Rebeginner here (I studied Latin decades ago at school).

I was just wondering whether there were any sources where you can find some Latin classical poetry texts with scansion added by people who know. I have searched but found nothing.

Or failing that, maybe a quite long guide, encompassing some "difficult cases"?

Recommendations for offline resources (A.K.A. books) would be helpful too.

I'm doing an excerpt from Ovid. There are one or two lines which I'm not sure about, but this one in particular has me puzzled: (it's Metamorphoses Book 1, l. 111).

flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris ibant,
flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella.

With the second line here, which of the following scansions is correct? (or maybe neither...)


The idea that "que" could be the first syllable in a foot (is this the right term?) seems unlikely. Then again, in the first attempt, "de" is long, which also seems odd.

But "flava" is ablative, so doesn't that mean that its 2nd "a" must be long? Maybe metrical requirements can trump such considerations? As I say, I need a good guide.

  • You might want to take that first request for resources and turn that into a community wiki question of its own. Here's what we've done like that before: ex. 1, ex. 2, & ex. 3.
    – cmw
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


The first option is correct. Together, they scan like so:


And applying that to the lines themselves, they look like this when broken up into metrical feet.

flumina / iam lac- / -tis || iam / flumina / nectaris / ibant,
flavaque / de viri- / -di stil- / -labant / ilice / mella.

De is in fact long, which the dictionary will confirm. Flavaque is not ablative, though, but neuter plural nominative, going along with mella, a poetical plural and the subject of stillabant, "was trickling." You can also check on viridis in the dictionary to see that the first two syllables are both short.

The translation of the second line is: "and golden honey trickled down the green holm oaks."

Was it by coincidence you came across this passage of the Metamorphoses after I posted my question on ilex, ilicis?

  • 2
    I hesitate to question a person with your rep, but according to wiktionary mella is "honey-water", and feminine. I read these lines as saying that "the rivers are dripping with golden honey-water"... What is the meaning of mellum, if your reading is correct? From Wiktionary I get "a collar for dogs" (!) or mellum is also said to be the genitive plural for mel, "honey". Commented May 30, 2021 at 13:28
  • 5
    @mikerodent It's actually the nominative plural of mel, a neuter noun, and not mella, which would be the nominative singular. The difference here does matter, too, as if it were the latter, the verb would be singular (stillabat), and that would be metrically impossible since that latter -a- would then be short. But it has to be long, so it has to be plural, so it has to be the plural nominative of mel, not the rare word mella.
    – cmw
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 13:32
  • @mikerodent I'll add a little translation too for you.
    – cmw
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 13:34
  • I read flava mella (which I also parsed as f. sg.) as a predicative adjunct, with flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris serving as the subject for both verbs. Honey in the plural seems weird but it's awkward either way.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 13:39
  • 1
    @Cairnavon I suppose that's technically possible, but mel in the plural is not unknown in Ovid (and in the accusative to boot, where it is all but impossible to read a feminine singular mella).
    – cmw
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 13:44

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