• A narrative poem that resembles an epic poem in style, but which is notably shorter.

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Example Sentences

“I planned to write an epic poem about my childhood, but it turned out to be more of an epyllion in length.”

“If you find epic poetry too challenging, start with an epyllion by one of the same ancient Greek poets.”

“If you read the song instead of sing it, it turns into an epyllion.”

Word Origin

Greek, late 19th century

Why this word?

If challenged to name an epic poem, you’d likely be able to toss out Homer’s “Odyssey” or “Iliad,” or perhaps you could name Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” or “Paradise Lost” by John Milton. Even if you weren’t an English major, the concept of epic poetry — grand in both theme and length — is well known. But here’s another concept for you: the epyllion. An epyllion is a narrative poem (meaning it tells a story) in a similar style to an epic, but much shorter in length. The etymology reflects this — the Greek “epullion” is a diminutive of “epos,” meaning “word, song.” While specific examples of epyllions aren’t as well known as longer epics, they were being written as far back as the third century BCE, and medieval troubadour songs are a good example of the style.

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