Iambic trimeter

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The iambic trimeter is in the ancient Verslehre one of three iambic metra existing metrical foot . In metric formula notation , the iambic trimeter is used asyes t written.

Since the iambic meter is a dipody , i.e. it consists of two verse feet, the iambic trimeter has six verse feet, so it basically corresponds to the six-footed iambic senar or the iambic hexapody . The scheme of the Latin form is in metric notation :

× —ˌ◡—. × —ˌ◡—. × —ˌ◡

The caesura is characteristic mostly after the fifth ( Penthemimeres , e. G. ◡ — ˌ◡ — .◡ | —ˌ◡ — .◡ — ˌ◡—) or less often after the seventh ( Hephthemimeres , eg ◡ — ˌ◡ — .◡ — ˌ◡ | —.◡ — ˌ◡—) syllable. Unlike the (Roman) Senar with the scheme

× —ˌ ​​× —ˌ × —ˌ × —ˌ × —ˌ◡

if the feet are not of the same type, metrical ambivalence is only permitted in the 1st, 3rd and 5th foot, corresponding to the iambic metron × —ˌ◡—. In Greek poetry, the possible range of variation is even greater than in the Latin form.

The metric inversion in the 6th foot leads to the hipponactic trimeter, better known as Choljambus , Hinkjambus or Skazon (yes ts):

× —ˌ◡—. × —ˌ◡ — .◡ — ˌ—

The iambic trimeter appears very early in Greek poetry. An inscription on Nestor's cup of Ischia is interpreted as a trimeter, in the 7th century the verse was then used by Archilochus and the iambographers and because of its great flexibility and its proximity to prose it became a spoken verse in tragedy , comedy and satyr play .

In the Roman tragedy it was first adopted and adapted by Livius Andronicus in the form of the Senar, but in the poetry the verse was then adjusted again to the Greek form. Mention should be made here of the Latin trimeter in Catullus and in the Epodes of Horace , as well as the Senar in Phaedrus ( fabulae ) and in late antiquity in Ambrosius of Milan ( hymni ).

Replicas in German poetry

Apart from translations from Greek and Latin ( Johann Elias Schlegel , Christoph Martin Wieland ), reproductions of the iambic trimeter in German are relatively rare. The following example comes from the Helenaakt of Goethe's Faust II :

Be wun changed much and | much ge schol th, Hey le na ,
From Stran de komm 'ich | where we only ge lan det are
◡ — ◡ — ◡ | —◡ — ◡ — ◡—

Further examples from Goethe in the classic Walpurgis Night of Faust II and in the play Pandora .

Also Schiller , in his drama The Bride of Messina uses the trimeter:

The law of the Lord exchanger üb I | from the letz th time ,
The grave to u about ge ben | the sen theu ren body

Here the caesura appears after the seventh syllable. Further examples from Schiller in the Maiden of Orleans .

An example of the imitation of the iambic trimeter in poetry is Eduard Mörike's poem Auf eine Lampe :

Yet un ver moves , o | nice e Lam pe, shine est you ,
to facilitated th warp en | ornamental Lich on ge hang s here ,
the top e of the now | almost ver GESS nen desire ge machs .
On dei ner wei SEN | Mar mor -layer le, de ren edge
of E feu wreath of | gol the grü nem ore to braids ,
twists fröh Lich ei ne | Kin of the crowds the ring el Reihn .
How rei Quattro all there! | Laughing end, and a san fter spirit
of Erns tes but he poured en | to the gan ze form -
an art ge image 'of | ech th Art . Who ah tet be ?
What a famous beautiful is | se lig seems it in his own .

In all verses except the eighth there is the caesura after the fifth syllable.

Further replicas can be found in August von Platen's literary comedies and in Spitteler's Versepen .


  • Martin Boghardt: The iambic trimeter in the drama of Goethe's time. Buske, Hamburg 1973, ISBN 3-87118-141-2 .
  • Sandro Boldrini : Prosody and Metrics of the Romans. Teubner, Stuttgart & Leipzig 1999, ISBN 3-519-07443-5 , pp. 104-107.
  • Dieter Burdorf, Christoph Fasbender, Burkhard Moennighoff (ed.): Metzler Lexicon Literature. Terms and definitions. 3rd edition Metzler, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-476-01612-6 , p. 781.
  • Joseph Descroix: Le trimètre iambique des iambographes à la comédie nouvelle. Paris 1931. Reprint: Garland, New York 1987, ISBN 0-8240-7755-5 .
  • Ippokratis Kantzios: The trajectory of archaic Greek trimeters. Brill, Leiden 2005, ISBN 90-04-14536-2 .
  • Franz Lang: Platen's trimeter. A contribution to the antiquing technique. Cernauti (Chernivtsi) 1924.
  • Hans Paulussen: Rhythm and technique of the six-footed iambus in German and English. Hanstein, Bonn 1913.
  • Seth L. Schein: The iambic trimeter in Aeschylus and Sophocles. A study in metrical form. Brill, Leiden 1979, ISBN 90-04-05949-0 .
  • Gero von Wilpert : Subject dictionary of literature. 8th edition Kröner, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-520-84601-3 , pp. 849f.

Individual evidence

  1. Goethe: Faust - The tragedy second part . 3rd act, v. 8488f.
  2. Schiller: The Bride of Messina IV. Act, 8th appearance.
  3. Schiller: The Maid of Orleans. Montgomery scenes (Act 2, Appearance 6–8, online ).
  4. Eduard Mörike: Complete works in two volumes. Volume 1, Munich 1967, p. 735, online .