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The Dance of the MusesChoral Theory and Ancient Greek Poetics$
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A. P. David

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199292400

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199292400.001.0001

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The Form of the Hexameter: The Origins of Caesura and Diaeresis

The Form of the Hexameter: The Origins of Caesura and Diaeresis

4 The Form of the Hexameter: The Origins of Caesura and Diaeresis
The Dance of the Muses

A. P. David

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws on two strands of evidence that bear on the form of the dactylic hexameter: one from Plato (Epinomis) and Aristotle (Metaphysics), one from a modern Greek folk dance (the συρτός). When combined with the new theory of the Greek accent, a theory of hexameter form emerges, which accounts for the peculiar features of traditional hexameter structure. It predicts that there will be two kinds of caesura in the third foot, with one of them favoured; and that there will be a bucolic diaeresis. Detailed analyses of emphasis and accentual reinforcement of metre in passages from Homer reveal such a musical richness, and rhythmic and harmonic density and complexity, that the notion of ‘composition-in-performance’ becomes implausible, and suggests that Homer’s texts, like Mozart’s, were scores that needed to be practiced and prepared in order to be performed.

Keywords:   Homer, dactylic hexameter, Plato, Aristotle, ancient Greek accent, reinforcement, composition-in-performance

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