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Musa PedestrisMetre and Meaning in Roman Verse$
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Llewelyn Morgan

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554188

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554188.001.0001

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‘Narrower Circuits’

‘Narrower Circuits’

The Sapphic Stanza

(p.181) 3 ‘Narrower Circuits’
Musa Pedestris

Llewelyn Morgan

Oxford University Press

This chapter concentrates on a single, representative metrical system from Roman lyric poetry — the sapphic stanza — and traces its use through Catullus, Horace, and Statius. In Statius we find that the form carries with it the associations of its most prolific user, Horace, but still retains a tangibly ‘Sapphic’ quality, recalling the archaic Greek poet whose name it carried. In Catullus the evocation of Sappho is more obvious, the adoption of her signature metre in 51 accompanying a version of a sapphic poem, but the power of delivering the demolition of that affection, the iambic Poem 11, in sapphics has not been appreciated. Horace's sapphics play an important role in his self-positioning within the broad lyric field, in particular in poems such as Odes 1.12 and 4.2 where comparison and contrast with Pindar are in play. But the ability of the sapphic stanza to imply humility and lower aspirations is discernible in other odes as well, a number of which are analysed here.

Keywords:   sapphics, sapphic stanza, sappho, Catullus, Statius, Horace, lyric, Pindar

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