What do the red lines mean in the poem below. Are those where you are supposed to pause? I thought there should only be a pause at the end of the line. If you could listen to this speaker recite the poem and tell if she doing it right I would appreciate it. https://librivox.org/ars-poetica-and-carmen-saeculare-by-horace/ Also what is the rule for forming the red lines. And what is there formal name so that I can do more research. The image was generated by pedecerto.

Red Lines

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    My guess is that it's marking possible caesura, since the program can't choose between them. The dotted line seems to indicate where the potential break would fall between feet rather than within them. I have no idea about the zigzag line. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 16:40
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    I am sure everyone has noticed that a macron is here used (wrongly) for short vowels in closed syllables.
    – fdb
    Commented Nov 13, 2021 at 12:14
  • @fdb Using macrons to indicate the length of a syllable rather than a vowel is yet another thing that I hope to be clarified in a proper documentation. Their notation sure leaves room for improvement, but I chose to focus my answer on just the red marks.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 13, 2021 at 12:47
  • @fdb, I know. It is extremely upsetting that pedecerto.eu decided to do that. it took me about 2 months in my latin career to figure that out.
    – bobsmith76
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 1:55

1 Answer 1


That looks like a program trying to guess where to pause within a verse. It seems to identify three kinds of possible pauses:

  • A bucolic diaeresis between the fourth and the fifth foot, indicated by a broken bar.
  • A masculine caesura within a foot, right after the stressed first syllable, indicated by a solid bar.
  • A feminine caesura within a foot, between the two short syllables of a dactyl, indicated by a wiggly line.

The pause notation is not standard by any means (nor is the use of the macron), so any source using them should tell what is meant. I tried to browse the Pedecerto website for details but found none. But all examples I saw support this conclusion. (Thanks cmw and TKR for help in the comments!)

To choose a place to pause when reading a line, pick one or two of the masculine or feminine caesuras for each line that make reading convenient or align with syntactic or semantic boundaries. The pauses in reading a line occur within a foot, not between feet. The suggestions given by the software are a tool to find places to pause, not a definitive list of actual pauses; you need to use your judgement — something the software doesn't have — to choose where to pause in a verse. Each verse in your sample has plenty of options to choose from.

The bucolic diaeresis as an intended pause is rare from what I can tell, and it should be accompanied with a clear pause in sense. My advice is to simply ignore the broken bars entirely when learning to read hexameter.

  • The broken bar is actually marking when there is a word break after the fourth foot. Additionally, it's only marking the caesura in the second, third, and fourth feet, which explains the lack of bars in other places.
    – cmw
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 21:32
  • @cmw Did you find those details somewhere in a documentation? It seems to me that the broken bar only comes at foot boundaries, but I could of course be misinterpreting the small sample.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 21:46
  • Yes, it comes between feet, but only when the fifth foot starts with a new word. That's why it's there for |pictor | equinam but not in|ducere | plumas.
    – cmw
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 21:49
  • Look at this line: Fḗrrō sḗ | cǣdī́ | quām dī́ctīs : hī́s tŏlĕrā́ret. Dictis starts a new foot, but there's not broken bar before it.
    – cmw
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 21:54
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    @bobsmith76 By the usual definitions, a break at the end of a foot is called a diaresis; a caesura is defined as a break within the foot.
    – TKR
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 23:46

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