Elegiac

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Elegiac refers either to those compositions that are like elegies or to a specific poetic meter used in Classical elegies. The Classical elegiac meter has two lines, making it a couplet: a line of dactylic hexameter, followed by a line of dactylic pentameter. Because the hexameter line is in the same meter as epic poetry, and because the elegiac form was always considered lower style than epic, elegists frequently wrote with epic in mind and positioned themselves in relation to epic.

Classical poets

The first examples of elegiac poetry in writing come from classical Greece. The form dates back nearly as early as epic, with such authors as Archilocus and Simonides of Ceos from early in the history of Greece. The first great elegiac poet of the Hellenistic period was Philitas of Cos: Augustan poets identified his name with great elegiac writing. One of the most influential elegiac writers was Philitas' rival Callimachus, who had an enormous impact on Roman poets, both elegists and non-elegists alike. He promulgated the idea that elegy, shorter and more compact than epic, could be even more beautiful and worthy of appreciation. Propertius linked him to his rival with the following well-known couplet:

<poem style='margin-left: 1em'>Callimachi Manes et Coi sacra Philetae,&emsp;in vestrum, quaeso, me sinite ire nemus.Propertius. Elegies, (in Latin). Retrieved on 2007-06-30.

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