The Ancient Library

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On this page: Epikleros – Epilenios – Epimeletae – Epimetheus – Epinikion – Epione – Episkyros – Epistates – Epithalamion – Epitimia – Eponymos – Epopeus – Epoptae – Epos



Eplklerds. See inheritance (Athenian).

Epllenlds. See dancing.

Eplmeletae (overseers.) The name given at Athens to commissioners nominated as occasion might require for the superin­tendence of departments. Some of these commissioners were regularly elected every year, as, e.g., the ten gpimSletce of the wharves, who were responsible for the care of the ships of war and equipments stored in the docks; and the ten commis­sioners of the EmpOrlOn, whose duty it was to enforce the laws relative to duties and commerce. For the commissioners of the revenue, see tamias.

Eplmetheus. Brother of PrSmetheus and husband of Pandora. (See prometheus.)

Epinikldn (Greek). A prize hymn sung by the chorus in honour of the victors at '•ho great national games.

Epione. See asclepius.

Episkyros. See ball.

Epistates. See boule.

Epithalamldn (Greek). The wedding-hymn sung before the bridal chamber by a chorus of youths and maidens.

Epltimla (Greek). The full possession

•of civic privileges, the opposite of dtlmla.

Ep6nym6s (Greek). Properly the person after whom anything is named. This was in various Greek states the unofficial title of the magistrates after whom (in default of a generally received standard of chrono­logy) the year was designated. In Athens this would be the first Archon, in Sparta the first Ephor, in Argos the priestess of Hera. When the ephcbl, at Athens, were

•enrolled in the list of the citizens who could be called out for military service, the name of the first archon of the year was attached. And when the citizens of various ages were summoned to military service, a reference was made to the archon eponymos, under whom they had been originally en­rolled. The ancient heroes who gave their name to the ten tribes of ClisthSnes, and the heroes worshipped by the demes, were also called eponymoi. The statues of the former were in the market place, and it was near them that official notices were put up [Aristotle, Const, of Athens, 63).

Epopeus. Sou of PSseidon and Canace, the daughter of jE61us, brother of Aloeus. He migrated from Thessaly to Sicyon, where he became king. He was killed by Lycus for the sake of Antlope, who, it was alleged, was mother of Zethus by him.

Epoptae. See eleusinia.

Ep&s, (1) Greek. Many indications point

to the fact that the oldest poetry of the Greeks was connected with the worship of the gods, and that religious poetry of a mystical kind was composed by the priests of the Thracians, a musical and poetical people, and diffused in old times through Northern Greece. The worship of the Muses was thus derived from the Thracians, who in later times had disappeared from Greece Proper ; and accordingly the oldest bards whose names are known to the Greeks, — Orpheus, Musseus, Eumolpus, Thamyris,—are supposed to have been Thracians also. The current ideas on the nature and action of the gods tended more and more to take the form of poetical myths respecting their birth, actions and sufferings. And thus those compositions, of which an idea may be derived from some of the so-called Homeric hymns, gradually assumed an epic character. In course of time the epic writers threw off their connexion with religion,and struck out independent lines. Confining themselves no longer to the myths about the gods, they celebrated the heroic deeds both of mythical antiquity and of the immediate past. Thus, in the Homeric description of the epic age, while the bards Phemlus and Demodocus appear as favourites of the gods, to whom they are indebted for the gift of song, they are not attached to any particular worship. The subjects of their song are not only stories about the gods, such as the loves of Ares and Aphrodite, but the events of recent times, the conquest of Troy by means of the wooden horse, and the tragical return of the Achaeans from Troy. Singers like these, appearing at public festivals, and at the tables of princes, to entertain the guests wjth their lays, must have existed early in Greece Proper. But it was the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor who first fully developed the capacities of epic poetry. By long practice, extending prob­ably through centuries, a gradual progress was probably effected from short lays to long epic narratives ; and at the same time a tradition delivered from master to scholar handed on and perfected the outer form of style and metre. Thus, about 900 B.C. epic poetry was brought to its highest per­fection by the genius of Homer, the reputed author of the Iliad and Odyssey. After Homer it sank, never to rise again, from the height to which he had raised it.

It is true that in the following centuries a series of epics, more or less comprehensive, were composed by poets of the Ionic school

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.