How do you scan line 621 of De Rerum Natura, book VI, shown in bold below?

Praeterea, magnam sol partem detrahit æstu.
Quippe videmus enim vestes humore madentes
Exsiccare suis radiis ardentibu’ solem.
At pelage multa et late substrata videmus.
Proinde, licet quamvis ex unoquoque loco sol
Humoris parvam delibet ab æquore partem;
Largiter in tanto spatio tamen auferet undis.

(My amateur translation: "Furthermore, the Sun draws off a large part of [the oceans' water] with its heat. Certainly we see that the Sun dries out clothes dripping with moisture with its fiery rays. And we see the many seas stretched out below [the Sun]. So, however small a part of the moisture the Sun takes from the sea out of any one spot, it still takes abundantly in such a space from the waves." I'm not sure of this translation; I've asked a question about it here.)

If I assume that Lucretius is lengthening the first syllable of proinde, I get:

Prōin/dē licet / quamvīs / ex ū/nōquoque / locō sōl

That last foot is crazy. It doesn't have anything like the cadence you normally get in hexameter. Is this just a flaw in Lucretius's verse, am I mis-scanning it, or is there some hexameter custom at work here that I'm not aware of?

1 Answer 1


The last syllable in proinde is short but the first one is not split in two. Correcting this makes the rest of the line scan naturally:

Proindĕ, lĭ/cet quam/vīs ex / ūnō/quōquĕ lŏ/cō sōl

The caesura seems to take place between quamvis and ex. I do not find a similarly suitable place for it in your scansion. Having trouble placing the caesura is a good sign of wrong scansion.

Also notice that both 'O's in unoquoque are long — the ablative ending is needed for both unus and quis that together with the enclitic -que form the pronoun unusquisque.

  • 1
    Many thanks for the tip about the cæsura! I will keep that in mind the next time I come across one of these. About proinde, is the first syllable made into a diphthong to save the meter, as if it were spelled proende?
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jul 8, 2016 at 17:07
  • 1
    @BenKovitz, I am not sure how proinde is pronounced in prose. It might be that it always has two syllables or that synizesis is used here. I wonder if there are examples where scansion forces proinde to have three syllables and which is more common in poetry. I can't judge by this one example.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 8, 2016 at 17:11
  • Is there any agreement about the pronunciation of elided vowels? Pr[o]inde, may have been pronounced preende, or prweende. But it was scanned long-short either way.
    – Hugh
    Jul 8, 2016 at 21:59
  • 1
    @Hugh, I think 'oi' is a diphthong (by synizesis) rather than the 'o' being elided. (Although scansion does no rule out elision.) I don't quite understand what you mean by pronunciation of elided vowels. If you can elaborate, it might make a good separate question.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 8, 2016 at 22:25

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