Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An ancient Greek arrangement of dialogue in drama, poetry, and disputation in which single lines of verse or parts of lines are spoken by alternate speakers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A technique in drama or poetry, in which alternating lines, or half-lines, are given to alternating characters, voices, or entities

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ancient Greek drama and bucolic poetry, dialogue in alternate lines, or pairs or groups of lines; also, arrangement of lines in this manner.

Etymologies

Greek stikhomūthiā, from stikhomūthein, to speak in alternating lines : stikhos, stich; + mūthos, speech.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Modern Latin, from Ancient Greek στιχομυθία (στίχος ‘line of verse’ + μῦθος ‘speech’). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The topic, as good as a smart diagnosis of language, replete with lots of word play, quick rebuttal in stichomythia, as good as both comic as good as critical diagnosis of love, remind us of alternative early plays of a Bard identical to Love's Labor's Lost as good as Romeo as good as Midsummer Night's Dream.

    Archive 2009-11-01

  • In a passage that brilliantly demonstrates the rhetorical devices we saw earlier in Shakespeare's poetry, such as stichomythia, antithesis, parison, and isocolon (see Chapter 1), Hamlet makes plain that he is on the offensive.

    Shakespeare

  • Her students snicker at the bold smears coloring her teeth and at her pronunciation of “Rastafarian” (Ra-sti-fay-rien), roll their eyes when she uses words like “stichomythia” and “brackish” for their ugliness.

    Becoming an Oates Girl

  • At times it is almost literally like stichomythia, every sentence the subject of a smart retort invariably negative from the interior textual demolition team.

    Thursday ...

  • Where is mr. aRye, master of repartee, stichomythia, and the witty rejoinder?

    Naked woman alert

  • The author was well acquainted with classical drama, as may be seen in his use of stichomythia, amongst other things, and possibly in his preference for a Grecian story.

    The Growth of English Drama

  • Pythias_ did before him -- of the Greek device of stichomythia.

    The Growth of English Drama

  • The thrust and parry of wit in the single-line dialogues (_stichomythia_) pleased them more than it pleases us.

    Specimens of Greek Tragedy — Aeschylus and Sophocles

  • The stichomythia of Greek tragedy has reinvented itself.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • When the lovers are engaging in one-line exchanges (or stichomythia, as it is called), they sometimes use rhymed couplets, as when Helena and Hermia are comparing notes on how they should respond to Demetrius's unwelcome paying of attention to Hermia and his spurning of Helena: hermia: I frown upon him, yet he loves me still. helena: Oh, that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill! hermia: I give him curses, yet he gives me love. helena: Oh, that my prayers could such affection move!

    Shakespeare

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