- Michael W. Lundell
Poems addressed to various Greek deities, employing Homeric diction and composed in dactylic hexameter for solo recitation. The corpus of 33 poems, compiled at an unknown date and mistakenly ascribed to Homer, contains four long hymns ranging in length from 293 to 724 verses and dating from about 650 to 400 bce. The other 29 hymns are much shorter and were written somewhat later. Since the ancient sources refer to the hymns as prooimia (preludes) and several of the pieces contain a promise to sing another song, it has been suggested that the hymns once served as introductions to longer epic poems. But this opinion has been contested, especially in the case of the four long hymns. Little is known about the circumstances of performance, although the poems were probably recited in poetic competition at religious festivals. Thucydides (iii.104) describes the festival of Apollo at Delos, including two quotations from the hymn ...