The animal fable and Greek iambus: ainoi and half-ainoi in Archilochus

Swift, Laura (2014). The animal fable and Greek iambus: ainoi and half-ainoi in Archilochus. In: Werner, C. and Sebastini, B. eds. Gêneros poéticos na Grécia antiga: Confluências e fronteiras. São Paulo: Humanitas, pp. 49–77.



Archilochus’ poetry makes particuarly dense use of animal fable, and the fame of his fables were an important factor in the later identification of animal fable as a distinctive features of iambus. This chapter explores two aspects of animal fable in Archilochus. The first section investigates a technique I term ‘half-ainoi’, where rather than telling a fable in full, the poet alludes to it in a compressed manner, which requires the audience to recognise the story and unpack its meaning. Interpreting these half-ainoi requires the audience to engage intellectually with the conventions of animal fable, and consider the relevance of the traditional fable to the setting, since the animal stories are used to complicate and enrich the poem rather than to give simple moral analogues. The second part of the chapter explores the Fox and Eagle (frr. 172-81 W) and Fox and Ape (frr. 185-7) Epodes, and argues that we find a similar level of self-consciousness in the way the fable genre is used as a moralising device.

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