I'm not able to figure out what meter this is in this poem by Petronius. In Schmelling's unparalleled commentary on the work he merely says:

Four lines of Sotadean verse (used for obscenities) sung by a cinaedus This metre is also used at 132.8 (where it is reminiscent of Sotades’ «pic Parody, see ad loc.). On Sotudean verse in Jolaus (P. Oxy. 3010) and its Possible connection to the S., see Bettini (1982) 85-92; A. Barchiesi (1999) Saudi ‘on (1995) 358 ff. Astbury (1977), Courtney (2001) 22-3

Here is the poem. Words between <> are added by Schmelling and words between {} are ones that he suggests should be deleted and letters between [] are elided.

Hūc hūc | <cĭtŏ> cōn | vĕnīt | ĕ nūnc, | spătălō | cĭnāe | dī,
Pĕdĕ tēn | dĭtĕ, cūrs[um] | ād dĭtĕ, | cōn vŏ | lātĕ | plāntā
Fĕmŏ | rĕquĕ <ō> | făcĭlī, | clūn[e] ăgĭl | ī {et} măn| ū prŏ | cācēs,
Mōllēs, | vĕtĕrēs, | Dēlĭă | cī măn| ū rĕ | cīsī.

Normally the word 'o' does not elide the word before it if it ends in a vowel.

Here's the scansion so that you can read it more easily, however stackexchange is converting my symbols so I have to use underscores sometimes.

– – | u u – | u – | u – | u u – | u – –
u u – | u u – | – u u | – – | u – | u – –
u u | u u – | u u – | – u u | – u | – u | – –
– – | u u – | – u u | – u | – u | – –

Also, I'm not sure if u u can compose a single foot so perhaps an alternative scansion for verse 3 would be

u u u u | – u u | – – u | u – | – u | – –

which might be better since now we have 6 feet.

And if you assert that the final e in 'fermorque' is elided by 'o' then it would be:

u u u – | u u – | – u u | – – u | – –

which gives 5 feet, so maybe wrong.

Here is the poem unscanned:

Huc huc convenite nunc, spatalocinaedi,
Pede tendite, cursum addite, convolate planta
Femoreque facili, clune agili {et} manu procaces,
Molles, veteres, Deliaci manu recisi.

The third and fourth verse have 7 feet which to me seems wrong. I'll post the poem from 132.8 later. And this is how Schmelling translates the poem:

This way, here quickly assemble you sodomites,
stretch a leg, add some speed, fly here with winged feet
and supple thighs, insolent with foppish buttocks and hands,
soft youths, old rakes, and those castrated by the hand of Delian Apollo.

  • 1
    I reformatted slightly. You can break a line by adding a double space to the end of a line. This looks way better for poetry than breaking a paragraph with an empty line. Feel free to re-edit or roll back!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 21:20
  • 1
    So did I. You can use the \ symbol as an escape, to stop the website from converting the next symbol into formatting. Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 20:19
  • Hey, please let me know if you think my answer requires any further clarficiation or elaboration before you would be willing to accept it. Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


The reason you weren't able to scan it has to do with using the wrong feet. Feet are the basic building blocks of a metrical line, and it looks like you're trying to scan it using both iambic (u –) and trochaic (– u) feet, which I'm not sure any metre combines inside a line.

The basic Sotadean foot is the reversed Ionic, – – uu, with resolution of two shorts for one long being very common. This foot can be substituted by – u – u. I'm not sure what formal mechanism underlies this substitution, but essentially the foot is broken up and recombined in a chequered, interleaved pattern, leaving the number of moras (La. tempora) the same at 6. The basic foot is repeated three times, and the line must end with an unresolved spondee (– –).

Here's an intact example from Martial for reference:

Hās cum gemi|nā compede | dēdicat ca|tēnās,
Sāturne, ti|bī Zōilus, | ānulōs pri|ōrēs.

The scansion of your fragment then goes like this:

hūc hūc cito | convenīte | nunc, spataloci|naedī,

   – – uu | – u – u | – uu uu | – –

pede tendite, | cursum addite | convolāte | plantā,

   uu – uu | – – uu | – u – u | – –

femoreque faci|lī, clūne agi|lī, et manū pro|cācēs,

   uu uu uu | – – uu | – u – u | – –  

mollēs, vete|rēs, Dēliacī manū re|cīsī

   – – uu | – – uu | – u – u | – –  

The femore-line obviously needs to be fixed:

  • Sticking an ō! in there with elision1 would give us uu – uu, and adding a -que results in a foot composed of three pyrrhics (uu); the choice is an either-or. To me the former solution sounds entirely out of place in the middle of an extended address, a blatant gap-filler. Therefore I went for -que, but actually it's -ve that seems to fit best – I'm just not sure if it's ever found attached to the first member of a disjunctive list without at least an aut following.

    • 1 ō! does elide the previous vowel; it's the following vowel that doesn't elide ō!.
  • I would retain the et in that line in order to balance out the -que, which otherwise reads like a conjunction joining two clauses instead of elements in a list, whereas there's no second clause there.

  • I read elsewhere that this double resolution resulting in a three-pyrrhic foot (uu uu uu) would be exceptional, as only one such resolution is normally found in a foot. One explanation is that the -que- and et in that line were originally alternative readings, and some medieval editor mistakenly retained both of them by moving the et further down the line and placing it before manū. If et and not -que was the original reading, this would give us uu – uu with only one resolution (as expected), but the single et would have the problem described in the above paragraph; while two coordinating et's with three coordinated members would be abnormal and unbalanced. A -que followed by an et smooths over that imbalance, and looks a better choice.

  • The whole point of that line is to list different “tools” of sexual pleasure – "you with quick thighs, you with agile butts, you with naugty hands, gather all of you”. Which is why I like the alternative-listing -ve; and in fact it's tempting to turn the next-best option -que...et into -ve...aut.

Come to think of it...

  • It's possible that all three adjectives in that line should be in the nominative (facilēs, agilēs, procācēs). procācēs is already an alternative reading for “procace” in at least some manuscripts; this would also explain the et after agilēs, if “agili” had a superscript correction “es” which another editor mistook for an et to be inserted. I would opt for all three nominatives instead of ablatives because the abl. of procāx is normally procācī and is the lectio facilior next to the ablative manū, so it's likely it would have been retained had it been the original reading.
  • Yet another reason for converting the original nom. into abl. would be the plantā in the previous line, so that the first two adjectives were misread as being coordinated with it whereas the last adjective could not - you cannot convolāre manū procācī “fly here on/using your naughty hand.”
  • Notice that Schmelling's translation appears to miss the mark here, since it coordinates “feet” and “thighs” and splits off the other two. This is plainly wrong because we have three body parts each with an associated adjective inside a single line; the feet don't belong here at all, but to the verb convolāte. Like in the above point, it's not possible to say convolāre femore “to fly here on one's thigh” without raising a laugh.

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