The Greek definition of Epic.
Epic poetry was the earliest, of a finished form, which the Greeks created; and it had existed for a long period before any other species was developed. No example of lyric poetry (using that term to include elegiac and iambic) is on record, which can be referred to an earlier date than about 700 B. C. The name "epic" itself, as the Greeks of the classical age understood it, was defined only by its differences from lyric and dramatic. As distinguished from lyric, it meant poetry which was recited, not sung to music; as distinguished from dramatic, poetry which merely narrated. The oldest epics were composed in the hexameter measure; but the term "epic" implied nothing as to metre. The oldest and greatest examples of such poetry dealt with legends concerning heroes; though this again is not contained in the definition. Hence these two traits came to be generally associated with the term "epic." It was understood to mean a poem which narrated heroic action in hexameter verse. But, even in the earliest age of Greece, poems were composed in the epic form which were not on heroic themes. Thus Hesiod's Works and Days, and his Theo-