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But besides this difference in the quantity of syllables, which results from necessity, or, as I shall benceforth call it, from position, there is a further difference, which seems merely arbitrary. It appears that the Greeks made the first syllable of divov shorter than that of divn. Why? Not from necessity certainly, but because so it sounded well to the ears of those patriarchs, were they Aboriginals, Egyptians, or Pelasgians, who first spoke the language. The distinction seems purely arbitrary, and must be referred to usage alone. Every vowel, therefore, which is longer than another, is so either by position or by usage. The grammarians indeed tell us that some vowels are short, and some long, by nature: for instance, they say that the first syllable of wòr is long by nature: why? because it is written with an , which is always a long vowel. But we should recollect that it is not long because it is written with an e, but it is written with an 2 to show that it is long. Before the invention of that letter, usage, and usage alone, must have settled the quantity. Nor can we give any reason for o òv being long, while oo8òc is short, but that usage would have it so. But usage having so fixed it, and after ages having invented a mode of writing which distinguishes a long O from a short one, we find why written with an 12, and boòg with an O. The first vowel of divn is always long; why may it not be called long by nature as correctly as the first of wóv? There is no difference in the cases, except that the Greeks do not happen to have invented any mode of writing a long I differently from a short one. Suppose such an invention, and the long I to have been written J, we should have written the word d'un, and said that the first syllable was long by nature, forgetting that it is really long by usage, and that there is no reason in the nature of things why divn should be long and divov short. And further, the very syllables which we call long by nature are often made short, and the syllables which we call short by nature are made long: the first syllable of otoà is usually short ; but it is used long by Aristophanes (Eccles. 676). So the first of lwn is usually long; but it is made short by Euripides (Hecuba, 1090).- How can these syllables be said to be lorg or short by nature ? I shall, therefore, to avoid the confusion which this expression might introduce, consider all vowels, however written, which are not influenced as to their quantity by position, to be influenced by usage. We have seen that the quantity of vowels depending upon position varies gradu. ally; and there can scarcely be a doubt but that there was the same variety in those vowels which depend upon usage. The scholiast on Dionysius Thrax mentions a controversy between two no less critics than Apollonius and his son Herodian as to which of the vowels E or 0 was the shorter. (Bekker, Anecdot. Græc. p. 798.) And Dionysius of Halicarnassus lays it down as a general pro
position, that there is no exact scale or nature of the length of syllables, but that of the long syllables some are longer, and of the short, some are shorter than others : Μήκους δε και βραχύτητος συλλαβών ου μία φύσις, αλλά και μακρότεραί τινές εισι των μακρών και βραχύτεραι των Bpaxelwr. (xv. 104.) And Quinctilian in almost the same words : “ Sit in hoc quoque aliquid fortasse momenti, quod et longis longiores et brevibus sunt breviores syllabæ.” (ix. 4. 84.) Thus the scale of the length of syllables must have been varied by position and usage, and therefore further varied by a combination of both. As, for instance, take the first syllable of wòv to be as long as that of a groc, that of lévn would be about equal to that of a v pwrog, which we have represented by the number (7), then wyúylog would be (8), ūpoog (supposing such a word) would be (9), wyproc (10), flog (11), and üv pwo TOG (12). If, again, of the long vowels some were longer, and of the short some were shorter than others, we should have a fresh scale of quan. tities : as, for instance, suppose the H to be shorter than the 12, then the first syllable of ήγαγον would be longer than that of άγαμος, but shorter than that of wyúyloc: and so perhaps that of άλυρος may have been shorter than that of όλος, and that of élapoc shorter than either. Besides this, I have probably omitted some degrees in the scale of syllables made long by position; as, for instance, the A in ảotip may have been longer or
shorter than the A in a floc. It is perhaps scarcely necessary to say that these numbers have been adopted to explain the variety of quantities : it is by no means intended that any person would in ordinary discourse dwell twelve times as long on the first syllable of üvOpwtog as on that of undna. But it appears, not only from the authority of Dionysius, but from the nature of things, that from the shortest vowel standing by itself, to the longest vowel combined with the greatest number of consonants, there is a gradual scale of length from which a great variety in the quantity of syllables must inevitably result. This variety in the length of syllables furnisbes, us with an additional argument against Primatt's reasoning, that the acute accent, by giving time to the syllable on which it falls, would spoil the quantity of poetry. I have endeavoured to show that the acute accent does not in truth give any time at all to the syllable on which it falls. But admitting that the accent gives some time, does it give sufficient time to disqualify the syllable on which it falls from being used in verse as a short one? For unless it do so, Primatt's argument of the incompatibility of the accent with verse fails entirely. Admitting, for argument's sake, that in the word éri the first syllable is longer than the other, and that it is made so, if you please, by the extension or time which the acute gives it, this by no means shows that it is to be accounted a long syllable: “sunt brevibus breviores ;' the first syllable is still short, though the second be shorter.
QUANTITY IN COMMON DISCOURSE. 5. The next question is, how the Greeks expressed the quantity of their syllables in common discourse, in oratory, and in poetry.
And first of common discourse. The first object of speech is to communicate our thoughts, and the greater part of mankind naturally enough limit their use of speech to that object, without any considerations of rhythm or harmony; and it is difficult to believe that the Greeks, with all their fine taste, did otherwise : we may suppose that an Athenian, in the time of classic purity, who was busy in the vegetable market, would be thinking more of how many onions he could get for an obolus, than whether the second syllable of kpouuuwv was long or short. But still he would unconsciously attach the proper quantity to each word, however trivial the subject on which he was speaking: he would thus dwell longer on the IN than on the MY, though he would not trouble himself, while engaged in counting the onions, about the exact time which each syllable ought to occupy. That the Romans also had the power of marking the difference between long and short vowels as such, is proved, if proof can be thought needful, by that passage in Suetonius, in which he describes Nero as pun. ning on the death of Claudius. “Nam et morari