Three ancient poets—Sappho, Theocritus, and Catullus—provide neglected evidence for Greek wedding poems composed in hexameters. Theocritus, Idyll 18 and Catullus in Carmen 62 are usually thought to reflect Greek wedding songs originally sung in lyric or choral meters; but why did Sappho, herself a lyric poet extraordinaire, compose some of her wedding poems in hexameters, a meter that she hardly uses elsewhere? This paper suggests that the Greeks traditionally performed at least one kind of wedding poem in dactylic hexameters. This in turn leaves open the possibility that when Theocritus and Catullus use hexameters in their wedding poems, they, too, are imitating the content and the form of this neglected genre. This is a circular argument of sorts, but one familiar to scholars seeking to make sense of the earliest fragments of ancient Greek poetry.


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pp. 317-348
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