Does scansion ever require a synizesis like ŭŭ > ū or with u replaced by another vowel? I am not sure if this should be called synizesis when the two joined vowels have the same quality, but I hope my intention is clear enough. Here is an artificial example of a hexameter verse:

Est suus cuique viro canis et bene doctus amicus.
Every man has his dog and a well educated friend.

To be able to read this as hexameter, one is forced to make the synizesis ŭŭ > ū.

There was a question about confusion between ŭŭ and ū, but this one is about synizesis instead. An answer to the linked question mentions ĭĭt > īt. If someone can provide a line where īt is used and ĭĭt would invalidate the metric, that would make a nice answer, although I prefer spelling with two vowels if possible.

3 Answers 3


Here's an example from Lucan's Bellum civile (8.321) where īt is used and ĭĭt would break the meter:

nomen abit aut unde redi maiore triumpho? (8.321)

The form abiit would produce three short syllabus in a row.

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    Very interesting! But is it really synizesis? Perfect stem i- seems to be an existing alternative to ii/ivi-, also used in prose, or so I interpret L&S: archimedes.fas.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/…
    – Cerberus
    Jan 14, 2017 at 3:42
  • @Cerberus No, I don't think it actually does qualify as synizesis. I've merely provided the example that Joonas asked for in the last paragraph of his question.
    – cnread
    Jan 14, 2017 at 4:38
  • Ahh, OK, I understand.
    – Cerberus
    Jan 14, 2017 at 14:27
  • Thanks! I am not sure if this is really synizesis, but at least it provides an example of a very similar phenomenon. I will wait and see if others have other examples before I accept, but I do like this one.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 14, 2017 at 20:04

The word "sŭŭs" is always counted as a sequence of two distinct vowels in latin hexameter, as you can see, for example, in Verg. georg. 4,190:

In noctem, fessosque sopōr sŭŭs ōccŭpăt artus

in Ov. ars 2,643:

Nēc sŭŭs Andromedae color est obiectus ab illo

and in Ov. met. 2,186, which has sŭūs just like your verse:

Frēnă sŭūs rector, quam dis uotisque reliquit

In your case, however, the sequence "ēst sŭūs cuique" (where -ūs is long as a closed syllable because of the following cuique) will result in a cretic (— ∪ —), a metrical sequence that is inadmissible inside the pattern of the hexameter.

You can make some searches using the database of http://www.mqdq.it, which is very useful in this sense.

Even more accurate is the search engine of http://www.pedecerto.eu/ricerca/forma, which shows the metrical patterns.

  • 2
    So are you sure about "always"? How can you know?
    – Cerberus
    Jan 14, 2017 at 14:41
  • You can verify by yourself with the search engine of pedecerto.eu/ricerca/forma: just type "suus" in the "key" field and then click search
    – qwertxyz
    Jan 14, 2017 at 14:49
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    Ah! That is very cool! So you have gone through all the entires of [suu?] to check that they were all bisyllabic? // I saw somewhere that the scansion was done by a computer: are we sure it is reliable?
    – Cerberus
    Jan 14, 2017 at 16:26
  • Yes I have checked all the entries given by the search engine, considering the metrical pattern only after reading each verse.
    – qwertxyz
    Jan 14, 2017 at 16:29
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    @fdb But it is difficult, if not impossible, to place the line above the syllable rather than the vowel. And it is clear from context that it is about the syllable here. So I think this is a good alternative. Wouldn't you agree?
    – Cerberus
    Jan 16, 2017 at 23:26

Synizesis of ee is supposed to occur in forms of the verb deesse. Presumably the result was [eː], with the same pronunciation as ē. This seems very similar to the contraction seen in words like dēbeo or dēmo.

Evidence from poetry indicates that those imperfective forms of deesse ‘be missing, absent’ where the stem begins with [e] are contracted even if the writing does not normally indicate it (i.e. deesse INF, deerat 3SINGPASTIMPF etc. are disyllabic, deest 3SINGPRESIMPF is monosyllabic).

(András Cser, "Aspects of the Phonology and Morphology of Classical Latin", 2016, p.147)

TKR left a comment mentioning an example of deerunt: "Martial (Epigrams, 8,56): Sint Maecenates, non deerunt, Flacce, Marones."

In a comment, blagae mentions that we also see synizesis of ee in the word deerraverat: "Verg. Buc. 7, 7: vir gregis ipse caper deerraverat; atque ego Daphnim"

Note: there are apparently rare cases in Latin of the spelling ee being used to represent a long E sound even in words where it was not the result of synizesis of originally separate E's. There are examples in the following answers from Vladimir F and Alex B.

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    I have only some examples to add: > Cat. Carm. 64, 152: quam tibi fallaci supremo in tempore deessem > Ov. Met. I, 77: deerat adhuc et quod dominari in cetera posset > Ov. Met. XIII, 819: nec tibi castaneae me coniuge, nec tibi deerunt > Ov. Met. XV, 354: naturaeque suum nutrimen deerit edaci > Verg. Aen. VII, 263: divitis uber agri Troiaeve opulentia deerit > Verg. Aen. X, 378: deest iam terra fugae: pelagus Troiamne petamus?
    – blagae
    Mar 29, 2019 at 10:36
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    And one not for deesse: Verg. Buc. 7, 7: vir gregis ipse caper deerraverat; atque ego Daphnim
    – blagae
    Mar 29, 2019 at 10:49
  • 1
    Just because I stumbled upon it recently, here's one more example from Martial (Epigrams, 8,56): Sint Maecenates, non deerunt, Flacce, Marones.
    – TKR
    Apr 4, 2019 at 5:21

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