2001 0-7734-7532-X The epyllion as a genre was developed in the Hellenistic period (and continued into Roman times) in order to show what else was happening while traditional heroic stories were happening, as if the authors of epyllia were committed to giving their readers a glimpses through the back doors of the palaces in which traditional characters lived and enjoyed their adventures. Traditional heroic stories were always narrated in epics with particular conventions. The epyllion challenges these conventions in ways which make it a genre in its own right. The existence of the epyllion in antiquity is not universally acknowledged by literary scholars, and there have been few published works studying the genre as such. The present study examines its development through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, focusing on the use of unheroic and female characters.