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iambic poetry, Greek  

Ralph Rosen

Iambic poetry refers to a loosely delineated genre of Greek poetry typically, but not exclusively, composed in the iambic metre. Iamboi tended to be comedic in tone and episodic in narrative structure, freely amalgamating elevated and low diction (including liberal use of obscenity) for parodic, humorous effect. Iambic poets were most celebrated in antiquity as poets of satire who attacked and mocked various adversaries in first-person narratives. The iamboi of Archilochus (7th century bce) and Hipponax (6th century bce), which survive only as fragments, became emblematic of such aggressive comic mockery, although other literary elements can be detected in both poets as well, including parody, picaresque narratives, and fable. Some Hellenistic Greek poets—most notably Callimachus in his Iamboi and Herodas in his Mimiamboi (a dramatized form of iambos)— composed iamboi that were influenced in particular by Hipponax’s iambic style.“Iambic” metre got its name from iambos (.