Homer and Hesiod – Greek Poets and Their Poetry Types

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The Greek tradition has a protracted and wealthy historical past, particularly in literature. There are too many poetry kinds that stem from this tradition to discover all of them, so at this time we are going to be taught just a little bit about Homer and Hesiod, two of Greece’s early poets, and some of the main Greek poetic kinds.



In historic occasions, individuals “would sing the tales of the Trojan Battle and its Greek heroes; these songs could be the Greek equal of a mini-series, for the tales have been so lengthy that they’d take days to finish. The Greeks believed that the best of those story-tellers was a blind man named Homer, and that he sung ten epic poems concerning the Trojan Battle, of which solely two survived (though the Greeks appear to have identified them). As a bunch these poems advised the complete historical past of the Trojan Battle; every poem, nonetheless, solely lined a small a part of that historical past” (Hooker).

Homer is understood finest for writing the Iliad and the Odyssey. They, as talked about above, have been concerning the Trojan Battle. Nevertheless, “Homer’s authorship and, certainly, even his very existence are established by custom; nothing is definitely identified about him” (Matthews and Platt 43). The Iliad and the Odyssey have a particular significance as a result of it’s the place later Greeks regarded to for the historical past of their individuals, their faith, and for the ethical beliefs with which to information how they lived. Homer additionally wrote some Hymns which have survived to trendy occasions.



Like Homer, Hesiod additionally wrote in epic type. His most well-known works have been referred to as: Theogony and Works and Days. Additionally like Homer, his work was a information for a way individuals ought to behave. “In ‘Works and Days’ he speaks about justice and onerous work, which is the one strategy to success, and he provides recommendation about agriculture, commerce, navigation in addition to about marriage, bringing-up kids and different ethical and helpful precepts” (Papageorgiou-Haska).

Each Hesiod and Homer are believed to have lived about twenty-eight hundred years in the past.



The title epic comes from the phrase “epos.” This Greek phrase interprets into the phrase “to inform a story” (Padgett, 65).


–Inform a narrative.

–There isn’t a set size, BUT they’re normally very lengthy. So lengthy, in reality, that they’re generally break up up into chapter-like sections which can be referred to as cantos (Padgett, 65).

–A few particular account of heroism, and its intent must be to encourage morality within the reader.

–Rhythm is dactylic hexameter: “Which means every line accommodates six metrical toes of three beats every, the primary a protracted syllable and the second and third quick syllables (as in ‘gratitude’ and ‘Oldsmobile’)” (Padgett, 65).

COULD HAVES or What’s The Poet’s Alternative In All This?

–Whether or not or to not rhyme. Traditionally, these have been oral and rhyme helps with memorization, however there isn’t any strict rule to rhyme.

–Alternative of hero and his or her particular act of heroism. Decide a hero of way back or a present one. You do not even have to call a selected particular person, however as a substitute a heroic effort that many individuals carry out.

–Rhythm, yes-I already listed that within the “necessities,” however dactylic hexameter is the normal Greek rhythm. English epics are primarily iambic pentameter. If you happen to select to make use of your poetic license right here, I’d choose a meter and keep it up all through your poem.


–Humorous epics go by the time period “mock epic.”

The Elegy


This way dates again to historic Greece. The Academics & Writers Handbook of Poetic Types says, “the phrase elegy comes from the Greek phrase elegeia, which implies ‘track of mourning'” (Padgett, 62).

This similar handbook tells us that within the seventh century B.C., “the primary particular person to write down an elegy was most likely Mimnermus of Colophon.” At the very least, his is the primary written report discovered of an elegy. There could also be many earlier elegies misplaced to time or have not been found but (Padgett, 62).

The elegy began out, in trendy occasions, as a time period for a selected kind of couplet however grew right into a type primarily based on style – sorrowful, considering and mourning over loss of life usually or over a selected particular person’s loss of life.


–Have to be about loss of life or a loss that’s like death–unless you select the Roman change that made them about love (see under).

–If you happen to select to create a classical elegy you’ll want to start with the topic of your elegy, then share your mourning, and at last your acceptance of the loss of life/loss.

COULD HAVES or What’s The Poet’s Alternative In All This?

–Any type (or no specific type) simply observe the shape’s guidelines in the event you use one.

–Any rhyme (or no rhyme), except a type is used, you then observe the rhyme scheme for that type.

–Any meter (or no set meter) except a type is used, you then observe the meter required for that type.

–Size may be lengthy or quick. Nevertheless, in the event you use a type, that type may dictate the size.


The Greeks wrote elegies about loss of life, however later Romans made them about love. This remained comparatively unchanged till “England in 1611.” At the moment, John Donne introduced the elegy about loss of life again into writing vogue. (Padgett, 62).

Lyric & Particularly the Monody


Means again in historic Greece, the lyric had two varieties: the choral lyric, which was carried out by many individuals, and the monody, which was sung by one particular person. Since there are only a few guidelines on the market for this poetic type, I’ll create some so that you can use as a information primarily based on its historic use. I’ll use the Monody, Choral Lyric, and the Tyranny of the Hand-E book article by Davies, and Classics in Translation by Mackendrick and Howe as my historic guides.


–Should mourn a loss of life.

–Have to be on the quick facet, however not normally as quick because the epitaph and epigram are.

–Have to be within the POV of 1 particular person, though the lament could possibly be concerning the lack of many.

COULD HAVES or What’s The Poet’s Alternative In All This?

–Any rhyme (or no rhyme), except a type is used, you then observe the rhyme scheme for that type. Typically issues which can be sung rhyme and this way was initially sung. Seek the advice of your poetic license if you resolve how one can go for this one.

–Any meter (or no set meter) except a type is used, you then observe the meter required for that type. This way normally had easy meters, and if one is chosen follow it all through.

–Stanza size, select any, however follow the identical all through. Instance: in the event you select an eight-line stanza and need three stanzas, make all of them have eight strains.

–Any type (or no specific type) simply observe the shape’s guidelines.


–The Classics in Translation e book had an attention-grabbing word. They mentioned that this way is “carefully related to the Ionians, [and] is nearer to standard people poetry” (Mackendrick and Howe, 93).

–Lyric poetry isn’t a selected type, however extra of a class for a poetry type that is meant to be sung. Fashionable lyric poetry may not be sung, nevertheless it ought to no less than have a musical high quality to it. There are nearly forty kinds that could possibly be thought-about lyric poetry (Turco, 102).

Supply Notes

Davies, M. (1988).Monody, Choral Lyric, and the Tyranny of the Hand-E book. The Classical Quarterly, New Collection. Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 52-64.

Hooker, Richard. “Homer.” Bureaucrats & Barbarians: The Greek Darkish Ages. 1999. Washington State College. 1 Mar 2009.

Mackendrick, P, & Howe, H (1980). Classics in Translation. Wisconsin: College of Wisconsin Press.

Matthews, Roy T., and F. DeWitt Platt. The Western Humanities. fifth. NY: McGraw-Hill, 2004.

Padgett, Ron. The Academics & Writers Handbook of Poetic Types. 2nd. NY: T & W Books, 2000.

Papageorgiou-Haska, Roula . “Hesiod.” Cosmogony-Theogony. 05 June 1996. Hellonic Digital Middle. 1 Mar 2009 .

Turco, Lewis. The E book of Types. third. Hanover, NH: College Press of New England, 2000.

Williams, Miller (1986). Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Types. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State College Press.

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