A mythical Greek poetess of the ante-Homeric period, was said to have been the daughter of Apollo, and his first priestess at Delphi, and the inventor of the hexameter verse. Some writers seem to have placed her at Delos instead of Delphi;1 and Servius identifies her with the Cumaean Sibyl.2 The tradition which ascribed to her the invention of the hexameter, was by no means uniform; Pausanias, for example, calls her the first who used it, but in another passage3 he quotes an hexameter distich, which was ascribed to the Peleiads, who lived before Phemonoë: the traditions respecting the invention of the hexameter are collected by Fabricius.4

There were poems which went under the name of Phemonoë, like the old religious poems which were ascribed to Orpheus, Musaeus, and the other mythological bards. Melampus for example, quotes from her in his book περὶ παλυῶν (peri palyōn);5 and Pliny quotes from her respecting eagles and hawks, evidently from some book of augury, and perhaps from a work which is still extant in MS., entitled Orneosophium.6

There is an epigram of Antipater of Thessalonica, alluding to a statue of Phemonoë, dressed in a φᾶρος (pharos).7

A hexameter is a line of poetry that consists of six measures, the fifth being a dactyl and the sixth either a spondee or a trochee. The other four may be either dactyls or spondees.



  1. Atil. Fort., p. 2690 (Putsch.).
  2. on Virgil's Aeneid iii, 445.
  3. x, 12.10.
  4. Bibliotheca Graeca. Vol. 1, p. 207.
  5. Fabricius. Bibliotheca Graeca. Vol. 1, p. 116.
  6. Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia x, 3, 8. s. 9; Fabricius. Bibliotheca Graeca. Vol. 1, pp. 210, 211; Olearii, Dissertatio de Poetriis Graecis. Hamburg, 1734.
  7. Palatine Anthology vi, 208.


  • Clement of Alexandria. Stromata, i, pp. 323, 334.
  • Eustathius. Prologue to the Iliad, and other authors cited by Fabricius.
  • Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 5.7, 6.7.
  • Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia vii, 57.
  • Scholiast on Euripides' Orestes, 1094.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
  • Strabo. Geography ix, p. 419.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.