Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More on Final -s in Old Latin

On pg. 60 I touch upon the fact that final -s was sometimes omitted in Old Latin inscriptions and that it did not make position in the thesis in non-dramatic verse.  I didn't say anything explicit about dramatic verse except to make reference to Rex Wallace's article that argues that non-observance of final -s is more common in spoken verses than in the cantica.

The standard view, as canonized for example in Questa 2007:32–3, is that in dramatic verse s was "reduced", i.e. potentially did not make position,  in polysyllables, following a  short vowel before a consonant initial word.

Here are some examples where s fails to make position:

Plaut. Bacch. 313:  ibidem publicitus servant:: occidisti(s) me (ia6)
                                a  a  B     C    d d A  B     C       D  a   B  c    D

But note that the final s of publicitus does make position.

Ter. Ad. 839:  exporge frontem:: scilicet ita tempu(s) fert (ia6)
                        A    B  c    D   A        B c  D a a  B       c      D

To which we can contrast:

Ter. Eun. 1048: an mei patris festivitatem et facilitatem?  O Iuppiter!
                           A    b b   c   D   A  B c D      A   b b c D         A  B     c  d+

where s does make position in patris.

This account raises at least three questions.  First, how do we know that s was retained after a long vowel since V:s and V:(s) are metrically equivalent? Second is there any pattern to the observance and non-observance of s?  Third what happened to final s prevocalically?

(1)  I don't think we can be sure that final -s had a different treatment after long vowels than after short vowel.  There can be no metrical evidence as far as I can see.  Further non-notation of final -s after a long vowel (see Vine 1993:22) is found in inscriptions at Rome, and not just dialectically—an incidentally Latin inscriptions from the 3rd century are more common found outside of Rome.

(2) I don't know if there is a pattern or not.  It doesn't seem that anyone has pointed to an obvious one in the literature.  Since there is a difference in non-dramatic verse between the strong and the weak positions within the foot, it would be interesting to explore whether anything could be made of that for iambo-trochaic verse.  It will be important in this investigation to omit all pyrrhic/iambic sequences from this investigation since Iambic Shortening is an alternative explanation in those cases.

(3) In Plautus and Terence, there do not seem to be any certain cases of loss of s in prevocalic position with subsequent elision—mage rarely occurs prevocalically and elides, but we are not certain that mage is phonologically derived from magis.  This suggests that in the relevant idiolects final s resyllabified into the onset of the following word  But there does appear to be evidence for  an alternative pronunciation where s was lost before a vowel.  In Cicero's Orator 153 we find the following sentence in the OCT edition of Wilkins:

Sine vocalibus saepe brevitatis causa contrahebant, ut ita dicerent: multi' modis, in vas' argenteis, palmi' crinibus, tecti' fractis.

palmi’ Ribbeck; palmet A (Abrincensis = from Avranches pictured in the postcard above) : palma et L (= consensus FOPM)

Here Cicero seems to be referring to reduced pronunciation and/or spellings in some way analogous to elision. In the case of multi'modis Cicero may be referring to multimodīs, the adverb which is a hypostasis of multīs modīs. Here multi- stands form multīs but is a combining form, not a phonological reduction.  The second example, however,  can only be explained through the omission of final s after a long vowel followed by elision: vasīs argenteīs > vasī' argenteīs > vas'argenteīs.  The third example, where the manuscript tradition clearly points to palm'et crinibus for palmis et crinibus, requires the same explanation.  The final form with no elision simply seems to refer to non-notation of final s.

The loss of s in vidēn et sim. seems to be a different phenomenon.

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