Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Roman Studies


D.M. Shepherd


These at times somewhat mathematical studies are not intended as a complete survey of the style of Phaedrus' Fables, but represent, it is hoped, a useful contribution to our knowlege of the work of an otherwise rather obscure figure.

I. Phaedrus seems often to have used heterodyne ("iotus"-accent clash) affectively to convey agitation, surprise, speed, and the like, and homodyne to convey the opposite, though there is no good evidence of patterning like that Knight thought to have found in Aeneid. (The predominance of heterodyne in the mocktragic 4.7.6-16 is, however, probably due to factors of genre.)

II. (There is less variation in protagonists in the second part of book 1 than in the first--this is a field for further investigation.)

Verse-endings are repeated less and less in the later books in a fairly smooth progression which supports the present order.

III. Words occurring only once in Phaedrus' work are relatively rare in book 1 and in prologues and epilogues. Poems high in such "onco-words" tend not to be beast-fables and are on average longer, while poems low in these words, when not prologues or epilogues are beast-fables or jokes.

IV. Phaedrus' use of Grock words increases with time, but this may largely be due to a change in the type of poems. Possible particular occasions for using Greek words (apart from unavoidable instances, such as the names of certain animals) seem to be insincerity/deceit, riches, glorification, hyperbole, Greek settings, and possibly alliteration. Phaedrus introduced few new Greek words, if any, and the overall proportion of Greek words in his vocabulary is low in comparison with other poets.

V. Phaedrus uses "unpoetic" words to a fairly high degree, though less frequently in narrative than in direct speech and personal material. He also has some words characteristic of poetry and shows sensitivity to certain "rules" of poetic speech, and his vocabulary could not be confused with that of a prose-author. Not unexpectedly, he is closer in vocabulary to "low" poetry (such as satiro) than to "high" poetry (such as epic).

VI. Phaedrus seems to have been conscious of certain rhyming effects or homoeoteletuta, notably between the final words of successive verses (a type he cultivated in book 4 especially, but seems to have avoided in book 5).

VII. Alliteration is generally used sparingly by Phaedrus, who seems to have avoided extreme concentration of alliterative verses. It occurs with slightly greater frequency in narrative, and also appears to have been employed somewhat less in Phaedrus' middle work generally. There is some indication of preference for particular alliterative patterns (e.g. avoidance of the concentric pattern).

VIII. Only tentative observations are possible on the structure, if any, of the books. The numerical approach seems somewhat more promising than the thematic (book 5 in its present form is numerically balanced).

IX. About one eighth of Phaedrus' poems are exactly seven verses long, and this may have represented for him an ideal minimum length. Babrius, on the other hand, does not favour this length, but shows instead a strong preference for even numbers of verses. Avienus' poems do not vary greatly in length, but do not favour any exact figure.

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