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Metrical feet and accents
◡ ◡pyrrhic, dibrach
◡ –iamb
– ◡trochee, choree
– –spondee
◡ ◡ ◡tribrach
– ◡ ◡dactyl
◡ – ◡amphibrach
◡ ◡ –anapaest, antidactylus
◡ – –bacchius
– – ◡antibacchius
– ◡ –cretic, amphimacer
– – –molossus
See main article for tetrasyllables.

A spondee (Latin: spondeus) is a metrical foot consisting of two long syllables, as determined by syllable weight in classical meters, or two stressed syllables in modern meters.[1] The word comes from the Greek σπονδή, spondḗ, "libation".

The spondee typically does not provide the basis for a metrical line in poetry. Instead, spondees are found as irregular feet in meter based on another type of foot.[2]

For example, the epics of Homer and Virgil are written in dactylic hexameter. This term suggests a line of six dactyls, but a spondee can be substituted in most positions. The first line of Virgil's Aeneid has the pattern dactyl-dactyl-spondee-spondee-dactyl-spondee:

Ārmă vĭrūmquĕ cănō, Troīaē quī prīmŭs ăb ōrīs

In classical meter spondees are easily identified because the distinction between long and short syllables is unambiguous. In English meter indisputable examples are harder to find because metrical feet are identified by stress, and stress is a matter of interpretation.[3]

For example, the first part of this line from Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida (in iambic pentameter) would normally be interpreted as two spondees:

Crý, crý! Tróy búrns, or élse let Hélen gó.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Furay, S. M. (1955). The Poetry of Hilaire Belloc: A Critical Evaluation. United States: Stanford University.
  • Bennett, J. B. (1967). Royall Tyler. United States: (n.p.).
  • Hirsch, E. (2014). A Poet's Glossary. United States: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


  1. ^ "Spondee | prosody". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-06-03.
  2. ^ Foundation, Poetry (2021-06-02). "Spondee". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2021-06-03.
  3. ^ "Spondee - Examples and Definition of Spondee". Literary Devices. 2015-03-13. Retrieved 2021-06-03.