When are macrons necessary?

Sometimes people claim that we shouldn't use macrons in reading and writing Latin text because the ancient people didn't use them either. Unfortunately, doing this turns reading and writing Latin into a game for experts: whereby you have to know secret vowel quantities to find the proper sense.

Here are some examples:

  • āeriae primum volucris te, diva, tuumque (Lucretius, De Rerum Natura I, line 12)
  • [The line does not scan unless one knows or the first vowel is long.

Other practical examples:

  • memoriā vs. memoria
  • [ablative form] vs. [nominative or vocative form]
  • maximē vs. maxime
  • [adverbial form] vs. a possible masculine vocative
  • obsīdes vs. obsidēs
  • [2 person singular verb] vs. [nominative or accusative plural noun]

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