V. THE LYRIC METRES OF DRAMA

THREE distinct modes of delivery were used in drama: recitation without music, recitation with music (παρακαταλογή, commonly called 'recitative'), and singing.1 Although there is some uncertainty over the borderlines, we can in general distinguish clearly between those parts that were sung and those that were recited. The recited parts are always in stichic metres, or in extended periods of uniform rhythm corresponding to the rhythm of stichic metres; the sung parts were normally in non-stichic metres, mostly strophic.

This chapter is mainly concerned with the metres of the sung parts, but first we must deal with the 'extended periods of uniform rhythm', and with a special category of stichic verse characteristic of comedy.


Marching anapaests

Two kinds of anapaestic metre are found in drama: marching anapaests, and lyric or sung anapaests. We are here concerned with the first, which is much the commoner of the two. Anapaestic metra (as described on p. 29) come in long runs of irregular length, with catalexis at each period-end.2 These runs are conventionally set out as dimeters with isolated single metra here and there, but the division is arbitrary, as synapheia obtains throughout until the catalexis. There is normally caesura after each metron except the last before the catalexis;3 where there is not, it occurs after the first short of the next biceps. A. Ag. 60-7:
60

____________________
1
See A. W. Pickard-Cambridge, The Dramatic Festivals of Athens ( 2nd edn., 1968), 156ff.
2
Occasionally period-end without catalexis (though not short open vowel in the last position) occurs within the run where there is a sense-pause, especially in emotionally charged contexts.
3
And even there in two instances out of three.

-48-

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Introduction to Greek Metre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Metrical Symbols ix
  • Abbreviations for Text Collections xi
  • I. the Nature of Greek Metre 1
  • Ii. Prosody 10
  • Iii. the Standard Stichic Metres 19
  • Iv. the Lyric Poets 31
  • V. the Lyric Metres of Drama 48
  • Vi. the Later Centuries 68
  • Glossary-Index 85
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