Two Types of Elegies: Goethe’s Rome Elegies and Rilke’s Duino Elegies

  • Alexandru Giuculescu
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 62)


The elegy was a major form of lyrical poetry in classical Greek literature. Its name came from the word “elego” which was an interjection expressing grief, pity, concern, translated into Latin as “ah-lassus” meaning weary, wretched, and rendered in French by “hélas” and in English by “alas”. Before the ode the elegy became separated from an accompanying song and was usually written in distichs, i.e., in a strophic unit of verse consisting of a line in hexameter and a line in pentameter. Elegies usually expressed lamentations occasioned by funerals, but, later, poets chose the form of the elegy to also express other sentiments, such as regret or joy, provoked by erotic passion. Of Greek elegies some fragments have been conserved, but many Latin elegies written by Tibullus and Propertius still exist. Ovid’s Tristia, a masterpiece of elegiac poetry, was provoked by his exile from Rome to Tomis on the coast of the Black Sea (today’s Constanta situated on Roumanian soil).


Ancient World Century Offering Rome Experience Lyrical Poetry Greek Antiquity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandru Giuculescu
    • 1
  1. 1.Committee for History and Philosophy of Science and TechnicsRoumanian AcademyBucharestRomania

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