Pronunciation of ego (short vs. long o)

Serenus

legātus armisonus
Sadly, I can't find the post in which @Bitmap told me he has generally seen "ego" with a short o once again, which he said after he saw me using "egō" with a macron there. The other day though, I was told of this beautiful website, PedeCerto, in which you can make metrical searches across hexametres and pentametres from Ennius all the way down to Eugenius of Toledo (7th century AD), and one interesting thing I found is that, in its entire database, there is not a single instance of egō with a long o in all the Classical poets (Vergil, Statius, Ovid, Silius, Lucan...), who consistently use it with a short o.

Conditu/s hīc ego / sum Bas/sī dolo/r, Urbicu/s īnfāns, (Martial, Epigrammata 7.96)
Sīquid ad/hūc ego / sum, // mūneri/s omne tu/ī'st. (Ovid, Trīstia 1.6)
Possum‿ini/mīciti/ās // tunc ego / ferre Jo/vis. (Propertius, Elegīae 2.13)

Instead, egō with a long o, is limited to hexametres (and one pentametre) by Late Latin poets!

Pistor e/gō mac/tō flā/vās sine / sanguine / messēs. (Vespa, Judicium cocī et pistoris 42; according to Kurt Smolak in Brill's New Pauly (2006), prob. 4th c. but could be as early as the 2nd c. and as late as the 5th; the poem probably includes a reference to Ausonius)
Chindasu/īnthus e/gō, no/xārum / semper a/mīcus, (Eugenius of Toledo, Carmina 25; 7th century; the first word may be Chindas/vīnthus)
Ambōs / inter e/gō // tertiu/s al/ter e/rō (Venantius Fortunatus, Carmina 7.19)

The one exception seems to be one line of Propertius:

Tuscus e/gō Tus/cīs ori/or, nec / paenite/t inter \\\ proelia / Volsini/ōs // dēser/vīsse fo/cōs. (Propertius, Elegīae 4.2; funny to see that rhyme in the pentametre's hemistichs!)

This is not in PedeCerto, but as an example of ante-Classical egō, as mentioned by Lewis & Short, Plautus has at least one cretic tetrametre that goes:

— u — / — u — / — u — / — —
Hīs egō / dē‿artibus / grātiam / faciō (Plautus, Trinummus 293, the last spondee can be switched for an anapest u u —)

It seemed interesting to point out, because, for example, Wiktionary simply says "ego or egō", but there's a strong qualification to make here between Classical usage vs. ante-Classical egō (likely a conservation of the original older length, see also 1st declension nominative -ā in Plautus), and Late Latin poetic usage (likely an effect of vowel length having died in natural speech by that time, cf. the use of contră with short ă by Ausonius, or the varying us of daemŏn and daemōn < δαίμων in Christian poets), as Lewis & Short's dictionary appropriately does.


Basically, Bitmap and most Latin resources are of course right, but I just happened to learn something interesting in the meantime. I also wanted to share this PedeCerto website, because it's amazing.
 
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LCF

a.k.a. Lucifer
It seemed interesting to point out, because, for example, Wiktionary simply says "ego or egō", but there's a strong qualification to make here between Classical usage vs. ante-Classical egō (likely a conservation of the original older length, see also 1st declension nominative -ā in Plautus), and Late Latin poetic usage (likely an effect of vowel length having died in natural speech by that time, cf. the use of contră with short ă by Ausonius), as Lewis & Short's dictionary appropriately does.
I don't think you can jump to that conclusion. Sometimes in poetry a vowel becomes long just because. It's really not at all an indication of it ever being long.
 

Serenus

legātus armisonus
I don't think you can jump to that conclusion. Sometimes in poetry a vowel becomes long just because. It's really not at all an indication of it ever being long.
Yeah, but nevertheless it's pretty remarkable it doesn't happen in 1st century BC/AD hexametre and pentametre aside from that one line of Propertius.



Regarding vowel length, we know the old Classical vowel length distinctions had died in natural speech by that time circa the 4th century anyway, from reconstructions of Romance languages, spelling mistakes and some statements of the time, even though grammarians insisted in retaining it as a learned practice. I'm reminded of Augustine's De Musica, which has a passage in book 2 where a teacher tries to teach the student about the importance of traditional poetic vowel lengths of those quī fuerunt ante nōs. He uses the cănō of Arma virumque canō as an example, and contrasts it with the musical practice of the time in which a traditional long vowel (as in les) could be made short (corripuī) within the rhythm by all means for the sake of the music.

MAGISTER. Atqui scias velim totam illam scientiam, quae grammatica graece, latine autem litteratura nominatur, historiae custodiam profiteri, vel solam ut subtilior docet ratio, vel maxime ut etiam pinguia corda concedunt. Itaque verbi gratia cum dixeris, cano, vel in versu forte posueris, ita ut vel tu pronuntians producas hujus verbi syllabam primam, vel in versu eo loco ponas ubi esse productam oportebat, reprehendet grammaticus (custos ille videlicet historiae) nihil aliud asserens cur hunc corripi oporteat, nisi quod hi qui ante nos fuerunt, et quorum libri exstant tractanturque a grammaticis, ea correpta, non producta usi fuerint. Quare hic quidquid valet, auctoritas valet.

At vero musicae ratio, ad quam dimensio ipsa vocum rationabilis et numerositas pertinet, non curat nisi ut corripiatur vel producatur syllaba, quae illo vel illo loco est secundum rationem mensurarum suarum. Nam si eo loco ubi duas longas syllabas poni decet, hoc verbum posueris et primam quae brevis est pronuntiatione longam feceris, nihil musica omnino succenset: tempora enim vocum ea pervenere ad aures, quae illi numero debita fuerunt. Grammaticus autem jubet emendari, et illud te verbum ponere cujus prima syllaba producenda sit, secundum majorum, ut dictum est, auctoritatem, quorum scripta custodit.

(If this opposition of grammatica vs. musica seems weird to anyone, I'd like to mention that the job of an ancient grammaticus consisted of teaching the writing system, grammar concepts, and the rules of poetry, typically to youngsters. A rhetor, later on, would be the one teaching oratory. This conflation of grammar and poetry in their culture is also why all the ancient grammars, including Priscian's and Isidore's, quote poetry, not prose, when giving examples of a concept. Nowadays, the emphasis on natural speech is so strong in linguistics that a certain prominent linguist once sent an email to a guy I know, basically scolding him, for quoting a song to illustrate a grammatical point in a comment of the linguist's blog.)
 

LCF

a.k.a. Lucifer
Regarding vowel length, we know the old Classical vowel length distinctions had died in natural speech by that time circa the 4th century anyway, from reconstructions of Romance languages, spelling mistakes and some statements of the time, even though grammarians insisted in retaining it as a learned practice.
We don't know any thing...
 
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