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In this paper we develop the theory of hyperbolic lines in generalized polygons. In particular, we investigate the extremal situation where hyperbolic lines are long. We give restrictions on the existence of long hyperbolic lines and characterize the symplectic generalized quadrangles W (k) and generalized hexagons H(k) related to the groups G 2 (k) by the existence of certain classes of long hyperbolic lines.doi:10.1515/form.1996.8.343 fatcat:xpr7ylppondhjb4arddovp4rgi