AP Latin : Passage Comprehension in Poetry Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Latin

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Example Questions

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Example Question #21 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

     Inde per inmensum croceo velatus amictu
aethera digreditur Ciconumque Hymenaeus ad oras
tendit et Orphea nequiquam voce vocatur.
adfuit ille quidem, sed nec sollemnia verba
nec laetos vultus nec felix attulit omen.                             5
fax quoque, quam tenuit, lacrimoso stridula fumo
usque fuit nullosque invenit motibus ignes.
exitus auspicio gravior: nam nupta per herbas
dum nova naiadum turba comitata vagatur,
occidit in talum serpentis dente recepto.                            10

In lines 1-10, we learn that __________.

Possible Answers:

Orpheus has been bitten by a serpent

Orpheus is searching for his wife in vain

Orpheus is battling a serpent

Orpheus is getting married

Correct answer:

Orpheus is searching for his wife in vain

Explanation:

In lines 1-10, we learn that Orpheus is searching for his wife, Eurydice. The passage makes use of words like "nequiquam" - in vain, and "vagatur" - wanders, in addition to others indicating wandering and desperation. The tone, communicated through Ovid's diction and stylistic choices, is one of futile desperation.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 10.1-10)

Example Question #22 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

     Inde per inmensum croceo velatus amictu
aethera digreditur Ciconumque Hymenaeus ad oras
tendit et Orphea nequiquam voce vocatur.
adfuit ille quidem, sed nec sollemnia verba
nec laetos vultus nec felix attulit omen.                             5
fax quoque, quam tenuit, lacrimoso stridula fumo
usque fuit nullosque invenit motibus ignes.
exitus auspicio gravior: nam nupta per herbas
dum nova naiadum turba comitata vagatur,
occidit in talum serpentis dente recepto.                            10

In the passage attention is drawn mostly to Orpheus' feelings of ___________.

Possible Answers:

happiness

despair

anger

exhaustion

Correct answer:

despair

Explanation:

The passage indicates that Orpheus is wandering and searching in vain. The term provided that most accurately describes his inner emotional state is "despair." In the passage he is described as weeping ("lacrimoso"), serious ("gravior") and unlucky ("nec felix omen"), which rules out "happiness" pretty conclusively. The key to this question is "mostly," while it would be reasonable to assume that Orpheus is angry and exhausted the most specifically highlighted emotional state is his despair.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 10.1-10)

Example Question #23 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

Dignane, cui grates ageret, cui turis honorem
ferret, Adoni, fui? nec grates inmemor egit,
nec mihi tura dedit. subitam convertor in iram,
contemptuque dolens, ne sim spernenda futuris,
exemplo caveo meque ipsa exhortor in ambos:               5
templa, deum Matri quae quondam clarus Echion
fecerat ex voto, nemorosis abdita silvis,
transibant, et iter longum requiescere suasit;
illic concubitus intempestiva cupido
occupat Hippomenen a numine concita nostro.               10
luminis exigui fuerat prope templa recessus,
speluncae similis, nativo pumice tectus,
religione sacer prisca, quo multa sacerdos
lignea contulerat veterum simulacra deorum;
hunc init et vetito temerat sacraria probro.                    15

Who is speaking in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Hippomenes

Adonis

A god

It is not possible to guess from the passage who is speaking

Correct answer:

A god

Explanation:

We can infer from the words used in this passage that a God is speaking. The first few lines speak about giving thanks (often interpreted as the gods when said in general terms). Temples and Gods are mentioned in addition to mentions of incense ("turis"), which is common in rituals to the gods. Since the speaker says (line 3) s/he does not give frankincense to me, we can infer that the speaker it a god.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 10.681-696)

Example Question #24 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

Forsitan audieris aliquam certamine cursus              
veloces superasse viros: non fabula rumor
ille fuit; superabat enim. nec dicere posses,
laude pedum formaene bono praestantior esset.
scitanti deus huic de coniuge 'coniuge' dixit                      5
'nil opus est, Atalanta, tibi: fuge coniugis usum.               
nec tamen effugies teque ipsa viva carebis.'
territa sorte dei per opacas innuba silvas
vivit et instantem turbam violenta procorum
condicione fugat, 'ne' c 'sum potiunda, nisi' inquit             10
'victa prius cursu. pedibus contendite mecum:               
praemia veloci coniunx thalamique dabuntur,
mors pretium tardis: ea lex certaminis esto.'
illa quidem inmitis, sed (tanta potentia formae est)
venit ad hanc legem temeraria turba procorum.                15
sederat Hippomenes cursus spectator iniqui               
et 'petitur cuiquam per tanta pericula coniunx?'
dixerat ac nimios iuvenum damnarat amores;

In lines 1-8, we learn that ___________.

Possible Answers:

Atalanta is an average woman

Atalanta does not want to be married

Atalanta has been crippled in an accident

the gods like Atalanta, and respect her personal autonomy

Correct answer:

Atalanta does not want to be married

Explanation:

Lines 1-8 tell us that Atalanta is an outstanding runner, who surpasses many men in competitions and is very beautiful. Because of this, men want to marry her and the Gods inform her that she will be married, but Atalanta flees to the woods after hearing this. She does not want to marry.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses 10. 560-578)

Example Question #25 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

Atque ego, si virtus in me dubitabilis esset,
nobilitate potens essem, Telamone creatus,
moenia qui forti Troiana sub Hercule cepit
litoraque intravit Pagasaea Colcha carina;
Aeacus huic pater est, qui iura silentibus illic              5
reddit, ubi Aeoliden saxum grave Sisyphon urget;
Aeacon agnoscit summus prolemque fatetur
Iuppiter esse suam: sic a Iove tertius Aiax.
nec tamen haec series in causam prosit, Achivi,
si mihi cum magno non est communis Achille:            10
frater erat, fraterna peto! quid sanguine cretus
Sisyphio furtisque et fraude simillimus illi
inseris Aeacidis alienae nomina gentis?

In this passage, we learn that _____________.

Possible Answers:

Hercules is fighting in Troy

the author has many friends

Ajax is descendant of Jupiter.

the author has fathered many children

Correct answer:

Ajax is descendant of Jupiter.

Explanation:

In this passage, the author is describing his lineage and claim to nobility. In the course of saying this, he says that he, Ajax, is a descendant of Jupiter (line 8, "sic a Iove tertius Aiax").

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 8.21-34)

Example Question #26 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

at non Hectoreis dubitavit cedere flammis,
quas ego sustinui, quas hac a classe fugavi.
tutius est igitur fictis contendere verbis,
quam pugnare manu, sed nec mihi dicere promptum,             
nec facere est isti: quantumque ego Marte feroci                     5
inque acie valeo, tantum valet iste loquendo.
nec memoranda tamen vobis mea facta, Pelasgi,
esse reor: vidistis enim; sua narret Ulixes,
quae sine teste gerit, quorum nox conscia sola est!             
praemia magna peti fateor; sed demit honorem                       10
aemulus: Aiaci non est tenuisse superbum,
sit licet hoc ingens, quicquid speravit Ulixes;
iste tulit pretium iam nunc temptaminis huius,
quod, cum victus erit, mecum certasse feretur.   

In this passage, we learn that ____________.

Possible Answers:

the speaker does not like Ajax

the speaker thinks he is more adept as a warrior than as a speaker

the speaker wants to be remembered for his speaking capabilities

the speaker does not like Ulixes

Correct answer:

the speaker thinks he is more adept as a warrior than as a speaker

Explanation:

In the passage, the speaker ("Ajax") is explaining that he thinks it is time to have a discussion (line 3-5, "tutius...isti"), but that it is not his place to speak (line 5-9, "quantumque...est"), since he is better at waging war and Ulixes is a much better speaker.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 8.7-21)

Example Question #27 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

Hector adest secumque deos in proelia ducit,
quaque ruit, non tu tantum terreris, Ulixe,
sed fortes etiam: tantum trahit ille timoris.
hunc ego sanguineae successu caedis ovantem              
eminus ingenti resupinum pondere fudi,                       5
hunc ego poscentem, cum quo concurreret, unus
sustinui: sortemque meam vovistis, Achivi,
et vestrae valuere preces. si quaeritis huius
fortunam pugnae, non sum superatus ab illo.              
ecce ferunt Troes ferrumque ignesque Iovemque          10
in Danaas classes: ubi nunc facundus Ulixes?
nempe ego mille meo protexi pectore puppes,
spem vestri reditus: date pro tot navibus arma.

In lines 1-3, we learn that ____________.

Possible Answers:

Hector terrifies other soldiers

Hector is terrified of the Gods

The Gods terrify Hector and Ulysses

Ulysses is afraid of Hector

Correct answer:

Hector terrifies other soldiers

Explanation:

In lines 1-3, the speaker states that, while Ulysses may not be afraid of Hector, other strong men ("fortes") are afraid. The key here was identifying which characters were afraid, and which character was causing that fear.

(Passage adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 8. 82-95)

Example Question #21 : Passage Comprehension In Poetry Passages

Arma gravi numero violentaque bella parabam
edere, materia conveniente modis.
par erat inferior versus—risisse Cupido
dicitur atque unum surripuisse pedem.
'Quis tibi, saeve puer, dedit hoc in carmina iuris?
Pieridum vates, non tua turba sumus.
quid, si praeripiat flavae Venus arma Minervae,
ventilet accensas flava Minerva faces?
quis probet in silvis Cererem regnare iugosis,
lege pharetratae Virginis arva coli?
crinibus insignem quis acuta cuspide Phoebum
instruat, Aoniam Marte movente lyram?
sunt tibi magna, puer, nimiumque potentia regna;
cur opus adfectas, ambitiose, novum?
an, quod ubique, tuum est? tua sunt Heliconia tempe?

What is the meaning of the underlined portion?

Possible Answers:

A reference to the story of Apollo and Daphne

A reference to Ovid's other works

A reference to the story of Cupid and Psyche

A reference to the meter of the poem.

Correct answer:

A reference to the meter of the poem.

Explanation:

The words "rississe . . . pedem" refers to the meter of the poem. In the previous phrase ("par . . . versus"), Ovid states that "The verse/line was inferior." This line explains why it was inferior: "Cupid is said to have laughed and stolen a foot (apparently, Cupid intentionally made this type of meter shorter)." This is a reference to the length of the meter (elegiac couplets) and its typical use (love poetry) and a comparison of this meter to dactyllic hexameter (used for epics).

(Passage adapted from Amores by Ovid, I.1–15)

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