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Traditional ElegyThe Interplay of Meter, Tradition, and Context in Early Greek Poetry$
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R. Scott Garner

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199757923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199757923.001.0001

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Elegy and Its Traditional Possibilities

Elegy and Its Traditional Possibilities

(p.3) Chapter 1 Elegy and Its Traditional Possibilities
Traditional Elegy

R. Scott Garner

Oxford University Press

After summarizing the evidence for the oral performance of early Greek poetry in general, Chapter 1 represents an initial investigation into the possibilities that existed for the employment of traditional and formulaic phraseology within archaic elegy. Within Homeric epic, oral‐formulaic phraseology existed in symbiosis with a flexible partitioning system in which each stichic hexameter was separable into four recognizable units (or cola) which could then be combined to produce composite verses consisting of regularized and traditional content. In the hexameter portion of early elegiac couplets, this same four‐part division can also be observed, while the so‐called pentameter line within each couplet also regularly divides into four integral units. In the end analysis, it is clear that archaic Greek elegy possessed a metrical partitioning scheme that would have allowed for the possibility of employing formulaic phraseology.

Keywords:   performance, elegy, formulaic phraseology, hexameter, pentameter, cola, metrical partitioning

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