Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Grumble grumble ...

It strikes me that no general reference on Greek meter answers the questions that come up most often when actually dealing with meter. I know that in the past I was chided by one commenter for complicating an issue supposedly deftly handled in Raven's Latin Metre, but truth be told, I wouldn't recommend Raven's second-rate texts to anyone (though it's his work on Greek that is especially troublesome). I pour through Maas's still largely sound handbook (though it was originally published as part of a student's companion), West's disordered mass of undocumented observations (which is heavily Maasian), Snell's concise notes (or Rosenmeyer's, which are based on Snell's), Wilamowitz's unwieldy tome, the equally enlightening and infuriating French handbooks by Dain and Koster, and I still have doubts or find the same ambiguity spread about equally.

Then when it comes to actual analysis I find that the statistics which many arguments rely on are flat wrong.

And I can only conclude that it has been among the discipline's gravest errors to tuck metrical studies away in favor of things like speech-act theory.

Or maybe I'm just becoming a curmudgeon before my time.


Anonymous said...

Have you checked out the work by Devine and Stephens? If you don't like West et al, you may like them.

dennis said...

I've actually gathered all of the articles written by Devine & Stephens and have checked out their book, but haven't yet tried to decode it.

I was initially put off by the notion that meter reflects speech patterns, but that's something I've always vacillated on.

I'll have to give them a serious reading soon. At the very least it'll be a good exercise for my dormant linguist side.

eric said...


premature curmudgeon or not, perhaps you could do a little riff on why you think metrical studies is (are?) important for an understanding of greek poetry?

i'm not talking about a heavily-researched job here--just your off-the-cuff musings on what you think res metrica brings to the table.

Anonymous said...

What do you pour through Maas's handbook?