To put it more subtly, rhythm was obtained by an opportune arrangement of words, in which long and short syllables gave a feeling of reasonable alternation of strong and weak tempi. To Christian authors, rhythm was more important than melos, both in the double form of the play of longs, shorts and stresses, and in the cadences of stresses alone. Of the two elements, melos and rhythm, the latter remained the principal one, as it had a more lasting effect. Rhythm was the principal, the active element, the life and movement of compositio verborum, while melos was the passive element, the inert, resistant matter. Melos was the sweetness of poetry and prose which swayed the human soul, yucagwgi,a. Melos varied according to the state of mind to be induced and depended on modulations of voice. Quintilian said 1,10,25 that the raising and lowering of the voice served to enthrall the minds of the listeners.
Augustine had wanted to write six books on melos, but circumstances prevented him, depriving us of an important resource. As in De doctrina christiana and De musica, his examination would have dwelt on the authors who preceded him and on the sacred texts. In terms of stress, the outstanding clausulae are cursus planus, cursus tardus, cursus velox and cursus trispondaicus the cursus that come from quantitative clausulae. In the cadence of stresses, we should remember to count from the last syllable which, quantitatively, is always anceps, short or long.
Cursus planus stressed on the second and fifth syllables: gne torrre comes from the trochaic cretic; cursus tardus third and sixth syllables: indulgnte vindmia from the double cretic or the tribrachic cretic; cursus velox second and seventh syllables: prdere magistrtus from the ditrochee preceded by a cretic the cretic was later replaced by a proparoxytone a word stressed on the propenultimate syllable; cursus trispondaicus second and sixth syllables: sse videtur from the first paeon and trochee. The best modern study on clausulae and cursus is that of F. Di Capua Il ritmo prosaico nelle lettere dei papi e nei documenti della cancelleria pontificia, 3 vols., Rome 1937-1946. Besides the rhythm of the clausulae, we must evaluate other patterns of ancient rhetoric, better known as figures of sound. Otherwise we risk missing the formal values of ancient Christian prose, and even its content.
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