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Iambus

- Noun

A foot consisting of a short syllable followed by a long one, as in /mans, or of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one, as invent; an iambic. See the Couplet under Iambic, n.


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    Iambus or iambic poetry was a genre of ancient Greek poetry that included but was not restricted to the iambic meter and whose origins modern scholars have traced to the cults of Demeter and Dionysus. The genre featured insulting and obscene language and sometimes it is referred to as "blame poetry". For Alexandrian editors, however, iambus signified any poetry of an informal kind that was intended to entertain, and it seems to have been performed on similar occasions as elegy even though lacking elegy's decorum. The Archaic Greek poets Archilochus, Semonides and Hipponax were among the most famous of its early exponents. The Alexandrian poet Callimachus composed "iambic" poems against contemporary scholars, which were collected in an edition of about a thousand lines, of which fragments of thirteen poems survive. He in turn influenced Roman poets such as Catullus, who composed satirical epigrams that popularized Hipponax's choliamb. Horace's Epodes on the other hand were mainly imitations of Archilochus and, as with the Greek poet, his invectives took the forms both of private revenge and denunciation of social offenders.

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    In Greek mythology, Iamus was the son of Apollo and Evadne, a daughter of Poseidon, raised by Aepytus. She loved Apollo and by him she became pregnant, but was shamed by Aepytus for her pregnancy. When it was time for the childbirth, Apollo sent down Eileithyia and the Moirai (Fates) to assist Evadne. After giving birth, she unwillingly abandoned the child in the wild and went back. The child survived, as he was nourished by some honeybees sent by Apollo, or the Fates. When Aepytus learnt from the Delphic Oracle that the new born was sired by Apollo himself and was destined to be a great prophet, he ordered to bring the child back into the house. The infant was found alive lying among violets, and was named Iamus (from ίον, "violet") by Evadne.

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