The Greek epyllion is an outcome of the tradition which took its rise in the Homeric hymns and the short narrative episodes which varied the monotony of the Hesiodic catalogues. It is proved, not only by extant examples, but also by records and fragments of lost poems that the majority of the Alexandrian epic poets deliberately avoided grand epic, and adopted either the hymn or the catalogue form. The epyllion was an easy and natural development of this tradition. But its actual genesis in the Alexandrian age is very obscure. It has been shown that the lives of the poets can only be approximately dated, and it is impossible to discover with any certainty the dates of individual poems. The earliest extant examples of epyllion are the epic idylls of Theocritus; and the lost Hecale of Callimachus belongs to the same period. But before considering the position of these poems, it is necessary to discuss the question whether they were preceded by any poem which might conceivably be called an epyllion.