Зображення сторінки

cate, their ear more refined, their taste more ex. quisite, than ours, and we shall soon confess, that they may have had other means of marking the quantity than our clumsy substitute of misplacing the accent. For instance, we may well suppose that Plato would make the first syllable of èpyu long by giving full effect first to the P and then to the r, as an Italian would in the word ver. gine. Not that I think the Greeks in ordinary discourse marked these syllables so strongly as the Italians; but, on a solemn and mournful occasion, an enunciation might be excused and applauded, which perhaps in common life would sound pedantic: then to produce the second syl. lable, the orator would not content himself with the simple pronunciation of the 2, but would continue the sound, like a singer holding a note, for some time, with a protracted action of the breath. So Quinctilian, speaking of the manner in which a passage is to be delivered : “ Plenius adhuc et lentius ideoque dulcius, IN CÆTU. Producenda omnia, trahendæque tum vocales, aperiendæque sunt fauces.” (xi. 3. 167.) These comments of Dionysius serve as an illustration of the passage from the same author already adverted to (p. 1671, where he says that rhythm changes the natural time or quantity of syllables. Dr. Gally, indeed, considers the passage as showing that “ the accents that were first used were agreeable to quantity.” (p. 110.) But an attentive consideration of the whole context will show that ac

cent is neither mentioned nor intended in the passage. Dionysius is speaking of four different things in composition, tone, rhythm, variety and propriety. All these four subsist in prose compositions as well as in vocal and instrumental music, though in a less degree. He first illustrates the difference between the range which music takes, from that allowed in common discourse, by his instance of the σιγα σιγα λευκόν, where he shows how music interferes with the natural accent; and then he goes on shortly to say, that rhythm in a similar way interferes with the natural quantity of syllables ; and his reason for not staying to give an instance was probably that he intended to do so in a subsequent section, which he has accordingly done by his analysis of Thucydides and Plato.

It may perhaps be said, that this power, which Dionysius gives to the orator, of altering the quantity of syllables to make them suit the times which he thought convenient, proves too much : that if he had been gifted with this apparently unbounded licence, he would have been relieved from the necessity of selecting words with long or short syllables, as he might at pleasure have produced the one or the other by dwelling a long or a short time on the syllables which he was pronouncing. The answer seems to be, that he was restrained in his choice of words partly by public opinion, which may have been as effectual a check over rhetorical as over other despotisms, and partly by the nature of the thing itself; as it would perhaps be scarcely possible to give to such passages as “anonpóßar' anón pole koirac,” or "animula vagula blandula,” long-drawn times, without making them unintelligible.

It may be observed, that the Roman orators paid as much attention to quantity in their speeches as the Greek. This we may collect from numerous passages in the treatise de Ora. tore. Quinctilian, speaking of the different kinds of feet of which prose as well as verse is composed, says, “ Et quidem Ciceronem sequar, nam is eminentissimos Græcorum est secutus.” (ix. 4. 79.) It is obvious, from the nature of the thing, as well as clear from the former observations, that the orator might lengthen the second syllable of épyą, without reference to its accent; for if he could not, it was perfectly immaterial whether it was written έργω or έργο ; and instead of έργω uèv having the effect of a bacchic foot, it would sound like a dactyl. So he might give the full effect to the long syllable of exovor without laying the accent on it; and in a poonkorta, let him lay the accent on which of the syllables he would, the other syllable would require to be made equal to it in length.

And here it may not be unworthy of observation, that, though Dionysius points our particular attention to the quantity of the passage in Plato, we can hardly suppose that less attention was paid to the accents. We find épyw and nuiv va


rying in accent; and the last three words, apoo. nkovta opioiv avtoic, with three different accents. Can this be the result of mere accident? Or is it not more probable, that we have here a specimen of that “ beguiling variety of accent," which Dionysius praises and Quinctilian envies, but which the modern scholar, by pronouncing a poo. nkóvta opiow aüroic, unconsciously destroys ?

It has been already remarked, that probably in ordinary discourse the quantity would be less studiously preserved than in oratory: but perbaps a practised orator would carry even into common life the habit of marking the distinction between long and short syllables in such a way as would at once distinguish him from unedu. cated persons: and this distinction would per. haps be more perceptible in syllables long by usage than by position. For instance, if there were a trifling difference between the manner in which an educated and an uneducated man pronounced åv pwrog, such difference would be more likely to be in the second syllable than in the first. Neither of them could pronounce the first syllable intelligibly, without giving such effect to the consonants of which it is composed as must make that a long syllable. But we cannot say so of the 2 in the second syllable. The vulgar might pass over that with such rapidity as to make the word sound like a dactyl, and yet make it quite intelligible. But the man of education, who had paid habitual attention to the

proper mode of pronunciation, and still more the orator, who had studied sounds, and experienced their effects on the ears of his audience, would remember that the vowel of the second syllable was long, and would pronounce it as such, though without pedantry or affectation, yet in a manner which would at once convey the right quantity to the ear, and preserve an agreeable contrast between the 12 of the second and the O of the third syllable.


7. It is not so easy to determine, with any degree of precision, the manner in which the quantity was preserved in poetry. The principles, indeed, must have been the same in poetry as in prose; and in both the manner of marking quantity must have been by dwelling a long time on the long syllables. In poetry too, as in prose, there must have been ample room for the display of taste and judgement in the selection of words with a quantity suitable to the subject: for instance, where the nurse of Medea is lamenting the flight of her mistress from her native country, she describes the uncontrolled passion which hurried her away in terms as rapid :

Epwri Qupov éka Nayeio' Idcovos. (Euripid. Medea, v. 8.) When Electra receives the urn, which she believes to contain her brother's ashes, the poet has not been so unmindful of his art or of his reputation,

« НазадПродовжити »