All-noun lines


Permalink 01:39:07 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 251 words, 4347 views   English (US)
Categories: Literature, Fun & Games

All-noun lines

I quoted a few lines from Juvenal in this post that contain something of a curiosity. The final line reads:

fiunt urceoli, pelues, sartago, matellae

With the exception of the linking verb fiunt, this line contains all nouns in the nominative case.

This curio led me to look for poetic lines that are made up entirely of nouns (at least four). Virgil has a perfect example in Aeneid XII.362-4:

huic comitem Asbyten coniecta cuspide mittit
Chloreaque Sybarimque Daretaque Thersilochumque
et sternacis equi lapsum ceruice Thymoeten.

As an aside, note the diastole (unusual lengthening) of the first -que. The Gildersleeve and Lodge grammar (784 N.6) remarks that “Virgil…lengthens que sixteen times, but only when que is repeated in the verse and before a double consonant (except A. III.91).” Apparently they missed this one, or the Greek name of the 2nd town once began with a zeta.

Another example is found in the descent into the underworld, where Anchises describes to Aeneas the future cities to be founded by the kings of Alba Longa (VI.754-5)

Hi Collatinas imponent montibus arces,
Pometios Castrumque Inui Bolamque Coramque;

though here I must take Castrum Inui to be a compound name. There is also a close match in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (II.220-1), from the scene where Phaeton’s solar car is out of control:

ardet in inmensum geminatis ignibus Aetne
Parnasosque biceps et Eryx et Cynthus et Othrys

though the line is spoiled by biceps - “twin-peaked". If anyone can come up with other examples, please feel free to comment.


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Qui sciet quae quoque sint modo dicenda, nisi tamen in procinctu paratamque ad omnis casus habuerit eloquentiam, velut clausis thesauris incubabit.

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