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A metron or meter ( Greek  μέτρον ; plural metra or meters ; Latin metrum ) is the smallest part of a verse that can be recognized in its rhythmic peculiarity in ancient Greek metrics . Since the designation meter during the Roman literature of focus for the meter is used or the specific metric form of a verse, it is better to use the name for the part of the verse in the ancient metric Metron to use.

According to Paul Maas' terminology , the metron is an independent group of verse elements subject to internal responsion , that is, the group is repeated in a recognizable manner (response) and is too short to appear as an independent verse (whereby the metron different from the colon ). As a result, there are only the following meters in the strict sense (in brackets the form in metric notation and the corresponding formula ):

With the exception of the dactyl, each of these metra contains exactly two long elements .

The metron does not match the ancient term pous (Greek πούς pous , Latin pes ), as it has been handed down for example in Dionysius Thrax and corresponds to the current term of the foot of the verse . The metron is the rhythmic element derived from the practice of dance and lecture and recognizable through repetition, while the pous in Dionysius and his successors results from a combinatorial sequence of long and short elements. Since Dionysius named all possible combinations of up to four-limbed feet in his list, this resulted in such exotic and rarely found verse feet in poetry as Prokeleusmatikos, made up of four abbreviations (◡◡◡◡).

According to this difference and so readable in the above list, the metron in the two-syllable verse feet iambus, trochaeus and the three-syllable anapast consists of two feet ( dipody ), i.e. the individual iambus is two-part (◡-,Yes), the iambic metron, on the other hand, has four parts (◡ — ◡—, yes 2). In all other Metra, the metron and verse foot are the same. If one wants to distinguish between the verse foot and the metron, especially in the case of the verse feet with dipody , one speaks specifically of the iambic metron , metron iambicon or also briefly of iambicon , trochaikon , anapaistikon etc.

Meter measures consisting of a repetition of a certain metron are named according to the number of the metra:

That means, an iambic trimeter consists of 3 Metra with two feet each, so a total of 6 feet. It should be noted, however, that with such meters, the metric scheme does not simply result from a repetition of the foot scheme, but that according to tradition, each meter is associated with certain extensions or restrictions of rhythmic freedom. The dactylic hexameter does not simply consist of six consecutive dactyls:

—◡◡ˌ — ◡◡ˌ — ◡◡ˌ — ◡◡ˌ — ◡◡ˌ — ◡◡ˌ

but has numerous possible variations with restrictions in the 5th and 6th meter:

- ◡◡ ˌ— ◡◡ ˌ— ◡◡ ˌ— ◡◡ ˌ — ◡◡ˌ— ×

This applies not only to the meter as a whole, but also to the metron itself. This is shown when one looks at the iambic senar, which consists of six iambic , in Latin poetry yes 6with the iambic trimeter, which also consists of six iambs yes tcompares. The Senar has the scheme:

× —ˌ ​​× —ˌ × —ˌ × —ˌ × —ˌ◡

The trimeter on the other hand:

× —ˌ◡—. × —ˌ◡—. × —ˌ◡ .

The iambic metron therefore has a structure (× —ˌ◡—) that does not simply result from joining two iambs (× —ˌ × -).


  • Otto Knörrich: Lexicon of lyrical forms (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 479). 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-47902-8 , pp. 43f., 147f.
  • Wilfried Neumaier: Ancient rhythm theories. Historical form and current substance. Grüner, Amsterdam 1989, ISBN 90-6032-064-6 , pp. 55ff.

Individual evidence

  1. E. g. Venantius Fortunatus carmina IX, 7.6
  2. Christiaan Marie Jan Sicking: Greek verse teaching. (= Handbook of Classical Studies. Dept. 2, Part 4) Beck, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-35252-9 , pp. 18f.
  3. Dionysii Thracis ars grammatica 117–121, ed. Gustav Uhlig . Teubner, Leipzig 1883.
  4. Sandro Boldrini : Prosody and Metrics of the Romans. Stuttgart & Leipzig 1999, p. 102.
  5. Sandro Boldrini: Prosody and Metrics of the Romans. Stuttgart & Leipzig 1999, p. 104.