By the way, are anapests counted as a lyric meter?
Yes and no. There are two types: one chanted or recited (“marching anapests”), the other sung (“melic” or “lyric”).
The chorus enter in marching anapests (134-171), as is fairly conventional (though not for Sophocles?). They may not have actually marched, but they are military men, and more important the meter has a marching rhythm, in 2/2 time.
An anapestic metron is
(you never get single feet),
and anapestic “systems” go
uu—uu—|uu—uu—|… (| = word-end)
but for the two shorts of any foot a long may be substituted (cf. spondaic substitution in the dactylic hexameter)
and occasionally in the first half of a metron the elements are inverted (—uu instead of uu—; but this will not be followed by a regular anapest, uu—, which would result in four successive shorts).
Τελαμωνιε παι | της αμφιρυτου | Σαλαμῖνος εχων | βαθρον αγχιαλου | …
The only substitution here is at the beginning of the second metron, της αμφιρυτου (τῆς instead of uu). Otherwise we have pure anapests. Occasionally you get a wholly spondaic metron or even two successive metra (152 του λεξαντος | χαιρει μαλλον), but the shorts predominate, and even when you have a lengthy string of heavy syllables (I count 11 in 151-3), what keeps the rhythm crystal-clear is the astonishing fact that:
Word-end separates the metra! So the meter has great clarity, consisting as it does of successive |uu—uu—| chunks (with or without spondaic substitutions). The effect is often intensified by corresponding syntax (Τελαμωνιε-παι, της-αμφιρυτου).
Given such articulation, anapests are easy to read.
It's by editorial convention that the meter is laid out as dimeters (two metra to a line). Some maintain this corresponds to some reality, but in actuality the metra just run on continuously (in “synaphaea”), one after the other, until such time as the set is brought to a close.
The close is marked by allowing the penultimate metron to run on into the final one instead of being separated from it by word-end, and then, definitively, by having the final metron appearing to stop short of its full length (“catalexis”).
E.g. 137-140 is a string of anapests terminated by (140) | πτηνης ως ομμα πελειας,
where ομμα bridges the otherwise invariable word-break between metra, and the final metron takes the form –μα πελειας, uu—— instead of uu—uu—.
This closing catalectic dimeter (uu—uu—uu——) is known as a “paroemiac” (a term of somewhat variable signification, however, as if often the way with technical terms).
Presumably the time was made up to regular length either by prolonging one of the two last syllables or (less likely in my view) by empty time; it’s commonly referred to as “pause” (so Maas).
137-40 constitute a “period,” as do 134-136, 141-147, etc. (In the OCT 145 appears as a isolated metron, but that’s only because the period has an odd number of metra, 13 in total—confirmation that layout of anapests as dimeters is artificial. I don’t know why 145 in particular is singled out; the colometrization will be traditional, quite possibly ancient.)
Period end can be indicated by a double bar-line, ||.
It usually coincides with a major syntactical break, sentence-end or the like. So here, strong punctuation in all instances. In anapests meter and syntax tend to go in step.
134-171 is an anapestic “system” consisting of (unless I’m miscounting) six periods.
We can assume that these “marching” anapests were chanted, in unison, in a style of delivery more uniform than the iambic trimeter. More than likely they were accompanied, probably by a wind instrument (an aulos) rather than string or percussion.
After the anapests the chorus break into song, which turns out to be in the elaborate “triadic” form inherited from Stesichorus and succeeding lyric poets: strophe, antistrophe, and epode. More on this later. For now, note that the antistrophe replicates the entire metrical structure of the strophe! The words are different but the metrical pattern is identical.
When Tecmessa enters after this choral ode at 201 she too speaks in anapests, not in iambic trimeters as might have been expected. This initiates dialogue with the chorus, so it makes sense that she picks up the meter they had been using: it establishes a kind of bond between them. And for her to use not iambics but the more unusual anapests is well suited to conveying her agitated state of mind. She thumbnails the situation in a single sweeping period of 13 metra (201-7). There’s a relentess metronomic unstoppability about anapests, and anapestic dialogue is inherently animated. The dialogue will not settle down into iambics till 263, in the lead-in to Tecmessa’s quasi-messenger speech at 284ff.
So here (201-220) we have this exchange in anapests between Tecmessa and the chorus (perhaps the chorus is now represented by the chorus-leader, the coryphaeus, as in regular iambic dialogue). But on hearing of Ajax’ lamentable condition the chorus react with lyrics (221-232), shifting into the higher register of song. Tecmessa continues in anapests (234-244, a whopping 23 metra to period end); the chorus repeat the metrical structure of their song (so it’s a strophic pair, strophe and antistrophe, Tecmessa intervening), reminding us how formal a genre tragedy is even or especially when at its most impassioned. Then Tecmessa again, announcing Ajax’s return to sanity and fresh agony (257-62). To which the chorus respond with characteristically misguided relief (263f.), and shift the dialogue into regular iambic trimeter.
A point to note is that in this final bunch of anapests from Tecmessa (257-62), the OCT prints στεροπᾶς (257), with “doric” alpha, not the ionic-attic στεροπῆς. That carries a significant implication: it implies that Tecmessa has switched mode from recited anapests to lyric ones. Lyric (more properly “melic”) anapests have a looser form than recited ones, and the metra often lack the individual integrity so characteristic of the recited type. But when it comes to “doric alpha,” manuscripts habitually vacillate, and it's sometimes difficult to decide whether a given set of anapests was recited or sung, or indeed how firm the dividing line between them really was. Here (as in other places in Tecmessa’s anapests) the manuscripts give alpha, but I think Lloyd-Jones is wrong to retain it. 257-62 show no other signs of being “lyric” rather than “recited” (all the metra are discrete, and the whole passage reads as regular recited anapests) and it would seem to me very strange for Tecmessa to shift into song at this juncture. But I don’t know what if anything Lloyd-Jones says in defence of it, and the points to register are how uncertain so much is, and how much can hang from a tiny detail.
—So now I’ve spent all this time writing about anapests instead of writing about lyric meters as promised. So again that will have to deferred. I have quite a lot on my plate at the moment, but I’ll do what I can when I can. But don't expect too much.