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(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.
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). 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.
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 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).



1. a verse line consisting of six metrical feet
2. (in Greek and Latin epic poetry) a verse line of six metrical feet, of which the first four are usually dactyls or spondees, the fifth almost always a dactyl, and the sixth a spondee or trochee
References in periodicals archive ?
One way that Swinburne's hexameters declare their difference from the hexameter as Arnold conceived it is that they rhyme--emphatically.
Tellingly, Hrabanus's chapter on poetic theory (De ui ac uaria potestate metrorum) has an extensive quotation from his friend Freculf's Historia where that author more or less presents Moses as the inventor of hexameter poetry.
However, such a critical response does ignore the second fundamental difficulty in designating a genre: that is to say, how do we account for the hexameter verse?
It's a hypnotic effect, and the English hexameter (practiced in different ways by everybody from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Gerard Manley Hopkins) gives off its own weird music.
Given the unreliability of the flamboyant Heinrich Schliemann and the sober reexamination of his extravagant claims of finding Priam's city, classicists long ago concluded that Troy VIIa was actually a sort of backwater--hardly the windy Ilium of Homer's hexameters.
17) As Rudolph Tombo remarks, "The hexameters lend an air of stateliness and dignity to the poems and give them more the air of a classic.
Although blank verse is far more common in Shakespeare than hexameters are in Pushkin, it has two distinct advantages over other metrical options.
Of very special importance here was his close association with Hartmann Schedel at Nuremberg, whose magnificent library was not only stocked with virtually all the essential texts, from Pomponius Mela, Pliny the Elder, Ptolemy, and Strabo to Flavio Biondo and Enea Silvio Piccolomini, but also contained the description of the world in hexameters by Dionysius Periegetes, which may to some extent have served as a model for Celtis's own poem, the Germania generalis.
He ridicules the flattery and the display of erudition typical of the genre: '[G]reat persons of worth and honour, are daily so visited with penurious shreds of Schollership, fragments of Hexameters and Pentameters, scraps of Poetry' (ibid.
On the other hand the designation [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Eustathius would suit Euphorion well, since (apart from two elegiac epigrams) all his poetry which we know was written in hexameters.
Johannes' satirical poem in 4,361 hexameters is securely datable to 1184, when its dedicatee, Walter of Coutances, at that time bishop of Lincoln, was about to be consecrated as archbishop of Rouen.
For while we may wonder at the Latin hexameters of the Sibyl's bizarre mixture of Christian and pagan prophecies, we can only admire the eloquence of Du Bellay, Ronsard and Petrarch, who alone are represented in the ensuing nine chansons and six madrigals.