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Writing Epigrams
The Art of Composition in Catullus, Callimachus and Martial

Authors:  Fain G.L.
Year: 2008
ISBN: 978-2-87031-253-7
Pages: 238 p.
Price: 57 EURO

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Every poet is deeply influenced by the verse of other poets. This influence is particularly apparent in the way poets compose their poems, which all poets learn by carefully reading the poetry of their predecessors. Though the style that poets eventually adopt may be unique and formed by their own particular genius, certain features of their poems will nevertheless reveal, at least in part, those earlier poets who have been most important to the formation of their art. This work attempts to trace the progression of style in Greek and Latin epigrams from early inscription to the poems of Martial, by characterizing features of composition that are transferable from one language to another. Such aspects of style include the syntax of sentences that begin and end the poems, the use of vocatives and address, and the structure of the poems, that is whether they proceed with or without formal elements such as antithesis, logical argument, and parallel phrasing. The results of this analysis place on much stronger footing such often held but still controversial views, that short elegy played a large role in the development of Hellenistic epigram; that the poems of Catullus in elegiacs and hendecasyllables show fundamental differences in style; and that the poet most important to the development of the way Martial wrote his poetry was not Lucillius or Nearchus but rather Catullus. These conclusions help define more clearly the affinities of style and patterns of influence that were responsible for the form of the ancient epigram.

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