In archaic Greece, iambus is not just a poetic genre defined by meter, dialect, diction and other formal features. The ‘idea of iambus’ extends to works that present thematic or contextual affinities with iambus proper. Accordingly, the present chapter explores the iambic role of Hermes both within and outside iambic poetry, with a focus on the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, which can be construed as the mythical pre-history of the iambic genre, and on the fragments of Hipponax, whose predilection for Hermes is a well-known fact. In both cases, Iambic Hermes will emerge as a metamorphic trickster, promoting poetic and linguistic innovation with an unprecedented emphasis on the signifier. This suggests a strong continuity between iambic poetry and its ‘pre-history.’ By contrast, Hermes the trickster does not seem to be at home in the Hellenistic revival of (chol)iambic poetry, and in Callimachus’ Iambi Hipponax Hermes seems to turn into a rather sedate figure.

(2019). Hermes Iambicus . Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10446/150774

Hermes Iambicus

Nobili, Cecilia
2019-01-01

Abstract

In archaic Greece, iambus is not just a poetic genre defined by meter, dialect, diction and other formal features. The ‘idea of iambus’ extends to works that present thematic or contextual affinities with iambus proper. Accordingly, the present chapter explores the iambic role of Hermes both within and outside iambic poetry, with a focus on the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, which can be construed as the mythical pre-history of the iambic genre, and on the fragments of Hipponax, whose predilection for Hermes is a well-known fact. In both cases, Iambic Hermes will emerge as a metamorphic trickster, promoting poetic and linguistic innovation with an unprecedented emphasis on the signifier. This suggests a strong continuity between iambic poetry and its ‘pre-history.’ By contrast, Hermes the trickster does not seem to be at home in the Hellenistic revival of (chol)iambic poetry, and in Callimachus’ Iambi Hipponax Hermes seems to turn into a rather sedate figure.
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