Formulas in Early Greek Elegy

R. Scott Garner

in Traditional Elegy

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199757923
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895281 | DOI:

Series: American Philological Association American Classical Studies Series

Formulas in Early Greek Elegy

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Given the structuring properties discovered for archaic Greek elegy in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 proceeds to demonstrate that such structuring tendencies were used to great benefit by elegists for the employment of regularly recurring phrases that could be adapted to fit varying metrical contexts. Through the investigation of a subset of poetic phraseology labeled “lexical formulas,” that is, “groups of two or more lexemes that appear together regularly in order to fill out completely a traditionally defined colon or cola either by themselves or in conjunction with prepositive or postpositive words,” this chapter demonstrates that recurring phrases within archaic elegy were localized and transformed within the couplet according to standardized rules that share great affinity with the techniques that lay at the heart of early Greek epic. There did indeed exist, then, a traditional system of meter and poetic language that would have enabled elegiac poets to employ formulaic phraseology within their verses, and this system seems to work in symbiosis with epic verse‐making techniques rather than as a parallel but generically separate practice.

Keywords: lexical formula; elegy; epic; Greek meter; formulaic phraseology

Chapter.  9251 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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