“An unexplored sea”. The Metres of Greek Drama in Early Modern England


  • Marco Duranti Verona




This article aims to explore whether and how the lyric metres of Greek drama were studied in early modern English schools and universities. To this purpose, I have examined the treatises or book chapters on prosody which were either published in England or imported from continental Europe. My analysis points out that the study of prosody was mainly focused on Latin. Greek prosody was conceived after the model of the Latin one and included a limited selection of feet: mainly hexameters, pentameters, iambic trimeters, and sapphic odes. Greek verses were less systematically composed than Latin ones and the utility of this exercise was disputed. Moreover, the different performative value of the different metres of Greek drama was not appreciated. Therefore, we can conclude that the standard education in grammar schools and universities did not allow the educated Englishmen to get acquainted with the lyric metres of Greek tragedy or comedy.

Keywords: lyric metres of Greek drama; reception of metrical forms; early modern English reception of Greek drama