Previously, I had taught the scansion of dactylic hexameter by giving a lecture of the whole system then getting students to have a crack at it with a copy of Latin text – and with no macrons printed either.
(I quickly learned not to use the opening of Aeneid 1 as the starter material, because line 2 is so aberrant – you could go hundreds of lines without seeing an –ia ending turn into a –ja like that! It’s awful! If I do use the opening of the Aeneid for learning scansion, I tell students to skip line 2, and all the while it stares at us awkwardly on the board.)
Now I’ve just introduced scansion with my year 11s, who are translating a section of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and I’ve worked out a way to make the first introduction to scansion less of a lecture, and more of an intuitive workshop.
My goal in this session is not to give students a step-by-step formula for answering exam questions – not yet. My goal is to bring them to understand scansion from first principles.