Molossus

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A molossus is a metrical foot, little used in English verse. It has three long syllables in the system of quantitative metre used in Greek and Latin verse.

  • The plural form may be molossi (the Latin form) or molossuses, a more natural form in English.

The geographical name has been used for:

  • a breed of dog, now extinct, known for its size and ferocity. It was raised in Molossia, and can also be called a Molossian or Molossian dog. Although the term is used in modern times to denote similar breeds, the Molossian dog known to the ancients is no more. It is believed to have contributed to the development of such breeds as the various mastiffs, the Great Dane, the Rottweiler and the St Bernard.
  • a New World genus of bats, who appear to have been named for the resemblance of their heads, particularly their dentition, to those of mastiff dogs. (Their English name is mastiff bats.)
Etymological note: molossus is derived, through Latin, from the classical Greek Μολοσσός (Molossos), a son of Neoptolemus and Andromache (after the Trojan War) who gave his name to a people and the Kingdom of Molossia in the Epirus region of Greece. ('Epirus' is derived from the Greek for 'mainland'; it is essentially the N.W. section of the Greek mainland, stretching into what is now Albania.) The word is used for the metrical foot, which is AWE's main concern.