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.
With its judicious sampling of topics, each developed in impressive detail, Iambic Ideas itself rates as a perfectly brilliant idea. The book provides a much-needed sense of 'iambic' as a self-standing generic enterprise within the literatures of Greece and Rome, poetry that both writes and plays by its own rules. The book is thus a first of its kind, and fundamental to the study of verse invective in antiquity.--Kirk Freudenburg, Ohio State University