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Greek Metrics

Joel Lidov

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online May 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0094
Greek Metrics

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Greek metrics is the discipline that studies the patterns and arrangements of syllables and words that characterize Greek poetry. Its domain extends from the study of the properties of syllables (that is, prosody) to the analysis of the structure of the largest poetic components: stanza, strophe, and triad. It overlaps with a number of other disciplines, and there is no agreement on what constitutes the boundaries of metrics proper. Since the patterning is associated with the effect of rhythm, and because most early poetry was sung, metrics is especially allied to the study of the other performed rhythmical arts, namely music and dance. As a study of one aspect of Greek as a language, it shares concerns with various branches of linguistics, both comparative and historical. Metrics depends on having reliable textual data, and metrical regularities can assist in restoring texts, so metrics is closely allied with textual criticism. The specific practices of poets, periods, or genres can often be distinguished on the basis of their metrics, and in these respects metrics is part of stylistics and literary history. It is also a field of ancient scholarship, which can be studied for its own sake or treated as evidence. Finally, of course, metrics describes poetic choices and the structure of poems and so is a part of the study and appreciation of literature generally. The aim of metrics is to construct a general system that provides a basis for describing individual compositions; scholars who emphasize differently the associations that metrics has with other disciplines often emphasize very different features in their construction of general systems. Rhythmically inclined scholars concern themselves with the actual temporal quantities, text critics with features that can be reduced to rules, and linguists with the different ways structures can be realized. The metrical literature, however, is largely made up of presentations of different systems or of detailed discussions of individual problems. Only rarely do such works compare the difference in theoretical frameworks; instead, metrical scholarship tends to fall into various, partly national, schools with shared assumptions. They can best be understood through the history of the modern scholarship. This bibliography will include, therefore, works in use in the early 21st century, significant and accessible studies from the history of the discipline clarifying the origin of theories, and exemplary special studies.

Article.  13185 words. 

Subjects: classical studies ; classical art and architecture ; classical history ; classical literature ; classical philosophy

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