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The Grecian ballad poetry, the Homeric (distinguished from all other ballads, and, indeed, from almost ail other human compositions, transcendent merit), had an inestimable advantage besides its other inimitable excellences.
At the time of its earliest, undoubtedly its most complete development in the Iliad and Odyssey, the wonder- fully and naturally musical ear of the (i reeks had perfected that most exquisite vehicle of epic song, the hexameter verse.
The ballads, if they had still sur- vived in common currency, were superseded by the new and more nopular poetic' history of Ennius. The old plebeian families which survived had be- «ome a part of the aristocracy.This Saturnian verse wtt、 nnquestionahly very rnde, and, if we are to trust the commentator on Virgil, only rhythmical.4 When, therefore, Ennius naturalized the hexameter in Latin poetry, it is no wonder that all eyes were turned on the noble stranger, who at once received the honors of a citizen, and from that time was established in supremacy over Latin as well as Greek narrative poetry. Bat the Atellaii farces were Italian not properly ll Cniar entertainments ； they were, perhaps, originally in the Osoan dialect; and whether or not they learned to speak Latin before they migrated to I"，me, they were then taken up by popular poets, Pompoiiius and Novius, and became one of the regular amusements oi' the people.From Homer to Nonnus this verse maintained its prescriptive and unquestioned right to be the measure of heroic and narrative poesry.None, indeed, could dra\r the lo\v like the old bard; but even in this conscious fcehle.
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