You may have observed
that in dividing up a verse into feet, the divisions
must often be made within the words themselves, so that the boundaries between
feet rarely correspond to the boundaries between
words. When the end of a foot also coincides
with the end of a word, the resulting division is called a diaeresis
(> Gk. "division").
diaeresis differs from a caesura
in two respects. First, it occurs between, not within, feet.
Second, it does not necessarily mark any discernible pause in the sense. Figure
H shows these differences at work.
Again, the caesura
clearly marks the sense-pause between cano and Troiae, while the
diaeresis—even though it marks a division
between the fourth and fifth feet, as well as
between qui and primus—shows no pause in the sense. So, why bother
to mark a diaeresis at all?
answer is that a division like the one shown in Figure H is perceived as a distinct
metrical unit with a life of its own. In other words, primus ab oris ends
the verse with a very recognizable "dum-diddy dum-dum" (or "shave and a haircut"),
a rhythmic snippet made all the more recognizable by the fact that primus
begins a new foot.
diaeresis between feet
four and five, such as the one above, is called the bucolic,
after the Greek boukolos, "herdsman," because the dactylic
poetry of herdsmen was famous for "shave and a haircut" line endings.