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date: 31 January 2023

assonance, Latinlocked

assonance, Latinlocked

  • Roland Gregory Austin
  •  and Jeffrey Wills


The recurrence of sounds in proximity is a common feature of language, observable in all periods of Latin, with various stylistic effects.The repetition of initial sounds appears in formulaic language of all levels in (a) idioms and proverbs: ‘purus putus’, ‘fortes fortuna iuuat’, ‘domo doctus dico’; (b) prayers: ‘quod felix faustum fortunatumque siet’, ‘utique tu…pastores pecuaque salua seruassis’ (Cato Agr. 141); (c) legal formulae: ‘per lancem liciumque’ (Gell. NA 11. 18. 9).Alliteration is well attested in early Latin, perhaps aided by word stress on initial syllables. In the native *Saturnian verse, it can characterize one half-line (e.g. *Naevius' epitaph beginning ‘inmortales mortales si foret fas flere’, Gell. 1. 24. 2) or link two in the manner of Anglo-Saxon versification (e.g. ‘prima incedit Cereris Proserpina puer’, Naev. 29(31)). Sometimes a single alliteration extends over a line in comic accumulation ‘Cerconicus, Crinnus, Cercobulus, Collabus’ (Plaut. Trinummus 1020) or epic intensity ‘machina multa minax minitatur maxima muris’ (Enn. .


  • Latin Literature

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