Epigram. A type of poetry. At first epigrams were brief verses inscribed on buildings or objects, but by the 6th century BC the term was already being applied to short poems. Since the 18th century the term has usually been used for short poems of a satirical or polemical nature. Since the 16th century various types of epigrams have been known in Ukraine: ‘heraldic [herbovni] poems’ and epitaphs; a large cycle of epigrams against the Socinians; 17th–18th-century epigrams with a religious content that were conjoined in cycles (‘garlands’) or inserted into prose works (Samiilo Velychko); and epigrams of a liturgical nature (Synaksar). The following were some of the masters of the epigram: Ivan Velychkovsky, the archmonk Klymentii, Zynovii's son, Stefan Yavorsky, Dymytrii Tuptalo, Teofan Prokopovych, and Hryhorii Skovoroda. Since the 19th century epigrams have been composed by Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnovianenko, Taras Shevchenko (eg, his poem ‘Umre muzh velii’ [A Great Man Has Died]), Panteleimon Kulish, Ivan Franko, Volodymyr Samiilenko, Oleksander Oles, and authors of literary polemics in Ukraine and abroad.

Dmytro Chyzhevsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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