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The Poetry of Senex Caecilius

In general, poetry is distinguished from prose by its compressed and rhythmic form. The means by which rhythm is measured and described is called meter. In Latin verse, meter depends upon the number of long and short syllables in a line, for example pentameter or hexameter, whereas in English it depends upon the accent of stressed and unstressed syllables. The various meters also have different patterns of long and short syllables which are measured in the unit called a poetic foot, for example a dactyl (long-short-short) or an anapest (short-short-long). The best known meter in Latin poetry is the hexameter, and it was perfected by Vergil.

Rhyme, the repetition of accented sounds in words, is not a feature found in Latin verse, but it is another element that characterizes poetry in English. If the rhyme sound is the very last syllable of the word, the rhyme is called masculine; if the accented sound is followed by an unaccented syllable, the rhyme is called feminine. Rhymes usually occur at the end of a line of verse, but those falling within a single line are said to be internal. Most verse forms are variations on the different combinations of rhythm and rhyme schemes.

You can view my collection of verses that deal with various subjects, Greco-Roman or otherwise, by choosing from the menu below. Each link provides a description of the form and a number of examples. This page was last updated June 14, 2018.

ae freslighe
ballad
ballade
barzelletta
binary tree
blank verse
Breton lai
calavera
cento
chastushka
cinquain
clogyrnach
clue-line
conachlonn
cuaderna vía
cyrch a chwta
diamante
double-dactyl
duilian
englyn cyrch
englyn lleddbroest
etheree
found
ghazal
haiku
jueju
lai
lanturne
lausavísa
limerick
luc bat
lushi
madrigal
octofochlach
quatern
quintilla
rannaicheacht ghairid
redondilla
rhupunt
rime royal
rondeau
rondel
rubai
sapphic
Saturnian
séadna
sijo
sonnet
tanaga
terzanelle
than-bauk
treochair
triolet
Tyburn
villanelle
yadu
zéjel
next
next
more

For more information on the art of classical poetry, you can consult these references:

  • A collection of audio files can be downloaded from Viva Voce to hear Roman poetry recited: Catullus, Horace, Virgil, and others.
  • An anthology of classical poetry offers various translations of selections from Archilochos, Sappho, Catullus, and Horace.
  • An explanation of Reading Latin Poetry gives a succint account of terms along with audible and visual examples.
  • A website of Ancient World History provides a few biographical comments about early Roman poets.


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