In contrast with the other types of poetry, melic poetry uses a rich prosody with various musical rhythms.
The metric of melic poetry is unique because it consists of a combination of the quantity and the number of syllables, not in the repetition of the feet.
Melic poetry is divided in two distinct categories:
C.1 Aeolian melic poetry: is a more personal kind of poetry. It is a type of monadic lyric – that is, it is sung by a single person, while the music is played on a baritone (a music instrument derived from the ancient zither, related to the modern guitar).
The most famous Aeolic melic poets are Alcaeus, Sappho and Anacreon, the latter being known for his drinking songs and hymns.
C.2 Doric poetry: mainly built around patriotic topics (songs for the glory of war heroes, songs dedicated to the winners of Olympic games etc.)
This type of poetry was interpreted by choirs and occasionally was accompanied by music and dance. It has its origins in Sparta, from where it spread to other parts of Greece.
The most renowned representatives of this genres are Alcman, Stesichorus and Pindar, famous for their epinikia – poems and songs praising the winners of Olympic games.
The elegy and the iambus were developed in Antiquity. The classical era (5th century A.D.) was dominated by choral poetry, whose main representative was Pindar.
With the demise of the great authors of choral poetry, lyrical poetry virtually disappeared.
During the Hellenistic Age (3rd century A.D.) lyric poetry had already been reduced to the mere imitation of antique genres. It wasn’t the people’s poetry anymore, but it had become a cultivated, academic genre, limited to elite authors.
The most predominant names of this era are Callimachus, author of epigrams and elegies, and Theocritus, composer of the famous Idylls – short poems on pastoral love topics. The works of Theocritus had a great influence on the Spanish literature during the Renaissance, as seen in Garcilaso de la Vega’s Eclogues.