1459b.20which would be the case if the compositions were shorter than the ancient epics but reached to the length of the tragedies presented at a single entertainment. [Note]
Epic has a special advantage which enables the length to be increased, because in tragedy it is not possible to represent several parts of the story as going on simultaneously, but only to show what is on the stage, that part of the story which the actors are performing; whereas, in the epic, because it is narrative, several parts can be portrayed as being enacted at the same time.
If these incidents are relevant, they increase the bulk of the poem, and this increase gives the epic a great advantage in richness as well as the variety due to the diverse incidents; for it is monotony which, soon satiating the audience, makes tragedies fail.
Experience has shown that the heroic hexameter is the right metre. Were anyone to write a narrative poem in any other metre or in several metres, the effect would be wrong.
The hexameter is the most sedate and stately of all metres and therefore admits of rare words and metaphors more than others, and narrative poetry is itself elaborate above all others.
The iambic and the trochaic tetrameter are lively, the latter suits dancing and the former suits real life.