The different types or species of lyrical poetry are differentiated mainly through their form; in other words, they have different styles of prosody, but not different thematic.
Greek lyric literature comprises three main genres: iambic, melic and elegiac poetry.
- a) Elegiac poetry:
This type of compositions was usually sung with the accompaniment of a wood flute.
In time, it lost the accompaniment of music and was simply recited. Moreover, its thematic widened, so that it did not comprise only songs of mourning, but the entire variety of human concerns.
Thus, we can find elegies of war among the works of Callinus and Tyrtaeus, erotic elegies by Mimnermus and Theognis of Megara, political by Solon, festive by Xenophanes of Colophon, gnomic (containing maxims and aphorisms) by Theognis of Megara, commemorative etc.
- b) Iambic poetry
The metric form used by this type of compositions is the iambus.
The iambus is a four-syllable metrical foot; in odd iambuses (the first, third, fifth etc.), the first syllable can be long, but in the even ones (second, fourth etc.) it has to be short, because even iambuses set the rhythm.
These poems have a fast pace. Apparently, they first appeared as songs related to the worship of Demeter and Dionysus, in which humor, satire and eroticism were basic elements.
The thematic of iambic poems included: attacks on the politicians, the literati and the customs of the age. It also included burlesque and erotic elements.
Originally, iambic poems were sung, but in time the music was reduced to a simple instrument that was played to accompany the recitation.
Among the most famous iambic poets, we name Archilochus, Semonides of Amorgos and Hipponax.