The term “hephthemimer” comes from the metric. The hephthemimer means a caesura after the seventh half-foot of a line of verse, which, especially in the measure of the hexameter, marks a very common incision. The hephthemimeres frequently occur in conjunction with a trithemimer, which means a third-half-third caesura.
The term is derived from the Greek (ἑφθ ‘ἡμίσεα μέρη) and means in about seven half parts. In Latin this form of caesura is called caesura semiseptinaria, the meaning being the same. Thus, the translation shows us quite clearly what this is about: namely, the first seven half-feet of a line of verse [followed immediately by a caesura]. Let’s look at an example.
Note: For the following explanations the understanding of the term halffoot is important. In this case, either a stressed syllable (length) or two unaccented syllables (shortening) is considered as a half-foot. Thus, for example, a dactyl consisting of three syllables (one length, two shortcuts) consists of two half-feet.
– υ υ | – υ υ | – υ υ | – || υ υ | – υ υ | – x
The above example shows the structure of a hexameter. The stressed and unstressed syllables were highlighted in color, the green mark separating only the individual feet. The caesura (||) lies behind the seventh half-foot and is therefore to be called hephthemimer.
Basically, the hexameter consists of a six-armed dactyl (one length, two shortcuts or evenly stressed, unstressed, unstressed, – υ υ), which is catalectic. This means that we can find only five complete dactyls, the syllable of the last verse certainly missing.
In this connection we speak of a caesura, because there is a metrical incision within a vowel, ie after the seventh half-foot, and therefore after the fourth elevation, for which reason the fourth dactylus is split by the hephthhemimer. Let us look at a Latin example.
ar | ma | ti | cir | cum | sis | tunt | ip | sumque do | mumque
The above example is also a hexameter, although this is not quite clear. This is due to the fact that some of the dactylic shortenings have been replaced by lengths. If we orient ourselves on the half-feet, however, the caesura becomes clear after the seventh.
In addition, we can recognize a trithemimer after the third half-foot, ie, armati. These two caesura often occur together. However, this should only serve as a guide and should not be regarded as a rule. Both incisions can also stand alone.
The most important to the hephthemimeres at a glance
The hephthemimer is a caesura, that is, an incision in the line of the verse, which often occurs in the hexameter. The caesura is here found after the seventh half-foot, and often occurs together with the trithemimer, the incision after the third halffoot.