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hexameter(hĕksăm`ətər) [Gr.,=measure of six], in prosody, a line to be scanned in six feet (see versificationversification,
principles of metrical practice in poetry. In different literatures poetic form is achieved in various ways; usually, however, a definite and predictable pattern is evident in the language.
..... Click the link for more information. ). The most celebrated hexameter measure is dactylic, which was the meter for most Greek and Latin poetry. In dactylic hexameter each foot may have a long syllable followed by two shorts, except the last, which has only two syllables, the first being long; any of the first four feet may have two long syllables. The origin of the dactylic hexameter is not known, but it appears first, and in its purest form, in Homer. Classical epic poets thereafter, including Vergil, used this meter, and it was extended to didactic and satirical literature, as in the works of Lucretius and Martial. In modern languages the only possible substitute for the quantitative differences that were essential to classical meters is in the stress accent; hence we have a noticeably singsong effect when English dactylic hexameter is read aloud. One of the few examples of its use in modern languages is in Longfellow's Evangeline: "Thís is the fórest priméval. The múrmuring pínes and the hémlocks." A famous dactylic hexameter in English prose is in Isa. 14.12: "Hów art thou fállen from héaven, O Lúcifer, són of the mórning!" The alexandrinealexandrine
, in prosody, a line of 12 syllables (or 13 if the last syllable is unstressed). Its name probably derives from the fact that some poems of the 12th and 13th cent. about Alexander the Great were written in this meter.
..... Click the link for more information. is the only important modern hexameter.
(1) In classical metric verse a six-foot dactylic meter with a final truncated foot. In every foot except for the fifth, two short syllables can be replaced by one long syllable, forming a spondee (― ―); the caesura is on the third foot (in Greek hexameter after the first or second syllable, in Latin, only after the first syllable) and, more rarely, after the first syllable of the second and fourth feet. The scheme of the hexameter is as follows (⋮ = Greek caesura, ǀ = Latin caesura):
Hexameter is the most general meter in classical poetry and is used in the epic (Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, Ovid), idyll (Theocritus), and satire (Horace, Juvenal).
(2) In syllabotonic verse, hexameter is rendered by combining tonic dactyls (ÚUU) with chorees (ÚU).
Gnev, boginia, vospoi Akhillesa, Peleeva syna
(N. I. Gnedych, translation of The Iliad).
In Russian poetry the hexameter was first used by V. K. Trediakovskii (Argenida, 1751) and became accepted with N. I. Gnedych’s translation of The Iliad (1829) and the poetry of V. A. Zhukovskii. In more recent poetry it is used primarily to affect classical genres (Reynard the Fox by Goethe and The Seasons by K. Donalitius) and subjects (A. Del’vig, N. Shcherbina, and A. Fet).
M. L. GASPAROV