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The different species of verse employed by Catullus, are thirteen.

I. The hexameter, consisting of six feet, of which the first four are either spondees or dactyles, the fifth a dactyle and the sixth a spondee. In Catullus the fifth is not unfrequently a spondee. The following scheme presents the construction.

This is used alone, in Carm. 40 and 42.

II. The Pentameter, consisting of five feet, of which the first two are dactyles or spondees, the third a spondee, the last two anapaests.

It is sometimes divided into hemistichia, or half verses, the first half consisting of two feet either dactyles or spondees and a long syllable, the last of two dactyles and a long or short syllable. We give a scheme of both varieties.



The Pentameter is employed in alternate verses with the hexameters, in Carmen 43, and all the other poems to the end. Some of the pentameters of Catullus are quite harsh. The cæsura is often neglected.

III. The Phalæcian commonly called the Phalæcian hendecasyllable, consisting of five feet, a spondee, dactyle and three trochees. In the first foot a trochee or an iambus is sometimes admitted, and in the second, but rarely, a spondee.


Catullus has used this verse more frequently than any other in Carm. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34. A species called pseudo Phalæcian, occurs with the pure Phalæcian in Carm. 37. It differs from the pure in that the first foot may be a tribrachys, and the second a trochee, and often a spondee.

IV. The lambic Trimeter. It has six feet, properly each an Iambus. It admits however in the first, third, and fifth places a spondee, or its solutions the dactyle and anapaest. These varieties are not all used by Catullus. Carmen 4, 15, are pure Iambics. Carmen 36, is mixed with spondees. This measure is used in these three only.

V. Scazon, or Choliambus (zwliaubos i. e. lame iambus,) which coincides with the Iambic Trimeter, except that the fifth foot is always an iambus, and the sixth a spondee, or seldom a trochee.

This measure is found in Carm. 16, 23, 28, 29.

VI. The lambic Tetrameter catalectic, consisting of seven feet, which may be varied as in the Iambic Trimeter, and an additional syllable. Carmen 19 is in this measure. (The third line has an amphibrachys in the second place.)

VII. The Sapphic has five feet, a trochee, spondee, dactyle, trochee, and trochee or spondee. The second foot is sometimes a trochee.


VIII. The Adonic, properly a dactylic dimeter catalectic which is formed of a dactyle and a spondee.

This is never used by itself, but in combination with the Sapphic forms what is called the Sapphic stanza. We find it in Carmen 35.

IX. The choriambic pentameter,* which consists of a spondee, three choriambi, and a pyrrich or iambus.

Carmen 22, is in this measure.

X. The Glyconic or choriambic trimeter, which consists of three feet, a spondee, choriambus, and iambus. The first foot is often a trochee, and sometimes an iambus.

It is used with other measures in Carm. 24, and 39.

XI. The Pherecratian, which consists of three feet, a spondee, dactyle and spondee. In Catullus

* So called by Carey, and by Scheller, Alcaicus.

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