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Greek and Latin Metre

2. Iambic Trimeter

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about iambic trimeter, the metre of much of Greek tragedy and comedy. In particular, we think about the iamb of Greek and Latin poetry differs from that of English poetry, the importance of the caesura, some rules of prosody, and the concept of brevis in longo.


In this course, Professor Armand D’Angour (University of Oxford) introduces some of the more popular metrical forms of Greek and Latin poetry. In the first module, we look at dactylic hexameter, the metre used in Greek and Roman epic poetry. After that, we turn to iambic trimeter, the metre used in much of Greek tragedy. In the third module, we think about the elegiac couplet, used by poets such as Catullus, Ovid, Propertius and Tibullus, and in the fourth we turn to two metres used by Catullus – the hendecasyllable and the limping iambic.


Armand D’Angour is a Professor of Classics at the University of Oxford, having pursued careers as a cellist and businessman before becoming a Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Jesus College in 2000. He has published articles and chapters on the music, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, and regularly presents his research in the UK and abroad. He was commissioned to write Odes in ancient Greek for both the Athens Olympics in 2004 and the London Olympics in 2012. In 2013-2015 he won a British Academy Fellowship to conduct research into reconstructing the sounds of ancient Greek music, which led to a project that won him a Vice-Chancellor's Prize for Public Engagement with Research at Oxford and a widely-viewed video of a concert at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford 'Rediscovering Ancient Greek Music (2017)'.

Professor D'Angour's recent books include Music, Text, and Culture in Ancient Greece (2018, co-edited with Tom Phillips), and an investigative biography of the philosopher Socrates, concentrating on his early life and links with the renowned woman intellectual Aspasia of Miletus (Socrates in Love: The Making of a Philosopher, 2019).

How to Innovate: an Ancient Guide to Creative Thinking was published by Princeton in 2021; he is currently working on a book for the same series entitled How to talk about Love: an Ancient Guide to Eros, and at the same time he is investigating (for a future book) how the singing of Homer's epics can throw light on the vexed Homeric Question.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

D'Angour, A. (2018, August 15). Greek and Latin Metre - Iambic Trimeter [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

D'Angour, A. "Greek and Latin Metre – Iambic Trimeter." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,