AP Latin : Context-Based Meaning of Words and Phrases in Poetry Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Latin

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,                    5
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,                        10
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

"Aestimemus" translates as __________.

Possible Answers:

We heat

We were considering

We will consider

Let us estimate

Correct answer:

Let us estimate

Explanation:

"Aestimemus" is the first-person, plural, present-tense, active, subjunctive form of the verb "aestimo," "aestimare." Therefore, the correct translation is let us estimate.

Example Question #1 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,                    5
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,                        10
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

How is "cum" in line 13 translated?

Possible Answers:

Why

How

With

When

Correct answer:

When

Explanation:

"Cum" in line 13 is translated as when because it is in a "cum" temporal subjunctive clause. In these clauses, "cum" is used as an adverb to indicate the time in which an action is happening.

Passage adapted from "Catullus 5," ln.1-13

Example Question #3 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.                  5
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli
plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:                     10
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis,
totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

How does "ut" in line 14 translate?

Possible Answers:

Just

So that

That

As

Correct answer:

As

Explanation:

The construnction of these last few lines can be a bit confusing. While it is true that "ut" is followed by a subjunctive verb (which normally indicates a subjunctive ut clause), reading closely shows that it makes no sense for there to be an ut clause in this area: there is no explanation of purpose and there is no cause and effect. In fact, what we have here is a cum temporal clause. "Cum" in the previous line does not have a direct object. That it is followed by a subjunctive verb ("faciant") indicates a temporal clause. 

There is a word missing from this sentence: "est." As usual, Latin authors often leave out this word, but we know that it must be present here because of the succession of accusative words. We do not have multiple direct objects here, but instead a set of appositives. The word "te" is being described as "totum nasum." The line translates as: When you will smell (it), they (the gods) will make you like/as your entire nose.

(Passage adapted from "Catullus 13," ln.1-14)

Example Question #2 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.                  5
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli
plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:                     10
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis,
totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

How should "candida" in line 4 be translated?

Possible Answers:

Pure

Truthful

White

Bright

Correct answer:

Pure

Explanation:

While the word "candida" literally means white, the poet is not talking about the color of this girl's skin (not something the Romans would have cared much about). Just like today in Western Culture, the color white is often associated with innocence and purity.

(Passage adapted from "Catullus 13," ln.1-14)

Example Question #5 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
et quod vides perisse perditum ducas.
fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles,
cum ventitabas quo puella ducebat
amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla.                         5
ibi illa multa cum iocosa fiebant,
quae tu volebas nec puella nolebat,
fulsere vere candidi tibi soles.
nunc iam illa non vult: tu quoque impotens noli,
nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive,                       10
sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura.
vale puella, iam Catullus obdurat,
nec te requiret nec rogabit invitam.
at tu dolebis, cum rogaberis nulla.
scelesta, vae te, quae tibi manet vita?                         15
quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella?
quem nunc amabis? cuius esse diceris?
quem basiabis? cui labella mordebis?
at tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.

How should "ducas" be translated in line 2?

Possible Answers:

To consider

To want

To force

To lead

Correct answer:

To consider

Explanation:

Other translations for "duco," "ducere" include to consider and to regard. The usual definition, to lead, does not make sense in the context of this sentence. The line translates: that which you saw to have died, you should consider dead.

(Passage adapted from "Catullus 8," ln.1-19)

Example Question #3 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Disertissime Romuli nepotum,
quot sunt quotque fuere, Marce Tulli,
quotque post aliis erunt in annis,
gratias tibi maximas Catullus
agit pessimus omnium poeta,               5
tanto pessimus omnium poeta,
quanto tu optimus omnium patronus.

How does "fuere" (line 2) translate?

Possible Answers:

To burn

To be

They burn

They were

Correct answer:

They were

Explanation:

"Fuere" is the syncopated form of "fuerunt," which translates as they were. "Fuere" comes from the verb "sum, esse, fui, futurus." The syncopated form is recognizable because of the use of the perfect stem with an infinitive-like ending ("-ere").

(Passage adapted from "Catullus 49," ln.1-7)

Example Question #4 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Disertissime Romuli nepotum,
quot sunt quotque fuere, Marce Tulli,
quotque post aliis erunt in annis,
gratias tibi maximas Catullus
agit pessimus omnium poeta,               5
tanto pessimus omnium poeta,
quanto tu optimus omnium patronus.

"Gratias tibi maximas" (line 4) could be translated as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Thank you very much

I expect many things from you

You deserve many things

The greatest things are for you

Correct answer:

Thank you very much

Explanation:

"Gratias ago tibi" is a common Latin idiom, meaning thank you. The addition of the word "maximas" could be translated as very much.

(Passage adapted from "Catullus 49," ln.1-7)

Example Question #5 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle
     quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat.
dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti,
     in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.

"Se" (line 1) translates as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

They

She

It

He

Correct answer:

She

Explanation:

The word "se" is a reflexive pronoun that refers back to the subject of the sentence. Since the subject of the sentence is "mulier" (woman), the most fitting translation is she.

(Passage adapted from "Catullus 70," ln.1-4)

Example Question #6 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Nulli se dicit mulier mea nubere malle
     quam mihi, non si se Iuppiter ipse petat.
dicit: sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti,
     in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua.

The word "quam" (line 2) translates as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Which

How

Than

Whom

Correct answer:

Than

Explanation:

The word "quam" is being used here to indicate comparison. The comparison is between the author and everyone else. When "quam" is used for comparison like this, it is translated as than.

(Passage adapted from "Catullus 70," ln.1-4)

Example Question #10 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quicum ludere, quem in sinu tenere,
cui primum digitum dare appetenti
et acris solet incitare morsus,
cum desiderio meo nitenti                       5
carum nescio quid lubet iocari
et solaciolum sui doloris,
credo ut tum gravis acquiescat ardor:
tecum ludere sicut ipsa possem
et tristis animi levare curas!                    10

The word "deliciae" (line 1) translates as __________.

Possible Answers:

darling

delicate

sweet

delicious

Correct answer:

darling

Explanation:

The word "deliciae," specifically in the plural, colloquially means darling or any other such term to denote fondness of something - a pet name.

(Passage adapted from "Poem II" by Gaius Valerius Catullus, 1-10)

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