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As stichomythia (Greek .: stichomythia ) a dialogic speaker change from verse to verse is called in plays, followed in rapid succession in which therefore particularly short sentences. With the help of this stylistic device , the audience is signaled to the intensity or urgency of the conversation. An increase in this effect, in which the individual line of verse is distributed among several people, is the antilabe . A dialogue in double verses is called distichomythy , in half-verses ( hemistichias ) hemistichomythy .

The Stichomythie is also called line speech in simplified form. It is mainly used in Greek tragedy, e.g. B. in King Oedipus by Sophocles .

It often serves the process of anagnorisis , i.e. finding the truth, and is used in interrogation-like situations or in disputes.

There are also examples of Stichomythie in Goethe's Faust tragedy, part one , as in the following excerpt from the garden scene :

What shoud that? A bouquet?
No, it's just supposed to be a game.
Go! You laugh at me.

(She plucks and mumbles)

What are you mumbling
He loves me-doesn't love me.
You lovely heavenly face!
Margarete: (continues)
Love me - don't - love me - don't

(Plucking out the last leaf with lovely joy :)

He loves me!

This example shows that the stichomythical structure of this excerpt should bring about the lively development of the conversation. The flower oracle, which is still waving back and forth between “He loves me” and “He doesn't love me”, then ends with the climax of the stichomythical structure: “He loves me!”


Distichomythie (Greek: distichomythía ), on the other hand, refers to an alternating speech consisting of two lines of verse, i.e. double verses . In this exemplary excerpt from the drama Faust tragedy, first part by JW Goethe, the alternation of two lines of verse causes the comedy of the dialogue between Mephisto and Marthe to intensify . Mephisto's strategy of evading through unrelated answers to Marthe's questions is heightened by the distichomythy to the point where Marthe has to admit to herself that Mephisto doesn't understand her.

Example (Goethe, Faust I ):

The poor women are in a bad way.
A hag pride is difficult to convert.
It would only depend on your own kind
To teach me better.
Just saying, sir, haven't you found anything yet?
Hasn't the heart bound itself somewhere?
The saying goes: your own stove,
A good woman is worth gold and pearls.