I the ninth letter of the English and Latin alphabet, the tenth in the Greek and Phoenician, because in these the symbol Teth (the Greek θ) preceded it. Teth was not included in the Latin alphabet because that language had no sound corresponding to the Greek θ, but the symbol was metamorphosed and utilized as the numeral C = 100, which took this form through the influence of the initial letter of the Latin centum. The name of I in the Phoenician alphabet was Yōd. Though in form it seems the simplest of letters it was originally much more complex. In Phoenician it takes the form , which is found also in the earliest Syriac and Palestinian inscriptions with little modification. Ultimately in Hebrew it became reduced to a very small symbol, whence comes its use as a term of contempt for things of no importance as in “not one jot or tittle” (Matthew v. 18). The name passed from Phoenician to Greek, and thence to the Latin of the vulgate as iōta, and from the Latin the English word is derived. Amongst the Greeks of Asia it appears only as the simple upright I, but in some of the oldest alphabets elsewhere, as Crete, Thera, Attica, Achaia and its colonies in lower Italy, it takes the form or S, while at Corinth and Corcyra it appears first in a form closely resembling the later Greek sigma Σ. It had originally no cross-stroke at top and bottom. I being not i but z. The Phoenician alphabet having no vowel symbols, the value of yōd was that of the English y. In Greek, where the consonant sound had disappeared or been converted into h, I is regularly used as a vowel. Occasionally, as in Pamphylian, it is used dialectically as a glide between i and another vowel, as in the proper name Δαμάτριιυς. In Latin I was used alike for both vowel and consonant, as in iugum (yoke). The sound represented by it was approximately that still assigned to i on the continent. Neither Greek nor Latin made any distinction in writing between short and long i, though in the Latin of the Empire the long sound was occasionally represented by a longer form of the symbol I. The dot over the i begins in the 5th or 6th century A.D. In pronunciation the English short i is a more open sound than that of most languages, and does not correspond to the Greek and Latin sound. Nor are the English short and long i of the same quality. The short i in Sweet’s terminology is a high-front-wide vowel, the long i, in English often spelt ee in words like seed, is diphthonged, beginning like the short vowel but becoming higher as it proceeds. The Latin short i, however, in final syllables was open and ultimately became e, e.g. in the neuter of i-stems as utile from utili-s. Medially both the short and the long sounds are very common in syllables which were originally unaccented, because in such positions many other sounds passed into i: officio but facio, redimo but emo, quidlibet but lubet (libet is later); collīdo but laedo, fīdo from an older feido, istis (dative plural) from an earlier istois. (P. Gi.)
IAMBIC, the term employed in prosody to denote a succession of verses, each consisting of a foot or metre called an iambus (ἵαμβος), formed of two syllables, of which the first is short and the second long ( ˘ - ). After the dactylic hexameter, the iambic trimeter was the most popular metre of ancient Greece. Archilochus is said to have been the inventor of this iambic verse, the τρίμετρος consisting of three iambic fed. In the Greek tragedians an iambic line is formed of six feet arranged in obedience to the following scheme:—
|˘ -||˘ -||˘ -||˘ -||˘ -||˘ -|
|˘ ˘ ˘||˘ ˘ ˘||˘ ˘ ˘||˘ ˘ ˘||˘ ˘ ˘|
|- -||- -||- -|
|- ˘ ˘||- ˘ ˘|
|˘ ˘ -|
Much of the beauty of the verse depends on the caesura, which is usually In the middle of the third foot, and far less frequently in the middle of the fourth. The English language runs more naturally in the iambic metre than in any other. The normal blank verse in English is founded upon an iambic basis, and Milton’s line—
And swims | or sinks | or wades | or creeps | or flies | —
exhibits it in its primitive form. The ordinary alexandrine of French literature is a hexapod iambic, but in all questions of quantity in modern prosody great care has to be exercised to recollect that all ascriptions of classic names to modern forms of rhymed or blank verse are merely approximate. The octosyllabic, or four-foot iambic metre, has found great favour in English verse founded on old romances. Decasyllabic iambic lines rhyming together form an “heroic” metre.
IAMBLICHUS (d. c. A.D. 330), the chief representative of Syrian Neoplatonism, is only imperfectly known to us in the events of his life and the details of his creed. We learn, however, from Suidas, and from his biographer Eunapius, that he was born at Chalcis in Coele-Syria, the scion of a rich and illustrious family, that he studied under Anatolius and afterwards under Porphyry, the pupil of Plotinus, that he himself gathered together a large number of disciples of different nations with whom he lived on terms of genial friendship, that he wrote “various philosophical books,” and that he died during the reign of Constantine,—according to Fabricius, before A.D. 333. His residence (probably) at his native town of Chalcis was varied by a yearly visit with his pupils to the baths of Gadara. Of the books referred to by Suidas only a fraction has been preserved. His commentaries on Plato and Aristotle, and works on the Chaldaean theology and on the soul, are lost. For our knowledge of his system we are indebted partly to the fragments of these writings preserved by Stobaeus and others, and to the notices of his successors, especially Proclus, partly to his five extant books, the sections of a great work on the Pythagorean philosophy. Besides these, Proclus (412-485) seems to have ascribed to him the authorship of the celebrated book On the Egyptian Mysteries (so-called), and although its differences in style and in some points of doctrine from the writings just mentioned make it improbable that the work was by Iamblichus himself, it certainly emanated from his school, and in its systematic attempt to give a speculative justification of the polytheistic cultus of the day, marks the turning-point in the history of thought at which Iamblichus stood.
As a speculative theory Neoplatonism (q.v.) had received its highest development from Plotinus. The modifications introduced by Iamblichus were the elaboration in greater detail of its formal divisions, the more systematic application of the Pythagorean number-symbolism, and chiefly, under the influence of Oriental systems, the thorough-going mythic interpretation of what the previous philosophy had still regarded as notional. It is on the last account, probably, that Iamblichus was looked upon with such extravagant veneration. As a philosopher he had learning indeed, but little originality. His aim was to give a philosophical rendering of the popular religion. By his contemporaries he was accredited with miraculous powers (which he, however, disclaimed), and by his followers in the decline of Greek philosophy, and his admirers on its revival in the 15th and 16th centuries, his name was scarcely mentioned without the epithet “divine” or “most divine,” while, not content with the more modest eulogy of Eunapius that he was inferior to Porphyry only in style, the emperor Julian regarded him as not even second to Plato, and said that he would give all the gold of Lydia for one epistle of Iamblichus.
Theoretically, the philosophy of Plotinus was an attempt to harmonize the principles of the various Greek schools. At the head of his system he placed the transcendent incommunicable one (ἓν ἀμέθεκτον), whose first-begotten is intellect (νοῦς), from which proceeds soul (ψυχή), which in turn gives birth to φύσις, the
- Besides the anonymous testimony prefixed to an ancient MS. of Proclus, De Myst. viii. 3 seems to be quoted by the latter as Iamblichus’s. Cf. Meiners. “Judicium de libro qui de Myst. Aeg. inscribitur,” in Comment. Soc. Reg. Sci. Gott., vol. iv., 1781, p. 77.