12 May 2008

Lex, Rex, Grex, Res, Spes

A proteic poem by Thomas Lansius (1626):

Les, Rex, Grex, Res, Spes, Jus, Tus, Sal, Sol, (bona) Lux, Laus:
Mars, Mors, Sors, LIs Vis, Styx, Pus, Nox, Fex, (mala) Crux, Fraus.

Of this, the single verses, by the preceding rule, since they have 11 monosyllabic words (the two-syllable words bona and mala always fixed in the fifth foot), can be varied in 39,916 ways while preserving the meter. And although it happens in other cases that several variations disturb the meter, not to mention the fact that many anagrams are menaingless or ungrammatical, nevertheless it is, for the most part, an easy job to separate the useful from the useless variations and to arrive at the number of them if you observe some order in investigating them.
// Jacob Bernoulli, Ars conjectandi, 1713; translation by Edith Dudley Sylla

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