Iambic Ideas, explores the concept of the 'iambic' as a genre. In a set of detailed studies, the contributors examine, across time, the idea of iambic through a wide variety of cultural settings--Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and late antiquity. What emerges most clearly is that the 'iambic idea' is impossible to define in absolute terms: rather, the form of iambic keeps varying in response to a vast variety of historical contingencies. The variation is evident in such critical terms as the 'iambic tendency' in Sappho, the 'reusing of iambi' for Roman epodes, and even the instances of 'iambic absence' in comedy and other such related forms. In the end, what is most characteristic about the 'iambic' is its own inherent variability.
Iambic Ideas is a must read for anyone interested in Greek and Roman poetry. These twelve thought-provoking essays are constructed to move beyond formal generic classifications and to focus on the broader continuities, interactions, and significance of the iambic impulse from the archaic to late antique. The temporal span of these essays enables the readers to gain access to material that might otherwise be unfamiliar and allows for a far richer understanding of poetic processes in play.--Susan Stephens, Stanford University