Sometimes you want to use a word that's too many syllables, and syncopation allows you to take one out. Imagine worrying a poem in English, and in one place you can use "do not" because you need 2 syllables, but later on you only have room for one and so you use "don't."


Is that syncopation?


Apparently. Also referred to as [syncope](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncope_(phonology\)). (Wikipedia gives rather the example of did not > didn't).


-erunt contains two long vowels which depending on the perfect stem could create problems with the meter. -ere on the other hand is open to wider placement.


^(-erunt can be either -ĕrunt or -ērunt)


I’ve never noticed that! Do you happen to know a spot in verse where there’s a short ‘e’ -erunt?


Sure, Vergil unambiguously uses [*stĕtĕrunt*](https://latin.packhum.org/search?q=steterunt+%5BVerg%5D) for instance. Romance languages also attest this variant.


Because poetry in Latin is done based off syllable number and length, syncope allows you to not have to dodge long words by having a device to shorten them


Just to make sure that everyone is on the same page rgd what you mean by syncopation - you are talking about using forms like *periclum* instead of *periculum*? (For this specific example, the answer would be that if you go with *periculum*, you can only use *pericula* in the second-to-last position of a hexameter verse, whereas with *periclum* you can put a much wider range of forms into the last position of the verse. But other instances of syncopation will have other explanations.)


To begin with, syncopation is a kind of contraction that actually occurs in spoken Latin, usually from the dropping of an intervocalic *-v-*. Lots of prose authors will say, for example, *mandārat* for *mandāverat*, and you can see in the Spanish verb system how in many instances this became the norm. So it’s probably a very natural thing in the first place. In poetry, the author has a number of alternative forms to choose from, based on the needs of the meter. That includes everything from archaic forms to contracted forms familiar to colloquial speech. So syncopated forms will appear alongside unsyncopated forms, as needed. That’s really all there is to it.


I think it's to make the poem flow better when it's spoken, but I'm not 100% sure


It gives the poem a beat. It makes it have a rhythm in your head so you are more deeply in love with the text.


So by making it perfect the line has more rhythm?




There's two main things going on... The elisions can reflect actual speech patterns that you otherwise wouldn't see in normal writing because writing is conservative and doesn't change easily. The greek system of prosody was meant for the greek language and it doesn't adapt so well to the Latin language, so there are also forced acrobatics to make meters work that were originally meant for a completely different language. Or, so said one of my profs in college.