Not to be confused with eulogy
A eulogy is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially one recently deceased or retired. Eulogies may be given as part of funeral services. However, some denominations either discourage or do not permit eulogies at services to maintain respect for traditions...


In literature, an elegy is a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

 song or a lament
A lament or lamentation is a song, poem, or piece of music expressing grief, regret, or mourning.-History:Many of the oldest and most lasting poems in human history have been laments. Laments are present in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and laments continued to be sung in elegiacs accompanied by...

 for the dead.


The Greek
Ancient Greek literature
Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in the Ancient Greek language until the 4th century.- Classical and Pre-Classical Antiquity :...

 term elegeia (ἐλεγεία) originally referred to any verse written in elegiac couplet
Elegiac couplet
The elegiac couplet is a poetic form used by Greek lyric poets for a variety of themes usually of smaller scale than the epic. Roman poets, particularly Ovid, adopted the same form in Latin many years later...

s and covering a wide range of subject matter, including epitaph
An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

s for tombs. The Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 elegy of ancient Roman literature
Latin literature
Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings of the ancient Romans. In many ways, it seems to be a continuation of Greek literature, using many of the same forms...

 was most often erotic or mythological in nature. Because of its structural potential for rhetorical effects, the elegiac couplet was also used by both Greek and Roman poets for witty, humorous, and satiric subject matter.

Other than epitaphs, examples of ancient elegy as a poem of mourning include Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...

' Carmen 101
Catullus 101
Catullus 101 is an elegiac poem written by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus. It is addressed to Catullus' dead brother or, strictly speaking, to the "mute ashes" which are the only remaining evidence of his brother's body....

, on his dead brother, and elegies by Propertius on his dead mistress Cynthia and a matriarch of the prominent Cornelian family. Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 wrote elegies bemoaning his exile, which he likened to a death. A notable example that established the genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 in English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 is Thomas Gray
Thomas Gray
Thomas Gray was a poet, letter-writer, classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University.-Early life and education:...

's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is a poem by Thomas Gray, completed in 1750 and first published in 1751. The poem’s origins are unknown, but it was partly inspired by Gray’s thoughts following the death of the poet Richard West in 1742. Originally titled Stanza's Wrote in a Country...


"Elegy" (sometimes spelled elégie) may denote a type of musical work, usually of a sad or somber nature.


  • Elegy to the Spanish Republic, Robert Motherwell
    Robert Motherwell
    Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

  • Elegía, William Adolphe Bouguereau
  • Sommerelegi (Summer Elegy), Poul Anker Bech
    Poul Anker Bech
    Poul Anker Bech was a Danish painter.He started painting in the 1960s and studied at The Jutland Academy of Art in Aarhus, 1966-67. He quit his job in 1988 to become a full-time painter....

  • Elegy for a Dead Admiral, Jack Vettriano
    Jack Vettriano
    Jack Vettriano OBE born Jack Hoggan , is a Scottish painter.- Early life :Jack Vettriano grew up in the industrial seaside town of Methil, Fife. He left school at 16 and later became an apprentice mining engineer. Vettriano did not take up painting as a hobby until the 1970s, when a girlfriend...

Film, TV, Theatre

  • Elegy
    Elegy (film)
    Elegy is a 2008 drama directed by Spanish director Isabel Coixet and based on a Philip Roth novel, The Dying Animal. Staring Penélope Cruz and Ben Kingsley. The film is set in New York City, but was filmed in Vancouver.-Plot:...

     is a 2008 film by Spanish director Isabel Coixet
    Isabel Coixet
    Isabel Coixet is a Spanish film director.She received an M.A. in history from the University of Barcelona...

    , based on a Phillip Roth novel, The Dying Animal
    The Dying Animal
    The Dying Animal is a short novel by the US writer Philip Roth. It tells the story of senior literature professor David Kepesh, renowned for his literature-themed radio show. Kepesh is finally destroyed by his inability to comprehend emotional commitment...

  • Elegy (Hungarian: Elégia) is a 1965 film by Hungarian director Zoltán Huszárik
    Zoltán Huszárik
    Zoltán Huszárik was an influential Hungarian film director, screenwriter, visual artist and occasional actor, an acclaimed auteur of the European modern art film....

  • "Elegy"
    Elegy (The Twilight Zone)
    "Elegy" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.-Synopsis:Running out of fuel, astronauts Meyers, Webber, and Kirby land their spaceship on a remote asteroid. They find the place quite Earth-like with buildings and people, but walk around and begin to wonder...

     is an episode of The Twilight Zone (the original series)
    The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series)
    The Twilight Zone is an American anthology television series created by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. The series consisted of unrelated episodes depicting paranormal, futuristic, dystopian, or simply disturbing events; each show typically featured a surprising...

  • "Elegy for a Pig" is a third season episode of the TV series Adam-12
    Adam-12 was a television police drama which followed two police officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, Pete Malloy and Jim Reed, as they patrolled the streets of Los Angeles in their patrol unit, 1-Adam-12. Created by Jack Webb who is known for creating Dragnet, the series captured a...

  • "Elegy for Fallen Wellies" is an episode from series 21 of Last of the Summer Wine
    Last of the Summer Wine
    Last of the Summer Wine is a British sitcom written by Roy Clarke that was broadcast on BBC One. Last of the Summer Wine premiered as an episode of Comedy Playhouse on 4 January 1973 and the first series of episodes followed on 12 November 1973. From 1983 to 2010, Alan J. W. Bell produced and...

  • "Elegy for a Hangman" is an episode from the television series Bonanza
    Bonanza is an American western television series that both ran on and was a production of NBC from September 12, 1959 to January 16, 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 430 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series and still continues to air in syndication. It centers on the...

  • "Elegy" is an episode on "The X-Files
    The X-Files
    The X-Files is an American science fiction television series and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The program originally aired from to . The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans became popular culture touchstones in the 1990s...

    " where apparitions appear to people as they are being murdered.
  • "Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens
    Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens
    Elegies For Angels, Punks and Raging Queens is a song cycle with music by Janet Hood and lyrics and additional text by Bill Russell. The work features songs and monologues inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology...

    " is a musical of songs and monologues inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt
    NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt
    The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, often abbreviated to AIDS Memorial Quilt, is an enormous quilt made as a memorial to and celebration of the lives of people who have died of AIDS-related causes...

See also

  • Dirge
    A dirge is a somber song expressing mourning or grief, such as would be appropriate for performance at a funeral. A lament. The English word "dirge" is derived from the Latin Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam , the first words of the first antiphon in the Matins of the Office...

  • Elegiac
    Elegiac refers either to those compositions that are like elegies or to a specific poetic meter used in Classical elegies. The Classical elegiac meter has two lines, making it a couplet: a line of dactylic hexameter, followed by a line of dactylic pentameter...

  • Kommós
  • Lament
    A lament or lamentation is a song, poem, or piece of music expressing grief, regret, or mourning.-History:Many of the oldest and most lasting poems in human history have been laments. Laments are present in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and laments continued to be sung in elegiacs accompanied by...

  • Poetry
  • Threnody
    A threnody is a song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word threnoidia, from threnos + oide ; ultimately, from the Proto-Indo-European root wed- that is also the precursor of such words as "ode", "tragedy", "comedy",...

  • Obituary poetry
    Obituary poetry
    Obituary poetry, in the broad sense, includes any poem that commemorates a person or group of people's death: an elegy.In its stricter sense, though, it refers to a genre of popular verse or folk poetry that had its greatest popularity in the nineteenth century, especially in the United States of...

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