About the lacking of the latin rhyming poetry..

Puer Pedens

Member
Is there any latin (roman) poetry that rhymes? I don't think I've come across any, Martial, Catullus, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Juvenal, Statius, etc, I don't think they used rhymes, correct me if I'm wrong. Is there a reason for that? as usual, thanks in advance.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Classical Latin poetry didn't rhyme except incidentally. That is, you can sometimes find like endings in consecutive lines or an internal rhyme here and there, but there's never a regular rhyme scheme throughout a poem and it's debatable whether the occasional rhyme was even intentional.

Rhyme started being used in Latin poetry in late antiquity, and became very common in the Middle Ages.

Why did classical Roman poets not use rhyme? Well, maybe because it simply never occurred to them. Their models, the Greeks, didn't rhyme either. It just wasn't a thing at the time.*

*At least in the Greco-Roman world. I don't know in which language the earliest rhyming poetry occurred and when.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I don't know in which language the earliest rhyming poetry occurred and when.
I was curious so I looked at the Wikipedia article on rhyme. According to it:

"The earliest surviving evidence of rhyming is the Chinese Shi Jing (ca. 10th century BCE)."

But a little later it says something that contradicts my statement that the Greeks didn't rhyme either. It says:

"The ancient Greeks knew rhyme, and rhymes in The Wasps by Aristophanes are noted by a translator."

I don't know anything about that (maybe some of our Grecists will). To what extent did Greek poetry rhyme, when it did? And how often did it? Maybe it would be accurate to say that the Greeks didn't usually rhyme. Rhyme, if it was indeed anything more than incidental, must certainly have been the exception.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The Chinese really did invent everything.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
But a little later it says something that contradicts my statement that the Greeks didn't rhyme either. It says:

"The ancient Greeks knew rhyme, and rhymes in The Wasps by Aristophanes are noted by a translator."

I don't know anything about that (maybe some of our Grecists will). To what extent did Greek poetry rhyme, when it did? And how often did it? Maybe it would be accurate to say that the Greeks didn't usually rhyme. Rhyme, if it was indeed anything more than incidental, must certainly have been the exception.
Ah, well, here's what it says further on:

"Ancient Greek poetry is strictly metrical. Rhyme is used, if at all, only as an occasional rhetorical flourish."
 

Puer Pedens

Member
So probably, rhymes were not appreciated by Romans and Greek.. though they knew the forms, how to use, but didn't use them.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
though they knew the forms, how to use,
It depends what you mean by that. If you mean that they were aware of the fact that identical endings can have a certain effect, then the answer is probably yes. But if you mean that they knew what a sonnet or limerick or any sort of poem with a regular rhyme scheme was, then no. Those didn't exist. We'll probably never know if it ever occurred to them that a poem could be entirely rhymed. Maybe someone thought of it without putting it into practice.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
My guess would be that constantly rhyming an hexameter just sounded annoying, while a lot of other metres changed their scansion every line, which did not really lend itself to rhyming. I don't know if the Greeks' & early Romans' pitch accent also didn't made rhymes sound less impressive than a stories accent. Ancient verse basically lived from its metre.

You sometimes find rhymes within the same line though, usually between the caesura and the end of the line, like in this hexameter:
quot caelum stellas, tot habet tua Roma puellas.

Rhymes, or at least identical word endings, between caesura and the end of the line were particularly common in pentameters, where they seem to have sounded pleasant:

carmina proueniunt animo deducta sereno:
nubila sunt subitis pectora nostra malis.
carmina secessum scribentis et otia quaerunt:
me mare, me uenti, me fera iactat hiems.
carminibus metus omnis obest: ego perditus ensem
haesurum iugulo iam puto iamque meo.
haec quoque quod facio, iudex mirabitur aequus,
scriptaque cum uenia qualiacumque leget.
da mihi Maeoniden et tot circumice casus,
ingenium tantis excidet omne malis.
 
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