Aeolic Verse : Advanced Variations

Below are variations on the Aeolic verse pattern, centralized in the glycolic verse discussed in the previous post. To review the glyconic, click here.

Priapean verse is 1 glyconic and 1 Pherecratean together, with a diaeresis between them

xx –˘˘–˘– // ˚˚–˘˘– –

  • the verse form is named for the Priapeia, a collection of 95 anonymous poems concerning the phallic god Priapus, some of which are written in the Priapean style

The Lesser Asclepiad is 1 glyconic with 1 extra nucleus interposed

xx –˘˘– –˘˘– ˘–

  • there is usually a word-end after the first of the two nuclei
  • the verse form is named for the Hellenistic poet Asclepiades

The Greater Asclepiad features 1 glyconic with 2 extra nuclei interposed

xx –˘˘– –˘˘– –˘˘–˘–

  • there are usually word-ends at the first and second nuclei

The Alcaic Hendecasyllable  features 1 iambic metron with a shortened (‘headless’) glyconic

x–˘–  x –˘˘– ˘–

  • The gylconic is shortened insofar as it is missing it’s first variable syllable
  • The line is so-named because it contains eleven syllables (Greek ἕνδεκα)
  • The line is name of the lyric poet Alcaeus

The Phalaecean Hendecasyllable is a glyconic followed by a 1 bacchiac foot

xx –˘˘– ˘–   ˘–x

  • The verse is named for Phalaecus, an early epigrammatist
  • Is it just mean, or are these verse forms starting to sound like breeds of dragon from Harry Potter?

Non-Glyconic Aeolic Styles

The following verse variations are not considered glyconic derivatives.

The Aristophanic features a nucleus and a 1 bacciac foot

–˘˘– ˘––

  • Named, of course, for Aristophanes

The Adonic verse form is a nucleus with one long

  • It is named for laments to Adonis, the ‘eastern’ god of beauty, desire, etc.
  • It is the fourth line of the Sapphic stanza

The Sapphic Hendecasyllable contains 1 trochaic and an Aristophanic (nucleus with bacchiac foot)

–˘–x   –˘˘–   ˘––

The Greater Sapphic interposes an additional nucleus.

–˘–x   –˘˘–  –˘˘–  ˘––

  • Both verses are featured in the Sapphic stanza, named for the poet Sappho

The Lesser Alcaic features a dactyl and an Aristophanic (nucleus with a bacciac foot)

–˘˘ –˘˘– ––

The Essential AG: 625

Famous Phrase:

cui dōnō lepidum novum libellum? [a Phalaecean hendecasyllable: xx ––˘˘– ˘–˘–x]

to whom do I dedicate this charming new booklet? -Catullus, Carmina 1.1

Aeolic Verse

Summary of Aeolic Verse

Unlike most verse forms, Aeolic is not composed of feet. Instead, Aeolics are measured in cola. Any Aeolic colon will contain three principal parts:

  • Aeolic base + choriambic nucleus + one of several Aeolic tails

The Aeolic base is a series of two beat positions, which varies from line to line in any given work

  • It may be an iamb ( ˘– ), a trochee ( –˘ ) or a spondee ( –– ), but never a dibrach ( ˘˘).

The nucleus, in every line of every kind of Aeolic verse, will always appear as –˘˘– .

The Aeolic tail, which varies between each type of verse, takes numerous forms (see below).

Whereas metric poetry contains a set number of feet, with a variant number of possible syllable combinations, Aeolic verse offers a consistent number of syllables in each an every line (of a given work). This makes it easy to scan! All variants of each verse will sound the same.

The most common Aeolic verse forms are named for Greek poets who put them too use, and less common verse forms are often described as a variant of these standard types.

It’s likely helpful to consider ‘Aeolic verse’ as a family of different metrical styles, rather than a set, single ‘game’ of verse, with the same standardized rules.

Aeolic is a collection of dialects; Iambic trimeter is a particular grammar.

 

The Basic (Glyconic) Verse Line

xx  –˘˘–  ˘–

Note the base (given in unmarked verse, to demonstrate possible variations), the nucleus (–˘˘–) and the tail (˘–).

  • The world ‘glycolic’ is named for Glycon, the early Greek lyric poet
  • The final syllable may be brevis in longo, where even a short finally syllable is counted a long

A common stanza in, for instance, Catullus, includes 3 glyolic verses and 1 Pherecratean verse

  • a Pherecretean verse is a catalectic glycolic verse, that is: a glycolic verse whose tail is cut short ( xx –˘˘–  –)
  • the world catalectic (from the Greek καταλέγω, to set down), simply describes a verse with a shortened tail
  • the verse form is named for Pharecrates of Old Attic Comedy


The Essential AG: 623-4

Famous Phrase: per caputque pedēsque [through head and feet] (Pherecratean –˘ –˘˘– – with b. in longo)

(i.e. head over heels) -Catullus 17.9

[n.b. this quote is actually a clipping of the line’s longer Priapean style (Priapean = glyconic + pherecratean), which I’ll discuss in the next post!]