Epic

A Companion to Ancient Epic by John Miles Foley

By John Miles Foley

"For those who find themselves drawn to Greek and Roman epic, the ebook is a treasure-house of most appropriate variety.... The editor and the writer either deserve compliment for a really high-quality volume." (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society)

"Blackwell's significant other to old Epic does simply what the name indicates: it accompanies readers on trips of exploration during this large (in each feel) box. simply as importantly, the spouse will express new readers why they could are looking to immerse themselves in those poems.... the numerous highlights during this significant other show the price of asking students to write down for non-specialists. That pastime presents a stimulus for brand spanking new degrees of concentration and readability; even principles and fabrics which may be ordinary turn into clean back once they are provided in such succinct distillations." (Bryn Mawr Classical overview)

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The Theogony, a poem of about 1,000 lines telling of Zeus’ rise to power, has even been read as the heroic biography of the chief god, although the story is framed by the firstperson introduction of the poet himself, singing of his initiatory encounter with the Muses on Mt Helicon. As Jenny Strauss Clay (1989) and Leonard Muellner (1996) have shown, the long narrative ‘‘Homeric Hymns’’ also form a close bond with the fore-mentioned compositions. Both these and the shorter hymns in the collection seem to have functioned, at some stage, as preludes to longer ‘‘epic’’ compositions.

In Aristotle’s view, this approach leads to absurdities, such as putting Homeric poetry into the same category as the verses of the philosopher Empedocles, although ‘‘there is nothing common to Homer and Empedocles except the meter’’ and the latter in his opinion should be called ‘‘scientist’’ (phusiologos) rather than poet. Reading this comment together with his further remarks on mimeˆsis, one can see, first, that Aristotle intends to use the term epopoiia more circumspectly, bringing it closer to what ‘‘epic’’ has meant since his time.

He vanished again, turning up 240 years later in a Greek settlement of southern Italy, where he announced (before his final disappearance) that Apollo had blessed the townspeople with a divine visit and that he himself had followed the god in the form of a crow. Scholars have rightly seen in this weird tale a memory of age-old shamanistic practices, involving out-of-body experiences and animal transformation. e. hexameter verses), be ‘‘epic’’? Before we too quickly eliminate it from the category or narrow our definition, it is worth recognizing the strong family resemblances between the Arimaspea and another travel narrative, the Odyssey.

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