Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Musca et Calvus (Nequam)

SOURCE: The fables of the medieval scholar and poet Alexander Nequam are available in several different editions at GoogleBooks. This is poem 19 in Nequam. For parallel versions, see Perry 525. You can find the word list for this fable online at NoDictionaries.com, and use it interactively.

READ OUT LOUD. Choose which marked text you prefer to practice with - macrons in verse form, or macrons in prose order, or accent marks in prose order, or focusing on the meter. You will find materials for all of these options below. :-)


VERSE MACRONS. Here is the verse text with macrons:

Musca caput calvī studiō turbāverat ācrī;
cuī cēdēns calvus saepe fugārat eam,
Musca levis rīdēns tantō magis hunc stimulābat,
caedēbat mutilum quō magis ille caput.
Calvus ait: Quia mē rīdēs, mē caedere cōgis;
multotiēns caedam quō semel intereās.
Dixit, et īnstantem violentō percutit ictū;
Attrītā saniē sordida musca fuit.
Hinc minimus discat nōn infestāre potentem,
quī pūnit subitō quod tulit ipse diu!


PROSE MACRONS. Here is the same text with macrons written out in prose word order:

Musca calvī caput studiō ācrī turbāverat; cuī cēdēns calvus saepe eam fugārat, tantō magis musca levis, rīdēns, hunc stimulābat quō magis ille caput mutilum caedēbat. Calvus ait: Quia mē rīdēs, mē caedere cōgis; multotiēns caedam quō semel intereās. Dixit, et īnstantem ictū violentō percutit; musca sordida fuit attrītā saniē . Hinc minimus discat nōn infestāre potentem, quī subitō pūnit quod ipse diu tulit!


STRESS (ACCENT) MARKS. Here is the prose text with accents, plus some color-coding for the words of three or more syllables (blue: penultimate stress; red: antepenultimate stress):

Musca calvi caput stúdio acri turbáverat; cui cedens calvus saepe eam fugárat, tanto magis musca levis, ridens, hunc stimulábat quo magis ille caput mútilum caedébat. Calvus ait: Quia me rides, me caédere cogis; multótiens caedam quo semel intéreas. Dixit, et instántem ictu violénto pércutit; musca sórdida fuit attríta sánie . Hinc mínimus discat non infestáre poténtem, qui súbito punit quod ipse diu tulit!


ELEGIAC COUPLET METER. Below I have used an interpunct dot · to indicate the metrical elements in each line, and a double line || to indicate the hemistichs of the pentameter line.

Musca ca·put cal·vī studi·ō tur·bāverat· ācrī;
cuī cē·dēns cal·vus || saepe fu·gārat e·am,
Musca le·vis rī·dēns tan·tō magis· hunc stimu·lābat,
caedē·bat muti·lum || quō magis· ille ca·put.
Calvus a·it: Quia· mē rī·dēs, mē· caedere· cōgis;
multoti·ēns cae·dam || quō semel· intere·ās.
Dixit, e·t īnstan·tem vio·lentō· percutit· ictū;
Attrī·tā sani·ē || sordida· musca fu·it.
Hinc mini·mus dis·cat nōn· infes·tāre po·tentem,
quī pū·nit subi·tō || quod tulit· ipse di·u!


IMAGE. Here's an illustration for the fable (image source) by Richard Heighway:


What follows is an unmarked version of the prose rendering to faciliate word searches:
Musca calvi caput studio acri turbaverat; cui cedens calvus saepe eam fugarat, tanto magis musca levis, ridens, hunc stimulabat quo magis ille caput mutilum caedebat. Calvus ait: Quia me rides, me caedere cogis; multotiens caedam quo semel intereas. Dixit, et instantem ictu violento percutit; musca sordida fuit attrita sanie . Hinc minimus discat non infestare potentem, qui subito punit quod ipse diu tulit!

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