A line of poetry consisting of six measures, the fifth being a dactyl and the sixth either a spondee or a trochee. The other four may be either dactyls or spondees. Homer's two epic poems and Virgil's Æneid are written in hexameters. The latter begins thus:
Arms and the | man I | sing, who | driven from | Troy by ill-| fortune
First into | Italy | came, as | far as the | shores of La-| vina.
Much was he harassed by land, much tossed on the pitiless ocean, All by the force of the gods, and relentless anger of Juno.
E. C. B.
Or rhyming with the Latin,
“Arma virumque cano Trojæ qui primus ab oris.”
Arms and the man I sing who first from the
Phrygian shore is.
“Italian Fato profugus, Lavinaque venit ...”
Tossed to the land of Lavina, although Jove's queen didn't mean it.
E. C. B.
Longfellow's Evangeline is in English hexameters.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894