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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Given their diametrically opposed theories of `nature', however, their views of verse-composition constituted opposite extremes.(32) Horace was well aware of these debates and he draws upon the compositional tenets and practices of both the Stoics and the neoterics in creating his own unique hexameter style, roughly something between the styles of Lucilius and Catullus (on average, that is; as S.
didactic hexameters, which, with the exception of the Georgics, allow a high frequency of such verse-endings (see Harrison).
The Speech of Pythagoras is a highly eclectic exercise in writing philosophical poetry, but the broad outline, as well as much of the detail, is paralleled in the philosophical hexameter poetry of Empedocles.(7) The Speech contains two main subjects, firstly, a passionate attack on meat-eating and sacrifice which frames, secondly, a revelation and lengthy exemplification of the principle of cosmic metamorphosis; the two are linked (explicitly at 15.456-62) by the doctrine of metempsychosis, the migration of souls from one body into another (one reason that it is wrong to eat meat is because you might be eating your relatives).
The champagne tone gold coated cap top, cap ring, cone and forepart are all decorated with a special engraving that represents the dactylic hexameter, the metre traditionally associated with ancient Greek epic poetry.
He was also technically proficient, able to shape a hexameter as effectively as Virgil.
The team behind the performances got to this point by experimenting with whether it is possible for a contemporary actor to read the hexameter if he or show knows enough of the subject matter and uses the rules that go along with it.
Andreas Haug grapples with how Latin hexameter may have been sung and enunciated in the tenth century.
It is composed of 9,896 lines in dactylic hexameter. The first six of the poem's twelve books tell the story of Aeneas' wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem's second half tells of the Trojans' ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed.
Luke, Beneventan music that has been altered by contact with the Frankish-Roman repertory, and the Roman Easter Vigil Canticles; the persistence of chant and medieval music in seventeenth-century Iceland and eighteenth-century Toledo; the origins of forms and ideas, such as ways of singing hexameter in tenth-century Europe and Alcuin's de laude Dei and other early medieval sources of office chants; and French music in the Middle Ages, including the location of music theory treatises in Paris from 900-1450.
Divided into six books, and amounting to seventy-four hundred lines, it is a lengthy, complex, convoluted read, composed in the same hexameter as the famous epic poems by Virgil, Ovid, and Homer.
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?