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

Example Question #11 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes      
tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque.
quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae
lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis
oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi                                 5
et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum;
aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,
furtivos hominum vident amores:
tam te basia multa basiare
vesano satis et super Catullo est,                         10
quae nec pernumerare curiosi
possint nec mala fascinare lingua.

The word "mihi" (line 1) is best translated as ___________.

Possible Answers:

me

from me

with me

for me

Correct answer:

from me

Explanation:

The word "mihi" is in the dative case, but often in Latin, the dative case is used to show agency or origination. The correct translation in the context of this poem is from me.

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

Example Question #12 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Ille mi par esse deo videtur,
ille, si fas est, superare divos,
qui sedens adversus identidem te
     spectat et audit
dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis             5
eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te,
Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi
     * * * * * * * *
lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures gemina, teguntur                 10
     lumina nocte.
otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis:
otium et reges prius et beatas
     perdidit urbes.                                      15

The word "lumina" (line 11) is translated as _____________.

Possible Answers:

eyes

shiny

lights

bright

Correct answer:

eyes

Explanation:

The word "lumina" comes from "lumen," "luminis," which literally means lights; however, it is often used in Latin to refer to the eyes. From context, eyes makes more sense, since the author has been listing a variety of body parts to this point.

Passage adapted from "Poem 51" by Gaius Valerius Catullus

Example Question #11 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

 Aurea prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo,
sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.               
poena metusque aberant, nec verba minantia fixo
aere legebantur, nec supplex turba timebat
iudicis ora sui, sed erant sine vindice tuti.                      5
nondum caesa suis, peregrinum ut viseret orbem,
montibus in liquidas pinus descenderat undas,               
nullaque mortales praeter sua litora norant;
nondum praecipites cingebant oppida fossae;
non tuba derecti, non aeris cornua flexi,                        10
non galeae, non ensis erat: sine militis usu
mollia securae peragebant otia gentes.               

What's the best translation of "legebantur" in line 4?

Possible Answers:

They were collected.

They read.

They were read.

They gather.

Correct answer:

They were collected.

Explanation:

All of the above choices are possible translations of the word "lego," "legere," "legi," "lectus," which this word comes from. This form, however, is in the 3rd person, plural, imperfect, passive, indicative form. They are read does not make much sense in the context of this sentence. The best choice is they are collected.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses 1. 89-101)

Example Question #11 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

 Aurea prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo,
sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.               
poena metusque aberant, nec verba minantia fixo
aere legebantur, nec supplex turba timebat
iudicis ora sui, sed erant sine vindice tuti.                      5
nondum caesa suis, peregrinum ut viseret orbem,
montibus in liquidas pinus descenderat undas,               
nullaque mortales praeter sua litora norant;
nondum praecipites cingebant oppida fossae;
non tuba derecti, non aeris cornua flexi,                        10
non galeae, non ensis erat: sine militis usu
mollia securae peragebant otia gentes.               

The word "ut" in line 6 is translated __________.

Possible Answers:

like

that

as

so that

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

The word "ut" in this line accompanied by the subjunctive verb "viseret." Therefore, the translation possibilities are limited to that or so that, based on how the word is being used. There is no purpose being mentioned here; in other words, something is not happening so that something else may happen. What we have here is a result clause, showing that men were able to visit the world because there was nothing stopping them. The best translation is that.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses 1. 89-101)

Example Question #12 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Tertia post illam successit aenea proles,               
saevior ingeniis et ad horrida promptior arma,
non scelerata tamen; de duro est ultima ferro.
protinus inrupit venae peioris in aevum
omne nefas: fugere pudor verumque fidesque;             5
in quorum subiere locum fraudesque dolusque               
insidiaeque et vis et amor sceleratus habendi.
vela dabant ventis nec adhuc bene noverat illos
navita, quaeque prius steterant in montibus altis,
fluctibus ignotis insultavere carinae,                              10
communemque prius ceu lumina solis et auras               
cautus humum longo signavit limite mensor.
nec tantum segetes alimentaque debita dives
poscebatur humus, sed itum est in viscera terrae,
quasque recondiderat Stygiisque admoverat umbris,       15
effodiuntur opes, inritamenta malorum.               

The word "vela" in line 8 should be translated __________.

Possible Answers:

sails

hides

concealed

coverings

Correct answer:

sails

Explanation:

The word "vela" comes from the word "velum," "veli," which means a hide and can be used to refer to coverings. Here, however, it means a sail. In Latin literature, the sails of a ship are often referred to as "vela." Additionally, we have words that are associated with sailing in this sentence like "navita." In the same clause itself, you have the phrase "dabant ventis" - they give them to the winds. There would be no purpose in giving a hide or covering to the wind, literally.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 1.125-141)

Example Question #143 : Content Of Poetry

Rumor in ambiguo est; aliis violentior aequo
visa dea est, alii laudant dignamque severa
virginitate vocant: pars invenit utraque causas.               
sola Iovis coniunx non tam, culpetne probetne,
eloquitur, quam clade domus ab Agenore ductae               5
gaudet et a Tyria collectum paelice transfert
in generis socios odium; subit ecce priori
causa recens, gravidamque dolet de semine magni         
esse Iovis Semelen; dum linguam ad iurgia solvit,
'profeci quid enim totiens per iurgia?' dixit,                       10
'ipsa petenda mihi est; ipsam, si maxima Iuno
rite vocor, perdam, si me gemmantia dextra
sceptra tenere decet, si sum regina Iovisque              
et soror et coniunx, certe soror. at, puto, furto est
contenta, et thalami brevis est iniuria nostri.                     15
concipit--id derat-- manifestaque crimina pleno
fert utero et mater, quod vix mihi contigit, uno
de Iove vult fieri: tanta est fiducia formae.              
fallat eam faxo; nec sum Saturnia, si non
ab Iove mersa suo Stygias penetrabit in undas.'               20

The word "aequo" in line 1 should be translated as ___________.

Possible Answers:

on the sea

even

than just

on the land

Correct answer:

than just

Explanation:

The word "aequo" comes from "aequus," "a," "um," which can mean level or just. In this sentence, it is being paired with the a comparative adjective. More violent than even/the sea/the land does not make much sense in this context. These words are being used here to describe action without thought or fairness.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses 3.253-273)

Example Question #11 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

Vallis erat piceis et acuta densa cupressu,               
nomine Gargaphie succinctae sacra Dianae,
cuius in extremo est antrum nemorale recessu
arte laboratum nulla: simulaverat artem
ingenio natura suo; nam pumice vivo                          5
et levibus tofis nativum duxerat arcum;               
fons sonat a dextra tenui perlucidus unda,
margine gramineo patulos incinctus hiatus.
hic dea silvarum venatu fessa solebat
virgineos artus liquido perfundere rore.                        10
quo postquam subiit, nympharum tradidit uni               
armigerae iaculum pharetramque arcusque retentos,
altera depositae subiecit bracchia pallae,
vincla duae pedibus demunt; nam doctior illis
Ismenis Crocale sparsos per colla capillos                     15
colligit in nodum, quamvis erat ipsa solutis.               

The word "hic" in line 9 should be translated _____________.

Possible Answers:

it

this

here

he

Correct answer:

here

Explanation:

The word "hic" should be translated as here in this sentence. Often, forms of the word "hic" and "ille" are used to indicate spatial concepts. The most common are "hic" - here, "huc" - from here, "huic" - to here, "ille" - there, "illuc" - from there, and "illic" - to there.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses 3.155-171)

Example Question #151 : Content Of Poetry

Vallis erat piceis et acuta densa cupressu,               
nomine Gargaphie succinctae sacra Dianae,
cuius in extremo est antrum nemorale recessu
arte laboratum nulla: simulaverat artem
ingenio natura suo; nam pumice vivo                          5
et levibus tofis nativum duxerat arcum;               
fons sonat a dextra tenui perlucidus unda,
margine gramineo patulos incinctus hiatus.
hic dea silvarum venatu fessa solebat
virgineos artus liquido perfundere rore.                        10
quo postquam subiit, nympharum tradidit uni               
armigerae iaculum pharetramque arcusque retentos,
altera depositae subiecit bracchia pallae,
vincla duae pedibus demunt; nam doctior illis
Ismenis Crocale sparsos per colla capillos                     15
colligit in nodum, quamvis erat ipsa solutis.               

How does the word "acuta" in line 1 translate?

Possible Answers:

Sharp

Dense

Severe

Thick

Correct answer:

Severe

Explanation:

The word "acuta" comes from the adjective "acutus, a, um," which usually translates as sharp/wise. Another translation for this word, however, is serious or severe. In the line where "acuta" appears, the story is describing a valley and the trees in it. The meaning sharp does not fit in well here. Instead, the word "vallis" is being described by "acuta," in order to describe the valley as immensely dense with trees.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses 3.155-171)

Example Question #13 : Context Based Meaning Of Words And Phrases In Poetry Passages

quae, quamquam comitum turba est stipata suarum,
in latus obliquum tamen adstitit oraque retro
flexit et, ut vellet promptas habuisse sagittas,
quas habuit sic hausit aquas vultumque virilem
perfudit spargensque comas ultricibus undis                 5
addidit haec cladis praenuntia verba futurae:
'nunc tibi me posito visam velamine narres,
si poteris narrare, licet!' nec plura minata
dat sparso capiti vivacis cornua cervi,
dat spatium collo summasque cacuminat aures            10
cum pedibusque manus, cum longis bracchia mutat
cruribus et velat maculoso vellere corpus;
additus et pavor est: fugit Autonoeius heros
et se tam celerem cursu miratur in ipso.

The phrase "oraque[...]flexit" in lines 2-3 means __________.

Possible Answers:

the girl is smiling

the girl is frowning

the girl is having an argument with her friends

the girl is bending something

Correct answer:

the girl is frowning

Explanation:

This phrase can be taken to mean that the girl in this passage is frowning. Since the mouth does not usually form a frown (or at least would not be expected to), a frown can be interpreted as the reverse ("retro") direction. Additionally, the words accompanying this phrase do not indicate any sort of happiness. The preceding phrases indicate that the girl is accompanied by her friends, a situation that would expectedly bring joy, but the word "quamquam" (although) is used, meaning that the opposite reaction to what is expected is occurring here. That action here is frowning.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 3.186-200)

Example Question #301 : Ap Latin Language

quae, quamquam comitum turba est stipata suarum,
in latus obliquum tamen adstitit oraque retro
flexit et, ut vellet promptas habuisse sagittas,
quas habuit sic hausit aquas vultumque virilem
perfudit spargensque comas ultricibus undis                 5
addidit haec cladis praenuntia verba futurae:
'nunc tibi me posito visam velamine narres,
si poteris narrare, licet!' nec plura minata
dat sparso capiti vivacis cornua cervi,
dat spatium collo summasque cacuminat aures            10
cum pedibusque manus, cum longis bracchia mutat
cruribus et velat maculoso vellere corpus;
additus et pavor est: fugit Autonoeius heros
et se tam celerem cursu miratur in ipso.

The word "ut" in line 3 should be translated as __________.

Possible Answers:

when

that

as

so that

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

The word "ut" in this phrase translates as that because it is in a result clause. As a result of the previous occurrence (in the preceding phrases, which caused her to frown) she wants ready arrows. 

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 3.186-200)

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