plunging into the technical details, a few introductory words are in order.
Greek and Latin poems follow certain rhythmic schemes, or meters,
which are sometimes highly defined and very strict, sometimes less so.
the time of Homerthe composer of the Iliad, the oldest surviving
Greek poemepic poetry was recited in a particular meter
called the dactylic
hexameter. It is fair to say that the dactylic
hexameter defines epic: it is impossible to conceive of an epic poem not
composed in hexameters. The hexameter
rhythms, when heard, signal that the poem being recited is an epic of some sort.
is true that in Homer's era, epics were more sung than recited, to the accompaniment
of a lyre. However, this was not the practice in Vergil's day, when the
spoken word was preferred.