by Vojin Nedeljkovic


This selection of readings from classical Latin poetry is intended to be a reconstruction of what the language of the Romans may have sounded like.

I have tried to put together what we positively know about phonetic and prosodic features of classical Latin, then work it out in practice as accurately as I could. But the way from knowledge to practice is a long one, and my reconstruction remains conjectural at more than one point.

I also wanted this selection to be a sample of major classical metres. A short description of relevant structures will be found lower on this page.


Use links next to yellow quads 
to either download MP3 audio files or play them online.

Catullus 3 Lugete, o Veneres...

MP3 file 236 KB


metre: phalaecian hendecasyllable

view text Catul. 3

Catullus 8 Miser Catulle...

MP3 file 311 KB


metre: choliamb

 view text Catul. 8

Catullus 29 Quis hoc potest videre...

MP3 file 264 KB


metre: iambic trimeter

view text Catul. 29

Catullus 63, vv. 12-26 Agite ite...

MP3 file 216 KB


metre: galliambic

view text Catul. 63.12-26

Virgil, Eclogue 1, vv. 1-25 Tityre, tu...

MP3 file 407 KB


metre: dactylic hexameter

view text Verg. B. 1.1-25

Virgil, Aeneid 4, vv. 9-29 Anna soror...

MP3 file 357 KB


metre: dactylic hexameter

view text Verg. A. 4.9-29

Horace, Ode 1.25 Parcius junctas...

MP3 file 250 KB


metre: sapphic stanza

view text Hor. Carm. 1.25

Horace, Ode 1.38 Persicos odi...

MP3 file 103 KB


metre: sapphic stanza

view text Hor. Carm. 1.28

Horace, Ode 2.14 Eheu fugaces...

MP3 file 456 KB


metre: alcaic stanza

view text Hor. Carm. 2.14

Horace, Ode 3.9 Donec gratus eram tibi...

MP3 file 318 KB


metre: stanza glyconeus + lesser asclepiad alternate

view text Hor. Carm. 3.9

Horace, Ode 3.30 Exegi monumentum...

MP3 file 217 KB


metre: first asclepiad

view text Hor. Carm. 3.30

Horace, Epode 2, vv. 1-36 Beatus ille...

MP3 file 416 KB


metre: couplet iambic trimeter + iambic dimeter

view text Hor. Epod. 2.1-36

Ovid, Tristia 3.4b Proxima sideribus tellus...

MP3 file 536 KB


metre: elegiac couplet

view text Ov. Tr. 3.4b

Martial 3.44 Occurrit tibi nemo...

MP3 file 233 KB


metre: phalecean hendecasyllable

view text Mart. 3.44

Martial 5.34 Hanc tibi, Fronto pater...

MP3 file 195 KB


metre: elegiac couplet

view text Mart. 5.34

Juvenal 3, vv. 193-211 Nos urbem colimus...

MP3 file 342 KB


metre: dactylic hexameter

view text Juv. 3.193-211

Juvenal 3, vv. 278-301 Ebrius ac petulans...

MP3 file 436 KB


metre: dactylic hexameter

view text Juv. 3.278-301

Hadrian fr.3 (Morel) Animula vagula blandula...

MP3 file 39 KB


metre: iambic dimeter

view text Hadr. fr.3

A pdf-file (24 KB) containing all eighteen texts is here.




Samples of Christian Latin

Alan of Lille (1125/30–1203): Omnis mundi creatura (MP3 file 624 KB)

Psalterium Pianum (1945): Psalm 8 (MP3 file 632 KB)




A neat survey: S. Boldrini, ‘Römische Metrik’, in: F. Graf (ed.), Einleitung in die lateinische Philologie, Stuttgart & Leipzig 1997, pp. 357-384.
For pronunciation, see W. S. Allen, Vox Latina, 2nd ed., Cambridge 1978.


syllable quantity abbreviations

L  long (‘heavy’) syllable

s  short (‘light’) syllable

A  ‘syllaba anceps’, i.e. indifferently long or short

sL  short syllable replaceable by a long one

Ls  long syllable replaceable by a short one

ssL  two short syllables replaceable by one long syllable

Lss  long syllable replaceable by two short syllables

X  ‘elementum biceps’, i.e. a short syllable replaceable by a long one, then resolvable in two short syllables

dactylic hexameter:

L-ssL L-ssL L-ssL L-ssL L-s-s L-A

Ex. nos urbem colimus tenui tibicine fultam

L-L (nos-ur) L-s-s (bem-co-li) L-s-s (mus-te-nu) L-L (i-ti) L-s-s (bi-ci-ne) L-L (ful-tam)

Ex. ebrius ac petulans, qui nullum forte cecidit

L-s-s (e-bri-u) L-s-s (sac-pe-tu) L-L (lans-qui) L-L (nul-lum) L-s-s (for-te-ce) L-L (ci-dit)

elegiac couplet

consists of a hexameter

followed by a pentameter:

L-ssL L-ssL L L-s-s L-s-s A

Ex. oscula commendo deliciasque meas

L-s-s (os-cu-la) L-L (com-men) L (do) L-s-s (de-li-ci) L-s-s (as-que-me) L (as)

Ex. vixisset totidem ni minus illa dies

L-L (vic-sis) L-s-s (set-to-ti) L (dem) L-s-s (ni-mi-nu) L-s-s (sil-la-di) L (es)

iambic trimeter:

X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-A

Ex. libet jacere modo sub antiqua ilice

s-L-s-L (li-bet-ja-ce) s-s-L-s-L (re-mo-do-su-ban) L-L-s-L (ti-qui-li-ce)

Ex. pavidumque leporem et advenam laqueo gruem

s-s-L-s-s-s (pa-vi-dum-que-le-po) s-L-s-L (re-tad-ve-nam) s-s-L-s-L (la-que-o-gru-em)

iambic dimeter:

X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-A

Ex. pernicis uxor Apuli

L-L-s-L (per-ni-ci-suc) s-L-s-L (so-ra-pu-li)

Ex. animula vagula blandula

s-s-s-s-L (a-ni-mu-la-va) s-s-L-s-L (gu-la-blan-du-la)


X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-s-Lss X-Lss-L-A

(that is, an iambic trimeter ending in L-A instead of s-A)

Ex. miser Catulle, desinas ineptire

s-L-s-L (mi-ser-ca-tul) s-L-s-L (le-de-si-na) s-L-L-s (si-nep-ti-re)

Ex. puella senibus dulcior mihi cycnis

s-L-s-s-s (pu-el-la-se-ni) s-L-s-L (bus-dul-ci-or) s-L-L-L (mi-hi-cyc-nis)


X-Lss-s-Lss-s-L-L X-Lss-s-Lss-s-A

Ex. simul ite, Dindymenae dominae vaga pecora

s-s-L-s-L-s-L-L (si-mu-li-te-din-dy-me-nae) s-s-L-s-s-s-s-L (do-mi-nae-va-ga-pe-co-ra)

Ex. tibicen ubi canit Phryx curvo grave calamo

L-L-s-s-s-s-L-L (ti-bi-ce-nu-bi-ca-nit-phryx) L-L-s-s-s-s-L (cur-vo-gra-ve-ca-la-mo)

phalaecean hendecasyllable:

Ls-sL L-s-s-L s-L-s-L-A

Ex. et stanti legis et legis sedenti

L-L (et-stan) L-s-s-L (ti-le-gi-set) s-L-s-L-L (le-gis-se-den-ti)

Ex. tua nunc opera meae puellae

s-L (tu-a) L-s-s-L (nun-co-pe-ra) s-L-s-L-L (me-ae-pu-el-lae)


L-Ls L-s-s-L s-A

Ex. donec gratus eram tibi

L-L (do-nec) L-s-s-L (gra-tu-se-ram) s-L (ti-bi)

Ex. cinge tempora floribus

L-s (cin-ge) L-s-s-L (tem-po-ra-flo) s-L (ri-bus)

first asclepiad (system)

consists of four lesser asclepiads:

L-L L-s-s-L L-s-s-L s-A

Ex. annorum series et fuga temporum

L-L (an-no) L-s-s-L (rum-se-ri-es) L-s-s-L (et-fu-ga-tem) s-L (po-rum)

alcaic stanza

consists of two alcaic hendecasyllables...

L-L-s-L-L L-s-s-L s-A

Ex. eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume

L-L-s-L-L (e-heu-fu-ga-ces) L-s-s-L (pos-tu-me-pos) s-s (tu-me)

...followed by an enneasyllable...

L L s L L L s L A

Ex. rugis et instanti senectae

L (ru) L (gi) s (se) L (tin) L (stan) L (ti) s (se) L (nec) L (tae)

...and a decasyllable:

L-s-s-L s-s-L-s-L-A

Ex. corporibus metuemus Austrum

L-s-s-L (cor-po-ri-bus) s-s-L-s-L-L (me-tu-e-mu-saus-trum)

sapphic stanza

consists of three lesser sapphics...

L-s-L-L L-s-s-L s-L-A

Ex. Persicos odi, puer, apparatus

L-s-L-L (per-si-co-so) L-s-s-L (di-pu-e-rap) s-L-L (pa-ra-tus)

...followed by an adonean:

L-s-s-L A

Ex. sera moretur

L-s-s-L (se-ra-mo-re) L (tur)



Useful links

La pronunzia del latino (by Luisa Cocci)

LAIPTTS-L, an Experimental Speech Synthesis for Latin

Harvard Classics Prose and Poetry Recital Page

Society for the Oral Reading of Latin and Greek (at Yale)

Aeneid Book IV read aloud (by Wilfried Stroh)

Reading Latin poetry aloud (by Andrew Wilson)

Recordings of Latin poetry (wav files by Walter Stevenson)

‘Metrique et prosodie’ (at Bibliotheca Classica Selecta, Louvain)

The History of Latin Pronunciation (a bibliography compiled by Peter Jeffery)




Modified 10 Febr 2003

(c) 1998–2003 Vojin Nedeljkovic, University of Belgrade




Link to the Faculty of Philosophy Homepage