The Ancient Library

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whole amount of change in the mechanical struct are of the measure. The Iambic, on the other hand, bears, perhaps above all other metres, in its very essence, the stamp of popular origin. It is, as Aristotle and other ancient critics have pointedly remarked, the metre of familiar dis­course.1 Hence, as the same critics observe, the frequency of its spon­taneous occurrence in prose compositions, the justice of which remark may be easily verified by the test of experiment. The iambic measure, therefore, suggested itself instinctively to primitive genius, in any attempt to impart to the poetical treatment of a subject, not so much dignity or solemnity, as emphatic pungency and smartness.

III. In its further cultivation, however, iambic verse, or, rather, the iambic trimeter, for in that form alone is its full excellence displayed, not only embraces, like the elegy, the treatment of every variety of sub­ject, but as possessing, in a degree little short of the hexameter, the principle of continuity, which is wanting in the elegy, is qualified to treat those subjects with similar, if not the same ease, amplitude, and dignity as the hexameter itself. The perfection of iambic versification is the text of Aristophanes, where it will ever remain unsurpassed and unrival­led in variety and brilliancy of dramatic effect.

IV. We will now proceed to give a brief sketch of the lives and works of the most eminent among the early iambic poets of Greece.

1. archilochus ('ApxiAoxos), of whom some mention has already been made under the head of elegiac verse, but whose fuller biography belongs more properly to this place, was descended from a noble family who held the priesthood in the island of Paros. His father was Telesicles, and his mother a slave named Enipo. He flourished about 714-676 B.C. In the flower of his age,, between 710 and 700 B.C., and probably after he had gained a prize for his hymn to Ceres,2 he went from Paros to Tha-sos, with a colony, of which one account makes him the leader. The motive for the emigration can only be conjectured. It was most proba­bly the result of a political change, to which cause was added, in the case of Archilochus, a sense of personal wrongs. He had been a suitor to Neobule, one of the daughters of Lycambes, who first promised and afterward refused to give his daughter to the poet. Enraged at this treatment, Archilochus attacked the whole family in an iambic poem, ac­cusing Lycambes of perjury, and his daughters of the most abandoned lives. The verses were recited at the festival of Ceres, and produced such an effect that the daughters of Lycambes are said to have hung themselves through shame.

The bitterness, moreover, which he expressed in his poems toward his native island seems to have arisen, in part, from the low estimation in which he was held, as being the son of a slave. Neither was he more happy at Thasos. He draws the most melancholy picture of his adopted country, which he at length quitted in disgust.3 While at Thasos, he incurred the disgrace of losing his shield in an engagement with the Thracians of the opposite continent; but, like Alcseus, under similar cir-

1 Arist., Rhet.y iii., 1; Poet., xxiv. 2 Schol. in Aristopli.y Av., 1762. 3 Pint., De Exit, 12, p. 604 ; Strab.j xiv., p, 648; via., p, 370, &c.

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