of being a Ciceronian rather than a Christian. (5) It is understandable that Jerome viewed his "Ciceronianism" as a guilty pleasure; like many of his Christian contemporaries, he was quite open in his admiration of the pre-Christian classics, which led to some rather complex maneuvers in their attempts to reconcile Christian and secular learning. Jerome found pagan poetry and rhetoric a useful tool for the defense of Christian truths (6) and, together with other early Christian authors, even made the bold claim that, e.g., hexameters and pentameters could be found in Scripture. (7) This may have been primarily an attempt to refute claims that Christians were cultural upstarts, but later served to enforce the role of poetry and metrics in Christian education: if Moses had known and used the hexameter, why should not they? Correspondingly, Late Antiquity saw the emergence of Christian epic poetry composed in classical meters. Although it would be tempting to see them merely as an awkward effort to supplant pagan authors in the school curriculum, (8) the Christian "Bible epics" of Sedulius, Juvencus, and Arator probably constitute earnest attempts to provide a tool for meditation on Scripture. (9) At the same time, a large number of Christian hymns, most prominently those of Ambrose, Prudentius, and Sedulius, were composed in forms that adhered to the classical rules of syllable quantity, which indicates the strong classical background of the early Christian hymnodists; as the hymns were intended to be sung, such prosodic considerations would otherwise appear inconsequential.

With the spread of Christianity to the British Isles, grammar and, by implication, metrics became by necessity integrated into the monastic curriculum, as the early Christian scholars of Ireland and England were not native speakers of Latin. (10) The Venerable Bede's De arte metrica," the most important metrical treatise to emerge in the Early Middle Ages, served the dual purpose of combining instruction in syllable prosody with the teaching of poetic meter and, at the same time, presenting prosody and metrics in a way that harmonized with the scholarly aims of the monastic system. Bede's arguably greatest innovation was the incorporation of syllable prosody into what he termed the metrica ars: earlier treatises on metrics, with titles along the lines of De metris, were content to discuss the structure of individual poetic meters, whereas syllable lengths were the matter of grammar. Bede's didactic genius is apparent in the way in which he starts from the smallest units of language, sounds and syllables, and then proceeds to demonstrate how they can be combined into metrical feet and, ultimately, lines of verse. This served as the basis for later treatises on metrics: the medieval genre of ars metrica as a composite presentation of prosody and poetic composition is ultimately Bede's creation. (12)

At the same time, Bede's treatise exhibits a strong Christianizing agenda: where Bede departs from his predecessors is his attempt to create a standard for prosody and meter that is exclusively based on Christian material. Earlier Christian grammarians had cautiously introduced ecclesiastical vocabulary and quotations from Christian poetry into their treatises: at the outset, such attempts had been tentative. (13) As the Artes of Donatus, which formed the backbone of grammatical institution in the Early Middle Ages, were, by nature, skeletal, expanded and annotated versions of them soon emerged, and the earliest attempts at constructing a "Christian" grammar of Latin are essentially founded on a cosmetically Christianized version of the Ars minor. (14) The focal point of these innovations was Ireland, which fostered a number of such grammatical works. (15) Their dual improvement on their source material was a more thorough discussion of Latin morphology, suited to the needs of the nonnative speaker, and a systematic attempt to adapt their material for the study of Scripture, which, however, mainly manifested itself as prefaces adapted from the writings of the church fathers, word lists with a more pronounced Judaeo-Christian content and the substitution of Scriptural quotations for classical ones. (16) Unfortunately, the Irish were illequipped to undertake a thorough overhaul of metrical theory: there is no evidence that the early Irish scholars had any grasp of classical syllable quantity, and early Hiberno-Latin verse is exclusively rhythmical (nonquantitative). (17) Quantitative versification in the British Isles only truly began in seventh-century Anglo-Saxon England, probably through the influence of Theodore and Hadrian at the School of Canterbury, (18) with Aldhelm (ca. 639-709) as its main proponent. In addition to some 4,000 lines of hexameter poetry, Aldhelm produced two treatises on metrics, (19) which, however, are patchy, gratuitously theoretical, and do not properly address issues of syllable quantity. (20) With the Anglo-Latin renaissance of quantitative versification, it was apparent that there was a general need for a handbook on metrics suited to the needs of nonnative users of Latin and the monastic curriculum. Bedes De arte metrica constitutes the first serious attempt to meet this demand. (21) In his presentations of syllable lengths and dactylic verse, most of the traditional textbook quotations from Vergil have been thoroughly supplanted with lines from Christian poets, most notably Sedulius, whom Bede tried to cast as the standard for good verse. Bedes presentation is apparently founded on a thorough reading of Sedulius and a careful analysis of his metrical practices. This ultimately led to Bede's creation of an artificial dichotomy of "pagan" and "Christian" verse techniques, based on what the Christian epic poets did or did not do. He discusses this exhaustively in his chapter on the prosodic differences between "ancient" and "modern" poets, trying to demonstrate that such metrical liberties as hiatus and spondaic hexameter lines in Vergil are symptomatic of the inherent inferiority of pagan learning. (22)

In Bedes discussion of syllable prosody, of particular interest is his chapter on common syllables, i.e., syllables that can be scanned as either long or short. (23) As the length of common syllables varies considerably, they leave much room for poetic license, as Bede himself asserts. (24) His presentation is largely derived from the largely similar expositions of the Late Antique grammarians, Diomedes, Donatus, Mallius Theodorus, Marius Victorinus, Pompeius, Sergius, Servius, and Maximus Victorinus, (25) and his order of presentation follows that of his predecessors. Apart from some refinements to the rules as given in his sources, Bede's innovations consist in his substitution of Christian quotations for classical ones and his attempt to codify these practices in a way that is consistent with postclassical Christian usage. (26) This seems to foreshadow the more exhaustive--and more polemical--discussion of the "metrical faults" of the pagans at the end of his treatise. The types of common syllable in Bede's discussion are the following (the examples are taken from Bede's presentation):

1: Short word-internal vowels followed by two consonants, the latter of which is a liquid (cr, pr, tr, fr, cl, pl, tl, fl, e.g., tenebrae--tenebrae).

2: Word-initial h, which in post-classical verse could lengthen a nominally short final syllable that ended in a consonant (e.g., niger hispidus but uir humilis).

3: Word-initial's groups (sc, sp, st, sm) after a short final vowel (e.g., alba smaragdus but iamque scilicet).

4: The lengthening of a short final syllable by a following caesura known as productio ob caesuram (e.g., cuius in robore).

5 and 6: The voluntary shortening of a final diphthong or long vowel in a hiatus (e.g,. o utinam but 6 Alexi).

7: The pronouns hic and hoc (e.g., hic est--hic est).

8: The consonant z after a short vowel (gaza--gaza).

9: The final syllables of lines of verse.

In his discussion, Bede uses every opportunity to enforce the validity of the Christian epic poets as models of good verse, and, not surprisingly, the classics Vergil and Lucan come to the fore as examples of outdated metrical practices. Bede has refined the presentations of his predecessors by specifying that consonant compounds with liquids, or the letter z, may lengthen a nominally short syllable only word-internally; similar lengthening in final syllables is something that he elsewhere in his treatise presents as an example of inferior pagan prosody. (27) On the other hand, relying on the example of Sedulius, he fully condones the similar use of word-initial s groups, which in classical verse is highly unusual. (28) The consonantal use of h is a late antique practice that probably originated in the faulty analysis of Vergil's terga fatigamus hasta (Aen. 9.618), a textbook commonplace where the final syllable of fatigamus is, in reality, lengthened by the following caesura rather than the h. (29) The feature is ubiquitous in most Christian verse of Late Antiquity, and, not surprisingly, Bede fully approves of it. Nevertheless, he vehemently rejects the authority of Vergil's line, giving it what we would consider the correct analysis; this shows his consistent reluctance to rely on the authority of the pagans where Christian sources are available. (30)

As for short syllables lengthened by the following caesura (productio ob caesuram), Bede has, as one might expect, jettisoned the traditional Vergilian commonplace omnia uincit amor, et nos cedamus amori (eel. 10.69) in favor of Sedulius's cuius in robore nullum (Sedul. carm. pasch. 4.46). Yet, quoting Mallius Theodorus's De metris (ca. 400), (31) he goes on to stress that the feature is archaic, to be frequently encountered in Vergil and Homer but less common in "more recent" verse and preferably to be avoided. (32) Bede condemns hiatus in all its forms, with or without correption of the preceding final syllable, and writes the feature off as a pagan technique, dwelling on it at length in his chapter on the differences between ancient and modern poets.

Bede has codified the use of common syllables to make his presentation harmonize with the poetic practices of Sedulius while effectively underlining the invalidity of classical verse as a model. His polemical approach comes to the fore in passages where he castigates his predecessors for things that they had overlooked or misanalyzed. Apart from the "mistaken" presentation of terga fatigamus hasta in the grammarians, Bede criticizes Sergius for citing the example neve flagella (Verg. georg. 2.299) because fl can never make position in the beginning of a word. (33) He has also included a discussion of word-initial ps, essential for Christian poets in such words as psalmus and psallo, contending that it cannot make position and criticizing Pompeius for overlooking this. (34) Bede's other minor innovations include the suggestion that a long vowel may be voluntarily shortened before another vowel inside a word; this is an extension of his discussion of correption before a hiatus, presented as an explanation for such prosodic doublets as Maria/Maria and Eous/Eous. (35)


Judging by the complete absence of extant manuscripts, Hrabanus Maurus's ninth-century Excerptio de arte grammatica Prisciani never won a circulation even remotely comparable to that of Bede's treatise. It has only survived to us as an early edition printed in Cologne in 1627 by George Colveneer, based on the work of Jacobus Pamelius (1536-1587). The source of the edition, on which the text in Patrologia Latina 111, col. 613-670, is also based, is a manuscript that still existed in Fulda in 1550 but has since disappeared. (36) The title of the treatise, which may not be original, is misleading, as the work is much more than a mere extract from Priscian's Institutiones: it is a handbook on prosody, with a short introduction to meter. As Louis Holtz has noted, the treatise consists of two disparate parts: the first half contains an introduction to syllables, followed by a short essay on poetics derived from Diomedes, whereas the second consists of the author's glosses to Donatus's Ars maior. The work ends with a short presentation of poetic feet and a short poem that demonstrates common syllables. Given the disjointed structure of the whole, it is difficult to say whether the text began as a dossier of loosely connected pedagogical texts or whether, on the contrary, chapters have gone missing or been misplaced in what was originally a more extensive and cohesive work. (37)

In what may be considered the principal portion of Hrabanus's treatise, much of the actual content is derived from Priscian, although the information has been thoroughly restructured along the lines of Donatus's Ars maior and Bede's discussion of prosody, which similarly followed the layout of Donatus's grammar. Although Priscian's exposition of prosody was extensive, it was impractical for Hrabanus's didactic aims, as, rather than treating syllable lengths and accentuation as a separate subject, Priscian offered his views only in passing in his presentation of declensions, conjugations, and word formation. (38) The integration of the structurally different presentations of Donatus and Priscian, supplemented by his reading of other authors, (39) forms the central innovation of Hrabanus's creative synthesis, which makes Priscian's originally disjointed observations on prosody its main theme. (40)

Hrabanus's most notable contributions can be found in his presentation of syllable rules, mainly the various methods by which the lengths of syllables can be deduced. Although the portions dealing with the syllable mainly rely on Bede's reading of Servius's De finalibus, (41) Hrabanus has fleshed them out with his own observations inspired by his reading of Priscian. In particular, his presentation of middle syllables has been extended through his adaptation of rules that Servius and Bede only apply to initial or final syllables. (42) He extends the role of exemplum (readings of earlier poetry) from initial to middle syllables, presents the rule that compound words generally retain the quantities of their root words even in the middle of the word (e.g., benevolus from bene and volo) as well as extending the regula of final syllables (lists of common suffixes) to apply to penultimate and antepenultimate syllables (e.g., -culus). (43) Although still far from anything approaching a "unified theory" of syllable prosody, Hrabanuss presentation shows considerable improvements over his sources.

Bedes prominent influence on the treatise is attributable not only to his innovative Ars metrica as a joint presentation of prosody and meter; it was probably also the direct result of his unprecedentedly normative tone. Unlike Bede, Hrabanus does not offer conflicting theories to be considered by his reader: he is only interested in the thorough exposition of what he considers to be the facts, corroborating them with an exceptionally wide choice of material. The quotations from earlier poetry show that, unlike Bede, Hrabanus did not attempt to supplant the classics with Christian authors: of the 170 quoted lines in his treatise, only twenty are of Christian origin, whereas in Bede, the situation is almost the reverse. (44) It is even more telling that, of the 36 poetic lines that are not traceable to any intermediate source, none are Christian. (45)

Hrabanus's use of Bede nevertheless suggests that he must have shared at least some of Bede's ideologically motivated views on correct and incorrect metrical practice. It is obvious that this was based on his own, as well as Bede's, belief in the seniority of Judeo-Christian learning over that of the pagans. Tellingly, Hrabanus's chapter on poetic theory (De ui ac uaria potestate metrorum) has an extensive quotation from his friend Freculf's Historia where that author more or less presents Moses as the inventor of hexameter poetry. (46) When it comes to actual poetic practice, Hrabanus nonetheless only touches on the Bedan dichotomy of "pagan" and "Christian" metrics in his presentation of common syllables, which often follows that of Bede to the letter: Bede's chapter is one of the most partisanly Christian portions of his treatise and is characterized by its reiterated comments on the differences between "ancient" and "modern" poets. Hrabanus's most conspicuous departure from his model is the toning down of Bede's polemic directed against earlier grammarians and pre-Christian authors. Hrabanus has also been critical in his adoption of some of Bede's innovations to metrical theory: in these respects, he can be seen to have reverted to the more classical practices described by earlier authors. Hrabanus's attempt to find a delicate balance between Priscian's encyclopedic views and Bede's narrowly prescriptive approach is evident throughout his discussion.


In his presentation of those common syllables where a word-internal short vowel is followed by a consonant and a liquid, Hrabanus initially quotes Bede almost word for word. (47) He also uses the Christian samples taken from Sedulius (carm. pasch. 2.209, mens tenebris obscura suis) and Juvencus (1.128, mortisque tenebras), rather than the classical quotations used by Bede's predecessors. He has, however, excised Bede's attack on Sergius's inclusion of Vergil's neve flagella, and does not discuss the invalidity of the rule when applied to word-final vowels. On the other hand, Hrabanus has expanded Bede's discussion by including the nasals m and n, which may function in a way similar to "true" liquids (l or r). Bede only mentions the letter n placed after another consonant with the caveat that it always makes position word-internally (regnum, calumnia) but never at the beginning of a word, citing the Christian Prospers nee tamen hos toto depellit foedere gnarus (epigr. 67, 3), concluding that it does not constitute a true common syllable. (48) Hrabanus makes no mention of this, deciding to ignore Bede's Christian example. Surprisingly, he presents plosives followed by nasals as a type of common syllable employed by "ancient" (prisci) poets, thereby expanding Bede's dichotomy of old and new practices:

Et sciendum quod non solum ante l uel r, sed etiam ante m et n positae mutae apud priscos poetas communes faciunt syllabas, ut Ovidius:

Piscosamque Cnidon gravidamque Amathunta metallis. (49)

[It is also to be noted that plosives, placed not only before l and r, but also before m and n, make common syllables in the ancient poets, as in Ovid's:

Piscosamque Cnidon gravidamque Amathunta metallis (Ov. met. 10.523).]

Hrabanus owes this interpolation, together with its quotation from Ovid, to Priscian's Institutiones. (50) The insertion also stands out from the portion taken from Bede because Bede nowhere states what kind of consonant may be followed by a liquid, whereas Priscian and, in this single case, Hrabanus specify plosives (mutae). The addition apud priscos poetas, nevertheless, is Hrabanus's own. This could be construed as an acknowledgement of Bede's views on pagan versus Christian metrics, but may more probably be Hrabanus's shorthand for the extensive quotations from Greek verse in Priscian's passage, which he has chosen to omit. Factually, Priscian and Hrabanus are correct, as the combination of plosive and nasal can create a common syllable even in the middle of a word in classical verse, although the feature is highly uncommon and restricted to Greek loans (Procne/Procne, ichneumon/ichneumon etc.). (51)

Hrabanus's discussion of the postclassical practice of position made by an initial h is identical with Bede's together with its quotations from Sedulius's Carmen paschale (carm. pasch. 3.84, porcinum tenuere gregem, niger, hispidus, horrens; carm. pasch. 3.296, ulr humilis maesto deiectus lumine terram). He has, however, yet again left out Bede's attack on earlier grammarians for their use of Vergil's terga fatigamus hasta. Bede's insertion is, undoubtedly, unnecessary and needlessly confrontational, and Bede's polemical tone is something that Hrabanus seems to avoid conscientiously.

Hrabanus's presentation of word-initial's groups (sc, sp, and st) is initially quoted from Bede's presentation, and his poetic citations, from Venantius Fortunatus and Sedulius, respectively, are the same. The end of his discussion of this type of common syllable, however, has been edited and arguably improved. Hrabanus has left out Bede's erroneous suggestion that an s group may not necessarily make position word-internally, based on his incorrect scansion of Mnestheus (Mne-sthe-us, rather than the correct Mnes-theus) found in Vergil. (52) The practice described by Bede is, in reality, nonexistent and apparently reflects the problems he had encountered with the prosody of Greek words together with the fact that earlier discussions of common syllables had neglected to specify the positions in which s groups may create a common syllable. (53) Hrabanus has, however, done his readers a further service by expanding his presentation to include consonant groups formed by an s together with a plosive and a liquid (scr, spr, str, etc.). This addition is taken from Priscian, by way of the Grammatica of Alcuin, Hrabanus's teacher, (54) and, remarkably, the quoted example line is from Horace:

Haec quoque s littera, aliis duabus consonantibus, id est mutae et liquidae, in principio syllabae sequentis praeposita, inueniuntur communem syilabam facere, ut Horatius, Sermon, lib. 1:

Linquimus insani ridentes praemia scribae.

[This self-same letter s is also found to make a common syllable when placed in the beginning of the following syllable and followed by two consonants, i.e., a plosive and a liquid, as in Horace, Satires 1:

Linquimus insani ridentes praemia scribae (Hor. sat. 1.5.35).]

Hrabanus's verbatim reproduction of Alcuin's presentation is simpler than that of Priscian, who dwells on the number of letters in this type of consonant compound. It may be telling that both Alcuin and Hrabanus have also left out Priscian's surprising statement that this practice is used more ueteri ("in the old way"), as they clearly viewed this as a legitimate prosodic technique and wanted to avoid subjecting it to the Bedan dichotomy of ancient and modern metrical practices. The inclusion of Horace as a valid textbook example is remarkable, as Horace, even more than Vergil and Lucan, had been carefully excised from the material quoted in Bede's treatise. (55) The ready explanation is probably the fact that Lucan and Vergil still remained a part of Bedes monastic curriculum, whereas Horace could be safely jettisoned. The reintroduction of Horace into Alcuin's and Hrabanus's presentation can be seen to reflect not only their keen interest in Priscian but also the general renaissance of Horatian verse during the Carolingian period. (56) Hrabanus's omission of Bede's innovative discussion of word-initial ps not creating a position (as in psallo) is striking: why he should have ignored this case from his discussion seems inexplicable, as Bede's observation is perfectly correct and actually relevant for poetic scansion.

Hrabanus's presentation of productio ob caesuram, or nominally short syllables lengthened by the following caesura, is, in similar fashion, taken from Bede, together with the lines from Sedulius where the word cuius is given two different scansions (carm. pasch. 1.290, cuius onus leve est; carm. pasch. 4.46 frondea ficus erat, cuius in robore nullum). However, unlike Bede, Hrabanus ends his presentation there, leaving out Bede's observation that this metrical liberty is more properly a feature of "the ancients" and therefore to be avoided. By implication, Hrabanus presents productio ob caesuram as a perfectly legitimate device and leaves the relative merits and faults of pagan and Christian prosody undiscussed.

Hrabanus's presentation of diphthongs and long vowels shortened by a hiatus is the one occasion where he actually seems to follow Bede's dichotomy of "pagan" and "Christian" techniques and even extends it so as to make it stricter. Discussing the correption of diphthongs, he cites Bede's classical specimens but adds yet another example where a diphthong is shortened word-internally, insisting that this, too, is a pagan feature:

Item modus quintus, cum pars orationis desinit in diphtongon, sequente statim altera uocali; est enim longa in hoc, ut, musae Aonides; breuis in hoc: Insulae Ionio in magno. Vergilius in vii:

Stipitibus duris agitur sudibusve praeustis. Hoc ergo modo, sicut et priore, recentiores poetae rarissime utuntur, sed magis synaloepham in eo faciunt, ut Prosper:

Non nostr(ae) hoc opis est, sed ab illo sumitur hie ros, qui siccam rupem fundere iussit aquas.

[Similarly, there is the fifth type of common syllable, where a word ends in a diphthong followed immediately by another vowel. It is long in this: musae Aonides, but short in this: Insulae Ionio in magno. Vergil, in his seventh book, writes:

Stipitibus duris agitur sudibusve praeustis (Verg. Aen. 7.524). But this, like the former, is very rarely used by the more recent poets, who prefer to make an elision, as in Prosper:

Non nostr(ae) hoc opis est, sed ab illo sumitur hie ros, qui siccam rupem fundere iussit aquas (Prosper epigr. 11.7-8)]

Hrabanus does not note that the prefix prae is almost universally scanned as short before a vowel in Latin compounds, (57) and why he should have included this as an example of "pagan" liberties is hard to fathom. Bede, on the contrary, states that "later poets" (posteriores poetae) or the composers of "our poetry" (nostratia poemata) prefer to shorten diphthongs only inside words, although he fails to provide his reader with an example of this:

Quod posteriores poetae magis in una parte orationis fieri uoluerunt. Unde nec huius exemplum facile in nostratibus poematibus inuenies. (58)

[Later poets have preferred to use this license within a single word, and therefore you will not easily find an example of this in our poetry.]

On the other hand, he does discuss the correption of prae in his chapter on the fusion and resolution of syllables and states firmly that praeeunte in Vergil's nec tota tamen ille prior praeeunte carina (Aen. 5.186) is to be scanned with a short ae, rebuking Maximus Victorinus who had postulated that elision should take place inside the word: (59)

Ita scandendum esse ratio probat, ut primo sit necto spondeus, deinde tatamen dactylus, illepri dactylus, orpraee dactylus, adbreuiata diptongo propter uocalem quae sequitur, unteca rina dactylus et spondeus, qui terminent. Quis enim audiat Victorinum docentem ut scandamus enteca rina, facientes synalipham in media parte orationis, quod numquam fecere priores? (60)

[Therefore, theory dictates that this should be scanned in the following manner: necto spondee, tatamen dactyl, illepri dactyl, orpraee dactyl, with the diphthong shortened by the following vowel, unteca rina dactyl and spondee, which end the line. For who would listen to Victorinus who teaches that we should scan enteca rina, making an elision in the middle of a word, which earlier authors never did?]

Hrabanus's assertion that the scansion of prae as short before another vowel is outmoded and avoided by "more recent poets" seems a lapse; it runs counter to both actual metrical practice and Bedes views, and as an attempt to refine Bede's presentation of common syllables it is oddly misguided. By contrast, in his discussion of long vowels shortened by a hiatus, Hrabanus follows Bede almost to the letter, stating, as does his source, that "modern versifiers" (moderni uersificatores) prefer to use the device inside a word, using Sedulius's Eous/Eous as his example. (61) Hrabanus, in other words, ends in the untenable position of defending the word-internal correption of long vowels while condemning the same practice when applied to diphthongs. This constitutes his greatest shortcoming in his paraphrase of Bede's discussion of common syllables while also underlining the rather artificial prosodic distinction between diphthongs and long vowels made by the grammarians of Late Antiquity.

Hrabanus's exposition of the variable length of nominally long vowels does not include Bede's apologetic mention of the interjection o that Arator uses before a vowel; Bede's explanation is that Arator has been "imitating ancient poets" (imitatus ueteres), underlining the impression that this is an outdated metrical feature. (62)

The rest of Hrabanus's presentation of common syllables follows closely that of Bede, together with his model's omissions and attempted improvements. He presents the pronouns hie and hoc as true common syllables but includes Bede's addition that the final syllables of adverbs ending in c (as in donec) may also be treated as common. This addition in Bede is apparently the result of a corrupt reading of Paulinus of Nola, but Hrabanus has taken it at face value. (63) Hrabanus also echoes Bede's belief that the letter x does not make a true common syllable, as it always makes position in the middle of a word but never in its beginning. This must be considered a major improvement over the presentation of x in Sergius which states that it makes a common syllable. (64)


In general, although the bulk of Hrabanus's presentation of common syllables is taken from Bede, it shows an almost complete absence of his predecessor's obsessive classification of pagan and Christian techniques. Hrabanus's observations on the differences between earlier and more recent poets, which in Bede is a circumlocution for pagan and Christian, have received an altogether different tone: they imply a belief in the evolution of poetry rather than a complete break between classical antiquity and the Christian age. The only poetic practices that he acknowledges as antiquated are common syllables where short vowels are followed by plosives and nasals (remarkably, this is his own observation, informed by his reading of Priscian and possibly his own more extensive knowledge of classical verse) and the use of hiatus, with or without correption, of a diphthong or a long vowel. This is a far cry from Bedes veritable checklist of pagan techniques that should be avoided. Undeniably, this may partly owe to the narrower scope of Hrabanus's treatise when it comes to his discussion of meter: he either had not included an actual discussion of poetic meters in his treatise, or if such a chapter existed in his original work, it has gone missing. (65) We have therefore no evidence of Hrabanus's views on, e.g., spondaic hexameter lines which Bede held to be one of the symptomatic features of pagan metrics, apart from his general avoidance of them in his own verse. (66) It is noteworthy that Hrabanus, unlike Bede, neither presents productio ob caesuram as a "pagan" feature nor exhorts his readers to avoid it. This fact, taken together with the features prominence in later medieval verse, seems to indicate that Bede's caveat was ignored in the medieval schoolroom. (67)

Hrabanus has retained some of Bede's additions to the rules governing common syllables: these include the erroneous assertion that final syllables ending in c may be common in adverbs, as well as the extension of correption at hiatus to word-internal vowels followed by another vowel. The latter is arguably useful as an explanation for the varying vowel lengths in such prosodic doublets as Eous/Eous, unius/unius, and fidei/fidei, although the feature is ultimately a minor one: in the majority of Latin words, vowels preceding other vowels are uniformly short, which the majority of grammarians of late antiquity had, however, not presented as a rule. (68)

Hrabanus's discussion of common syllables is far more moderate than his predecessor's. Bede's antipagan polemic has been almost completely excised, as have his attacks on the mistakes of earlier grammarians. Although Hrabanus, by and large, follows Bede's presentation, it is telling that where he has found it necessary to flesh it out, he has opted for exclusively classical material: he seems to suggest that his reader is free to draw on all possible sources in his study of prosody, only modestly reminding him that there have been changes in metrical practices over the course of history. Bede's implied argument that, with the onset of Christianity, poetic expression also underwent major renovation no longer plays a central role in his discussion.

Hrabanus's views on classical literature seem to have followed the lines of the Christian apologists of Late Antiquity. In his De clericorum institutione, a guidebook on the instruction of clerics, he stresses that, although the content of pagan works inevitably must be rejected as potentially dangerous, they are worthy of study for their flos eloquentiae. (69) As such, they provide material for Christian literature, and it is specifically their aesthetic merits that make them worthy of study. (70) Hrabanus's views present a middle course between a wholesale rejection of pagan models and their uncritical acceptance, and seem to echo Augustine's widely circulated allegory of the gold and silver of the Egyptians being used in the construction of the Temple of the Lord. (71) They also reflect Cassiodorus's views on the necessity of the humanae litterae for the study of the diuinae litterae. It is telling that Hrabanuss teacher Alcuin paraphrases Cassiodorus in the introduction to his grammar, where, in an allusion to Proverbs 9:1, he casts the liberal arts as the "seven pillars of wisdom" that are indispensable for biblical studies. (72) As the value of the pre-Christian classics was, for the Carolingians, primarily aesthetic, there was no need for them to stress their aesthetic inferiority to Christian literature as Bede had done. For their agenda, a sharp dichotomy between "pagan" and "Christian" prosody and metrics had become superfluous. The goal of the Carolingian reform, addressed by Hrabanus, was the refinement of liturgical speech, and in this process classical and Christian sources were granted equal validity, at least as far as form rather than content was concerned. Although Hrabanus acknowledges that there do exist prosodic differences between classical and Christian poets, this does not detract from the overall value of the classics' flos eloquentiae and does not constitute a reflection of the inferiority of their content--which he otherwise takes for granted.

It is obvious that, despite his reservations, Bede accepted the necessity of instruction in the classics, although he felt compelled to emphasize their essential inferiority to Christian literature. This applied mainly to Vergil and possibly Lucan, who apparently still constituted a central author in the Anglo-Saxon school curriculum, whereas other pagan authors could be safely ignored. Bede's aesthetic starting point was the hypothesis that pagan content must, inevitably, be reflected in outward manifestations of style and meter, and, consequently, he devoted huge amounts of energy to proving his point. Although Martin Irvine has stated that Bede "knew Vergil quite well and succeeded in neutralizing the poet of his pagan associations," (73) Bede's constant harping on Vergil's prosodic faults would indicate that, in his view, the pagan associations existed even in the outward form of Vergil's poetry. (74)

No such sentiment is apparent in Hrabanus's presentation of prosody and verse. Classical verse is, for him, raw material to be freely used. (75) It is telling that Hrabanus is known to have composed hymns after the metrical model of Horace's Odes. The very meters employed in these poems are something that Bede deliberately left out of his presentation of poetic meters as pagan, (76) whereas for Hrabanus, meter or prosody itself could not be pagan or Christian. The superiority of Christian literature was based primarily on its content, whereas the value of pagan authors rested solely on their aesthetic achievement. Nothing encapsulates Hrabanus's views better than a passage from a poem that he addressed to an anonymous friend with literary ambitions:
   Carmina nempe tua dico meliora Maronis
     carminibus, celsi cantibus Ouidii,
   odis quas cecinit Flaccus, uerbosus Homerus
     Corduba quern genuit, Affrica quern tenuit.
   Hi quia protulerant pomposis falsa Camenis
     rite tabescentes morsibus inuidiae.
   Tu deuota piis connectis uincula uerbis,
     decantans placide pectora arnica notas. (77)

   [For I declare your poems to be better than Vergil's,
   Loftier than Ovid's songs,
   Or the odes sung by Flaccus or the wordy Homer
   Or the one begotten by Cordoba but held by Africa (Lucan?).
   For they had propagated the falsehoods of the pompous Muses,
   Rightly perishing from the bites of envy.
   But you forge chains of devotion from pious words,
   Singing peacefully of loving hearts.]

This is obviously an outrageous piece of flattery, and the letters denigration of pagan culture is a Late Antique commonplace. Nevertheless, the idea behind it is apparent: for its perfection, poetry must be truthful and pious. The main shortcoming of pagan authors is the fact that they are pagan, and, for all their achievements, they are easily surpassed by a competent Christian poet on the merits of his proper ethos. Structure and form as such can neither redeem nor condemn an author.

University of Helsinki


(1) Ed. Migne, Patrologia Latina (hereafter PL) 111, 613-70.

(2) Gramm. 2.1-3.377; especially gramm. 2.44.1.-3.6.

(3) Franz Brunholzl, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters 1: Von Cassiodor bis zum Ausklang der karolingischen Erneuerung (Munchen: Fink, 1975), 330-31; Maria Rissel, Rezeption antiker und patristischer Wissenschaft bei Hrabanus Maurus: Studien zu karolingischer Geistesgeschichte, Lateinische Sprache und Literatur des Mittelalters 7 (Bern: Herbert Lang, 1976), 76-162; Jurgen Leonhardt, Dimensio syllabarum: Studien zur lateinischen Prosodie- und Verslehre von der Spatantike bis zurfruhen Renaissance: mit einer ausfuhrlichen Quellenverzeichnis bis zum Jahr 1600, Hypomnemata: Untersuchungen zur Antike und zu ihrem Nachleben 92 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989), 77-79.

(4) On the circulation and influence of Bede's treatise, see, e.g., George H. Brown, A Companion to Bede, Anglo-Saxon Studies 12 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2009), 22; Joshua A. Westgard, "Bede in the Carolingian Age and Beyond," in The Cambridge Companion to Bede ed. Scott DeGregorio (Cambridge U. Press, 2010), 201-15.

(5) Hier. epist. 22.30.

(6) Hier. epist. 70. Jerome's reasoning is echoed, and even expanded, in Cassiodorus's Institutiones (1.17.2), where he presents the litterae humanae (i.e., classical literature) as a propaedeutic to litterae diuinae (the study of the Bible), going beyond Jerome's focus on classical rhetoric. See Harald Hagendahl, Latin Fathers and the Classics: A Study on the Apologists, Jerome and Other Christian Writers, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis 64.2 (Gothenburg, 1958), 312; Mark Vessey, "From Cursus to Ductus: Figures of Writing in Western Late Antiquity," in Patrick Cheney and Frederick Alfred de Armas, eds., European Literary Careers: The Author from Antiquity to the Renaissance (U. of Toronto Press, 2002), 47-103, at 79-80.

(7) Hier. praef. Vulg. lob; Cassiod. in psalm. 118.23-26; Arator ad Vigil. 80-81; Isid. orig. 1.39.11. The Jewish Josephus had already made similar claims in his Jewish Antiquities (2.346 and 4.165), apparently to impress his gentile readers with the antiquity of his heritage.

(8) Ernst R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton U. Press, 1953), 421-22.

(9) Roger P. H. Green, Latin Epics of the New Testament: Juvencus, Sedulius, Arator (Oxford U. Press, 2006), 373-84.

(10) Vivien Law, "Irish Symptoms and the Provenance of Sixth- and Seventh-Century Latin Grammars," in Essays toward a History of Linguistic Theories, ed. Sylvain Auroux, Michel Glatigny, Andre Joly, Anne Nicolas, and Irene Rosier (Universite de Lille, 1984), 77-85, 82.

(11) "De arte metrica et de schematibus et tropis" (hereafter DAM), ed. C. B. Kendall, in Bedae Venerabilis opera: Opera didascalica 1, Corpus Christianorum: Series Latina 123A, ed. Charles W. Jones (Turnhout: Brepols, 1977), 59-171.

(12) James J. Murphy, Rhetoric in the Middle Ages: A History of Rhetorical Theory from Saint Augustine to the Renaissance (U. of California Press, 1974), 79; Leonhardt, Dimensio syllabarum, 75-77.

(13) Vivien Law, The Insular Latin Grammarians, Studies in Celtic History 3 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1982), 30-31. Law mentions isolated examples of Judeo-Christian vocabulary in Priscian (Daniel, at gramm. 2.214.15) and Pompeius (pascha, at gramm. 5.177.4) and the "Christianized" discussion of grammar in the presentations of the liberal arts in the works of Augustine, Cassiodorus, and Isidore.

(14) What Vivien Law calls the "Christian Ars minor" no longer exists as such, but it can be reconstructed from its sixth- and seventh-century Irish adaptations. See Louis Holtz, "Irish Grammarians and the Continent in the Seventh Century," in Columbanus and Merovingian Monasticism, ed. Howard B. Clarke and Mary Brennan (Oxford: B.A.R., 1981), 135-52; Law, Insular Latin Grammarians, 33.

(15) Louis Holtz, Donat et la tradition de lenseignement grammatical: etude sur l'Ars Donati et sa diffusion (IVe-IXe siecle) et edition critique, Documents, etudes et repertoires (Paris: Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 1981), 219-328, esp. 301-10, Law, Insular Latin Grammarians, 33-34. Linguistic evidence suggests that, although the surviving texts of this type are of Irish provenance, they are based on continental models.

(16) Law, "Irish Symptoms," 82.

(17) Michael Lapidge, "Poetic Technique, Latin," in The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Michael Lapidge, John Blair, Simon Keynes, and Donald Scragg (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 372-73.

(18) See Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 4.2 (p. 332); Neil Wright, "Appendix: Aldhelm's Prose Writings on Metrics," in Aldhelm: The Poetic Works, ed. Michael Lapidge and James L. Rosier (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1981), 181-219, at 183.

(19) Aldhelmi Opera ed. Rudolf Ehwald, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi 15 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1919), 33-204; trans. Wright in "Appendix: Aldhelm's Prose Writings." The two treatises, De metris and De pedum regulis, together with a collection of hexameter riddles (Enigmata), form the monumental Epistula ad Acircium, addressed to King Aldfrith of Northumbria.

(20) See Wright, "Appendix: Aldhelms Prose Writings," 183-90; Carin Ruff, "The Place of Metrics in Anglo-Saxon Latin Education: Aldhelm and Bede," JEGP 104 (2005): 149-70.

(21) See Seppo Heikkinen, "Bedes De arte metrica and the Origins of Early Medieval Metre," in Latin vulgaire-latin tardif VI: Actes du Vie colloque international sur le latin vulgaire et tardif. Helsinki, 29 aout-2 septembre 2000, eds. Heikki Solin, Martti Leiwo, and Hilla Halla-aho (Hildesheim: Olms, 2003), 173-82; Seppo Heikkinen, The Christianisation of Latin Metre: A Study of Bede's De arte metrica (Helsinki: Unigrafia, 2012), 9-11.

(22) DAM 16 (pp. 129-31); Heikkinen, The Christianisation of Latin Metre, 126-34.

(23) DAM 3 (pp. 88-94). For a more extensive discussion of the chapter, see Heikkinen, The Christianisation of Latin Metre, 24-49.

(24) DAM 3.2-4 (p. 88): "Communes autem syllabae modis hunt nouem, quibus aut naturaliter longae poetica licentia in breues aut naturaliter breues transferuntur in longas" [Common syllables can be formed in nine ways so that either naturally long syllables are transformed into short ones by poetic license, or short syllables into long ones].

(25) For a prosopography of the Late Antique grammarians, see Robert A. Raster, Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity, The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 11 (U. of California Press, 1989), 231-440.

(26) Julian of Toledo's presentation of common syllables in his Ars grammatica similarly contains quotations from Christian authors, but his presentation does not reflect on any differences between "Christian" and "pagan" usage. See Ars Iuliani Toletani Episcopi: Una gramatica latina de la Espana visigoda: Estudio y edicion critica, ed. Maria A. H. Maestre Yenes, Publicaciones del Instituto provincial de investigaciones y estudios Toledanos, ser. 2, Vestigios del Pasado, vol. 5 (Toledo, 1973), 130.4-133.5.

(27) DAM 16.22-32 (p. 131). Such cases are highly uncommon even in classical verse and generally follow Greek models. Bede, rather unfairly, uses Vergil's formulaic lappaeque tribolique (georg. 1.153) and Eurique Zephyrique (georg. 1.352) as examples. It must also be noted that position made by a word-initial plosive and liquid is exceedingly common in the works of some Christian authors, most prominently Venantius Fortunatus and Bede's immediate forerunner Aldhelm. See D. S. Raven, Latin Metre: An Introduction (London: Faber & Faber, 1965), 24-25; Andy Orchard, The Poetic Art of Aldhelm, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 8 (Cambridge U. Press, 1994), 75.

(28) DAM 3.28-34 (p. 89); Raven, Latin Metre, 24. Poets of the classical age generally avoid placing short final vowels before initial-s groups altogether, and there appears to have been no general consensus on their proper lengths in the few instances where they do appear. Both a long scansion (e.g., Catull. 64.186: nulla spes) and a short one (Verg. Aen. 9.209: ponite spes) have been documented.

(29) Dag Norberg, Introduction a l'etude de la versification latine medievale, Acta universitatis Stockholmiensis, Studia Latina Stockholmiensia 5 (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wicksell, 1958), 7. See, e.g., Charisius, Flavii Sosipatri Charisii Artis grammaticae libri V, ed. Karl Barwick (Leipzig: Teubner, 1925), 11.18 (= gramm. 1.14.6), Sergius gramm. 4.479.2, Servius gramm. 4.424.15-16.

(30) DAM 3.21-24 (p. 89): "Vbi item quidam grammaticorum dubium ponunt exemplum, 'terga fatigamus hasta.' Nam etsi h non sequeretur, mus tamen esse posset longa poetica licentia, quia plenis pedibus superfuit ..." [Here some grammarians present the dubious example 'terga fatigamus hasta.' For even if h did not follow mus, it could still be long by poetic license, because it is left over after complete feet].

(31) Mallius Theodorus, Malli Theodori De metris, ed. Francesca Romanini, Biblioteca Weidmanniana: Collectanea grammatica Latina 4 (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2007), 11.17-19 (= gramm. 4.787.15-17).

(32) DAM 3.60-64 (pp. 90-91): "Quod genus syllabae inter longas uel omnino refugiendum uel parcissime usurpandum est. Unde et in recentioribus poetis non facile eius inuenies exemplum, quamuis et apud Vergilium non rarissimum, apud Homerum uero frequentissimum reperiatur" [This type of long syllable is either to be avoided altogether or used very sparingly. Therefore, you will not find an example of it in more recent poets, although it can be found not seldom in Vergil and very often indeed in Homer]. Mallius's statement obviously reflects the literary tastes of his period, but Bede has appropriated it as a weapon for his own pro-Christian agenda. Productio ob caesuram seems, indeed, to have lost popularity in the postclassical period but is conspicuously common in much medieval verse, despite Bede's warning. See Paul Klopsch, Einfuhrung in die mittelalterliche Verslehre (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1972), 74-75.

(33) DAM 3.8-12 (p. 88): "In quo Sergius modo iniusto utitur exemplo, 'neue flagella.' Flagellum enim in capite uerbi habet liquidam litteram consonanti subiectam, quae positio numquam breuem natura syllabam uerbi praecedentis potest facere longam" [Here Sergius uses inappropriately the example 'neve flagella.' The beginning of flagellum, namely, has a liquid placed after a consonant, and this position can never make a naturally short syllable of the previous word long]; see Sergius at gramm. 4.478.29.

(34) DAM 3.41-42 (p. 89-90); see Pompeius at gramm. 5.109.9-10.

(35) DAM 3.81-87 (p. 92).

(36) Karl Christ, Die Bibliothek des Klosters Fulda im 16. Jahrhundert, Zentralblatt fur Bibliothekswesen, Beiheft 64 (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1933), 158, 248, and 253; Louis Holtz, "Raban Maur et l'Excerptio de arte grammatica Prisciani," in Raban Maur et son temps, ed. Philippe Depreux, Stephane Lebecq, Michel Jean-Louis Perrin, and Olivier Szerwiniack, Haut Moyen Age 9 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), 203-18.

(37) Holtz, "Raban Maur et l'Excerptio," 210-13. Holtz suggests plausibly, relying on internal evidence, that the list of poetic feet at the end of the treatise could originally have bridged the sections on syllables and poetics in the first portion of the text.

(38) Leonhardt, Dimensio syllabarum, 67.

(39) On Hrabanus's sources, see Paul Lehmann, "Zu Hrabans geistiger Bedeutung," in Erforschung des Mittelalters 3, ed. Paul Lehmann (Stuttgart: A. Hiersemann, 1960), 198-212; Rissel, Rezeption antiker und patristischer Wissenschaft bei Hrabanus Maurus, 103-16; Holtz, "Raban Maur et l'Excerptio," 206, esp. on Hrabanus's use of Hiberno-Latin sources.

(40) Rissel, Rezeption antiker und patristischer Wissenschaft bei Hrabanus Maurus, 94.

(41) Servius gramm. 4.449-55.

(42) Servius and Bede only recognize three rules for middle syllables: "Medias syllabas tribus modis cognoscimus, positione et diptongis et accentu" [We can recognize middle syllables in three ways: by position, diphthong and accent], Servius, gramm. 4.451.9-10; Bede, DAM, 98.

(43) Leonhardt, Dimensio syllabarum, 78-79.

(44) Rissel, Rezeption antiker und patristischer Wissenschaft bei Hrabanus Maurus, 120.

(45) Rissel, Rezeption antiker und patristischer Wissenschaft bei Hrabanus Maurus, 121. Obviously, the figure is inflated by the fact that we no longer have all the secondary sources that Hrabanus had at his disposal; see Holtz, "Raban Maur et l'Excerptio," 216.

(46) Holtz, "Raban Maur et l'Excerptio," 213-14; PL 111, 666; Freculf at PL 106, 952D: "Nam Moyses qui Exodi et Deutoronomii cantica exametro (sicut Josephus et Origines scribunt) conposuit, ab omnibus quos Graeci antiquissimos putant, senior deprehenditur" [For Moses, who composed the cantica of the Exodus and Deuteronomy in the hexameter, as Josephus and Origen write, is understood to be senior to all those authors whom the Greeks hold to be the most ancient]. Bede makes similar claims (DAM, 110), apparently basing them on the authority of Jerome and Cassiodorus.

(47) DAM, 3.4-6 (p. 88); PL 111, 620: ..cum correpta uocalis in eodem uerbo a duabus excipitur consonantibus, quorum posterior sit liquida" [... where a short vowel is followed in the same word by two consonants, the second of which is a liquid].

(48) DAM 3.126-38 (pp. 93-94).

(49) PL 111, 620.

(50) Gramm. 2.51.28-52.10.

(51) See, e.g., William Ramsay, A Manual of Latin Prosody (London: C. Griffin, 1859), 12.

(52) DAM 3.42-51 (p. 90); Verg. Aen. 5.189. Hrabanus alludes to Bede's presentation with thinly veiled skepticism in his chapter on letters: "Hanc et aliquando in medio uerbo alteri consonanti praepositam liquentium more disperire quidam dicunt, ut in illo Vergilii: 'Hortatur Mnesteus, nunc nunc insurgite remis'" [Some claim that the letter s, when placed before another consonant, may disappear in the manner of liquids even sometimes in the middle of the word, as in the line by Vergil: 'Hortatur Mnesteus, nunc nunc insurgite remis'] PL 111, 617. The manuscripts of DAM as well as the text of the Excerptio have the spelling Mnesteus (rather than the correct Mnestheus).

(53) E.g., Sergius gramm. 4.47.3-4.

(54) Prise, gramm. 2.52.13-18; PL 101, 857.

(55) Michael Lapidge has identified no more than four quotations from Horace in all of Bede's works. Of these only one (ars 65) is used in his De arte metrica. Even if we assume that Bede had no firsthand knowledge of Horace's works, this must be considered a deliberate omission, as Horace is one of the most frequently cited authors in Bede's sources on prosody and meter; see Michael Lapidge, The Anglo-Saxon Library (Oxford U. Press, 2006), 212.

(56) See Karsten Friis-Jensen, "The Reception of Horace in the Middle Ages," in The Cambridge Companion to Horace, ed. Stephen Harrison (Cambridge U. Press, 2007), 291-304.

(57) Ramsay, A Manual of Latin Prosody, 8. Exceptions to this practice are few and, admittedly, postclassical. Ramsay cites praeiret in Statius, praeesse in Sidonius Apollinaris and praeoptare in Martianus Capella, contending that "such examples are, of course, worth nothing."

(58) DAM 3.68-70 (p. 91).

(59) Maximus Victorinus at gramm. 6.218.16-25.

(60) DAM 13.66-72 (p. 121).

(61) DAM 3.81-83 (p. 92); PL 111, 621: "Quern modum moderni uersificatores magis in eadem potius parte orationis facere consueuerunt, ut 'Eoi uenere magi' et 'splendidus auctoris de vertice fulget Eous'" [This is something which modern versifiers prefer to do in the middle of a word, as in 'Eoi uenere magi' and 'splendidus auctoris de vertice fulget Eous']; Sedul. carm. pasch. 2.74; 5.191.

(62) DAM 3.93-96 (p. 92).

(63) DAM 3.103-5 (p. 92); PL 111, 621. Bede and Hrabanuscite Paulinus's donec et adspirante Deo conatibus aegris (Paulin. 15.299) in the form donec aspirante Deo.

(64) Gramm. 4.479.25-26: "Sciendum est etiam quod et x communem syllabam facit, sicut et z Graecum" [It is to be noted that x also makes a common syllable, as does the Greek z].

(65) In his chapter on the history of poetics (De ui ac uaria potestate metrorum), Hrabanus makes the vague promise that he will also discuss poetic meters: "Sed de his plenius in sequentibus, cum de speciebus metrorum scripserimus, dicemus" [But we shall discuss this at greater length in the following part when we have written on the types of meter]. PL 111,666. According to Holtz ("Raban Maur et l'Excerptio," 214-15), this cannot necessarily be taken at face value: "... toute cette partie du second livre est perdue ... a moins que Hraban [sic] ne l'ait jamais ecrite."

(66) See Seppo Heikkinen, "Quae non habet intellectum: The Disappearance of Spondaic Fifth Feet from Dactylic Hexameter Verse," in Interfaces between Language and Culture in Medieval England: A Festschrift for Matti Kilpid, ed. Alaric Hall, Olga Timofeeva, Agnes Kiricsi, and Bethany Fox, The Northern World 48 (Boston: Brill, 2008), 95-96.

(67) Klopsch, Einfuhrung in die mittelalterliche Verslehre, 74-76.

(68) The major exception is Priscian, gramm. 2.465.26: "raro enim in Latinis dictionibus uocalem paenultimam ante alteram uocalem productam inuenies" [Namely, you will rarely find in Latin words a long penultimate vowel before another vowel]. The principle now universally known as uocalis ante uocalem corripitur seems to have been in the making for a long period of time; see Leonhardt, Dimensio syllabarum, 67.

(69) Hrabanus Maurus, De institutione clericorum libri tres: Studien und Edition, ed. Detlev Zimpel, Freiburger Beitrage zur mittelalterlichen Geschichte: Studien und Texte 7 (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1996).

(70) Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200 (Cambridge U. Press, 1998), 127-28; Amando Bisanti, "Scopi e funzioni dell'insegnamento grammaticale in Rabano Mauro e in Remigio d'Auxerre," Schede medievali 45 (2007): 103-46; Lynda L. Coon, Dark Age Bodies: Gender and Monastic Practice in the Early Medieval West (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 27.

(71) Aug. doctr. christ. 2.40.

(72) PL 101, 853B. See also Mark E. Amsler, Etymology and Grammatical Discourse in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, ser. 3, Studies in the History of the Language Sciences, 44 (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1989), 220; Gernot Wieland, "Alcuin's Ambiguous Attitude Towards the Classics," Journal of Medieval Latin 2 (1992), 84-95.

(73) Martin Irvine, "Bede the Grammarian and the Scope of Grammatical Studies in Anglo-Saxon England," Anglo-Saxon England 15 (1986): 15-45, 39.

(74) See also Seppo Heikkinen, "Vergilian Quotations in Bede's De arte metrica," Journal of Medieval Latin 17 (2007): 101-9.

(75) Tellingly, in poem 1 of his cycle De laudibus Sanctae Crucis (PL 107,137-294), a picture-poem adaptation of Isidore's list of the names of Christ (orig. 7.2), Hrabanus has freely supplemented his source both with classical expressions (e.g., tela Martial' the arms of Mars") and ones adopted from liturgical texts. Also, he conspicuously alters biblical expressions to accommodate his metrical form, rather than doing the opposite, although such a course is sanctioned in Bede's discussion of poetic licenses in DAM 15 (pp. 127-29). See Michel Jean-Louis Perrin, "D'Isidore de Seville a Raban Maur: de la prose a la prose en passant par la poesie," Helmantica 45 (1994): 543-55.

(76) At the conclusion of his treatise (DAM 24.4-9, p. 138), Bede refers his reader to Marius Servius's De centum metris in case he wants to be acquainted with meters that he has not discussed, stating that he himself did not want to use the text because of its pagan nature ("quae, quia pagana erant, nos tangere non libuit").

(77) Ernst Dummler, ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historical Poetae Latini aevi Carolini 2 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1884), 172.
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Author:Heikkinen, Seppo
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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