AP Latin : Context of Prose Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Latin

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Authors And Literary Conventions 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

In lines 1-4, what is the author doing?

Possible Answers:

Speaking about his art

Asking the gods to bless his work

Talking about history

Mentioning famous people

Correct answer:

Asking the gods to bless his work

Explanation:

In the first few lines of this passage, the author is reaching out to the gods and asking for them to bless his work for the years to come. He is asking them to make his work everlasting. This is a common convention among Roman authors, where they invoke the blessings of a Muse or some other god.

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

Example Question #64 : Prose

 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

This passage is from __________.

Possible Answers:

An account of the beginning of the world

A book explaining the locations of places on Earth

A book of lessons from the gods

An account of a famous war

Correct answer:

An account of the beginning of the world

Explanation:

This exerpt talks about Chaos and the beginning of the universe. It is an account of the Romans' idea of how the Earth began.

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

Example Question #1 : Mythology And Legends 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

Who is Phoebe (line 11)?

Possible Answers:

One of the original Titans

Diana

Selene

Apollo

Correct answer:

One of the original Titans

Explanation:

All of the gods listed are associated with the name Phoebe/Phoebus. The context of this passage tells us that it is still talking about the beginning of the universe. Therefore, none of the Gods (Selene, Diana, and Apollo) have been born yet. Phoebe is a Titan.

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

Example Question #4 : Context Of Prose Passages

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.'

To whom does "Phoebi" (line 1) refer?

Possible Answers:

Apollo

Selene

Diana

A Titan

Correct answer:

Apollo

Explanation:

All of the above names are associated with the name "Phoebe/Phoebus"; howver, the name "Daphne" is also mentioned, who is only associated with one of those gods/Titans. This is the story of Apollo and Daphne.

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

Example Question #532 : Ap Latin Language

Pallas anum simulat: falsosque in tempora canos
addit et infirmos, baculo quos sustinet, artus.
tum sic orsa loqui 'non omnia grandior aetas,
quae fugiamus, habet: seris venit usus ab annis.
consilium ne sperne meum: tibi fama petatur               5
inter mortales faciendae maxima lanae;
cede deae veniamque tuis, temeraria, dictis
supplice voce roga: veniam dabit illa roganti.'
adspicit hanc torvis inceptaque fila relinquit
vixque manum retinens confessaque vultibus iram       10
talibus obscuram resecuta est Pallada dictis:
'mentis inops longaque venis confecta senecta,
et nimium vixisse diu nocet. audiat istas,
si qua tibi nurus est, si qua est tibi filia, voces;
consilii satis est in me mihi, neve monendo                  15
profecisse putes, eadem est sententia nobis.
cur non ipsa venit? cur haec certamina vitat?'

Who is Pallas (line 1)?

Possible Answers:

Athena

Juno

Minerva

Vesta

Correct answer:

Minerva

Explanation:

"Pallas" refers to the goddess Minerva. Typically you will hear this epithet in the phrase "Pallas Athena." Yes, Pallas, Minerva, and Athena are all the same person, so why is Minerva the correct answer? Simple: Latin. Remember that on any official Latin test, the default answer should be the Latin/Roman name of that person, unless otherwise stated.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, VI.26-42)

Example Question #4 : Mythology And Legends In Prose Passages

Pallas anum simulat: falsosque in tempora canos
addit et infirmos, baculo quos sustinet, artus.
tum sic orsa loqui 'non omnia grandior aetas,
quae fugiamus, habet: seris venit usus ab annis.
consilium ne sperne meum: tibi fama petatur               5
inter mortales faciendae maxima lanae;
cede deae veniamque tuis, temeraria, dictis
supplice voce roga: veniam dabit illa roganti.'
adspicit hanc torvis inceptaque fila relinquit
vixque manum retinens confessaque vultibus iram       10
talibus obscuram resecuta est Pallada dictis:
'mentis inops longaque venis confecta senecta,
et nimium vixisse diu nocet. audiat istas,
si qua tibi nurus est, si qua est tibi filia, voces;
consilii satis est in me mihi, neve monendo                  15
profecisse putes, eadem est sententia nobis.
cur non ipsa venit? cur haec certamina vitat?'

This passage is from the story of __________.

Possible Answers:

Niobe

the birth of Minerva

Arachne

Minerva and the muses

Correct answer:

Arachne

Explanation:

In this passage, Minerva disguises herself as an old woman. In this form, she speaks to a girl about something concerning wool ("lanae"), age ("aetas"), and fame ("fama"). She warns the girl to not be rash ("ne sperne...temeraria"), and so on. This is the story of Arachne, the famous weaver who competes with Minerva.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, VI.26-42)

Example Question #7 : Context Of Prose Passages

Ecce cruentati redeunt et, Bacchus ubi esset,

quaerenti domino Bacchum vidisse negarunt;
'hunc' dixere 'tamen comitem famulumque sacrorum
cepimus' et tradunt manibus post terga ligatis              
sacra dei quendam Tyrrhena gente secutum.                       5
adspicit hunc Pentheus oculis, quos ira tremendos
fecerat, et quamquam poenae vix tempora differt,
'o periture tuaque aliis documenta dature
morte,' ait, 'ede tuum nomen nomenque parentum               
et patriam, morisque novi cur sacra frequentes!'                  10
ille metu vacuus 'nomen mihi' dixit 'Acoetes,
patria Maeonia est, humili de plebe parentes.
non mihi quae duri colerent pater arva iuvenci,
lanigerosve greges, non ulla armenta reliquit;              
pauper et ipse fuit linoque solebat et hamis                         15
decipere et calamo salientis ducere pisces.

Bacchus is the Roman counterpart of which Greek God?

Possible Answers:

Hermes

Dionysus

Hephaestus

Apollo

Correct answer:

Dionysus

Explanation:

Bacchus is the Roman name for the God Dionysus.

(Passage adapted from Metamorphoses by Ovid, III 570-586)

Example Question #71 : 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.'

Why is Daphne named "Peneia" in line 1?

Possible Answers:

She is light, like a feather

It is the name of her father

All women are referred to as Peneia

It is a title of honor

Correct answer:

It is the name of her father

Explanation:

The reason Daphne is called "Peneia" is because her father's name is "Peneus." It was common in Ancient Rome to refer to a person by their lineage (e.g. Son of Anchises—Aeneas, and so on). Additionally, however, girls were rarely given original names of their own, but simply called a feminine version of their father's name. So, the daughter of a man named Cornelius would most likely be called Cornelia. 

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

Example Question #2 : Perspectives Of Roman Culture 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.

"Nonum Kal. Septembres" refers to which date?

Possible Answers:

August 24

August 23

September 1

September 5

Correct answer:

August 24

Explanation:

The author of this has actually omitted part of the date. The full date is "ante diem Nonum Kalends Septembres." We know this since "Nonum" is in the accusative case. So, the date is nine days before the Kalends (first day of the month) of September. This is August 24. Remember that the Romans counted inclusively, so when counting, September 1 would count as Day 1 (The system of counting in the West today is typically exclusive, where we would not count the day of when counting forwards or backwards from a date).

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

Example Question #1 : Context Of Prose Passages

Ac mihi quidem videtur, iudices, hic introitus defensionis adulescentiae M. Caeli maxime convenire, ut ad ea, quae accusatores deformandi huius causa, detrahendae spoliandaeque dignitatis gratia dixerunt, primum respondeam. Obiectus est pater varie, quod aut parum splendidus ipse aut parum pie tractatus a filio diceretur. De dignitate M. Caelius notis ac maioribus natu et sine mea oratione et tacitus facile ipse respondet; quibus autem propter senectutem, quod iam diu minus in foro nobiscumque versatur, non aeque est cognitus, ii sic habeant, quaecumque in equite Romano dignitas esse possit, quae certe potest esse maxima, eam semper in M. Caelio habitam esse summam hodieque haberi non solum a suis, sed etiam ab omnibus, quibus potuerit aliqua de causa esse notus.

Of what is the "M." in the first sentence an abbreviation?

Possible Answers:

Magister

Marcus

Mille

Magnus

Correct answer:

Marcus

Explanation:

Often in writing, Romans abbreviated a person's given name. "M."is the abbreviated form of the name Marcus.

(Passage adapted from Cicero's Pro Caelio, Section 2 (56 BCE))

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