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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Elegiac Stanza

616. The Elegiac Stanza consists of two verses,—a Hexameter followed by a Pentameter.1

The Pentameter verse is the same as the Hexameter, except that it omits the last half of the third foot and of the sixth foot:—

a. The Pentameter verse is therefore to be scanned as two half-verses, the second of which always consists of two dactyls followed by a single syllable.

b. The Pentameter has no regular Cæsura; but the first half-verse must always end with a word (diœresis, § 611. c), which is followed by a pause to complete the measure.2

c. The following verses will illustrate the forms of the Elegiac Stanza:—

    cum sŭbĭt | illī|us || trīs|tissĭmă | noctĭs ĭ|māgō

    quā mĭhĭ | suprē|mum [macrcirc] || tempŭs ĭn | urbĕ fŭ|ĭt, [macrcirc]

    cum rĕpĕ|tō noc|tem || quā | tot mĭhĭ | cāră> rĕ|līquī,

    lābĭtŭr | ex ŏcŭ|līs [macrcirc] || nunc quŏquĕ | guttă mĕ|īs. [macrcirc]

    iam prŏpĕ | lūx ădĕ|rat || quā | mē dis|cēdĕrĕ | Caesar

    fīnĭbŭs | extrē|mae [macrcirc] || iussĕrăt | Ausŏnĭ|ae. [macrcirc]

    — Ov. Trist. 1.3.

Note— The Elegiac Stanza differs widely in character from hexameter verse (of which it is a mere modification) by its division into Distichs, each of which must have its own sense complete. It is employed in a great variety of compositions,—epistolary, amatory, and mournful,—and was especially a favorite of the poet Ovid. It has been illustrated in English verse, imitated from the German:—

    In the Hex|ameter | rises || the | fountain's | silvery | column;

    In the Pen|tameter | aye || falling in | melody | back.

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Called pentameter by the old grammarians, who divided it, formally, into five feet (two dactyls or spondees, a spondee, and two anapæsts), as follows:—
The time of this pause, however, may be filled by the protraction of the preceding syllable:—