Patrick J. Burns

Research Associate at Harvard Human Evolutionary Biology | Formerly Quantitative Criticism Lab, ISAW Library | Fordham PhD, Classics | CLTK contributor

Senecan Trimeter and Humanist Tragedy

Article in American Journal of Philology


The lack of extant contemporary comparanda obscures the workings of iambic trimeter in Senecan tragedy. This article offers a quantitative analysis of the reception of Senecan trimeter in four early works of Italian Humanist Tragedy, which illuminates the creative possibilities afforded by the basic structure of the meter and identifies specific features important to questions of style and semantics. Our analysis demonstrates, among other things, that both Seneca and the Humanist tragedians use clusters of resolution in conjunction with antilabe as a literary device to convey high emotion.


Fedchin, A., Burns, P.J., Chaudhuri, P., and Dexter, J.P. 2022. “Senecan Trimeter and Humanist Tragedy.” American Journal of Philology 143: 475-503.

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