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IAMBIC POETRY
Iambic poetry, like the elegiac poetry which was also nearly contemporaneous with it and was similarly cultivated by the Ionians of Asia Minor, forms a connecting link between epic and lyric poetry. While elegy however is directly connected, both in metrical form and expression, with epic poetry, iambic poetry is in direct contrast to it, both as regards subject-matter, diction and metre. The difference between the subject-matter of the two is as marked as the distinction was between tragedy and comedy in later times. While the aim of epic poetry is to awake admiration for its heroes, iambic poetry strains all the resources of art and irony, sarcasm and satire, to bold up the faults and weaknesses of human nature to mockery and contempt. This form of poetry, in keeping with its subject, confined itself to the simple, unadorned language of everyday life, and made use of the pliant iambic metre, which lent itself readily to such language, and had long been popularly employed to clothe in a poetic garb the raillery which formed part, of the rustic feasts of Demeter. This custom, as well as the application of the word iambus to verses of this kind, was traced to the Thracian maiden Iambe (also called the daughter of Pan and Echo). When the goddess Demeter was plunged in grief for the loss of her daughter Persephone, on entering the house of Celeus at Eleusis, it was the jests of Iambe that forced her to smile and restored her appetite. Iambic poetry was brought to artistic perfection by Archilochus of Paros (about 700 B.C.). He did not remain satisfied with the simple repetition of the same iambic verse, but invented the most varied forms, linking the longer iambic measures with the shorter, as well as with dactylic metres, and thus forming epodes. Instead of the iambus ( -), he also made use of its inverted form, the trochee (- ). Further representatives of this class were his younger contemporary Simonides of Amorgus, and Hipponax of Ephesus (about 540 B.C.), the inventor of the metre called the choliambus or scazon iambus, the "lame" or " limping iambus," in which the last iambic foot is replaced by a trochee, which as it were limps at the end of the verse and gives it a comic effect. Solon employed the iambic form in justifying his political aims in the face of his opponents. Of the later iambic writers may be mentioned Herlides or Herondas, whose extant poems (editio prinreps, 1891), may be assigned to the 3rd century B.C. He was the composer of mimes in iambic metre, a kind of imitative pourtrayal of manners in choliambic verses, similar to those of the Roman Gnaeus Matius in the let century B.C. From the middle of this century onwards lampoons in iambic verse became common among the Romans. Its earliest representatives included Furius Bibaculus, Catullus, and also Horace, who in his epodes imitated the metres of Archilochus. Under the Empire, a few poems by Martial and Ausonius belong to this class.
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