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Greek iambic poetry


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‘Iambic’ metre (see metre, greek) got its name from iambos, a term associated with traditional jesting and ribaldries in certain festivals of Demeter and Dionysus. At Eleusis the ribaldry was traced back to the mythical Iambē, who made the mourning Demeter laugh. In Ionia in the 7th and 6th cents. bc the iambos achieved literary status when Archilochus and others published monologues and songs composed for festivals and characterized by satirical denunciation of individuals or types, amusing narrations, and lubriciousness. The term ‘iambic poetry’ applies primarily to this material and to later literature inspired by it.

A recurrent feature in the Ionian texts is the first‐person account of extravagant sexual adventures that the speaker claims to have had. He might adopt a character role such as a cook, a peasant farmer, or a burglar. The three principal iambographers of the Archaic period are Archilochus, Semonides of Amorgos, and Hipponax of Ephesus.

Subjects: Classical studies


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