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I have understood that many poetic meters were inherited to Latin from the Greeks. This includes, for example, the dactylic hexameter and the Sapphic meters. But the Romans did have their own poetic forms before adopting anything from the east. The only thing I know of is the Saturnian. I do not know much about the history of metric poetry, but I would like a brief overview of the Greek influence on Latin poetry: How do the poetic forms of Greek origin differ from Latin ones? What, at a high level, changed in Roman poetry due to Greek influence? Is there a difference in the way of viewing, structuring or reading poetry that captures the spirit of this transition?

There is no need to give a full account if it would be long. Instead, an overview with citations of further reading or ideas for more detailed questions would be nice.

  • A very interesting question, but it may not be answerable, unfortunately -- very little is known about the original forms of Latin poetry, to the extent that people can't even agree on the basic principles of the Saturnian meter. – TKR Oct 20 '16 at 20:50
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    @TKR, I feared that might be the case. But even if people have only a vague idea of how the Saturnian works, it might be enough for a rough comparison. If people are still unsure of the basic details of the Saturnian, perhaps it was less rigid than hexameter, which would be an interesting observation. I'm not sure if scholarly disagreement is sufficient evidence of that, though. I hope someone has more insight on this than I do... – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 20 '16 at 21:14
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    The earliest surviving piece of Latin verse was written boustrophedon, and the rhythm may have been similar with an iambic beat on the first line and trochaic on the second. My informant compared it to the Nursery rhyme >The king >was in the >counting >house// <eating <bread and <honey. This accentual rhythm survived in extempore verse into 20th Century, for funerals. This element dictates the mood, the dance, the intonation of the verse even when metre (longs and shorts) were added. – Hugh Oct 21 '16 at 3:13

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