Kirby Flower Smith explores the development of Greek and Latin elegiac meter from its origins to Imperial Rome.
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Kirby Flower Smith was a scholar known for his works on Tibullus and Martial. In this essay, he explores the development of the elegiac meter from its Greek origins to its codification in Latin poetry. Elegiac meter is a couplet form where lines of the epic dactylic hexameter alternate with a characteristic 'distich' line. This poetic form was originally used, as the name suggests, on tombstones to commemorate the deceased, but later came in to use for other forms of private dedications, most notably the love poetry of Catullus and later the mock-epic of Ovid. Every student of Latin literature is confronted with works in elegiac meter, and this essay provides interesting depth to anyone's understanding of this common and pervasive form of Classical poetry.