10 DECEMBER 1988, Page 32

Footing it

Sir: I was interested to notice that Jaspistos awarded the second of his four prizes to some hexameters which do not meet clas- sical standards on caesuras and fifth-foot measures. I mentioned this to my father, whose response may be of interest: 'Virgil remarked to Augustus, "I got this old wrinkle from Homer: Spondees may sound grand, but the fifth foot is always a dactyl. Also a break sounds good in the third foot — it's called a caesura." Sometimes a weaker caesura is good — both come in the Bible: "How art thou fallen from Heaven, 0 Lucifer, Son of the Morning," "Wives should obey their husbands and be not bitter against them." '

N. Goulder South House, Littlebury,

Saffron Walden, Essex