Leonine verse

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Leonine verse is a type of versification based on internal rhyme, and commonly used in Latin verse of the European Middle Ages. The invention of such conscious rhymes, foreign to Classical Latin poetry, is traditionally attributed to a probably apocryphal monk Leonius, who is supposed to be the author of a history of the Old Testament (Historia Sacra) preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris. This "history" is composed in Latin verses, all of which rhyme in the center.[citation needed] It is possible that this Leonius is the same person as Leoninus, a Benedictine musician of the twelfth century, in which case he would not have been the original inventor of the form.

Another very famous poem in Leonine rhyme is the De Contemptu Mundi of Bernard of Cluny, whose first book begins:

Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt — vigilemus.
Ecce minaciter imminet arbiter ille supremus.
Imminet imminet ut mala terminet, æqua coronet,
Recta remuneret, anxia liberet, æthera donet.
(These current days are the worst of times: let us keep watch.
Behold the menacing arrival of the Supreme Judge.
He is coming, He is coming to end evil, crown the just,
reward the right, set the worried free and grant eternal life.)

As this example of tripartiti dactylici caudati (dactylic hexameter rhyming couplets divided into three) shows, the internal rhymes of leonine verse may be based on tripartition of the line (as opposed to a caesura in the center of the verse) and do not necessarily involve the end of the line at all.

The epitaph of Count Alan Rufus, dated by Richard Sharpe and others to 1093, is described by André Wilmart as being in Leonine hexameter.

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