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

 In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas
corpora; di, coeptis (nam vos mutastis et illas)
adspirate meis primaque ab origine mundi
ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carmen!
     Ante mare et terras et quod tegit omnia caelum               5
unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe,
quem dixere chaos: rudis indigestaque moles
nec quicquam nisi pondus iners congestaque eodem
non bene iunctarum discordia semina rerum.
nullus adhuc mundo praebebat lumina Titan,                         10
nec nova crescendo reparabat cornua Phoebe,
nec circumfuso pendebat in aere tellus
ponderibus librata suis, nec bracchia longo
margine terrarum porrexerat Amphitrite;
utque erat et tellus illic et pontus et aer,                               15
sic erat instabilis tellus, innabilis unda,
lucis egens aer; nulli sua forma manebat,
obstabatque aliis aliud, quia corpore in uno
frigida pugnabant calidis, umentia siccis,
mollia cum duris, sine pondere, habentia pondus.                  20

How is the word "lumina" (line 10) translated here?

Possible Answers:

Stars

Lights

Eyes

Energy

Correct answer:

Lights

Explanation:

The word "lumina" is translated as lights in this sentence: "The Titan supplied the lights for the world . . ." While "lumina" can also be translated as eyes, depending on the context of a sentence, there is no indication here that we are talking about faces, expressions, or otherwise that would refer to eyes.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, ln.1-20)

Example Question #41 : Prose

Primus amor Phoebi Daphne Peneia, quem non
fors ignara dedit, sed saeva Cupidinis ira,
Delius hunc nuper, victa serpente superbus,
viderat adducto flectentem cornua nervo              
'quid' que 'tibi, lascive puer, cum fortibus armis?'               5
dixerat: 'ista decent umeros gestamina nostros,
qui dare certa ferae, dare vulnera possumus hosti,
qui modo pestifero tot iugera ventre prementem
stravimus innumeris tumidum Pythona sagittis.               
tu face nescio quos esto contentus amores                       10
inritare tua, nec laudes adsere nostras!'
filius huic Veneris 'figat tuus omnia, Phoebe,
te meus arcus' ait; 'quantoque animalia cedunt
cuncta deo, tanto minor est tua gloria nostra.'

What is the best translation of "quid tibi" in line 5?

Possible Answers:

What business do you have with . . .

What was given to . . .

What is present . . .

What is right . . .

Correct answer:

What business do you have with . . .

Explanation:

The translation of "quid tibi" relies mainly on the context of the sentence. Apollo is asking why Cupid is messing around with weapons. In the later sentences of this passages, Apollo continues to brag to Cupid. The best translation is what business do you have with.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, 1.452-465)

Example Question #42 : Prose

Primus amor Phoebi Daphne Peneia, quem non
fors ignara dedit, sed saeva Cupidinis ira,
Delius hunc nuper, victa serpente superbus,
viderat adducto flectentem cornua nervo              
'quid' que 'tibi, lascive puer, cum fortibus armis?'               5
dixerat: 'ista decent umeros gestamina nostros,
qui dare certa ferae, dare vulnera possumus hosti,
qui modo pestifero tot iugera ventre prementem
stravimus innumeris tumidum Pythona sagittis.               
tu face nescio quos esto contentus amores                       10
inritare tua, nec laudes adsere nostras!'
filius huic Veneris 'figat tuus omnia, Phoebe,
te meus arcus' ait; 'quantoque animalia cedunt
cuncta deo, tanto minor est tua gloria nostra.'

The word "cornua" (line 4) is best translated as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Bow

Horns

Spears

Pillars

Correct answer:

Bow

Explanation:

The best translation of "cornua" here is bow. Sometimes bows are referred to as horns because the shape of a bow looks similar to two horns (think that of a longhorn) put back-to-back.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, 1.452-465)

Example Question #43 : Prose

Saepe pater dixit: 'generum mihi, filia, debes,'
saepe pater dixit: 'debes mihi, nata, nepotes';
illa velut crimen taedas exosa iugales
pulchra verecundo suffuderat ora rubore
inque patris blandis haerens cervice lacertis                       5
'da mihi perpetua, genitor carissime,' dixit
'virginitate frui! dedit hoc pater ante Dianae.'
ille quidem obsequitur, sed te decor iste quod optas
esse vetat, votoque tuo tua forma repugnat:
Phoebus amat visaeque cupit conubia Daphnes,                 10
quodque cupit, sperat, suaque illum oracula fallunt,
utque leves stipulae demptis adolentur aristis,
ut facibus saepes ardent, quas forte viator
vel nimis admovit vel iam sub luce reliquit,
sic deus in flammas abiit, sic pectore toto                          15
uritur et sterilem sperando nutrit amorem.

The word "ora" in line 4 translates as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Mouth

Speech

Face

Lips

Correct answer:

Face

Explanation:

All of the answer choices are possible translation of the word "ora." The word comes from "os, oris," which literally translates as mouth. By way of metonymy, however, it is often used to refer to a person's face or expression. Here, the word "ora" is doing exactly that, since the other words of the sentence describe the "ora" as flushing with red—something the face does when someone is embarrassed, as is happening here. 

(Adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, 1.481-496)

Example Question #44 : Prose

Praebuerat dictis Tritonia talibus aures
carminaque Aonidum iustamque probaverat iram;
tum secum: 'laudare parum est, laudemur et ipsae
numina nec sperni sine poena nostra sinamus.'
Maeoniaeque animum fatis intendit Arachnes,             5
quam sibi lanificae non cedere laudibus artis
audierat. non illa loco nec origine gentis
clara, sed arte fuit: pater huic Colophonius Idmon
Phocaico bibulas tinguebat murice lanas;
occiderat mater, sed et haec de plebe suoque            10
aequa viro fuerat; Lydas tamen illa per urbes
quaesierat studio nomen memorabile, quamvis
orta domo parva parvis habitabat Hypaepis.
huius ut adspicerent opus admirabile, saepe
deseruere sui nymphae vineta Timoli,                       15
deseruere suas nymphae Pactolides undas.

What is the best translation of "secum" in line 3?

Possible Answers:

To her

It

To herself

With him

Correct answer:

To herself

Explanation:

The word "se" is an example of a reflexive pronoun, a word that refers back to the subject of the sentence. These words end in "-self" in English. Since the subject is "Tritonia," we know the translation should be somewhere along the lines of herself, but the addition of "cum" tells us that "se" is in the ablative case and therefore literally translates as with herself, but that does not make the most sense in English, for what she is doing is speaking to herself. Contextually, and in translation, the most appropriate translation is to herself.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, VI.1-16)

Example Question #51 : Prose

Praebuerat dictis Tritonia talibus aures
carminaque Aonidum iustamque probaverat iram;
tum secum: 'laudare parum est, laudemur et ipsae
numina nec sperni sine poena nostra sinamus.'
Maeoniaeque animum fatis intendit Arachnes,             5
quam sibi lanificae non cedere laudibus artis
audierat. non illa loco nec origine gentis
clara, sed arte fuit: pater huic Colophonius Idmon
Phocaico bibulas tinguebat murice lanas;
occiderat mater, sed et haec de plebe suoque            10
aequa viro fuerat; Lydas tamen illa per urbes
quaesierat studio nomen memorabile, quamvis
orta domo parva parvis habitabat Hypaepis.
huius ut adspicerent opus admirabile, saepe
deseruere sui nymphae vineta Timoli,                       15
deseruere suas nymphae Pactolides undas.

What is the best translation for "audierat" (line 7) in the context of this passage?

Possible Answers:

We hear

She heard

She had heard

It is said

Correct answer:

It is said

Explanation:

While the word "audierat" literally translates as ____ had heard, that translation does not make much sense in the context of this sentence. In fact, "audierat" does not take a subject in this sentence and is being used impersonally. Therefore, the translation would be it had heard. The meaning, however, is that rumors are spreading about the subject's praises, so "audierat" is from the context of some other bystander overhearing these things being said. It is said makes the most sense in context.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, VI.1-16)

Example Question #52 : Prose

Pyramus et Thisbe, iuvenum pulcherrimus alter,               
altera, quas Oriens habuit, praelata puellis,
contiguas tenuere domos, ubi dicitur altam
coctilibus muris cinxisse Semiramis urbem.
notitiam primosque gradus vicinia fecit,                             5
tempore crevit amor; taedae quoque iure coissent,              
sed vetuere patres: quod non potuere vetare,
ex aequo captis ardebant mentibus ambo.
conscius omnis abest; nutu signisque loquuntur,
quoque magis tegitur, tectus magis aestuat ignis.              10
fissus erat tenui rima, quam duxerat olim,               
cum fieret, paries domui communis utrique.
id vitium nulli per saecula longa notatum -
quid non sentit amor? - primi vidistis amantes
et vocis fecistis iter, tutaeque per illud                              15
murmure blanditiae minimo transire solebant.               

"Ubi" (line 3) is best translated as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Where

When

How

For

Correct answer:

Where

Explanation:

The word "ubi" can be translated as either when or where. Where makes the most sense here because this particular clause is describing a place instead of a particular period of time.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, IV.55-70)

Example Question #53 : Prose

Erat Miseni classemque imperio praesens regebat. Nonum Kal. Septembres hora fere septima mater mea indicat ei apparere nubem inusitata et magnitudine et specie. Usus ille sole, mox frigida, gustaverat iacens studebatque; poscit soleas, ascendit locum ex quo maxime miraculum illud conspici poterat. Nubes — incertum procul intuentibus ex quo monte; Vesuvium fuisse postea cognitum est — oriebatur, cuius similitudinem et formam non alia magis arbor quam pinus expresserit. Nam longissimo velut trunco elata in altum quibusdam ramis diffundebatur, credo quia recenti spiritu evecta, dein senescente eo destituta aut etiam pondere suo victa in latitudinem vanescebat, candida interdum, interdum sordida et maculosa prout terram cineremve sustulerat. Magnum propiusque noscendum ut eruditissimo viro visum. Iubet liburnicam aptari; mihi si venire una vellem facit copiam; respondi studere me malle, et forte ipse quod scriberem dederat. Egrediebatur domo; accipit codicillos Rectinae Tasci imminenti periculo exterritae — nam villa eius subiacebat, nec ulla nisi navibus fuga -: ut se tanto discrimini eriperet orabat. Vertit ille consilium et quod studioso animo incohaverat obit maximo. Deducit quadriremes, ascendit ipse non Rectinae modo sed multis — erat enim frequens amoenitas orae — laturus auxilium. Properat illuc unde alii fugiunt, rectumque cursum recta gubernacula in periculum tenet adeo solutus metu, ut omnes illius mali motus omnes figuras ut deprenderat oculis dictaret enotaretque.

The word "nubem" (line 2) means __________.

Possible Answers:

cloud

new

explosion

expression

Correct answer:

cloud

Explanation:

The word "nubem" comes from "nubes," "nubis," the Latin word for cloud. While it can refer to a gloomy expression (same as with the phrase "cloud hanging over one's head" in English today), it means a literal cloud here.

(Passage adapted from Pliny the Younger's Letters to Tacitus Book 6, #16)

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

Erat Miseni classemque imperio praesens regebat. Nonum Kal. Septembres hora fere septima mater mea indicat ei apparere nubem inusitata et magnitudine et specie. Usus ille sole, mox frigida, gustaverat iacens studebatque; poscit soleas, ascendit locum ex quo maxime miraculum illud conspici poterat. Nubes — incertum procul intuentibus ex quo monte; Vesuvium fuisse postea cognitum est — oriebatur, cuius similitudinem et formam non alia magis arbor quam pinus expresserit. Nam longissimo velut trunco elata in altum quibusdam ramis diffundebatur, credo quia recenti spiritu evecta, dein senescente eo destituta aut etiam pondere suo victa in latitudinem vanescebat, candida interdum, interdum sordida et maculosa prout terram cineremve sustulerat. Magnum propiusque noscendum ut eruditissimo viro visum. Iubet liburnicam aptari; mihi si venire una vellem facit copiam; respondi studere me malle, et forte ipse quod scriberem dederat. Egrediebatur domo; accipit codicillos Rectinae Tasci imminenti periculo exterritae — nam villa eius subiacebat, nec ulla nisi navibus fuga -: ut se tanto discrimini eriperet orabat. Vertit ille consilium et quod studioso animo incohaverat obit maximo. Deducit quadriremes, ascendit ipse non Rectinae modo sed multis — erat enim frequens amoenitas orae — laturus auxilium. Properat illuc unde alii fugiunt, rectumque cursum recta gubernacula in periculum tenet adeo solutus metu, ut omnes illius mali motus omnes figuras ut deprenderat oculis dictaret enotaretque.

How is the underlined "quam" translated?

Possible Answers:

How

It

When

Than

Correct answer:

Than

Explanation:

The construction above is there to show comparison between one tree and others. "Quam" is often used in comparisons with a comparative adverb (and instead of the ablative case). When it is used in this way, it translates as than.

(Passage adapted from Pliny the Younger's Letters to Tacitus Book 6, #16)

Example Question #55 : Prose

Erat Miseni classemque imperio praesens regebat. Nonum Kal. Septembres hora fere septima mater mea indicat ei apparere nubem inusitata et magnitudine et specie. Usus ille sole, mox frigida, gustaverat iacens studebatque; poscit soleas, ascendit locum ex quo maxime miraculum illud conspici poterat. Nubes — incertum procul intuentibus ex quo monte; Vesuvium fuisse postea cognitum est — oriebatur, cuius similitudinem et formam non alia magis arbor quam pinus expresserit. Nam longissimo velut trunco elata in altum quibusdam ramis diffundebatur, credo quia recenti spiritu evecta, dein senescente eo destituta aut etiam pondere suo victa in latitudinem vanescebat, candida interdum, interdum sordida et maculosa prout terram cineremve sustulerat. Magnum propiusque noscendum ut eruditissimo viro visum. Iubet liburnicam aptari; mihi si venire una vellem facit copiam; respondi studere me malle, et forte ipse quod scriberem dederat. Egrediebatur domo; accipit codicillos Rectinae Tasci imminenti periculo exterritae — nam villa eius subiacebat, nec ulla nisi navibus fuga -: ut se tanto discrimini eriperet orabat. Vertit ille consilium et quod studioso animo incohaverat obit maximo. Deducit quadriremes, ascendit ipse non Rectinae modo sed multis — erat enim frequens amoenitas orae — laturus auxilium. Properat illuc unde alii fugiunt, rectumque cursum recta gubernacula in periculum tenet adeo solutus metu, ut omnes illius mali motus omnes figuras ut deprenderat oculis dictaret enotaretque.

How is the underlined "ut" translated?

Possible Answers:

So

As

So that

That

Correct answer:

As

Explanation:

The underlined "ut" is not accompanied by any sort of subjunctive; therefore, it should be translated as as.

(Passage adapted from Pliny the Younger's Letters to Tacitus Book 6, #16)

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