An Abbreviated History
This chapter investigates the ethos embodied by the hendecasyllable, a favourite metre of the Flavian authors Statius and Martial. Starting from one of Statius' most ambitious hendecasyllabic poems, Silvae 4.3 on the Via Domitiana, it shows that the hendecasyllable was perceived to embody the character of its most celebrated exponent, Catullus, and that the account of the Via Domitiana comes vividly to life when the Catullan quality imparted by the metre is allowed to assert itself. Other aspects of the metre are then considered, especially the polar relationship operative between it and the dactylic hexameter, and its particular aptness for poetic accounts of diminutive topics. Suggestions are made about the character of the metre as it had been encountered by Catullus. These insights are then fed back into a concluding analysis of the metrical dimension of another arresting deployment of hendecasyllables by Statius, the celebration-cum-lament on Lucan's birthday at Silvae 2.7.
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