Resolution (meter)

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Resolution is the metrical phenomenon in classical poetry of replacing a longum with two brevia. It is generally found in Greek lyric poetry and in Greek and Roman drama, most frequently in comedy.

It should not be confused with a biceps, which is a point in a meter which can equally be two shorts or a long, as is found in the dactylic hexameter. The biceps is freely able to be two shorts or a long, while resolution, particularly in tragedy, can only occur within very restricted situations. Two resolved longa in the same line is very unusual, for instance, while a biceps that is two shorts can freely be followed by another biceps that is two shorts. Also, two shorts that resolve into a long are almost always within the same word-unit.

One example from iambic trimeter:

τίνων τὸ σεμνὸν ὄνομ' ἂν εὐξαίμην κλύων
u - u - u u u u - - - u -
(Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 41)

Marking metra with | and using "uu" to mark the resolution, we can take this as:

u - u - | u uu u - | - - u -

Note that the resolved pair is the word ὄνομ', so the resolution stays within the same word-unit.

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