|Saturnian verse, also called Saturnian meter, was the ancient Latin form used mainly by Livius Andronicus and Gnaeus Naevius. Later Latin writers adopted Greek verse forms, which they considered more sophisticated than the native tradition. The meter was moribund by the time of the literary verses and forgotten altogether by classical times. Little is known about its origins or whether its rhythm was accentual or quantitative. A large number of the Saturnian verses have a 4 || 3 || 3 || 3 syllable count and division, which scholars have been inclined to take as underlying or ideal. One possible scheme is three iambs ( ˘ ¯ ) followed by a long ( ¯ ) or short ( ˘ ) syllable, then three trochees |
( ¯ ˘ ) for a total of thirteen syllables. Think Mother Goose: The queen was in the parlor || eating bread and honey.
An ancient Roman meter sadly fell from favor.
A feast day mid-December honors Saturn's glory,
three iambs + extra syllable || three trochees