The Trochaeus is one of the first to meet with us at school and in German. Several such verses form the metrum (→ verse) within a text. The metrum can rhythmize a text and thereby decisively influence our reading. In Trochthae follows an emphasized one unaccented syllable.
The word Trochäus goes back to ancient Greek (τροχαῖος, trochaíos) and means roughly “runners”, where we speak in the plural (plural) of Trochai. Frequently, we find the Trochhaeus in Greek choral songs and chants, which is why the ancient verse is also known as choreus.
In the German copy of the ancient verse, however, we do not speak of heavy and light (→ quantitating metrics), but of stressed and unstressed syllables, consequently the Trochaeus is formed from a stressed and unstressed syllable. We are talking about an accentuating metric, which is also taught in German schools and in German lessons.
Structure of the Trochus
As described, the Trochthae is formed of a stressed and unstressed syllable. This is usually given by: x ‘x, where the spelling X x is also common.
In principle, of course, any other marking is allowed, which helps us to edit a lyrical text. What is important is that we consistently persist, so that future readers understand our work, what we want to emphasize and what is not.
Since the Trochaic verse is formed from two syllables, the “smallest possible” Trochaeus would be a word consisting of a stressed and an unstressed syllable, such as help, or the reading.
Note: To find out which syllables in a verse are emphasized or remain unstressed, it is helpful to pronounce the whole thing loud and clear. In principle we emphasize stressed syllables a little more strongly and raise the voice. If we emphasize a word incorrectly, it often sounds bumpy and wrong when speaking → verse
The Trochaus in the poem
It is, however, so that poems are seldom composed of a single word, and the Trochaeus can extend over several words. A trochaeic structure of four trochaees would thus look like this: x ‘x x’ x x ‘x x’ x.
This example would suggest that we would have to deal with eight syllables, which would always alternate with each other, from emphasized to unstressed. Let us look at a line from Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”. There it is said in the first verse.
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
This shows that the Trochäus does not have to form a single word, but appears in the “Götterfunken” as “twice”. The structure is therefore clearly trochaeic.
The Trochäus and the Hebeigen
So far we have talked about the fact that one line of verse contains several trochies. This is, however, not quite correct, for if at all a line consists of several trochaean feet, or forms a trochus as a whole. This is where the notion of elevation comes into play.
Hint: By means of the emphasis, we indicate how many stressed syllables lie within a single Trochaean line of verse, in order to denote them as Xhebigenes.
If we look at Schiller’s first verse from the “Ode to Joy”, it becomes clear that we can emphasize four and find four unaccented syllables.
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
This means that the verse is trochaic. More precisely, we find in this line a four-legged Trochaeus, since this is formed from four accented syllables. If the lines of the verse were to be dispensed with (joyous gods), we would have to deal with a three-legged Trochaeus.
Note: Sometimes the Trochäus can also be described as an alternating verse with female cadence. Alternating simply means that unaccented and stressed syllables alternate. A female cadence describes that the last syllable remains unstressed.
Trochäus and Cadenz
The typical Trochau ends with a female cadenza. This means that the last syllable in the verse is unstressed. This, of course, is true when all the trochaic verses are complete, and not a single one of the series dances. (→ cadence)
Sometimes, however, we find in a poem a uniform Trochäus, which is not quite “complete”. This means that the last footer does not consist of two syllables. In science one calls this phenomenon a catalectic verse (→ verse).
Let us suppose that Schiller wrote the “Ode to Joy” a little differently, and the above verse would end a syllable earlier and look like this:
Joy, beautiful gods radio
So we had only three complete trochaean verses. The last would certainly be cut off, and yet we would call the whole as Trochaeus, since entry can be described as regular and recurring. Thus the whole would have no female, but a male (or even dull) cadence.
Function of the trochus
It is, of course, difficult to attribute an effect to a footer, since it can be used in many ways. Sometimes it is even more attractive to use a footer contrary to the expectations of a reader. Nevertheless, the measure of course can have an effect.
The effect of Trochus
The Trochaean verse describes an alternating verse, with unaccented and emphasized syllables alternating. This up and down can be galloping when reading and lecturing and may be compared with a heart beat.
This effect can be further enhanced by the use of cross rhymes and the pair rhyme, which often makes us fall into a kind of singing.
Concluding notes on the fonts
The counterpart to the Trochaeus is the yambus, which is formed by an unstressed and stressed syllable. The word of Yambus is, by the way, a Trochhaeus, as we emphasize the syllable Jam, and bus remains unstressed.