[Milton-L] Metrics of "And Tiresias and Phineus Prophets old."
ramalhoerick at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Mar 16 13:49:47 EDT 2010
point is not (of course not) that Milton uses the whole cumbersome
classical prosody, with quantitative feet (including amphibrachs and
rare), but that he makes expressive use of both accent and quantity, and
tell the difference between them'
indeed, but sometimes even Milton's Latin verse (as most of best early modern Neo-Latin poetry) tends now and then to sway on the accentual rather than on the quantitative side, which, however, is most certainly a matter of choice, not one of confusion or deviation from Classical modes.
--- On Tue, 16/3/10, John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca> wrote:
From: John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Metrics of "And Tiresias and Phineus Prophets old."
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Tuesday, 16 March, 2010, 14:15
Michael Gillum asks:
Did Milton make a clear distinction between quantity and stress-accent?
He writes of "fit quantity of syllables" in English verse. As Derek Attridge
shows in Well-Weigh'd Syllables, thinking about English versification
during the Renaissance was thoroughly muddled.
There certainly is evidence that such a muddle existed (it can still be found
as late as Johnson's Rambler 1751 essays on Milton's prosody), but I would be
cautious of leaping to the conclusion that everyone confused quantity with
accent. Dryden in Of Dramatick Poesie (1668) has this to say on the
matter (he is relating how accentual-syllabic verse, with rhyme, supplanted
classical quantitative verse when Germanic barbarians overran the Roman empire):
"This new way consisted in measure or number of feet and rhyme. The sweetness of
Rhyme, and observation of Accent, supplying the place of quantity in words,
which could neither exactly be observ’d by those Barbarians who knew not
the Rules of it, neither was it suitable to their tongues as it had been to the
Greek and Latine" (63). That sounds well-informed to me (Dryden explicitly
distinguished "Accent" from "quantity"). The date (1668) is the same year
that Milton added the note about "fit quantity of syllables." Almost all
early editors took "fit quantity" to refer to length (as distinct from accent)
of syllables and many gave convincing examples of Milton's use of syllabic
length (as well as "apt Numbers") to make his sound "fit" the sense. The
point is not (of course not) that Milton uses the whole cumbersome apparatus of
classical prosody, with quantitative feet (including amphibrachs and cretics
rare), but that he makes expressive use of both accent and quantity, and can
tell the difference between them. (I am about to give a paper on
this topic at RSA in Venice if anyone is interested.)
John Creaser's scansion of the Teiresias line sounds plausible to
me. He is surely right to hear "Tir-E-sias" (though I am not so sure about
that strong AND). It matters, I think, that "Tiresias" and "Phineus" have
different orthographic endings in the penultimate letter. Some recent
posts have misquoted the latter name as "Phineas." "Phineus" more readily
admits synalloepha ("Phin-yus") and so lends itself very easily to John
-----Inline Attachment Follows-----
Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Milton-L