We are currently working our way through Plautus’ Poenulus, which is a quite entertaining piece to read. I am personally very interested in Latin poetry, but in working with this piece, I have come across some elisions that surprise me. To my knowledge, these are the general rules of elision (Samson Eitrem’s Latinsk grammatikk, third edition, p. 142f):
- When a word ends in a vowel and the next word in the same line begins with a vowel or h, the preceding vowel is elided. micante auro → micant’auro
- When a word ends in m, which was generally weakly articulated,¹ the final syllable is lost in front of vowel or h in the next word. templum hoc → templ’oc
- Note that es and est is subject of predelision. sata est → sata’st
In Poenulus, however, there appear to be more ways to accomplish elision than what is mentioned in the above. In line 23, the elision is done across parts of speech. This is, though, the same line (a ‘'’ denotes hiatus):
MIL:Míhi quídem͡ Herclé.'
MIL:͡ Ístuc mávelím.²
In line 25, an elision is done from a diphthong to a vowel:
MIL:Meáe͡ istuc scápulá͡e senti͡únt
And sometimes, apparently a consonantal v is elided, such as in line 35 and 61, and in 61, there appears to be an eo diphthong (!):
MIL:͡ Vín tu͡ illam͡ hódi͡e síne dámno͡ et díspendi͡ó
AGO:Égo͡ in á͡edem͡ Venéris e͡ó,' nisí quid vís, Milphi͡ó.
So my question — then — to specify, is:
- Were the rules for elision generally more laxed in the days of old Latin?
- Could a consonantal v be elided?
- Were there more diphthongs during this time, or are these an example of elision that leads to diphthongisation?
¹ Though whether it should even be considered a consonant in this position, is up for debate; many will argue (with whom I agree), that it is merely a digraph for nasalised vowel, as also final -n may be.
² Another way to realise this, though, is
MIL:Mí͡hi quidem͡ Hércle.