Posted by Dennis » 4 Comments »
We’re reading Catullus 63 this week and I’ve found no work very helpful on the meter.
So here is the schema, which is really much simpler than the commentaries and metrical treatises would have you believe:
And here is the most natural form of this ionic meter followed by Catullus’ most common adaptation:
The places marked here by curly brackets allow the phenomenon called anaclasis, whereby two positions of different quantity may be switched. Put simply long-short become short-long, as the schema makes clear.
You’ll notice that in the first half Catullus favors anaclasis in the bracketed portion, while he favors resolution in the second. I haven’t bothered to calculate percentages but I’d bet he follows this as a rule 75% of the time.
Aside from resolution and contraction (which are pretty straightforward) the only seemingly tricky thing occurs between the curly brackets. But even that isn’t so tricky. There are only three options:
Galliambic meter should never cause anyone headaches again.
Now who’s a metrist of some repute?
The symbol showing two shorts below a long indicates ‘contractible biceps,’ i.e. a position which is properly filled by double breve (two shorts) but which may be contracted into a single longum.
The symbol showing two shorts above a long indicates ‘resolvable long,’ i.e. a position which is properly filled by a single longum but which may be resolved into double breve.
The basic Ionic metron is composed of two shorts followed by two longs. The Galliambic is properly an Ionic dimeter plus an Ionic dimeter catalectic (catalexis refers to suppression of the final element at line end — note that the second dimeter is always short one syllable).