Entry from British & World English dictionary
Definition of dactylic hexameter in English:
A hexameter consisting of five dactyls and either a spondee or trochee, in which any of the first four dactyls, and sometimes the fifth, may be replaced by a spondee.
- Several English poets have attempted extended composition in hexameters, the dactylic hexameter having been the epic metre of Homer.
- Thus a pattern consisting of five iambs would be an iambic pentameter; a pattern consisting of six dactyls would be a dactylic hexameter; and so on.
- The twenty four books of dactylic hexameter we now know as the Odyssey have been transmitted with various textual variation since about 300 B.C.E.
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