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Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns

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    HESIOD, THE HOMERIC HYMNS, AND HOMERICA

    INTRODUCTION

    General

    The early Greek epic--that is, poetry as a natural and popular, and not
    (as it became later) an artificial and academic literary form--passed
    through the usual three phases, of development, of maturity, and of
    decline.

    No fragments which can be identified as belonging to the first period
    survive to give us even a general idea of the history of the earliest
    epic, and we are therefore thrown back upon the evidence of analogy
    from other forms of literature and of inference from the two great
    epics which have come down to us. So reconstructed, the earliest period
    appears to us as a time of slow development in which the characteristic
    epic metre, diction, and structure grew up slowly from crude elements
    and were improved until the verge of maturity was reached.