Ancient metric versification - Introduction to literary...

Ancient metrical versification

The basis of ancient Greek and Roman poetry lay metric system of versification, in which the rhythm of the verse is formed by alternating long and short sounds. The unit of longitude of the verse was the share - mora , equal to the time needed for pronouncing one short syllable (in the scheme is denoted by the sign ). The utterance of a long syllable (in the scheme denoted by the - sign) was equated to two moras. A repetitive group of long and short syllables has been called a stop ("calque" with Greek pous or lat. pes - foot, foot, foot) . The concept of foot was preserved and eventually passed into a syllabo-tonic system of versification.

There were about thirty different feet in ancient versification. Among them are the most important: three-lobed (tri-sea) - trochee or trochei () strong> (); four-lobed - spondylum (-), dactyl (), amphibrachia, anapest ( ). There were also five-, six-, seven-legged feet.

Three and quadruple feet played an important role in United States classical versification, based on the syllabo-tonic principle, where long syllables were replaced by percussion and short ones by unstressed ones.

The verse in the ancient versification generally consisted of the same feet, and the matching of the feet in the feet caused a clear rhythm. But at the same time in this verse it was possible to replace one stop by another, if in both cases there was an equal amount of moras. True, sometimes unequal footsteps could replace each other, which in general contributed to a great rhythmic variety.

The number of feet and their composition in the ancient verse determined its name. We are interested in the hexameter (Greek hexametros - six-dimensional), which was written by a number of outstanding works of ancient literature, including the epic poems of Homer and Virgil. This is a metrical verse consisting of six feet of dactyl, the last foot being truncated and representing a trochee:

Sometimes in a hexameter it is allowed to replace individual dactylic stops with trochaic ones. For clarity, let's compare the first three verses of the Iliad Homer in the classical translation of N. Gnedich (1828) and in a later translation by V. Veresaev (1949):

Anger, Goddess, Sing to Achilles Peleyev's Son

Terrible, which the Achaeans made thousands of disasters:

Many of the mighty mighty heroes have been subjugated

in a gloomy Hades ...

(N. Gnedich)

Sing, goddess, about the wrath of Achilles, Peleus's son

Wrathful anger, suffering without account brought Achaeans,

Many strong souls of heroes sent to Hades ...

(V. Veresaev)

Gnedich rarely resorts to replacing the dactylic foot with a trochaic one. Use clean The hexameter gives his translation fluency, epic "dispassion". Veresaev often replaces dactylic feet with trochaic ones. This interrupting the rhythm introduces a certain dramatic tension in his translation. Widely used dactylo-trochee hexameter V. Trediakovsky in his epic poem "Thilemachid", created in imitation and as a continuation of Homer's epic poems. Actually Trediakovsky also owns the creation of the "antique" hexameter in United States poetry.

To maintain and strengthen the rhythm in multi-verse verses introduced caesura (lat. caesura - cut, dissection) - an obligatory constant word (in the scheme denoted by the symbol //), or in other words, the mandatory rhythmic pause , dividing the verse into two relatively equal hemistichs and facilitating his pronunciation:

Muza, tell me about the // experienced husband who,

Traveling a long time from the day, // how the holy Ilion destroyed them ...

("Odyssey in the lane of V. Zhukovsky)

Caesar can not split the word into two parts, but it can, as seen from the example given, dissect the foot.

In conjunction with a hexameter, a pentameter (Greek pertametron - five-dimensional) was often used, forming the so-called elegiac distich (used in elegies and epigrams. The pentameter was formed from the hexameter by truncating the third dactylic foot, which is usually divided by the caesura. Each hemistich in the pentameter, thus, consists of two and a half dactylic feet, which in sum is a five-legged verse (four dactylic feet and one spondeic). Unlike the hexameter in the pentameter, the caesura has a strictly fixed place:

I hear the silent sound of the divine Hellenic speech.

The elder of the great shadow I feel an embarrassed soul.


In the above example, the first verse is a dactylochoreic hexameter (the third dactylic foot is replaced by a trochaic one), the second verse is a pentameter.

In ancient lyric poetry, more complex verses were used - logaeda (Greek logos - a word and aoide - a song). These are verses, formed by a combination of four lobes (dactyl, anapaest) with tridoots (iambic, trochee). The alternation of four-lobed and three-lobed feet goes in a strictly established order, but not within one verse, and within the repeating group of verses - stanzas. The rhythm in these poems is less even than in verses consisting of equinolent feet. The ancient logaids include alkeyev and sapphic stanzas. Here is an example of a sapphic stanza created by the ancient Greek poet Sappho (hymn "Aphrodite"):

The motley throne is the glorious Aphrodite,

Zeus daughter, skillful in cunning cows!

I pray you, do not ruin me with grief

Hearts, good!

Ancient versification arose in the era of inseparable connection of verse and music. After several centuries, when the verse separated from singing, the metrical system of ancient poetry received a theoretical justification. Antique versification existed for as long as in the Greek and Latin languages ​​there were long and short syllables. In the Middle Ages, with the loss of longitude and shortness in these languages, the ancient versification gave way to syllabic and syllabo-tonic Byzantine and Latin poems. When translating into languages ​​where the presence or absence of stress plays a meaningful role, rhythmically strong places (arsis) are transmitted by stressed syllables, and rhythmically weak (tesis) - unstressed.

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