New PDF release: A Companion to Ancient Epic

By John Miles Foley

ISBN-10: 1405188383

ISBN-13: 9781405188388

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

"Blackwell's better half to historical Epic does simply what the identify indicates: it accompanies readers on trips of exploration during this large (in each experience) box. simply as importantly, the spouse will exhibit new readers why they may are looking to immerse themselves in those poems.... the numerous highlights during this better half show the worth of asking students to jot down for non-specialists. That recreation presents a stimulus for brand new degrees of concentration and readability; even principles and fabrics which may be usual turn into clean back after they are provided in such succinct distillations." (Bryn Mawr Classical evaluation)

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Extra info for A Companion to Ancient Epic

Sample text

The habit of making value judgments must have been normal for Athenians of several generations, accustomed as they were to see one playwright each year awarded first place at the Dionysiac festival, by the decision of a citizen panel. Thus, though starting with a purely descriptive examination of the aspects of poetic mimesis, Aristotle in the Poetics shifts into a prescriptive and critical stance. He describes only partially ‘‘tragedy’’ or ‘‘epic’’ before taking up the best way of making both.

Those adventures, in turn, resemble what we know of at least one hexameter poem attributed to the mythical Orpheus, telling of his descent to the Underworld. Orpheus, the magical singer, able to move trees and animals with his song, bears more than a passing resemblance to a shaman, as many have seen; his association with the initiatory-quest epic, the Argonautica, draws us closer to more familiar ‘‘epic’’ territory. Finally, the stories of the shaman-like adventures of the philosopher-priest Pythagoras, to whom hexameter verses were also attributed, fit into this expanded ‘‘wonder epic’’ category.

The audiences for both epics surely obtained additional meanings from the way in which these poems drew on material with an oblique connection to their more obvious ‘‘heroic’’ themes. Just as the Odyssey can be seen as expanding itself by way of the poetry of shamanic quest, the Iliad can be observed complicating its plot through the inclusion of a quest and trickster figure, Odysseus. Such a lateral, relational approach might even lead us at this point to formulate a further definition of genre: a set of allowable intertexts (oral or written), embracing all those compositions that communicate through consistent mutual allusivity.

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A Companion to Ancient Epic by John Miles Foley


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