The Short and the Long of it
This chapter tackles the class of iambic metres, represented in non-dramatic Latin verse by the iambic trimeter, ‘limping’ iambic and the epodic systems used by Horace in the Epodes. After a consideration of the continuing prominence of the choliambic or ‘limping’ iambic, the discussion turns to the peculiarly Roman development represented by the ‘pure’ iambic trimeter, which offers a salient illustration of the interpenetration of academic theory and poetic practice in Roman metrical usage. The argument focuses on the parody of Catullus 4 attributed to Virgil, Catalepton 10, but there is also close analysis of Horace's theoretical commentary on iambics and later contributions from the Latin metricians. After a rehearsal of recent work on Horace's meaningful deployment of metres in the Epodes, the chapter concludes by reading Epode 16, a combination of hexameters and pure trimeters, in the light of the understanding gained into pure iambics earlier in the chapter.
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